Sunday, September 09, 2018

WHW Day 1: Milngavie to Drymen

One of 12 posts about my 2018 UK Trip (Glasgow + West Highland Way + Oxford);
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The south end of a north-bound trail

First Scenic Overlook

a colorfully decorated yard, 4 miles in, labeled "The Shire"

Lunch stop on the trail, Day One - the Beech Tree Inn

animals at the Beech Tree
I had soup (yum) and a hamburger (meh) at the Beech Tree, and got to chatting with a group of 4 or 5 males (one adult and a few teens) who were doing the West Highland Way in 5 days, as opposed to my leisurely 7 days.  Some of them had done the walk before.  I finished my lunch and said farewell; naturally they later passed me on the road while I was gathering blackberries.

Blackberries, aka "Lee's Bane"

the road goes ever on and on

rose hips
The first several days (before the climate and terrain brought a different mix of flora), I munched away on blackberries, with the occasional nibble of rose hips for vitamin C.

The blackberry bushes were indeed the only consolation for the rather tedious road-walking bits.

a warning right out of the Shire: "This river is policed by water bailiffs"

a much more elaborate sign than the usual cryptic National Trail symbol

this felt like a very "English" garden to me

a little distorted by rain, but it says "SLOW / HOBBITS"

There were some brief but intense spells of rain throughout the day; I kept my jacket tied around my waist and got it on and off as needed (along with my pack).

apparently I'd left the Shire behind by this point

At a certain unmarked point, following my guidebook's map, I made the turn-off to Drymen.  I found it very strange that there were no signs for the town at all until I'd turned off the trail and reached a road.  There, on the other side of the road, was a sign pointing up a hill which said "Drymen."  So I (and two other walkers with whom I'd shared this insight) walked up and over the hill and down a street to the town center.

I'd gotten there way too early for the pickup from my B&B, and I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to try walking there (esp since we were promised a pickup and ride to and from the town for dinner).

So I listened to Garth's Tolkien and the Great War for a few hours until my ride arrived.

The driver picked up me and and an Australian woman named Shayna, a fellow solo traveler who (as chance would have it) would be sharing my itinerary the next few days.

The driver, a Mrs Bucket-Lite, confided in me about the burden of having guests who were not all traveling together (she was concerned that we'd all want different meal times or start times -- though as it turns out, I was the only one who took advantage of the ride in for dinner), plus a number of humble-brags, complaints, etc.

I had dinner at the Drymen Inn, which was quite nice.  There was a bit of live music (though not to my taste), plus the little fairy-lights and a view of the town in twilight and dark.  

My room at the B&B was pleasant enough, with nice views.  But they did not really understand hikers' needs; our wet boots were left out in the cold hallway (no drying room) and Mrs B-L was shocked -- almost offended -- by my innocent question about whether they might have any old newspapers or magazines I could stuff into my boots to help them dry out.  She apparently considered this to convey some sort of insinuation on my part that she might not be tech-savvy enough to read newspapers and magazines online!  But fortunately, some friend had given her a few old magazines to leave in the rooms for her luddite guests, and she very graciously gave me permission to rip out some pages (preferably from the oldest issues) to stuff into my boots.  So the upshot was that in the morning, my boots were barely damp, while my fellow walkers unfortunately started with wet shoes.  

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