1. The West Highland Way – Milngavie to Balmaha

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What did you do for your 30th? My friends and I decided to take on a challenge – to walk 96 miles through the rolling hills and flowing streams of the West Coast of Scotland. This trek is called the West Highland Way and it all begins just outside of Glasgow in Milngavie (easily reached by train) and ends in Fort William near Inverness. Day one of the West Highland Way Milngavie to Balmaha is a quick 20 miles and there is a warm welcome from the Conic Hill views and a hot tub if you follow our West Highland Way accommodation advice (tempted?) 

Day 1. West Highland Way Milngavie to Balmaha

  • Miles: 20
  • Time: 10 -17:30 (lots of breaks)
  • Weather: Dry mostly, spot of rain, mild
  • Accommodation: Bay Cottage (£39 per person then / now £40)

The West Highland Way Milngavie Start

Stage 1. Milngaive to Drymen

We encouraged friends and family to join us along the way (to prevent any deaths by annoyance), the day one team consisted of myself, Helen, our two teaching friends Julie and Nicola. We wanted to make the walk enjoyable so decided to pay for a company to take our bags (see here). The first part of the West Highland Way walk takes you through a small car park behind the Milngavie town centre shops and then through fields (it is well posted) all the way to Dumgoyne where you can stop for lunch  at The Beech Tree Inn(we had packed lunches) and then on to Drymen where we had our second lunch (this walking all day is great!)

Stage 2. That Conic Hill!

As you will soon find out this Scottish trek did not come without many fails. First, we had difficulty getting out of Drymen. We followed the directions which took us to the right into a wooded area but after a chat with a local, we headed straight and this eventually took us to a left turn through what looked like a scene from The Lion King with all the broken and dried-out trees. Julie took the reigns on my walking sticks (so thankful for them, for advice on what else to pack for the West Highland Way hike check out our packing list), her feet were letting her down. However, this grim part of the walk was the gateway to beauty… the views of Balmaha from Conic Hill.

Conic Hill Scotland West Highland WayHot Tub in Balmaha

At approx. 17:30 we had reached our destination, Balmaha, day one of the West Highland Way completed. We said goodbye to Nicola and hello to Jen G who had driven from Aberdeen to spend the evening with us.

The West Highland Way Balamaha

We made the best decision staying at The Bay Cottage (accommodation), which was just at the foot of the end of the walk, for three reasons. Firstly, we had our own room outside of the BnB, secondly, the food was immense, and the packed lunch extensive (pay a small fee £5.50) and finally… a HOT TUB! You can soak your muscles after the 20 mile walk! The staff were also very friendly and accommodating and The Bay Cottage is just across from the pub which brings us to the last stage the Milngavie to Balmaha West Highland Way day

Stage 3. Pint Time

We had a pint and dinner at The Oak Tree Inn, went for a dip then watched Made in Chelsea in bed – perfect.

Keep reading, the whole week is covered…

  • Day by day: day 2
  • Packing list: here
  • Accommodation guide: here
  • Into hikes in Scotland? Here is our most recent, the West Island Way on the Isle of Bute

What did you do for a milestone birthday?

PS. In 2014 we did not have an SLR camera- apologies for the quality of images, not to normal standards!

Gemma and Craig are full-time workers with a life-long travel habit. Flirting with 30 and let loose on the world! Gemma writes, Craig looks good in the photos.

Comments 22

  1. A 90 mile walk is so impressive! Looks like your surroundings were gorgeous as well, I’d actually love to try it.

    ps. The photo of the girls stretching is hilarious! What kind of stretch is that, tell me?

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      I’m reassured that stretch is one for the old hip flexors! It was a lot of fun, and the views were outstanding. So glad I did it before we left. Writing a guest blog for Scot Bloggers on the ‘peaks and troughs’ (get it?)… Waaaay!

  2. Your pics are just fine without a slr 🙂 Always enjoy pint time ha ha ha but less so for Made in Chelsea – awful show (what did you think of it?)

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      It is such a bubblegum brain show – it’s good to ‘switch off’ too. I can’t say I’ve kept up with it though…

  3. Doing some trekking in Scotland has been on my list for years and this makes me want to push it to the top. There’s nothing like seeing the countryside on foot and of course a pint or two at the end is a just reward!

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  4. Glad you found the right path in the end – Scotland is a beautiful country to hike through, and I’ll have to add The West Highland Way to my list. We took a Haggis tour when we visited the first time, so I’m really looking forward to getting back and exploring independently, with a little more flexibility in our itinerary for adventures like this 🙂

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      I have heard great things about Haggis Tours, I’m keen to explore a bit of Scotland with them now that I’ve done some independent trips (we’ve just done a complete swap on travelling around Scotland!) There is still so much of Scotland I’ve to see!

  5. Wow, 90 miles is an epic walk, congratulations and what a great way to celebrate your 30th birthday! The West Highland Way looks so beautiful and a great place to walk. On my 30th birthday, my then boyfriend, now husband took me to Italy to explore all its great cities.

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  6. 90 Miles is quite the walk, but I bet you had an amazing time! I would have been ready for a hot tub and beer as well! (ok, maybe a few!!!)

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  7. My milestone birthday was in July and I celebrated in a similar way. I went on a hike that took me to my favorite beach in Sardinia. It was amazing!

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  8. Congrats on such an impressive hike. 90 miles sounds a little too much for me but I guess if you rest and make a journey out of it, it”s doable. I love the water photo and with sun. Stunning!

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  9. Glad you were able to find a local to help you on your way. Nothing better than someone who knows what they are talking about.

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