Guided West Highland Way: Day One - Craigallian Fire

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West Highland Way Day One: Milngavie to Drymen

Within minutes of starting the West Highland Way you are out of the town and into countryside.  But the crucial part of the first day for me is the first sight of the Campsie Fells. This catches you by surprise as you turn the corner around Scroggy Hill.  Craigallian Loch appears out of nowhere with Dumgoyne in the distance.  It's the first inkling of the mountain scenery to come.

Beside the loch is a memorial to the Craigallian Fire.  The fire was kept alight for many years around the 1920s and 30s and became a meeting point for working class walkers and climbers from Clydeside.  They would sit and brew tea and, most importantly, share ideas.

Many of the firesitters went onto great things. Such as Tom Weir a Scottish climber and writer.  He's best known for his Weir's Way TV show, wearing a bobble hat and his environmental campaigning.  You'll see a statue to him on Day Two by the shore of Loch Lomond.

They talked politics and some would go on to fight in the Spanish Civil War.  They talked mountains and some would go on to explore the Himalayas in the 1950s.  They talked climbing and founded mountaineering clubs.  They defied landowners and opened up the Scottish hills to ordinary people. In doing so they began a campaign for greater access to the countryside that eventually led to the 2003 land reform act.  This effectively gives walkers, climbers, mountain bikers and canoeists free access to any wild places in Scotland so long as they treat them respectfully.

High Level Alternative

Every day of the West Highland Way there are hills above you, teasing you as you plod along the trail below. On day one it is Dumgoyne that does the teasing.

Not to include this shapely 427m hill means missing out on a great viewpoint.  To do so, veer off the West Highland Way after Carbeth Loch and follow quiet roads and tracks to Craigbrock and from here you can follow a track up to the top.

To get back to the West Highland Way from the top, head down the west of the hill to pick up a track to a whisky distillery. From here  you can join a path that intersects with the Way.


If you are looking for a guided walk in Northumberland, the Lake District, Scotland or further afield, with a mountain leader, please get in touch.  I also offer wild camping weekends and navigation courses.  I am planning to offer a Guided "West Highland Way" and "West Highland Way High Level Route" in 2016. Details will follow.  Find out more at exploring-etc.co.uk.

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