Up the Devil’s Staircase: BF Fundraiser Cameron Young’s Epic Cross-Country Walk

The intrepid Cameron Young has completed a sponsored walk to raise money for the pioneering psychedelic research and drug policy reform initiatives that we undertake at the Beckley Foundation!

We are proud and inspired that Cameron has chosen us as his charitable focus, and wish to share his very detailed account of his journey. If you wish to sponsor him retrospectively, you can do so via his JustGiving page.


Here is a beautiful, muddily evocative description by Cameron of his fundraising adventure:

“It was an excellent experience, tough at points but we enjoyed ourselves. We started our first day from Milngavie at around 7:30am and walked 20 miles to Milarrochy. The scenery in this section was mainly farmland and country roads until we reached Drymen (roughly 12 miles in). We decided not to stop in Drymen and continued on into Garadhban Forest where we stopped and made ourselves some soup. We walked a further 3 miles and was greeted by Conic Hill.

Path to Conic Hill (Cameron Young)

Reaching 1180 feet above sea level, it was not the larges hill we where going to encounter but on our first day and after walking 18 miles, it was tough. We reached Milarrochy fairly late that night and pitch our tent next to Loch Lomond. We soon realised this was a bad idea as we where soon swarmed by midges.

First view of Loch Lomond

First view of Loch Lomond (Cameron Young)


Day 2 we left Milarrochy and started our journey to Crainlarich, 26 miles further down the path. This walk took us completely around the north east side of Loch Lomand. The sun was splitting the trees and the views where incredible. We had originally planned on stopping in Rowardennan for some lunch as there was nowhere else to stop for the next 7 miles. We soon found ourselves at a small pub called The Clansman, where we stopped and filled our water bottles and fixed our boots and then continued on the road to Rowardennan. After walking a further 3 miles, we had began to worry we had walked past our destination and I was struggling to pin point our position on our map.

View of Lock Lomond

View of Lock Lomond (Cameron Young)

We found a Ranger cabin and went to ask for a point of reference. The Ranger showed us where we where on the map, we where in fact 3 miles past Rowardennan. It became apparent that the pub we had past was the destination we where looking for. Although the ranger was helpful, he was very judgemental of the situation, insinuating that we where just city kids coming out to have fun in the forest. We continued on our way, feeling disheartened at the Rangers judgement and extremely upset that we had walk past lunch. We continued on regardless, walking a further 6 miles before we reached Inversnaid where we stopped for Food. After finishing our meal and plastering up our toes, we started on our final 7 mile stretch for today, or so we thought. After reaching Crainlarich, we where directed to our accommodation for the evening, which was 3 miles further down the path. What originally started as a 26 mile day had turned into a 29 mile day. This was the toughest day of our trip. by the end we where exhausted, our feet felt like they would never get better and we smelled terrible. But our moral was lifted as soon as we reached our accommodation. We where staying at the Strathfillan Wig Wams. Arriving late we got showered and relaxed by our fire pit, savoring our heated accommodation and our huge bed. I feel this night may have saved us for the rest of the journey. It boosted our morale after the 2 toughest days of the week and gave our feet a good rest.

Day 3 was a short day, only having to walk 12 miles to reach the Inveroran Hotel where we where wild camping for the evening. As we didn’t have to rush to reach our campsite, we where able to absorb the scenery and enjoy ourselves. We reached the hotel and found a spot to camp in the parkland next door. We found a lovely spot next to the river and began pitching our tent. During the putting up of the tent, I managed to rip a guide pole clip of our ground mat. Luckily, Laura can saw and managed to fix it in no time and we had our camp set. We collected wood for a fire and watched the deer as they walked past us. After dinner in the hotel, we returned to the tent and started our fire. It was a lovely sunset looking over Loch Tulla, but it was constantly disrupted with swarms of midges. With mosquito nets we managed to see the sunset and turned in for the night. During the night it began to rain heavily but luckily our tent held up and we woke up dry. Although it was raining, it was still very warm, and i slept out of my sleeping bag.

Waking up in the morning, we quickly got our tent packed away and set off. The rain had stopped but it was still very overcast, which was actually good considering we where both sun burnt from the first 3 days. The first part of our day was a 10 mile hike through Black Mount, a beautiful mountain range filled with small rivers and streams. It was very misty and looked like the setting of a horror movie. We reached the Kingshouse Hotel where we met an old friend from Glasgow who has been working in the hotel for the last year. It was great to hear her stories of living in the mountains but she also exposed the realities of living in such a secluded area. With the closest shop being 8 miles away, and over the Devils Staircase, it was not to simply go to the shops. After some lunch we set of again on the second part of the day, 8 miles to Kinlochleven. In this section we where excited about climbing the Devils Staircase and curious to see how devilish it was. In fact it was more like the Devils Pathway, with around 3 steps in the full section. On the way up we had stopped for some water when I realised I had a tick that had latched itself onto my chest. An unfortunate consequence of sleeping outside my sleeping bag. We had walked over and down the opposite side of Beinn Bheag, the 2,027 FAS mountain in which the Devils Staircase lies, when Laura asked when we where going to get to it. She was very happy to be told we had already done it. We also met a 74 year old man who was taking his bike up Beinn Bheag to free wheel it down the Devils Staircase. We reached Kinlochleven in just enough time. Getting our tent up just as the rain started trickling, we went for showers. Opening the door to leave the showers blocks, the heavens had opened and it was raining heavily. We decided to get our waterproofs on and head into the town for some dinner. We had food in The Ice Factor, Kinlochleven indoor climbing centre, which was completely empty apart from ourselves and the bartender. The rain soon stopped and we returned to our tent to settle for the night.

View from Mam Carraigh

View from Mam Carraigh (Cameron Young)

Day 5 and the final 15 mile stretch from Kinlochleven to Fort William, taking us through the breathtaking scenery of Glen Coe. Again the weather on this day was not the best, but it remained dry until we reached Fort William. We were not the only people on the trail this day either. The Caledonian Challenge was also taking place. In this event, participants have 24 hours to complete a route the same distance as the West Highland Way, starting 18 miles north of Fort William and finishing in Drymen. We found out the people who where doing this part of the event where trained athletes from all over the world. We kept them going with motivational cheers as they ran past us in the opposite direction, keeping in mind they where going to run the distance it had taken us 5 days to cover. The old man we had met the day before had told us that the record for fastest time in completing the event is 14 hours and 14 minutes, which to us was madness. We eventually began to walk across the north face of Meall a Chaoruinn, which opened our view onto Ben Nevis.

It towered over everything around it and it peak was still hidden by the clouds. We made our way down a work road towards Glen Nevis and eventually met the main road that took us to Fort William. The Walk along the main road was by far the worst we had done so far. The flat, solid surface of the pavement tormented our feet and the road seemed to last forever. Eventually we made it to Fort William. The route ended at the far end of Fort William High Street, which we later found it had only been changed to this location 4 years ago to give the high street more business. Laura’s parents payed us a surprise visit and treated us to dinner. They also brought a large teepee for us all to sleep in that night. Although our little 2 man hiking tent felt like home now, we where not going to turn down the chance to sleep on an inflatable mattress.


Ben Nevis Loch

Ben Nevis Loch (Cameron Young)

We woke up Early on the Sunday and prepared ourselves for the climb ahead. Armed with the fresh socks we had purchased in Fort William and a day bag full of cereal bars and water, we began our accent up Ben Nevis. The walk up took us by a loch that sits half way up the mountain. We eventually reached a large 50m or so stretch of snow that covered the path. We assumed this was the summit and asked someone to clarify. They notified us that we still had around another 40 minute walk to the summit. so we continued over the snow, at this point visibility was minimal and it had started getting very windy. We reached the summit to find the ruins of an old observatory, a peace monument that had been raised at the end of the 1st world war and a shelter which i was told the marines use on training exercises. After taking our celebratory photographs be began our descent. Although the descent did not take as long as going up the mountain, it was far more painful on our legs. With legs shaking we made it back to the bottom where we met back up with Laura’s parents. We then began another journey, a far less exciting or enjoyable journey back to the city.

Since we have returned, all we have wanted to do is go back. We are already planning our next adventure and will be returning to the West Highland Way to complete it over a longer period of time, just so we can experience everything it has to offer.”