Day 59: 21 May 2014; Milarrochy to Inverarnan
|Date||Wed 21 May 2014||Start to end time||08h 27m|
|Start point||Milarrochy||End point||Inverarnan|
|Miles today||20.60||Cu miles||1,106.21|
|Ft today||5,271||Cu ft||148,456|
|Route miles left||389.17||Route ft left||54,254|
|Today’s weather||Humid and overcast in morning, sunny in afternoon. Light Southerly breeze. 17C|
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
|GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)
Walking the length of Loch Lomond is a bit like climbing Snowdon. Whereas Snowdon tantalises you with views of the summit which never seems to get any closer, with Loch Lomond you keep thinking that you have arrived at the end, when you go round a corner and discover that it was just a cove, and there are miles more water in front of you. Added to that, on this section of the walk you actually climb more than you do when ascending Snowdon, despite ending the walk at exactly the same height as you started.
I knew all of these facts before I set off, having walked it before, so I suppose I approached the day with a bit of trepidation. And to make the walk even more challenging, overnight it had rained hard, the wind had dropped, and the temperature had risen. In Scotland at this time of year, this can only mean one thing – midges. And indeed, they made their unwelcome presence known immediately I unzipped my tent and poked my nose out. That searing stinging pain from an invisible source immediately told me that the midges were back. Fortunately I’d brought a net for my head, and by putting it on and walking in cagoule and over-trousers I managed to minimise the agony – but at the price of looking like something from a biological warfare unit, and getting extremely sweaty.
Today’s walk did indeed fall into the “quite challenging” category, with over 5,000 ft of climbing and more than 20 miles in length. And the ground was rough, with lots of ups and downs. But perhaps 3 weeks walking the South West Coast path had immunised me to the pain. I actually quite enjoyed the walk – though the numerous other hikers I encountered along the way didn’t seem to be – the tricky ground and the gruelling hauls uphill were actually quite stretching and exhilarating. The other walkers did, by the way, include the same clean-smelling newly-retireds with good knees as I’d seen elsewhere, but also including a fair smattering of American and German visitors, which I hadn’t encountered in such numbers earlier in my journey.
And the scenery was stunning. Loch Lomond is at the heart of Scotland’s first of two national parks (the other is the Cairngorms) and the views into the Trossach hills and the Arrochar “alps”, many of which still had quite large patches of snow, were uplifting. And the bluebells, which had been fading further south, seemed to be at their prime on the loch shore. I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite such a massed display before.
I’ve retired to an authentic Scottish pub for dinner and to write this blog, where I am being served by Australian men wearing kilts. Well, I suppose I am right at the heart of the “Lakes and Mountains” tourist route, so synthetic authenticity must be the order of the day..