WEST HIGHLAND WAY 2006

Remove those stupid adverts you've overlaid on this video YouTube eh? 'Dust my Broom' [Canned Heat]. Theres a Part 1 and Part 2 video sequence of these events already posted . This video features the official alternative and only real way to finish the Way - the spectacular high level walk out over the Mamores. It was a warm sunny day when we departed Milngavie and headed towards the valley beneath Dumgoyne. The Way of course than passes through Gartness from where at his country seat, Napier of Merchiston during Queen Mary's time worked out those 'schoolhood nightmares' - logarithms. Our Day One continued with a detour into the village of Drymen which was the original home of the Drummonds, descendents from a Hungarian who came to the country in the train of the Saxon Princess Margaret, the destined Queen of Malcolm Canmore. They took their name from the place name Druman, the plural of Drum, a rising ground. Nowadays the village has a shop, pubs and a campsite right on the Way. Our Day One destination however was Balmaha which was regarded during the Jacobite rising in 1715 as one of the main gateways to the Highlands. Indeed, in order to therefore control this, the Duke of Argyle kept a garrison back at Drymen. Our Day Two took us beneath Ben Lomond through Rowardennan alongside the east bank of Loch Lomond. Geoffrey of Monmouth who died in 1154, detailed how King Arthur pursued his enemies up Loch Lomond and all but exterminated them on the islands and consequently overthrew an Irish army that came to their relief - and it was in 1263 that Olaf of Man with sixty ships from the Viking fleet in Millport Bay headed up Loch Long then dragged the ships over that two-mile rise into Loch Lomond and swept the islands with sword and fire. We stayed at the Hostel at Inversnaid that evening. It was here at Inversnaid that William Wordsworth found the inspiration for 'To a Highland Girl': "Nor am I loath, though pleased at Heart, Sweet Highland girl! from thee to part; For I, methinks, till I grow old, As fair before me shall behold. As I do now, the cabin small. The lake, the bay, the waterfall; And thee, the spirit of them all!" Sixty years after that it was Glasgow poet Alexander Smith after a wet and weary three day trek who arrived at the inn and wrote his sonnet "Wordsworth's Inversneyd" [Inversnaid]. In 1713 at the Duke of Montrose's suggestion a fort was built at Inversnaid (perhaps best seen on the descent from Cruachan Hill) in order to cull the lawlessness of the area primarily dominated by Rob Roy. Tradition states that Captain James Wolfe - afterwards the conqueror of Quebec - was once the commander there. Our shorter but wet Day Three on the Way led us to Doune bothy then Bein Glas Farm for an evening at the famous Drovers (Inverarnan) Inn. The late former owner (Duncan McGregor) of the Inn would bring his Shetland pony into the bar when any of his unsuspecting customers ordered 'a half and a pony' !! (A 'pony' being a small glass of beer to chase down a whiskey!). Our Day Four destination was to the Way's 'blue rinse capital' of Tyndrum now famous again for the ressurection of its goldmining activities. The Way passes through 'Dalrigh' where Robert the Bruce was attacked by the Lord of Lorne (he had the Brooch of Lorne torn off his surcoat at this Battle of Dail Righ) then beneath the shadow of Ben Lui : "I once heard a fox barking on the top of Ben Lui in dense mist and rain, and on reporting it to the farmer in Glen Coninish he told me that this fox had killed some of his best lambs. He added, that when a fox kills a lamb, it always takes the lamb's tail home to its earth for the little foxes to play with!" !!!! While the next day in good weather was the walk to Bridge of Orchy, Inveroran then over Rannoch Moor - "Yet shall your ragged moor receive The incomparable pomp of Eve, And the cold glories of the dawn Behind your shivering trees be drawn" - to Kingshouse at the entrance to Glencoe the 'Glen of Weeping' where the treachery of the massacre or rather the scandal of the judicial murder will never be forgotten in Scotland. The next day was up and over into Kinlochleven for that final high level route the following day. The video ends with views of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, above Fort William a town once dubbed Gordonsburgh and before that Maryburgh - although its old name was actually Inverlochy. "When huge Ben Nevis rears his sovereign crown, And dark Glencoe looks sternly wrathful down, And Skye's grim crests in savage blackness frown - While many an isle, in summer bliss serene, Floats on its limpid floor of lustred sheen, And hangs the enchanted wave and sky between- While braes are purple, glens are green, and blue The sea that mirrors all with heavenly hue, Scotland! to thee my heart shall till be true".