Monday, May 16, 2011

West Highland Way Day 2 - Drymen to Rowardennan

Day 2 (yesterday, Sunday) - an earlyish start of 8am for us, not because we're awfully diligent but Kath's husband's offer of a lift to where we ended day1 fitted with tee-off time at Strathendrick golf course. The forecast for the afternoon was heavy rain so it seemed like an ideal chance to get a few miles under our belts before the rain set in. Weak sunshine and very light showers barely penetrated the Garabhan Forest, the first section of today's walk, but it was lovely to be amongst the silence and calm of the trees and clearly hear bird song as we warmed up the muscles for the 15 mile section to Rowardennan.

Forestry operations have been ongoing recently so the tracks were muddy but at least there were no machines working today so no diversions were necessary.

As we left the forested area it was most exciting and rewarding to see Loch Lomond and some of its islands. We had a decent view although the mizzley rain never quite went away. The streams we crossed were in fine flow and everything looked green and vibrant. Our first proper view of Conic Hill and it seemed further than we had thought, perhaps because, for a period, you spend time walking away from it rather than towards it. However, we were soon at the foot of the eastern shoulder of the hill. Although I've been up Conic a few times it has always been directly from the car park at Balmaha so, like day1's walk, it was really good to see it from a different perspective.
As we climbed the shoulder onto the ridge the rain came down, paths were running as small streams, and as we tipped onto the top we were met with a strong wind which drove the misty rain directly at us. No stopping, no views to admire, we just put our heads down and dropped down into Balmaha as soon as we could. On day1 of the West Highland Way we encountered over 100 people, on day2 it was significantly less. Partly this will be due to differing start times but also many we met had chosen a low level option to avoid Conic Hill. Those who we met up the hill seemed slightly manic and happy and we had some nice wee chats with fellow walkers.

Dropping down into Balmaha you pass through some lovely native woods with plenty of bluebells, young ferns and gothic-like fallen trees. I really enjoy a stroll here and its immensely accessible from the Balmaha side without going to the top of the hill.

A reviving coffee stop at the Oak Tree pub and we were on our way north alongside the Loch. The path is mainly through the wooded edges of the loch, sometimes with short bursts up slopes to viewpoints and sometimes with boots crunching on the shoreline beaches.

The photo below is at Millarochy Bay.. And this one is at Sallochy Bay, about an hour south of our journey's end, when the sun came through and finally beat the rainclouds away for the rest of the day.

We both found the last part of the walk pretty tiring. Its like being a kid again, quite literally thinking 'are we nearly there yet?!' Day2's walk has a little sting in the tail, a couple of final short sharp inclines just to eke that last bit of effort from our warm heavy feet.

The view from Rowardennan looking north. Loch Lomond is a beautiful place indeed.

Most people we met were stopping in Rowardennan for the night, some were undertaking the next 7 mile section to Inversnaid without stopping, and we, like others, were heading home to make plans and dates for continuing the rest of the Way.

1 comment:

Bella Bheag said...

Well done! Hope by the time Day 2 was over you felt pleased with your achievement.