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Thread: WHW this November

  1. #1
    Widdler
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    Hi,

    I am planning on doing the WHW later this year, camping as much as possible (weather permitting). I am not the most experienced hiker, but from what I gather in this forum the WHW is doable by anyone reasonably fit (which I am) who takes the proper precautions against blisters etc. I have a bunch of questions if you guys have a minute or two.

    I am looking for advice on whether I will need to take any special precautions because of the time of year I will be travelling (November 20-27ish). I understand it can be windy and rainy and cold and can prepare for that. Specifically I was wondering:

    Do parts of the way ever get washed out in wet weather?
    Will most of the shops and pubs and campsites still be open?
    Should I book ahead for campgrounds at this time of year?
    Is wild camping frowned upon?
    How many days should I try for (5-8?)
    Any hiking kit recommendations?
    Does anyone wanna come with?

    Thanks, Dave

  2. #2
    Mini Goon Iain Simpson's Avatar
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    The Way is generally on good, well constructed paths which I imagine would be passable in anything but a major flood, though you'll probably have to tramp through the odd puddle in November.

    The path is clear on the ground the whole way and easy to follow, but in November you need to be aware of the possibility of snow - if the path is hidden under snow and the mist is down, navigation on places like Rannoch Moor is likely to be tricky.

    Shops and pubs in the villages along the way should still be open for the most part, but you may find that the choice is reduced B&Bs will be more haphazard. Some campsites are open all year, some aren't - best to ring ahead and check, even if you don't actually book. There's a list of places to stay at the website

    http://www.west-highland-way.co.uk/mainFrame.htm

    Wild Camping is OK these days, provided you follow sensible guidelines like not camping next to houses or in enclosed fields. More info here

    http://www.west-highland-way.co.uk/f...wild%20camping

    I'd suggest aiming for 7 or 8 days - it can be done in fewer, but it would involve some long days and you wouldn't get time to stop and enjoy the scenery, especially given the limited daylight in November. Useful hint - the 3rd day of a long distance walk usually feels the hardest, so plan to give yourself a short distance that day.

  3. #3
    ‹bermensch Jim Chalmers's Avatar
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    Be aware that in November it will get dark by 4:30 in the afternoon and won't get light again till nearly 8 the next morning.

    The route is fairly sheltered until Bridge of Orchy, but then you have to cross Rannoch Moor which can be very exposed to bad weather. There's no route finding problems, but it is fairly wild country. After that, the Devil's staircase takes you up a bit and again can be very exposed if stormy.

    You have the right to wild camp. The access rights state:

    Wild camping
    Camping lightweight, in small numbers, for only 2 or 3 nights in any one place on any land where access rights apply is also a right. But to help limit problems for local people and land managers, use common sense and avoid enclosed fields of crops and animals, keep away from buildings and roads. If there's no alternative seek the owner's approval. Wherever you camp, Leave No Trace.

    Jim

  4. #4
    Mini Goon
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    We did WHW this July and it was excellent. Did it with my girlfriend who knackered her knee, hence we did it in 8 days. I wouldn't aim to do it in less than 7 days if you haven't done any long distance walks before.

    The top end of Loch Lomond was pretty much washed out in July so I guess you might have a few problems, but it seems well managed so I think there will be waymarked diversions.

    I reckon all the campsites will be open, and there are quite a few 'wild campsites' anyway, and definitely no need to book ahead. They say don't wild camp (except the designated areas) but if you arrive late leave, early who's to know.

    If I did it again, I'd probably use a sturdy pair of Trail shoes rather than boots because a lot of the terrain is mainly rocky/hard paths.

    Take about 10 packs of Compeed blister treatment, and breakfast in the Inveroran Hotel is an absolute rip off.

  5. #5
    Goon Toxic Sherlock's Avatar
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    You could consider sending a second set of tent poles ahead to Bridge of Orchy Post Restante or similar...?

    Then you can go superlight until that point and double pole beyond. I've a Lightwave ZRO Cyclq and the carbon poles are fine in the valley but I double pole with ALU. up top.

  6. #6
    ‹bermensch Jim Chalmers's Avatar
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    That sounds a bit negative. Rannoch Moor in any kind of reasonable weather is a wonderful place, and the views from the top of the Staircase are stunning.

    Have a great trip

    Jim

  7. #7
    Goon Dave Evans 3's Avatar
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    if you fancy giving the tent a rest, there are 2 sites along the way with wigwams, basically wooden tents - heated, matress, lighting, and amenities close by, at Beinglas (near Inverarnan) and Auchtertyre (between Crianlarich and Tyndrum)

  8. #8
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Do parts of the way ever get washed out in wet weather?

    Not really. The route is well maintained for the most part, taking in hard surfaced tracks and trails. There's a rugged stretch that features mud and greasy rock when wet, north of Inversnaid. There are parts where you could be splashing through puddles when it's really hammering down, so think about that when you have your shoes/boots debate.

    Will most of the shops and pubs and campsites still be open?

    Shops and pubs will mostly be open, and while some campsites might look a bit surprised to see you, there should be no problem getting a pitch.

    Should I book ahead for campgrounds at this time of year?

    They're unlikely to be busy, but there's no harm letting them know you intend coming, just in case they're going to close and head for sunny climes.

    Is wild camping frowned upon?

    Even if someone frowns on you wild camping, you can do it anyway under the new legislation. The wilder your camps, the less likely anyone is to frown anyway! Just aim for absolute minimum impact at all times.

    How many days should I try for (5-8?)

    The longer the better, given the limited daylight hours late in November. I've walked the WHW around the end of Feb and beginning of March, and you have to keep moving or face some part of your walk in the dark.

    Any hiking kit recommendations?

    Keep it light, but make sure you have good, proven, warm and waterproof gear. If it does rain day after day, then you're either going to have to find a place with a drying room, or simply limit water ingress as much as possible. Make sure you get hold of the 'West Highland Way Pocket Companion' for 2005, which has a note of all the facilities you're likely to need, with full contact details.

    Does anyone wanna come with?

    Sorry, I only just got back from the WHW, but yeah, I'd walk it again, just not this November!

  9. #9
    Widdler
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    Thanks for all the great info everyone.

    I'll let you know how I got on when I get back, maybe post a picture to the photo pages...

    Actually, "Big cold mud puddle in fading light" might not be worth posting after all!



  10. #10
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    It might not all be mud and fading light. When I walked the WHW in the tail-end of winter I managed to get a good picture of a Heilan' Coo near Bridge of Orchy. Pity I didn't see too much of the hills though.

  11. #11
    ‹bermensch Lindsay Boyd's Avatar
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    You will probably find the WHW quiet, wet and wild in November so the best of luck. I checked my handbook and the Craianlarich Youth Hostel, which around half way states that it is open all year. Rowardennan closes on 29 October. Glen Nevis at the end of your trip is also shown as open all year. The nearby camp site is fairly expensive.

    Slainte.


  12. #12
    Goon Dave Evans 3's Avatar
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    did you manage to do the walk? well done if you did

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