Trekking the West Highland Way:
An ale lover’s photo diary of his Scottish fundraising adventure
Doug Colton and friends Dave Powell and Pete Rowley recently completed the daunting challenge of trekking over 100 miles along the West Highland Way in aid of ORBIS. The route from Glasgow to Fort William is 96 miles long; however the group upped the ante and included an extra loop to storm well past the 100 mile mark.
Doug has been an avid supporter of ORBIS for many years following a childhood injury whilst living in Nigeria. At four years old, his brother accidently damaged his eye whilst playing with an abandoned machete like blade used to cut grass. Luckily for Doug, an ophthalmic charity was working in the area. With experienced eye surgeon’s close by, his sight was saved.
As a result, Doug has first-hand experience of how important the work undertaken by charities like ORBIS is. He is keen to ensure that many others in developing countries have access to top quality eye care when faced with life changing circumstances, as he did.
Doug kept a photo diary during his epic walk, with some amazing pictures, brilliant commentary and a tally of all the ales and whiskies sampled! His trip shows why doing something different might just lead to the experience of a lifetime.
Day One – And They’re Off!
Out of the starting blocks on the West Highland Way with sensational sunshine luck. We shrugged off four ales and single malt from last night and romped 12 miles in shorts by lunchtime! Bright pools of bluebells in the woods and a pair of swallows perched on wire over the trail. The three of us passed Glengoyne distillery and sipped a 21 year old malt. Limbered up now for day two along Loch Lomond
Day Two – Commando Hiking
Pete and I were matching in our red tops today!
Encountered some local kilted hikers along the way.
Completed our 14 mile walk in time for a short late lunch at the Youth Hostel. Then decided on an SAS-style mission to climb Ben Lomond 3200ft above the loch while we had the chance.
At 8pm we finally returned to the Youth Hostel with brutally sore feet. A shower and long sleep will be bliss. Only 13 and half miles tomorrow at a low level, but monsoon weather due all day long - a soggy day in store!
(Conic Hill panorama)
Day Three – I Can’t Stand the Rain
We did well to make it along the tricky, rocky, muddy, root-strewn trail by the shore, finally reaching the top end of Loch Lomond in relentless rain without dissolving. Passed rampaging waterfalls and burns and bluebells in their billions…mile after mile. It’s surely the bluebell capital of the world!
(Pete riding the falls surf-style)
Settled into a pre-war time warp hotel and was greeted in the foyer by an angry stuffed bear. 47 miles so far...
(Artistically-framed view of rain-lashed loch from bedroom)
Day Four – The Long and Winding Road
Fantastic proper mountainous scenery today and joyfully dry. Stormed along for 20 miles but did need to get my feet up en-route.
We’re over half way overall, so closer now to Fort William than Glasgow. Big day tomorrow, 21 and half hilly miles including the enticing Devil's Staircase!
Day Five – Highland Fling
Wow! Wonderful wilderness; walking miles across remote untamed Highlands in fine weather.
Scenery provided immunity from sore feet and we came across two herds of roaming deer.
Devil's Staircase proved to be more of an impish stepladder for honed hardcore hikers like us! Super happy my wife Janet has joined us this evening after trekking for five days and 88 miles.
Day Six – Climb Every Mountain
Our rest day from the official trail, so we decided to climbed the most majestic mountain in Glencoe. Standing at 3350ft high and 20°C at the bottom, with serious snow banks up top, this takes us up to the 100 mile tally in just six days.
Janet was a demon up and down tricky terrain.
We rewarded ourselves with a top notch fresh seafood dinner with a loch view. It’s the final leg tomorrow, hiking the last 15 miles to Fort William.
Day Seven – Highway’s End
116 miles completed! Atmospheric misty glens to finish the trail and a picnic lunch by lively wee waterfall. Started celebrations at Ben Nevis Inn, continued at Fort William and onto Seafood restaurant at edge of loch. 31 different ales and 10 whiskies notched up this week ... so far!
What an amazing experience and memories. Will miss the trail, but so happy not to be walking tomorrow!
- Caledonian 80/-
- Traditional Scot Ales Ben Nevis IPA
- Kelburn Red Smiddy
- Orkney Corncrake
- Ayr Brewing Jolly Beggars
- Greene King IPA
- Caledonian Deuchars IPA
- Loch Lomond Silkie Stout
- Loch Lomond Ale of Leven
- Loch Lomond West Highland Way
- Loch Lomond Bonnie N'Bitter
- Isle of Arran Sunset
- Fraoch Heather Ale
- Harviestoun Atlantic Pale Ale
- Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted
- Cairngorms Trade Winds
- Wychwood Hobgoblin
- River Leven Blonde
- River Leven Dark
- Traditional Scot Ales Sporran Warmer
- Cairngorms Stag
- Cairngorms Sheepshaggers Gold
- Isle of Skye Red Cuillin
- Cairngorms Caille
- Cairngorms Mild Mayhem
- Fyne Ales Avalanche
- Fyne Ales Hurricane Jack
- Bath Ales Special Pale Ale
- Orkney Atlas 3 Sisters Scottish Ale
- Orkney Atlas Latitude Pilsner
- Orkney Atlas Nimbus Blonde
- Orkney Atlas Wayfarer IPA
- Jura 10yr Superstition
- Glengoyne 21yr
- Isle of Skye 8yr
- Edradour 10yr
- Inchmurrin 12yr
- Tamnavulin Connoisseurs Choice 1991
- Clynelish 14yr
- Highland Park 12yr
- Strathisla 12yr
- Benriach 10yr