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Sunshine & Snow on the West Highland Way

In my previous life as a tour guide, I had regularly made the drive through the Scottish Highlands towards Fort William. While navigating the bus through glens and mountains, I would always feel envious of the people I’d see trekking through this incredible landscape - out in the fresh air and enjoying the scenery without the restraints of a bus window. I made it my vow to walk the West Highland Way - something people come from all over the world to Scotland to do - and I couldn’t have been happier when the opportunity presented itself in the form of an Absolute Escapes research trip!

I was to walk the southern section of the trail between Drymen and Tyndrum and drive the rest of the way to Fort William. I made my way to the lovely village of Drymen where my first night’s accommodation was at Bramblewood - a beautiful guest house in an idyllic woodland setting just a short walk from the centre of the village. As soon as I checked in I felt miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bliss.

First steps!

After a hearty breakfast I set off on the 15 mile walk to my next overnight stop - Rowardennan. It wasn’t long before the trail started to ascend up Conic Hill and breathtaking views of Loch Lomond stretched out before me. It then winds along the banks of Loch Lomond towards the tiny village of Rowardennan.

The Rowardennan Hotel was my home for the night - a traditional Scottish hotel in a unique location. It sits right on the banks of the loch and nestles beneath Ben Lomond - the most southerly Munro in Scotland - so is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The friendly pub is a great place to watch the sun go down over the loch and meet fellow walkers.



Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

The next day's walk to Inverarnan offered some of the best scenery I’ve ever encountered in Scotland. The trail follows the banks of Loch Lomond closely while the snow-capped mountains of the Scottish Highlands opened out in the distance. An unforgettable moment presented itself when a herd of red deer ran past me - totally undeterred by my presence.

This is a challenging day but also the most rewarding. My legs were grateful to reach my accommodation for that evening - Beinglas Farm B&B - a fantastic complex of cabins and wigwams alongside a brilliant pub and restaurant.

Onwards to Tyndrum

The next day I walked onwards as the spring sunshine beamed down on me. The breathtaking views are combined with plenty of historic sites today, including the 13th century St Fillan's Priory and the site of the Battle of Dal Righ where, in 1306, Robert the Bruce was defeated by English soldiers. The history lover inside me found this thrilling!

This evening, I enjoyed a comfortable stay at The Tyndrum Inn - a wonderfully friendly, family-run hotel in the heart of the village.

A wintry drive!

After three days of unbroken, warm sunshine I was surprised to wake up the next morning to find snow everywhere! Today though, I was reluctantly ending my time walking the trail and driving onwards to Fort William - the final stop on the West Highland Way.

A spectacular drive through Rannoch Moor and Glencoe took me to my Highland home for the night, where I stayed at The Brevins, a brilliant, modern guest house in the tranquil surrounds of Glen Nevis. My hosts Brenda and Vincent are the epitome of Scottish hospitality - warm, funny, and full of advice on what to see and where to eat in Fort William.

As I treated myself to a hearty dinner and a beer in Fort William and watched the sun go down over Loch Linnhe, my head was filled with one thought ... why had it taken me so long to get round to doing the West Highland Way?

Scott Smyth

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