A Travellerspoint blog

Balmaha to Inverarnan

Day 2 - 17th April 2011

sunny 21 °C

Ian and I woke and showered before heading down for breakfast. Amazingly Wigs was still sleeping! We ate heartily, keen to keep our strength up ahead of a 21-mile day that would see us walk the length of Loch Lomond and more.

The sun was splitting the skies as we set off after filling up our camelpaks with water and buying a packed lunch from the shop next door, apart from Elliott who was determined to do the walk fuelled by Heinze Baked Beans and stick to his budget!

Me and Wigs at Balmaha

Me and Wigs at Balmaha

We couldn't have asked for better weather and the scenery more than matched it. Ian and I went a bit snap happy with our cameras. We skirted round Loch Lomond before climbing into the woods and making our way to Rowardennan, a full 7-miles away. We got there in a little over 2-hours and we were pretty pleased with our timing.

After another short walk we found a beach and Wigs and I were determined to cool off in the loch. Mmmm not that determined, it was still bitterly cold despite the scorching sun, so we settled for a paddle instead!

paddling in Loch Lomond

paddling in Loch Lomond

With our feet nicely cooled we marched on to Inversnaid, climbing a hill to give us stunning views of the loch. It was quite breathtaking at times, if only Scotland had the weather more often. We stopped on a rock high above the water for lunch and I phoned my brother Ross who works for Bolton to wish him luck for their semi final. Ross had originally meant to be on the walk with us, however the chance of going to Wembley after Bolton progressed was too much. Ian took his place for 2-nights, due to holidays and his one year old daughter he couldn't stay for longer.

We kept going, keeping up a good steady pace in the scorching sunshine. At one point I ducked under a waterfall running down the hillside to cool down and we got to the beautiful location of the Inversnaid Hotel just before 3pm, with 7-miles still to go. It was a chance to get an ice-cold pint of fresh orange and lemonade, use the facilities and bask in the sunshine before we tackled the section that many deem to be the hardest of the entire route.

We had been given an idea of what to expect from the last couple of miles into Inversnaid, narrow paths with a bi of scrambling ober rocks and roots. However it didn't prepare us for what lay ahead. The route was only a few feet above the loch and we clambered about. After a short while we stumbled across Rob Roy's cave and took a short breather. Just as we did a cruise boat came up towards us with on board commentary....a great excuse for us all to pop a mooney (show our bums). We laughed at the fact we were doing this in our mid-30's. But hey, we are young at heart!

We marched on and the going go tough. Marty and Elliott strode out ahead, leaving Wigs, Ian and I to keep steady, although Wigs was struggling. We chose a beautiful spot to rest behind an abandoned cottage perched on a hill above the loch. Beautiful, location, location, location indeed.

Lunch with a view

Lunch with a view

We kept going, climbing hills, scrambling over rocks and roots, eventually spotting the famous Drovers Inn in the distance. Marty phoned Wigs to say they had arrived, Ian was a bit ahead of Wigs and I but eventually we all joined up at the Drovers. Wigs and I shared a room, he went straight to sleep again!

I had a bath and went downstairs, ordering an ice cold pint of cider, scotch broth and a steak dinner. Marty, Ian and Elliott joined me and ordered as well. Thankfully Wigs joined us to stock up on food, he wasn't too keen on his main course of fish'n'chips but he demolished his dessert, practically licking the plate!

Marty and I ordered a bottle of wine and Wigs stayed with us and we chatted about the tough 21-miler we had completed that day. Tough, but extremely memorable. The scenery around Loch Lomond is amongst the best on route.

On the rocks at Loch Lomond

On the rocks at Loch Lomond

Posted by murray2701 12:50 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scotland loch_lomond west_highland_way Comments (0)

Milngavie to Balmaha

Day 1 - 16th April 2011

sunny 16 °C

After a few months of planning and discussion we were finally ready to tackle the West Highland Way.

A few things had gone wrong; namely the fact that my brother had to drop out due to work committments, however we were happy to have my friend Ian taking his place for a couple of days.

So on Saturday 16th April I walked up to Uddingston train station to join my friends Colin, Elliott and Martyn on the train. We changed at Cambuslang and met Ian on the train. The banter commenced and it rarely let up for the next 6 days.

During our initial discussions we decided on the following 5-day route;

Day 1 - Milngavie to Balmaha - 20-miles
Day 2 - Balmaha to Inverarnan - 21-miles
Day 3 - Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy - 19-miles
Day 4 - Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven - 21-miles
Day 5 - Knlochleven to Fort William - 16-miles

We were in high spirits when we arrived in Milngavie, with Colin (Wigs) swinging on the sign marked West Highland Way. We checked in with AMS bag services who would transport our large bags from place to place, ensuring we had minimum baggage with us to enable us to crack on with our intended 5-day target.

After some pictures at the start and some pit stops at Greggs and the sweet shop we were off. With Motherwell playing a Scottish Cup Semi-Final at 12.45pm, Wigs and Martyn were keen to get to Drymen for then to watch the game over lunch. We walked out of Milngavie and skirted round Mugdock Country Park before getting out into the countryside. Before we knew it we were at Glengoyne Distillery and we marched on. The first section is pretty flat and the scenery isn't anything to write home about compared to what was to come.

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There was one nice wee section however, around 3-miles out from Drymen there is a row of old stone cottages by the river and one of them had an honesty box outside. It was a nice touch and I got a can of Coke.

Cottages near Drymen

Cottages near Drymen

Marty and Wigs arrived in Drymen around 10-minutes ahead of Elliott, Ian and I and phoned to say there was a power cut so the pubs couldn't show the football! We arrived and went to the Pottery Bar as told, only to be called across the road as the pub there had the game on. Amazingly Motherwell were 2-0 up and Sutton soon fired in a cracker to make it 3-0 at half-time. We celebrated by ordering lunch and a couple of pints of Guinness. The second half was a non event and we strode out to complete the next 8-miles to take us to Balmaha.

Before long we found ourselves approaching Conic Hill, we had the option to walk round it or climb it. We chose to climb it. It wasn't a hard climb, but Wigs had a headache and Elliott already had a blister, so they struggled a bit. Ian and Martyn romped it while I took my time and we all enjoyed the views from the top before a descent into Balmaha and a swig of port from Marty's hipflask.

We stayed at the Oak Tree Inn, with a room for 3 and a twin room. Wigs went straight to bed and slept right through while the rest os us showered and went in search of food and drink. The food was excellent, despite the mix up with orders meaning Ian and I got a starter size portion of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties and the tabel across the way got our main course. The waitress righted her wrong by giving us another starter and the dessert was incredible.

Ian, Marty and I stayed up having more drinks than we should have in the funky wee stone bar, having a great laugh, high with the sense of adventure. We hit the sackaround 11.30pm and slept soundly.

Posted by murray2701 09:14 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged trekking west_highland_way Comments (0)

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