Drymen to Rowardennan
O ne thing that still amazes me on this walk is the amount of punishment and pain I can put my body through just for it to pick itself up and do it all again the next day.
I was so worried that the pain in my right heel from yesterday was going to be a problem this morning, but I was amazed and pleased to find that I could walk around the room ok.
I wasn’t in a rush to get out and about this morning as it was a relatively short day ahead, so I had a little lie-in, eventually getting myself down to breakfast half an hour later than normal. I know it doesn’t sound like much of an extra test but trust me, it was great.
Breakfast completed I slowly sorted my stuff out, checked out and hit the trail at 9:50am. There were only eleven miles ahead of me so time wasn’t a problem. The only worry I had was that the heel problem would resurface again but I hoped taking it easy and not rushing would help.
As I’ve done with other parts of my walk, just because I’m kind of following a marked route it hasn’t meant I’ve religiously done it, so I took the shortest route to get to Rowardennen which was up the B837, to pick up the West Highland Way again at Milton of Buchanan.
The bit of the path I missed out looked as though it meandered its way through a big section of Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, and to be honest, it would have just been walking miles for no reason whatsoever.
The road wasn’t too bad but I don’t like walking on them. Still, the three or so miles I had to cover before getting my first proper views of Loch Lomond at Balmaha didn’t take too long to do. I had a couple of stops/slower sections to talk to Matt and Val – great to talk to you both – but as I knew time wasn’t an issue I was ok with taking time out to chat.
To say that I was blown away by Loch Lomond would be an understatement. This is, hands down, the most stunning place I’ve been to on the walk so far! I could have spent the rest of the day just say on the shore taking photos but I had to at least reach Rowardennan before I could really properly take it easy.
The first challenging part of the day’s walk came just outside Balmaha: Craigie Fort. The West Highland Way at this point takes you up over the top of the hill, which after days of walking on the flat was a bit of a wake-up call to my legs I can tell you. Once up there though the views were even better than on the shore line so I guess the hard work was worth it?
From there the path followed the shore line and I couldn’t help myself stopping every so often just to sit on a rock, looking out over the loch. I really wad taken by this place.
There were lots of people walking along the shore and sitting on the beaches. The day had warmed up quite a lot since this morning which made being by the loch even better. I can see why people come here for a holiday. On days like today I can’t think of anywhere nicer to be right now.
There were also lots of people camping along the shore and in the trees. It didn’t look like it was a proper campsite and I wondered if you could just turn up, pitch a tent and get on with it?
After the delight of walking along the shore the path again took a bit of an unexpected turn through another section of Queen Elizabeth Park. Instead of taking the path round the shore it wandered round the woods taking in another hill. You couldn’t see anything from the top of this one though due to the trees so I really didn’t understand why the people who put the path together decided to do this.
It was around this point when my right heel decided that walking wasn’t what it wanted to do and started to niggle me a little bit. It wasn’t the pain I’d experienced from yesterday but it worried me that’s for sure. I still had three miles to go and I wasn’t sure what the path had left in store for me before reaching Rowardennan. I took a couple of pain killers and kept my fingers crossed that everything would be ok.
The path was pretty kind to me until I reached Ross Wood. Here there was a hill I’d not seen the likes of for some time. The real problem with it was the fact that you couldn’t see the top of it until you were there as it first went up this way, then that way and then back again.
It was a bit of a slog I can tell you and when I reached the top there were three guys taking a break, packs on the floor. I’d seen them on the trail yesterday so I stopped for a little chat with Bas, Clive and Kevin.
We were all heading in the same direction so we headed off together, but as happens we all hit our own walking paces and Bas headed off and finally Clive and Kevin stopped for a break, leaving me to continue on my own. I was feeling pretty good and my heel was holding up well so I managed to get a bit of a good pace going, finally catching up with and passing Bas.
I got to Rowardennan hotel at 3pm and decided to stay there for a bit, having a late lunch and a couple of pints. The youth hostel was only half a mile away so it wasn’t a problem and I certainly didn’t feel the need to rush there and check in.
Shortly after I’d arrived Bas cane through the door and a little while later Clive and Kevin arrived too. We all sat outside chatting, which was great. I’d not had a good natter with fellow walkers for a while now so this was just what I needed, that and a couple of pints of course.
The guys were all walking another six miles so it wasn’t too long before they all headed off and with nothing else to do I strolled up the road to the hostel.
I checked in, found and made my bed and had a good chat with one of the other guys – David – who was staying in the room.
Fortunately I managed to get a signal outside the hostel so I could give the girls a ring, which was lovely as I got to speak to both of them tonight, even if it was for only twenty seconds or so with Elisa.
I headed back to the hotel for dinner and a couple more pints. With no walking tomorrow it didn’t matter if I had a little more to drink than normal. The only plans for the coming day were sitting around doing not a lot other than enjoying the scenery. Let’s hope the weather plays ball!
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I’ve found my happy place again – well, for now at least. Today’s walk was a delight and it certainly helped a lot to lift the dark cloud that’s been over my head these past few days. I can only hope that it lasts now as it’s not been nice walking and not being in to it. Getting the spring back in my step really was good and long may it continue.