Family Day on the West Highland Way
Helen Rose Hill Diary May 2010.
The Glasgow HF Outdoor Club www.glasgowhf.co.uk asked me to lead a walk aimed at families and children. I decided to lead the walk on the first part of the West Highland Way. On the day of the walk, I wondered if anyone would turn up but five adults and six children showed up in the Milngavie Town Centre precinct for the walk. It turned out to be extremely enjoyable day in lovely spring weather. They all behaved beautifully including the adults! The children ranged from Olivia aged six to Franek aged thirteen.
I had previously recced the walk with Noreen and we had walked to the Oakwood Garden Centre but had shuttled cars to avoid taking the public bus which is a very poor service from Balfron. On the day of the walk, we set out from Milngavie just after 10am and completed the walk at the Glengoyne Distillery near the West Highland Way to catch the bus at 3pm back to Milngavie. The distance covered was just over six miles.
At the start of the walk, the children took great interest in the route to Fort William and seemed to like the idea they were walking the first section of a well known long distance route. The West Highland Way is about ninety four miles long from Milngavie to Fort William and has well maintained footpaths. It passes through stunning scenery of lochs and mountains and crosses Rannoch Moor and Glencoe. The first part of the walk is in Mugdock Country Park which we renamed Mugdog as there were so many people walking their dogs there. The next interesting section was along past Craigallian Loch and then along to Duntreath Hill, a volcanic plug covered in trees and with standing stones at the base. From here we had splendid views of the Campsie Hills and Dumgoyne. Dumgoyne is a favourite mini mountain for a walk being only about 1.300 feet high but very steep and looking out over Glasgow.
Throughout the day, we spotted much wildlife starting with a ladybird sitting beside Olivia as we had the first break. We went on to see a deer, a buzzard, some fish in a pool, geese in a field and a pheasant. This is more than we usually see on a hill walk! It was helpful having all these eyes on the lookout as we walked at a slower pace.
Not only did we see wildlife but also other wonderful things such as interesting fungi on trees, moss and heathers. The open pine cones were discussed and how they close in bad weather. There was also speculation on why an area of grass had been burned. Near Duntreath , we had lunch and viewed the standing stones. After lunch, Jim had the GPS co-ordinates for the geocache www.geocaching.com Treasure Box and the children had fun exchanging items in the box.
The children were an inspiration to us as we should spend more time on a walk looking at the little things around us. Ruth hates walking but enjoyed the walk as there was so much to see. Olivia was fantastic for someone so young, walking a distance and taking an interest in the countryside. Franek listened to his Ipod but was still observant. Indira and Krish are well experienced walkers and Roch took great interest in the walk. The children all got on well and the adults played a great part in looking for the wildlife, etc. I did not once hear a cry of ‘I am bored’ from the children.
The length of the walk was just right, the weather ideal and there was plenty to interest the children. These could be future Club members! It was a great day out and the next section is planned for October from Glengoyne to Drymen.
Coming attractions; all the things I have been meaning to write about but have not around to!
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Thanks to Jim Cassidy for the photos.