20th April – Drymen to Rowardennan

20190421 Loch Lomond near Cashel
Loch Lomond near Cashel

Having spent a most enjoyable evening with Sue and Nigel, catching up with the news of our respective families, I slept in and had a late breakfast.  After stocking up on food, I left Drymen at 9.25.

20190421 Crowds on the West Highland Way

My immediate impression was that half the world was going up the West Highland Way.  We all tramped up to the start of the Conic Hill where, by a seemingly unanimous decision, we stopped for a break.

20190421 Conic Hill
Conic Hill

Little did we know what was to come. The ascent went well, but coming up to the final stretch to the summit I realised that the other half of the world was coming up from the opposite side.  The result was a human traffic jam.  Having avoided going to the summit of Pen-y-Ghent, I felt duty bound to go off-route onto the top.  Waiting my turn, I duly tagged the summit and left as soon as possible.  This was a good decision as even more people were coming up from Balmaha.

20190421 Summit of Conic Hill
On the summit

The car park at Balmaha was overflowing, and a quick visit to the Information Centre revealed that “78 bags of dog poop had been collected in the first kilometre of the path to the Conic Hill”.  From my observation on the canals, they were getting off lightly.

The path on from Balmaha suffers, for several miles, from passing through a major tourist destination.  However, I finally found a little peace on a small beach and stopped for lunch.

20190421 Finally somewhere quiet for lunch
Finally somewhere quiet for lunch

The views today were rather spoilt by the haze, so that any long-distance scenes disappeared in the gloom.  Nevertheless, the scenery improved as I moved further along Loch Lomond.  The Loch is 23 miles (37k) long and is the largest area of fresh water in Britain.   All a bit worrying, as I leave it behind tomorrow.

20190421 Quiet teatime stop
A quiet teatime stop

Moving towards Rowardennan the trail gets better, and the tourists are mainly left behind.  The path threads a route through woodland situated between the Loch and the road, and is very pleasing.

20190421 Pleasant woodland path beyond Anchorage Cottage
Woodland path beyond Anchorage Cottage

Today has been almost too hot for long-distance walking, and I was pleased to enter Rowardennan at 4.15.

20190421 Ben Lomond
Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond towers over Rowardennan, and has been chosen by my friend Karen as her last Munro.  My friends in MAC (Mountain Activities Club) tell me that they are confident my wheelchair will make it.

20190421 Loch Lomond from Rowardennan
View from Rowardennan Youth Hostel

The Youth Hostel is comfortable and is in a beautiful position.  It even has its own ferry service across the loch.  Eleven years ago my son Stuart and I used the ferry when I walked the Way in the opposite direction.

19th April – Lennoxtown to Drymen

20190419 Dumgoyne Hillsl
Dumgoyne Hills on the West Highland Way

As I only had 22k to travel today I had a leisurely breakfast, probably the best of the trip so far, and left at 8.50.

The hotel was just next to the Strathblane Railway Trail, so it was easy to rejoin the route.  Once again most of the day followed the Blane Valley Railway and the walking was easy but not inspiring.

20190419 Typical view of the Strathblane Railway Trail
Typical view of the Strathblane Railway Trail

Around Lennoxtown someone, presumably the parish council, had placed green bags for dog waste every 100m or so.  This seemed to work, as the omnipresent black and green poop bags were no longer decorating the trail.  Dog walkers must be the most forgetful people: “I’m leaving it but will pick it up on the way back”.  End of grumpy old man’s rant.

20190419 Dunglass Hill
Dunglass Hill

One bright spot was seeing a dipper in the nearby Glazert Water.  Dunglass Hill caught the eye just before Strathblane.  I stopped near the church for a short break and arranged to meet my friends, Nigel and Sue, for dinner this evening.  We were all at Swansea University together in the far-distant past.

20190419 Dunreath Castle
Duntreath Castle

Back on the Blane Valley Railway it was more of the same, until I reached Dumgoyach Farm and joined the West Highland Way. Over to the north the twin summits of Dumgoyne Hill were striking, as was Duntreath Castle, pretending to be a French chateau.

20190419 Joining the West Highland Way

Onto the West Highland Way (WHW) and guess what?  It followed the railway.  The only difference was that I kept tripping over other walkers who were on the path in droves.

Four miles later I finally left the railway and immediately got onto a road, which did little to add to the excitement of the day.  The road led me to Drymen where I arrived at 2.10 to make it effectively a half-day.

20190419 Drymen and the Conic Hills
Drymen and the Conic Hills

The past few days have been a classic example of “Be careful what you wish for”.  Last year when I was spending days in Cornwall and Devon going up over headlands, and then down to the beach, and repeating this ad nauseam, I would have given almost anything for a few kilometres of flat level footpath.  But you can have too much of a good thing, and now I am looking forward to some variety and the superb scenery which I know awaits me over the next few days.

Bottom to Top

When my lovely wife Linda died in June 2007, at Sobell House Hospice in Oxford, after a long battle with breast cancer, I decided to journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise funds for the hospice and Cancer Research UK.

Now ten years after Ride, Stride, Glide I am going to walk from The Lizard, the most southerly point in England, to Cape Wrath in north west Scotland. This is a journey of around 1900 kilometres and 52000 metres of ascent. This time I am raising funds for Sobell House Hospice.

My route will basically link six of the long distance paths in the UK. In order these are the South West Coastal Footpath, Offa’s Dyke, the Pennine Way, the Southern Upland Way, the West Highland Way, and the Cape Wrath Trail. I will be starting my trip on June 28th and plan to finish in early October

I would be very grateful for your support and any donation that you are able to make. I have a JustGiving site at http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/neil-jordan4

Many thanks and please follow my posts.