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Overall mileage: Exactly 100 miles
Day 1 mileage: About 12 miles (Balmaha to past Rowardennan)
Buttkicking Factor: Really, not that tough. Just long.

I've been stalling on writing this up because the final trip report is going to live on my WordPress. I want other people looking for information about the trail to find it more easily. I'm going to start working through it here, before I start forgetting. This is mainly going to be a photo post, though.

Entire Scotland Photoset on Flickr, if you want to cut to the chase.

Day 1 - Glasgow --> Luss (by bus) --> Balmaha (by waterbus) --> past Rowardennan (by foot)

So, pre-Day 1. I'd spent close to two months planning and hashing out different strategies for attacking this hike. The big question was, "Do I have time to do the whole thing?" The answer was really no, so I decided to start the hike from Rowardennan, on the shore of Loch Lomond. This meant skipping the first (boring) day of the hike--rural, mostly on hardtop-- and regretfully missing the second (nicer) day over Conic Hill and dropping down into Balhama. Then, at the last minute, I had an extra day open up. I was still intending to start at Rowardennan, so got on the bus in Glasgow first thing in the morning (i.e., the morning after I arrived), and set off for Luss.

Did not spend much time in Glasgow. I took about 4 pictures. Wanted to get on the trail, once I slept off jet lag.

The waterbus was the only way to get there in a timely fashion, although I had looked into getting a bus to Balmaha, which adds 7 miles onto the trip. Sadly, the bus station lady didn't even know where Balmaha was, so that didn't happen. I briefly considered going to the village of Dryden and joining up with the trail there, but I had an unexpected extra 20-25 lbs of weight, and SO did not want to hike over Conic Hill with that. I made several last minute efforts to find a place to store the extra luggage, but nothing worked out. So, heavy, bulky pack it is. Ugh. I abandoned everything I felt like I could part with, and set out to Luss.

The bus dropped me off seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but I found a little trail that led down to the tourist town of Luss. I went directly to the boat pier and was delighted to see that not only was a boat there, but it was a boat to Balhama. I had only looked up the schedule to Rowardennan, which wasn't due for a couple of hours. I happily ran to the boat, bought my ticket directly from the captain, and was on my way within moments.

Goodbye, Luss!
Goodbye, Luss!

Ben Lomond was in the distance. I wanted to climb it, but not with the extra weight.
Ben Lomond in the distance

Ditto for Conic Hill. You can see the West Highland Way trail curve down the side of it.
Conic Hill

I came into Balmaha and walked the short distance into the village. I wanted to grab a few odds and ends before starting my actual hike. Namely, a lighter and some lunch. Stopped by the Oak Tree Inn, and then on a whim, went up to the Ranger Station. There, I found out about a porting service that would drive my extra luggage to my endpoint, 88 miles down the line, for a nominal fee. The only catch was the nearest pickup was at Rowardennan, 9.5 miles away. No big deal. It was freaking heavy, but I figured I could do it. I made the arrangements, had another hiker take my picture, and was off.

Coming into Balmaha
Coming in to Balmaha

Starting off from the Ranger Station.
Starting off!

The trail goes immediately into the Argyll Forest, beside Loch Lomond.

Argyll Forest and Loch Lomond

Argyll Forest Park

Loch Lomond island

After several gruelling hours with a super-heavy pack, I made it to the Rowardennan Youth Hostel. I gleefully ripped my pack apart and ditched probably 50% of the weight for the porting company to pick up. (Ditched a few things I regretted later, but I was just OVER the weight. I am an ultralight hiker! I am not a stupidlyheavy hiker!) I made what would come to be a traditional light purchase of a cup of coffee and a treat (per day), and continued on. It was only about 5 pm and still plenty light out. You also can't wild camp along Loch Lomond until you're about 2-3 miles past Rowardennan. No problem. I only passed a few other people as the day wound down, and eventually decided to pitch my tent at this beautiful overlook.

Lochside campsite

The mist started moving in shortly after I pitched my tent, but it was still a nice evening. Dark fell soon after I cooked dinner, so thus began my first night on the trail.

Later: Day 2
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canyonwren: (Default)
Jen Kleis

November 2014


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