Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 2: Drymen to Rowardennan

Day 2 turned out to be a very difficult day, thanks to my taking the wrong way TWICE!! which added both extra steps and time to an already long day. Nobody to blame but myself, though on the first wrong way I was encouraged by locals that I could still get where I wanted to go if I just continued on. I couldn't and ended up retracing my steps. A huge waste of time!

Anyway, to begin at the beginning: Alan, my host at Hawthornes made a wonderful fruit salad which I really enjoyed. After that I packed my knapsack with some food for lunch and off I went: the wrong way! Anyway, I eventually got back on track, so to speak, only to take another wrong turn in Garadhban Forest. Came back and got onto the right path again. Grrrrr....

(Note to self: if there are no other walkers around, consider that you have made a mistake!)

Garadhban Forest is one of the many areas that Scotland is clear-cutting as part of a long-term plan to replace non-native species, such as Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine and hybrid larch planted 30 to 40 years ago by the previous well-meaning generation with native species such as Scots pine, alder and rowan.

The clear-cut areas are shockingly ugly.
Emerging from the Forest, the path bears right and up and over Conic Hill (1184 ft.). The climb is very steep, with huge steps which must have been made for a generation of giants. I took this picture on the way down.
It started to rain as I was going up. Visibility was poor, but I took this picture, looking westward over Loch Lomond.
By this time it was getting late, thanks to my earlier wanderings , so I didn't stop for many pictures, especially since it was raining and I just wanted to get going. By the time I got down from Conic Hill (almost as slow going down as up, thanks to the steep pitch) to Balmaha, on the shore of Loch Lomond, I was ready to hop on a bus or get a taxi to Rowardennan, but the helpful lady in the Tourist Office informed me that there is no public transport at all to Rowardennan and if I wanted to go there, I'd have to walk and not only that, if I wanted to come back, I'd also have to walk back!
So I adjusted the gaiters over my boots, bundled back into my raincoat, put my head down and started walking. In the rain. 10½ more kilometers. By this time I was so tired, the Buteyko breathing went out the window and I struggled even on small inclines. I started to get a pain in my belly. Of course, I hadn't stopped for lunch, since it was raining, so eventually I paused briefly to down some crisps (potato chips) and had a big drink of water. Felt better.
Loch Lomond is Britain's largest lake and when it's not misty like this, the view is amazing.
I still enjoyed looking out over the Loch and also spotted some holly growing alongside the trail. It would have been so beautiful in the sunshine.

The rain finally stopped, but everything was wet and the clouds were still low.
The muddy trail was slippery and difficult to navigate and I was so relieved by the time I reached Rowardennan. It was just after 6 pm. It had been a long day.
The room was comfortable, but the bathroom, though private, was down the hall, around 2 corners and down 4 steps (which nearly did me in, I was so weary!).
On reflection, at the end of the day, I was glad that there had been no public transport, so I was denied the opportunity to wimp out. If I could get through a difficult day like today, I could get through anything!
Tomorrow will be better! Will not take any wrong turns!!

Go to Day 1
Go to Day 3