West Highland Way – Day 2 & 3 – Garadhban Forest to Falls of Falloch

Day 2

I woke up in a cocoon of dampness and discomfort. My feet had already started to blister and ache from walking for miles with wet boots the previous day. I stuck my head out of the tent and was happy to see that the weather had improved. It was a beautiful morning and the sun cast a red glow over the horizon. There was a gentle breeze blowing, so I sat out my sleeping bag and waterproofs and attempted to dry them off in the wind. It was then that I lazily captured this picture, without moving any of my stuff out of the frame!

I made myself some porridge, packed away and heading off towards Conic Hill.

I walked through the felled forest for approximately 30 minutes before I began the ascent up Conic Hill. It’s a lovely little hill which offers stunning views over Loch Lomond. The clouds had rolled in by this point and everything looked a very grey, but the views were stunning nevertheless. 

I continued down into Balmaha and into the Oak Tree Inn where I had a bacon cheeseburger to try regain some energy. After eating, I set off towards Rowardennan which was a straight forward walk offering lovely views of Loch lomond.  The weather stayed very overcast and I didn’t taken many photos. 

The sun had already started to set as I arrived outside of the Rowardennan Youth Hostel. I checked my map and immediately felt deflated when I realised I still had 7.4 MILES to go, until my target of Inversnaid! There was no way I was going to make that; my feet were killing me! I almost contemplated staying at the hostel, but I  promised myself before I started that I would camp every night. Determined to make up some time, I put on my head torch and walked into the darkness to try make up as many miles as I could. I aimed to reach the Rowchoish bothy, but after walking just under 4 miles in the dark, I gave up when I found a perfect camping spot on the banks of Loch Lomond. 

Day  3

I woke up to a clear but breezy morning. Camping along side the Loch meant I had easy access to water which I could filter for cooking and drinking. I made some breakfast and quickly packed away to try and make up some lost time.

After about 40 minutes of walking, I came across the Rowchoish bothy and immediately regretted not walking there the previous night. It had been left clean and tidy by the previous occupants who kindly left a small pile of firewood for the next guest. I had a quick read at of the bothy book and laughed when I read an entry by someone who had written in rage about two Germans who had stayed for one night the previous week, and used over two weeks worth of wood!

I still had approximately 12 miles to go before I reached the next inhabited village of Inverarnan, which turned out to be the worst section of the whole trip. It started off with a rocky path that wound through the woodland and down onto the edge of the Loch. There were steep, slippery descents down onto the waters edge, followed by steep climbs onto craggy slopes which fell away sharply into the Loch. I hadn’t eaten much and I could feel myself getting tired and annoyed by the pain in my feet.  

I eventually arrived at Beinglas campsite after spending hours trekking around Loch Lomond and I was absolutely starving. I walked up to the shop but was waived away by someone inside who indicated that they were closed.  I almost couldn’t face the walk to the nearest eatery – The Drovers Inn – because my feet were so sore and I was exhausted. I arrived a short time later and rewarded myself with a Highlander Burger – a grilled beef burger topped with haggis and melted cheese in a flavoured bap, along with a cold pint of Magners which certainly hit the spot. 

It was just after 5pm by the time I left the Drovers Inn and daylight was rapidly fading. My feet ached with every step and I still didn’t know where I was going to camp. I put on my head torch once again and walked into Glen Falloch in the darkness. My torch lit up the path in front of me which snaked through glen and crossed over waterfalls running down from surrounding hills. A large number of bright white eyes stared back at me, as the light from the torch reflected off of grazing ungulates in the distance. I continued walking for a few hours before I eventually found a spot to pitch my tent which was out of the way of roaming sheep and cattle. It was another cold night, but I managed to get a few hours sleep. 

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  1. Jim C February 23, 2017 at 1:58 am #

    Good luck with the trip.

    I am looking to do it with my friend in the Spring.
    A few years back I did the Southern Upland way ( no camping, and it was summer, and I never saw any rain in 15 easy relaxing days, not the usual WHW experience I bet.

    I remember being at Benglass when a young chap rattled in with a huge sack, with alsorts of stuff hanging off it, and topped a foam bed roll.
    Something looked a bit odd when he put it down at my feet and walked away. I could not help myself, so I slipped a finger into its top loop, and almost raised the whole sack above my head!
    It was empty sport from some thing that padded it out to make it look full !
    I think it was a photo prop only, and I discovered later , that his bags were being carried from section to section to the next nights accommodation, just as I had done on the SUW( but I just had a small day sack, and was not trying to fool anyone.)

    So good on you for camping, and carrying all your gear(and in the winter too).
    Nothing wrong if course for those who do the bag carry( as long as they are not trying to pretend otherwise with photo props;)

    • Steven Fergus February 27, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

      Hi Jim, thank you!

      15 days with no rain is almost unheard of! Lucky you! How did you find the Southern Upland Way and would you recommend it?

      Haha that’s brilliant! I wonder how heavy he would’ve told you his bag weighed, if you hadn’t of lifted it. I can assure you my rucksack was full of camping equipment, waterproofs and food 🙂

      All the best with your trip in the sping.

  2. Andrea ZinsmeyerWise March 2, 2017 at 1:14 am #


    I love reading about your trip. You are just as good a writer as you are a photographer. How you were able to tear yourself away from The Drover’s Inn, I’ll never know. I would have pitched my tent in their parking lot and stayed until closing time!

    Stay warm and Safe,

    Andrea, from Seattle

    • Steven Fergus April 28, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

      Hi Andrea,

      Sorry it has taken me so long to reply, I missed your comment! Thank you very much for your kind comments, it means a lot to me!

      Haha it wasn’t easy I’ll tell you that! It was one of the few times I risked running my phone battery low by listening to some music to try and motivate myself 🙂 Thanks for stopping by


  3. Lynette Strogen December 29, 2018 at 1:17 pm #

    Appreciating the commitment you put into your blog and in depth information you present. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    • Steven Fergus January 5, 2019 at 1:12 am #

      Hi Lynette – Thank you for taking the time to read my post (I didn’t know anyone actually did, ha!). I really enjoyed the trip and writing about it. If you need any more information on it then just let me know. Thanks again.

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