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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Loch Lomond weekender - 10/5/2008 - 11-5/2008

With a goal of an inexpensive weekend away, Brian and I became slaves to the weather and headed west to Loch Lomond. Forecasts suggested it would be the least wet, foggy or windy. It was -- the weather was well behaved on both days, bordering on warm.

We arrived to the car park in the early afternoon, just as the annual hill race was finishing. Our hike up to Ben Lomond summit was spent dodging descending runners. We were impressed that they had just run up what we were walking. I was slightly jealous on the way up, but certainly not on the way down. It took a certain amount of madness to run down the hill. We took the tourist trail, but it wasn't littered with tourists. We were never really alone, but we never really had to fight our way through a mob either. Unless you count the rocky traffic jam about a mile into the walk. Small clumps of straggling runners mixed with race officials, hillwalkers and one fearless disabled guy descending in a strange looking buggy. We snuck through pretty quickly on a path that looked less appealing to the descending.

We had a very late lunch atop the summit, enjoying the view and the slight wind blowing the midges away. Just as we were about to head back down, we spoke briefly with a backpacker who had just summited via the less walked trail and talked more to his dog. The dog seemed pleased with his accomplishment but not so interested in carrying on with his person. We felt bad because the guy never gave his dog any water. When it was clear the guy was about to leave, the dog looked first at Brian and then at me for rescue. We apologised for his person being so cruel, but could not offer more than a sympathy scratch behind the ear. They left with the dog on leash, but the sheep were in no danger. We hoped that they would find one of the tiny streams so the dog could have a drink. They disappeared off the trail not quite a mile from the summit, probably to set up camp a good distance away from the main trail.

Next time we walk a hill like that one, that should be our plan, too. Brian said Loch Lomond is Glasgow's place to get away from it all. Our neighbours locally and all along the loch seemed like instead they brought it all with them. We had dueling stereos for a good part of the night, with the more annoying coming from across the loch. Eventually, I think the drunk neds from down the way found their way closer and shouted to each other as they wandered aimlessly. Several somebodies were shouting drunk anyway. It was a long night, punctuated by a sleeping punch from Brian, who was bundled into his sleeping bag to avoid any midges who may have found their way into the tent. I slept in my bug net, because i didn't think it was midge-tight either. By dawn, the neds discovered quiet and the generous people across the loch put their music back on. Never again. It's a shame, really, because Loch Lomond really is a nice place.

In the morning, Brian spoke with one of the park rangers who had the unpleasant job of cleaning up after the considerate people. Indeed, that was her least favourite part of the job. With a slightly tired start, we took our bikes on the delayed ferry across from Rowardennan to Inverbeg. We combined two routes in the little red book, cycling north to Tarbet as Loch Lomond constricts. I didn't necessarily want to get all the way to Tarbet, but I wanted to get as far as the constriction. Tarbet wasn't all that much farther. We had our first picnic there, enjoying ice cream (Brian) and a popsicle (me) in the village green. From Tarbet, we had the best view of the Ben Lomond summit.

We doubled back and continued south, passing some of the considerate people from the night before as we followed the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path. The sun felt warm and the wind was gentle. We stopped again in Luss and I discovered that my back was soaked. My Camelbak, which I was excited to not cause me pain, had sprung a dire leak. It had to be retired. I got some bottled water from the shop as replacement.

We continued south from Luss with the cycle path leading away from the obvious shoreline about where the wallaby island sits in the loch. Sadness as I couldn't wave to the wallabies or show Brian the castle on the tiny island that he's not allowed to get. Occasionally, we could see Loch Lomond, but the path never really found its way back until Loch Lomond Shores. Tourist mecca #2, but a good enough place to stop for lunch. We laughed at the speed(ish) boat that was drifting away because the guy forgot to beach it or tie it off and we watched a swan argue with a dog that was defending its stupid person who probably threw stuff at the swan to begin with.

Cycling onward after lunch, we dodged congestion in the Balloch Castle Country Park before reuniting with NCN route 7. The little red book describes this route as mostly flat, which I guess might be true if you consider the hill surfaces to be flat as they go up and down. Rolling hills is more accurate, though it makes me wonder what they consider a hilly cycle to be. NCN 7 followed mostly B roads and the occasional rough track.

We arrived to Drymen just a bit after 4pm and took another break on the village green. Eleven miles to Rowardennan, eleven definitely not flat miles. Much of the ride was with the cars, though the occasional trail was welcome. Past Balmaha and the wall of midges at the turn, Brian was led astray by one trail that I opted not to follow. My legs were fading and I wasn't interested in bumpy trail to agitate them more. He caught up with me on the road with a mile or two left to Rowardennan and beat me back by a minute or three. My legs were going at their own pace and would get there eventually.

Sunday evening far more peaceful with sun shining across the lake as we rested by the shore. On the drive home, the weather transitioned from sun and (relative) warmth to fog and mist. The red sheep were still visible at the Pyramids, but only just. The active parts of the weekend were great, but perhaps better enjoyed in the off season.

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At 15 May, 2008 01:12, Blogger Super Babe said...

Dueling stereos sounds like fun. Reminds me of a time I went camping with Heather and next to our campsite we had this family with 7 kids (all boys ranging from about 14 to a baby)... Fun times.


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