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West Highland Way

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skiier 09 Oct 17:20  

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Hi, Anyone cycled the West Highland Way? I am looking do it next spring but unsure of how dificult it would be, any advice would be fantastic, thanks

Murray Barnes 10 Oct 00:24  

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This article should give you some idea of how hard it is.

My Latest Route: Jul 2008 Great Glen Cycleway

happy 10 Oct 17:32  

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Certainly looks pretty amazing though, I would love to do that cycle. Great mix of everything, and of course Scottish weather!!

Happy

My Latest Route: Oct 2010 Livingston to Ayr Avoiding A71

uaeic 12 Oct 05:46  

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I have walked the WHW several times in both directions and cannot help thinking that it is not a route that I would consider biking. I hope you have read the link which I found to be most enjoyable. A major point to be considered is that it should really be done as a group, there are many areas which demand care and respect from walkers without the encumberance of portering a bike, so keep safety in mind.

If you are considering next spring your accommodation should already be booked, it is a very popular route and the WHW site has good links. The two guys in the article missed out Conic Hill which is quite an arduous treck and is also prone to high, cold and wet winds, the descent is steep and mainly rock slabs which might prove tricky for the cyclist.

The trail up the northeastern side of the loch is, to say the least, a bit desperate, it is narrow and precipitous, constantly having to manouvre round trees, roots and boulders, not easy I would imagine with your bike, but hey, whatever rocks your boat. I wish you luck and know you will enjoy every minute regardless of the conditions. Small final point, the current record is 15 hrs 44 mins and some secs, this without stopping, these trail runners are something else. Yours aye, Ian Campbell.


richardpm38 17 Oct 21:27  

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Hi,

My friend and I did the WHW in september 08, we cycled for 3 days, and some of it is easy and some of it is near impossible. email me and i will give you loads of info and advice.. I have a photo slideshow on you tube

just type in Mountain Biking on West Highland Way


skiier 21 Oct 12:58  

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Thanks all for your posts, richardpm38 i can't see your e-mail address, could you e-mail me at paulwright65@yahoo.co.uk, thanks again, Paul


summitzero 05 Nov 12:47  

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Hi new here

I have'nt done it on the bike but i have walked it and have loads of info for the WHW and the surrounding area if its any help.
Also there is a webpage when i done it, that may have some info on it for you, its walkingforlife.piczo.com


Allxn 11 Jan 02:37  

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skiier Hi

Done the WHW twice now (last time in two days and we finished it off in style by doing Ben Nevis ;) reading your message actually made me join the forum as I wished someone had given me proper advice before starting it.

Most of the route is cyclable, some fairly tricky technical stuff but it is pretty amazing.

The bad news, there is a lot which is not cyclable, mainly concentrated about the north end of Loch Lomond. It is pretty rough traversing by foot and quite physically demanding when you have to climb over rocks and outcrops holding your bike and your packs. Including one section where you climb a ladder up a cliff face with a 50 foot sheer drop onto pointy rocks and the loch below.

Probably wouldn't even remember that if you walked it but with a Mountain bike crooked over your shoulder it is pretty scary. This whole section of what can only be described accurately as hell, will take between four and five hours depending on your hiking/climbing/strength.

The rest of it is just plain tough work. Two days is achievable but you need a few things

1) A "GOOD" level of off road ability, take what you have ever done on any off road experiences and double, triple or quadruple the difficulty for quite a lot of the sections of this. I came off twice on drop offs which revealed themselves after 20 or so 12 Inch stairs to actually be 18-24 inch for the last couple. Doesn't sound much but when the stairs are a foot apart, greasy old wood lips which protrude up by a few inches, covered in deep mud on a trail one foot wide and you have been on the bike for 9 hours already it can be painful....it was.....

2) Stamina by the bucketload. Took us 27 Hours of riding/hiking/climbing over two days. To put it into perspective, the other reason I am joining the forum is because I am going from the Shetland Islands to Jersey, incorporating, Lands End, John O Groats, Dunnet Head and Lizard Point. Full UK and Islands North and South extremities ...found out I couldn't save my route after planning it out the other night unless I was a member... and even I look at our third planned WHW trip in trepidation, would much rather face 1,400 miles of road cycling that WHW again!

3) Spare brake pads, no really, I heard a rumour about taking spare pads and ignored it, cut to scene on day ONE! when I ran out of brakes on my rears, by day two I had worn a hole through my gloves trying to get anything from either front or back brakes. When combined with 1 above you can see how big accidents happen quickly. Eventually had to use my feet dragging along the ground to slow myself down (While my colleague used the old standing on the back tyre approach to slow down) wished I had followed his example as it has been six months and four of my toenails have still to grow back!

4) A healthy dose of insanity, if you plan to do it in two days you will need to fling yourself down some hills quickly in the knowledge that the nearest help may be several hours away, the drops are big and it isn't really bike friendly paths or terrain.

5) Good relations with whoever you will be doing it with, arguments started on our first trip on the Conic Hill Ascent, and by Inversnaid it had gone decidely cold, by Bridge of Orchy it was evil and by the Black Mount we turned back to Bridge of Orchy went to the pub and got a train to Fort William.

6) Avon "Skin so soft" in the turquoise bottle..... no really I am genuine. Midgies are evil wee swine and this stuff while not deterring them totally does melt them if they land on you which is nice for revenge and stopping them biting you. British Army use it whenever they do training in teh highlands as otherwise they get bitten to hell... oh yeah and whatever you do do not stop on Rannoch Mor, we did and within a minute our arms and legs were physically black from midgies...still itching just thinking about it.

7) Good ability to bunny hop, hundreds of rain channels to allow drain off of water from the mountains, some can be several feet wide and require a good jump or constant coming off the bike to get over them, the edges are sharp and usually rough stone. I got one wrong and bust a Schwalbe Armoured Tyre with a Slime Tube and buckled my DT Swiss wheel into the bargain.

Apart from being horrendously draining, I must admit it was probably the best biking experience I have ever had in my life. Awesome scenery, brilliant rides, laugh out loud downhills, some real tricky and genuinely gratifying sections and an exhilirating feeling to finish.

Plus you should see the looks on the hikers faces as you come sliding down a rock/grass/loose stone mountain sideways laughing your head off while simultaneously trying to work out whether that small patch of rough is actually a hidden hole which will pitch you over the handle bars (Yes it was, yes my colleague did a beatiful face plant ;)

Or when you meet them in the pub or along the way and they ask you when you started, we had a Belgian who was incandescent with rage as it took him and his Girlfriend just under a week to walk it and we replied with.....started yesterday morning mate....and thats us just finished it.

Brilliant ;)

My Latest Route: Nov 2009 top to Bottom, Tiverton to Penzeance, Day 10

richardpm38 11 Jan 11:07  

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Great Review, of your trip, I did it in September 08 over 2 and a half days, and know what you mean about what you said in point one, i came off my bike going down one of theses sets of stairs that just appeared, and I broke my pinky on my right hand, it still hasn,t straightened out.. ouch

also I know full well of the brake thing and so did my friend , we had some rather scary expieriences, we were told we would be able to get spare brake pads, this is not true take at least 2 spare sets with you, if you dont it will or could spoil it for you,

we are thinking of doing it again this summer and maybe throw in the Great Glen Way when we are done

Richard


Wee Gus 15 Jan 21:29  

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Whats story with disc brakes for a trip like this? I've (like lots of others) a plan to do this trip in April or May. Just got my first bike with front and rear discs.


richardpm38 15 Jan 22:02  

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Hi, we did not have disc brakes, but as far as i know they wear out just like conventional pads, so be prepared and take spares, if you have brake problems it puts a real dampener on the trip.

Richard


Wee Gus 15 Jan 22:12  

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I thought they were loads longer lasting. --- no idea how to change them either. !! thanks tho.


richardpm38 15 Jan 22:14  

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The scottish grit will eat them for breakfast , I dont think they will be that hard to replace probably just allen key screws to loosen

Richard


Allxn 23 Jan 10:20  

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I was using full discs, mate was using standard calipers. He actually fared slightly better as he could wallop the clamping way up by using spacers in the end, I only had a limited amount of travel in the disc system and paid the price for it

Spares, yeah you may as well bring two sets for each brake, for all the weight they add it would be well worth it.

Injuries, expect a few here and there, understand how you could break your finger pretty easily. I got away with my big mistake with a 12 inch bruise which was swollen out by about 2-3 inches on the bone, lost four toenails after losing my brakes, took a pretty hefty knock on the undercarriage from a big unexpected drop, and had numerous bruising, cuts, stings....a Tic Bite!!...and a cleg bite, really I was counting out injuries I hadn't noticed for weeks afterwards. Colleague had a gash across his knee as well which looked impressive as hell when we stopped for food or at night. Because it was on his knee the wound wouldn't close properly and kept on bleeding so by the time we finished at the end of the night he looked as if he had just left a battlefield there was that much blood.

Oh yeah, something to remember. If you can wear ankle guards of some variety. Given the width and difficulty of some of the hiking sections around loch lomond you will slice your ankles to shreds with your pedals. No matter how careful you are the amount of times your far pedal catches a random piece of scenery and whips your closest pedal into the back of your heel.....owww

Would add some photos but genuinely we didn't take many as we were too busy enjoying/hating it ;) And of those photos we took it doesn't really do the trip justice.

Ultimately you should definitely do it, you should see the look on peoples faces when you tell them you have done it ;)

My Latest Route: Nov 2009 top to Bottom, Tiverton to Penzeance, Day 10

Allxn 23 Jan 10:22  

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Great Glen way, going to build that into my Shetland to Jersey Trip, easiest way to get from Inverness to Fort William on my way south.

By all extents it is to use a common phrase "piece of ps" in comparison to something like the WHW and can easily be done in a day.

My Latest Route: Nov 2009 top to Bottom, Tiverton to Penzeance, Day 10

richardpm38 23 Jan 12:52  

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ha ha I had forgot about the leg injuries,Ouch!!!its so painful getting hit with the pedal on the ankle.. if i do it again I will definately get gaurds, when we did the WHW it was pretty damp and we must have looked like tinkers cycling we were so dirty and smelly and bleeding, i rinsed out my cycling shorts , jacket and shirt every night but by the 3rd day we could actually smell ourselves, looks liely that I will be doing this trip again this year possibly adding on the Great Glen Way at the end.

if anyone is interested here is the address for my You Tube slideshow

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nRWBo1vsL0U

I,m the smaller chap, please feel free to comment

Richard


desperadok 29 Mar 20:45  

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Hi, 3 of us done the whw on mtb over 2 days. The 1st was Milngavie to Bridge of Orchy(slog & a half) Loch Lomond being impossible in places, tho a light xc bike is cool for throwing over the shoulder. After a meal & 2 pints in the hotel at Bridge of Orchy we crashed out within seconds .
Day 2 was average in difficulty until we hit the devils staircase, the storm channels were the biggest problem. Eventually at the top the views & descent into Kinlochleven were bliss which were then a ruined distant memory by the climb out of Kinlochleven ! Totally worth it tho as the rest of the ''saunter'' into Fort Bill were a dawdle !! Seriously, it is perfectly do-able by fitish people even tho we(who done it) are bodily tuned for DH


desperadok 29 Mar 20:51  

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Should have said, we never went through brake pads(discs usually need no more than pliers & 30 seconds to change) Between the 3 of us we had 3 punctures & a snapped chain(must be the DH part of us, lack brakes & brains on descents) Enjoy :-)


Allxn 30 Mar 10:47  

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So much "fun" we are doing it again

Looks like five of us this time going the first weekend in May. I love the timing as I will just be getting back from a two week 1,600 mile cycling tour of the UK, get a break for a couple of days and then the WHW for two days. Joy. At least this time I will have the use of my Kona Caldera MTB.

Two of the same guys from the original trip, a new recruit in the shape of a MTB "expert" and another possible new recruit in a Road Racing champion. This guy will utterly destroy you on a road so I will be interested to see him on a MTB......from what I have heard he will probably destroy us there as well.

Downhill riders not running out of brakes.... yeah that sounds appropriate. Reckon if you are skilled in that area then a huge chunk of the WHW will be pretty run of the mill for you.

Still taking spare pads though, they do only take 30 seconds to a minute to switch out, just last time I didn't have any to replace them with....


My Latest Route: Nov 2009 top to Bottom, Tiverton to Penzeance, Day 10

desperadok 30 Mar 21:45  

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Yeah mate, some of the descents were a dream, keeping you on your toes. Biggest problem with high speed were the unsuspecting bobble hatters, mind you it was probably the biggest "rush" they'd had in a while !! We were doing the whw in y-fronts to raise money for prostate cancer so the walkers were generally supportive


ff60gyg 25 May 19:11  

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Hi im going to do the west highland way on the 26th of june so i will let you know.


norrymerrida 02 Jul 21:54  

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hi all well doing the whw on the 14th just gettin a few last miniute tips thanks lads will certianly let you know how me and my brother get on


Allxn 03 Jul 15:10  

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Third time for doing it, didn't finish (see below), planning a fourth

There has been some changes made making it easier for bikes. A load of the bridges and over road sections which involved climbing up staircases have been removed and smooth paths introduced. Some big stairs have also been removed and replaced by hard packed surfacing over a lesser gradient.

Bike gates have been reduced and simplified, again making it easier. Plus there was a section where you had to climb over a greasy moss covered dry stone wall with barbed wire surrounds, approached with trepidation but glad to see it is now been flattened with a path running through it.

Conic hill descent, still an absolute hoot. Got some really evil looks from some bobble hats though as I went tearing down it speedway style, jumped off the path and shot over the side laughing all the way. Two others in the group didn't fare so well. One went over the handlebars and the other dug his handlebar into the ground while doing the speedway style descent. Slid down the hill for a good forty feet until the bar was in up to the stem. Plus look out for the "smooth" sections beside the path, my front wheel disappeared up to the fork in a bog

Reason for not finishing.... two snapped rear mechs, snapped chain and late starts. As well as snow....in May!

As a point of note, Great Glen Way is a piece of ps (Two bits excepted but in contrast to the WHW it was easy). Did it in a day incorporating a pub crawl...(not many pubs) and we ended up doing skidding competitions on the way into Inverness to liven things up.

My Latest Route: Nov 2009 top to Bottom, Tiverton to Penzeance, Day 10

norrymerrida 17 Jul 10:19  

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hi all just completed the way, and what a trip ups and downs, cries and laughter, hard but fun. the ups the devils stair case and the climb out of kinlochleven where both hard but, the descent from the stair case to kinloch is the best ever done.

lessons learned dont take all the extra kit had to ditch half our wieght, loads of midgey stuff, dont ever rough it bitten to bits, and only 2 puntures easily fixed with slime patches peal them off stick em on and away you go.

the end was a bit of a let down, we where to knackered for celebrations, just wanted to get home its only now that i am sitting here wishing i was back on the way


goodluck and safe riding to all who go for it


keep_fit 25 Sep 23:28  

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never would dream doing anything like that
i just got a mountain bike recently an i did get tired just after doing 10 miles
an took around 2 hours were as normally it would be 1
if i keep at it n we keep getting good weather then maybe just maybe i attempt 2 do that next year


Allxn 28 Sep 15:24  

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Keep_fit, would advise that if you took two hours for the first 10 miles you get in some real hard practice. The first 10-20 miles are really very easy and show nothing of what the WHW is about.

Not trying to be negative but it takes a huge of amount of fitness and stamina/strength to complete in two days, all of it needed at the end of day one and mid/end of day two. The start of day one is a hoot as it is virtually a pathway.

Keep in there though, we all have to start somewhere but I would suggest you hit some off road circuit stuff to get your fitness up, get used to being in the saddle for 8-10 hours a day before attempting the full way.... or just take your time, do it over 4-5 days and enjoy the pubs and scenery while getting fit? ;)

Now considering running it over two days.... reckon it is feasible as the fell runners can do it in 15 hours straight.





My Latest Route: Nov 2009 top to Bottom, Tiverton to Penzeance, Day 10

The Plodder 23 May 22:48  

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Me and the wife are doing it in August. Not very experienced so we are going for four days!

Great advice on here and looking forward to it!


richard73 25 May 16:17  

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Hi Just got back from cycling the WHW. 2 and a half days

Absolutely awesome, but really really tough - do not underestimate this.

We were a mixed ability group and the fitter ones were challenged and the relatively unfit ones struggled big time.

Large parts of the route require carrying/pushing but get the right weather and its awesome.

If anyone wants any details re: which parts are un-rideable etc just post here and I will expand.

In a nutshell - tough even for the avergae fit rider but brilliant.



My Latest Route: Apr 2009 Stirling Loop via Sherrif Muir and Braco

keep_fit 25 May 17:15  

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just to note that my post was posted last year lol
just done 10 miles from cycle track and main road to glasgow took an hour dead on
was please with it but was sore as iam just a beginner n getting the chance to do it often mainly cycle local area just now doing my first 50 this weekend probadly sund as bike going in for service so i hope it be a smooth run as this weather is staying great for the time being enjoy it while it last


getoffyourbike 06 Aug 17:13  

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Please note that this is a route originally intended for walker and be responsible . The whole idea is to enjoy the route not to annoy other people. Please also remember to be polite to others using this route - without them it would not exist.

I find cyclist in the main to be very rude to walkers who are out to enjoy the countryside not just to get there as fast as you can - that is not the point.

also please do not ring your bell - the person in front of you may be deaf - it is more polite to get off your bike and walk past not just go past as fast as you can. Hell mend you when you fall off your bike - we walkers get the last laugh plus


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