Ashley Goodwin and Mark Aggleton had discussed the possibility of walking the West Highland Way prior to his sudden and unexpected death in 2007. Mark decided that, as a tribute to his best friend, he and others would walk the West Highland Way. So late in 2007 Ashley's wife Rachel, his parents Geoff & Linda, brother Tony and Kolya the dog together with Mark, his wife Elaine, his brother Paul and father Mike started training for the walk.
PREPARATION
Mike,Linda,Geoff & Kolya walked sections of the Cotswold Way. Rachel & Kolya walked the Brecon Beacons while Paul walked the South Downs Way. Mark & Elaine merely climbed mountains! Tony walked to & from work. We had one group walk (without Rachel & Kolya) on the Cotswold Way.

This was a sponsored walk.

Please support with donations to either:

CRY  

or The Rainbow Centre 

The walkers at the start of the West Highland Way in Milngavie (pronounced "mull-guy"): 

Paul, Geoff, Mike, Elaine,Rachel,Linda,Kolya,Tony and Mark

THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY

DAY ONE: Milngavie to Balmaha (19 miles)

The West Highland Way, which was established in 1980, is the most popular of Scotland's long distance walks.

It is 95 miles long.

The WHW runs from Milgavie to Fort William over ordinary paths, ancient drovers roads, military roads (c.1750), upgraded drovers/military roads (c.1850), disused 20th C main roads and disused 20th C railway tracks.

The terrain varies from very easy (Sunday afternoon stroll) in the South through hard rough stones on some military/droves roads to having to clamber around the edge of Loch Lomond.

DAY ONE DESCRIPTION
The first 14 miles is on easy paths and disused railway lines. The weather was excellent for most of the walk to Drymen.
 After Drymen the path steadily climbs from 200ft to 1000ft around the edge of Conic Hill. Unfortunately it snowed as we climbed the hill severely restricting visibility.
 The descent of Conic Hill was very steep and stony underfoot making it hard work. Since this was the longest any of us had walked in a day, the  descent was very energy sapping.
Elaine & Rachel: Left Stepps 0745 via Asda to pick up inhaler for Elaine (dozy!) and arrived at Milngavie at 0830. Started the West Highland Way (WHW), after numerous photos at 0850. The weather was cold but we had blue skies and sunshine for most of the way. We stopped for our picnic at Drymen & then started the hardest part: the climb up Conic Hill and down the other side. We finally arrived at Balmaha at 1630.
Rachel, Elaine & Kolya immediately caught the bus back to Drymen ( the hotel in Balmaha would not accept dogs). We were met by the owner of the B&B, shooing kids away from the front door, and ushering us to apartment ( 6 beds in all). Headed straight to the bar for a few G & Ts before changing & expecting to meet the rest of the walking party at 1830. Phone call from Mark saying they had all missed the bus. No further buses for 2 hours & they couldn't get a taxi for at least 1.5 hours. Poor effort!
So we made our way to the pub. On entering everyone stopped & stared at beautiful.....Kolya! Rachel & I could have been naked and no-one would have noticed. Found a table in the corner so Kolya could relax away from his adoring public. "Is that a Husky?" were the many questions: no its a Cocker Spaniel!! "Can I stroke it?"...."only if you want your hand bitten off!"

By Craigallian Loch (3.5 miles) Geoff with videocam in foreground.

Kolya after a paddle

Walking along disused railway line (6 miles)

Coffee break (first of many) outside pub converted from railway station (7.5 miles)

Kolya is  pretty active!

Lunch break near Drymen (12.5 miles)

After a very nice dinner we headed back to the pub. We encountered a very mad woman (who had Bulldogs called Winston and Cockatoo) who also wanted to stroke Kolya. She loved her dogs: had a Yorkshire Terrier but when it died her daughter "gret har face aff" [translates as cried her heart out-Ed]. Then met her equally mad & very drunk husband who showed us a photo of Winston on his phone! He then proceeded then to nearly have a fight the fxxxxxing Polish! This was followed by a a very interesting Polish & Glaswegian chat with the wife!

Conic Hill in the distance (after c.15 miles)

Elaine and Mike climbing Conic Hill just after a snowstorm

"Are you dead!" was the next question. Slightly alarming! However there was a 'murder mystery' in the hotel so it gradually became clear what was going on. Mad woman in very short green dress (when Elaine recounted the story, Linda called the dress a "pelmet") , loved Kolya & came to chat.
 Then the Polish guys asked: is it a Husky?. Can I stroke him? No, unless you want your hand chewed. The Polish guys explained that Kolya is a girl's name because it ends in 'a' and means diamond in Russian- very expensive!

Views from Conic Hill (just after a snowstorm) showing the Fault Line between Lowlands and Highlands in Loch Lomond.(17 miles)

Further considerations:
 "My Uncle has a Husky" (very interesting) [At this point the alcoholic osmotic pressure appears to have diffusion down the arm to pen and paper-Ed].
"The shop I visit in Flanda has a Husky-its bigger than yours"
"Ouch! its a big dog"
"The woman down the road has a brown Husky"
 [and numerous other inane comments which have been edited: see Elaine for the original-Ed]

Descending Conic Hill: Rachel &  Kolya and Elaine (blue skies after the snowstorm)

Descending Conic Hill: Mark &  Kolya 

While all this was going on Mark decided that he would do the gentlemanly thing and join the girls by catching the 2030 bus. His pint lasted too long and managed to miss this one too!

First Night Hotels

The Hawthorns Hotel, Drymen

The Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha

Day One: measured distance walked-19.3miles