Bike Lochs - Whit Bank holiday weekend - by Jo and Liz
Jo and Liz sacrificed the cultural pleasures of the Hay Festival in favour of the bodily pleasures of trying out a hired top-of-the-range campervan – with fixed bed! (Verdict: positive about the large fridge, negative about the cramped bed).
Staying on the east shore of Loch Lomond brought its traditional Scottish fare of drizzle and midges. However, unexpectedly we also had two fine days, perfect for setting up some rigorous physical activity to build on the month’s earlier achievements: cycling in Majorca, Manchester 10k run and Cheshire triathlon.
We resolved to try the 16-mile West Loch Lomond cycle route. After a false start cycling 6 miles to Rowardennan, the nearest ferry point (only two a day), [pic –Jo Loch Lomond] we biked and scrambled a further 8 miles along the West Highland Way – it was the only way to do it, as there was no road. Inevitably, we missed the next ferry, and had to drink coffee and snooze on the settees of the once-grand Inversnaid Hotel for an hour and a half before the next ferry arrived. [pic – bikes on ferry] By the time we started our bike ride it was 5pm.
The West Loch Lomond cycle path is well worth doing, squeezed between the loch and the new road, with all the benefits of being mostly traffic-free. A quick re-fuel (Fanta and chips) in Balloch at the bottom of the loch, then we connected with NCN route 7 to Drymen (which we’d done the other way round on our Inverness to Glasgow ride a couple of years ago.) Ten miles of country lanes in evening sunshine was delightful. From Drymen it was a quick 6 miles back to our campsite at Millarorchy Bay, marked by a short killer hill at Balmaha – you can guess which of us made it up without stopping.
Next day – same start to Rowardennan, [pic – Liz Loch Lomond] then parked our bikes and swapped cycling shoes for walking boots. It took us 3 hours to ‘bag our Munro’, plodding up the well-worn path to the top of Ben Lomond (941 meters/3196 feet). The top was truly stunning, seeing the length of Loch Lomond and its 40 islands, other lochs appearing amongst the Trossach mountains and further afield to the sea. [pic – mountain view 2]
I counted 88 peaks turning from east to north to west, and there were more that I missed. Scrambling down via the lesser mountain Ptarmigan (named after a mountain bird) was far more challenging, took two and a half hours, and left us hardly able to walk for the next few days. [pic – Highland cow]
But hey! Move over Chris Hoy, our muscles are made of iron