West Highland Way | Day 3
Day 3 of the West Highland Way going over Conic Hill was superb. We met loads of great people who stopped to talk to us and the film crew were excellent. As I mentioned in a previous past, Eve has taken a liking to the camera operator (Brooke) who she spent nearly the whole journey down Conic Hill talking to. Eve even briefly spoke to Brooke on camera. I have no idea what was actually said, but I was told there was a lot of talking about cats and Disney movies!
At Garadhban Forest where we started this morning it felt fresh and bright. It was a beautiful and slightly overcast morning. We recorded our usual morning GoPro diary clip for the documentary and another clip on the iPhone for social media.
As I have already mentioned before, the Conic Hill section of the West Highland Way is where it starts to get dramatic. There’s a transition from the soft pastoral landscapes of the Southern lowlands to the dramatic mountains of the Scottish Highlands.
Walking through Garadhban Forest we got our first glimpse of the majestic and bonnie Loch Lomond. Loch Lomond is the largest Loch by surface area and only second to Loch Ness in volume. It is the largest body of fresh water in the whole of the UK!
Loch Lomond is an awe inspiring spectacle, that will stir deep emotions in even the most unemotional person. It’s absolutely amazing!
We had arranged to meet the film crew on the forest path a mile further ahead as they planned to get a few early morning shots before we arrived. So we set of in earnest, keeping a look out. However they had a few issues and we ended up being ahead of them. We had a phone call from the director to apologise and ask if we could pause. So Eve and I sat down and chilled for a short while so they could catch up.
We met up, put our microphones on and they even gave Eve a bag of Randoms sweets. Thank you! We walked together for wee sections until we were asked to stop so they could go off ahead or do something specific for the camera.
The crew told us today about some of the stuff that goes on behind the scene to film us such as getting permissions to film on Conic Hill or anywhere else. This is because it’s professional recording with professional cameras, microphones etc, and not, for example just me with a GoPro doing something for personal reasons or to put something on a YouTube channel. It sounded intense, and I felt very naive to all the other work they have been doing.
The forest section isn’t the most interesting, but it’s easy and has a few gaps that gives you a peek over Loch Lomond and some of the islands. The forest is like a tunnel and helps to build the excitement for what is to come and it didn’t disappoint!
Leaving the tree line behind we emerged, almost immediately onto the mountain moorland with the most amazing view over Loch Lomond and up Conic Hill.
Conic Hill from here looks like a huge lump, with Loch Lomond making it look even more impressive. It looks almost intimidating, but looking closer you can just make out the winding path that snakes it’s way around the side and towards the summit.
Conic Hill is a short, simple, easy little hill. The rewards gained from walking up it far exceed the effort many times over, and with a large grassy summit there is plenty of room for a picnic and cup of tea from a hot flask.
The trail leads over the moors before starting a gentle climb around the side on a rocky path. It’s very easy to follow, made even easier by the line of walkers carrying huge backpacks with them.
All the while walking we were being intermittently filmed and giving a little bit of commentary to the camera.
I hate being recorded but I have to confess to becoming a bit more comfortable with it now. My biggest frustration by far is not being able to say what’s in my mind, as I always forget or simply get confused. It feels ridiculous and is very frustrating. It’s something I intend to work on and get under control so i can talk with authority and passion, as I think I do know a lot more than I say and passion is something that I have by the bucket.
I haven’t mentioned Eve much so far and that’s for a reason. Eve was fairly quiet this morning and stayed locked to me for most of the climb. She did occasionally leave my side if she could get a stoke of a dog or saw something interesting like a new shoot or bud on a plant.
Eve did start to come out of her shell the further on we got and definitely was a lot happier once at the top.
At the point that the West Highland Way starts to descend leading into Balmaha there is a small diversion that you can take to summit Conic Hill. The summit isn’t actually on the West Highland Way. We obviously planned to go to the summit so that’s what we did.
We followed the rocky path up to a small flat area where the wind was whipping and cold. The film crew went up before us to film us walking up, but couldn’t get to the actual summit as the wind was so strong they couldn’t hold the huge camera properly as it was getting blown about.
We resorted to having to use the GoPro as it’s lighter and safer. We walked up the final section and got some awesome images from the top. To our surprise and relief there was no wind on the other side of Conic Hills summit.
They decided to try and use the drone and it was absolutely epic! They showed us some of the footage they got with the drone and it was amazing! They said they might use some of the footage for the opening sequence of the documentary as it looked so amazing!
Eve and I found a small area and sat down for lunch, brewing a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows. It was epic. The film crew asked if this is a tradition on our walks (a hot chocolate with marshmallows on summits), I said “no” but it just might have to become one.
After about 30 minutes or so we headed back down and onto the main path following the West Highland Way. It was a great break and Eve was very happy.
I did record a little section on the GoPro when Eve and I were sat having our drink, and Eve really came out of herself for the first time today. Unfortunately I couldn’t upload it as the film crew have the SD card to download the footage. Sorry.
The walk down was steep and slow, but was made a lot easier by the new section of the path that’s being installed. They have done a lot of work and is much better than it was.
Eve spent the whole walk down with Brooke, the camera operator, talking about stuff. It felt so odd watching Eve talk happily to somebody else, but was also so nice. I can’t thank Brooke enough and she was so kind and patient. Eve really enjoyed it.
There wasn’t much filming down on the way down as the priority was to get down safely because as most people know, most injuries happen on the way down.
However on the way down and once at the bottom Brooke did manage to get Eve to do some talking to the camera. It was amazing and I genuinely think this documentary has helped Eve to come out of her shell a bit more and certainly gained more confidence. If nothing else, and I think there will be, Eve’s increase in confidence will have been worth it all.
There is a few diversions at the base of Conic Hill because of tree felling, so we walked into Balmaha along the road instead of through the carpark.
The smell of food was strong and the noise of people and the road could be heard from a long distance away.
We all decided to go to the pub to get a drink and I ordered Eve some food for dinner as the time was getting on.
We sat outside and talked about the filming and looking at some of the footage. It was really interesting and I have learned so much of what happens when we are not being filmed and some for the editing processes. It sounds intense and the hours it takes for just a few minutes is just incredible!
Before long Sarah arrived to collect Eve and I and we went home together talking about what we had done today.
Unfortunately we can’t walk tomorrow as we have a few jobs that need to be completed. I’m on a Team talk call with a lecturer from Kent University as I have consented to be used as a part of a case study!
When we start walking again we will be wild camping and we even have the film crew out on a wild camp with us! We are seriously excited!
That’s if for today. Until tomorrow have a great night and see you soon.
Ian, Sarah and Eve