Stage 1: Milngavie – Drymen

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive
Robert Louis Stevenson

On Saturday mornings, Glasgow sleeps. Waiting for the 8:31 train, we were 5 people, three of them with backpacks. On the 8:20 train, which I let go so as not to sprint, three more boarded. The train left and arrived on time, and in Milngavie we all looked like we were starting the West Highland Way.

Milngavie is what they call a commuter town, which for us would be a dormitory town. Wikipedia says it has about 12,000 inhabitants, but the feeling it makes is that it is a village of 300, with the square where the West Highland Way begins as the nerve centre.

West Highland Way begins there in Milngavie
West Highland Way begins there in Milngavie

At nine in the morning, that square looked like a party. Two bagpipers, people taking pictures, many people wearing the same yellow T-shirt, people posing in the middle of each other’s photos … There seemed to be some popular race or walk; I guess the fact that Monday is a holiday has also contributed to many people doing part (or all) of the route starting today.

Well, when there are many people at the exit, what happens? That you meet them all day. Have you ever been in Barcelona Les Rambles in August? Well, here it has been similar: hard not to see someone at some point in front of you.

First stage: from Milngavie to Drymen

But because the important thing is to participate, but above all in this entry is the route, let me talk about the stage. Today’s was 19.5 km. The disappointment I took when, while I was dying of fatigue, I noticed that it was not 15 as I thought…

Milngavie’s exit is very urban, to put it another way, it’s a park like you can find in Glasgow or Edinburgh, full of trees, and with a perfect path. Then, suddenly, you find yourself surrounded by meadows. And that’s it. Sometimes you see cows, sometimes sheep, sometimes a farm or a B&B but nothing in the end you do stop to remove the camera from the backpack (I no longer say reflex). Even the road has been monotonous, it looked like a paved road a long time ago that they have left to their fate and that in a harsh climate like the Scottish there are only small memories left.

Milngavie Outbound Forest · The West Highland Way
Milngavie Outbound Forest

The incentive has come in the few times the road has taken us over a hill, and we have had spectacular views: Conic Hill, Ben Lomond, and even the most incipient Loch Lomond with some of its Islands. Also, the part that runs through Mugdock Wood, a country park of those that there are so many, is stunning. And the piece with Craigallian Lake on the right, too. Maybe it’s not as monotonous as fatigue has made me think.

Anyway, nothing happens either. The guide already says it: it’s a day to get warm with the environment. Tomorrow, we have direct contact with Loch Lomond, and gradually leave the Lowlands to enter the Highlands.

Arriving at Drymen

The day has ended in Drymen, one of those Scottish settlements that we think are villages. And, to be more exact, in this fantastic Inn that is The Dreamer Inn: the rooms have everything you could need (at least mine, I haven’t been into any other!), They’re new and the decor is modern, the waitresses and the waiter are very friendly, and the food is excellent, the Cullen Skink, which is one of my favourite Scottish dishes, was fabulous!

Don’t pay too much attention to the GPX map: in the final part, I left the tracker paused for two or three km …

Map & Profile


T. distance (km)


T. ascent (m)


T. descent (m)


Total time

Photo gallery

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