People don’t take trips… trips take people.
Every hostel worthy of admiration must have its red hair working in it. In Rowardennan Lodge, he serves food. And for every dish that yesterday he served to the group of four women who became the real queens of the party, he took a standing ovation and the chef a few congratulations. Then, in the living room, they kept giving everyone a conversation. To the two Frenchmen in my room, to the Scots adult couple, and even to a Dutch girl, who, wearing a pink Scottish tartan pyjamas, let her blisters dry with her half-pulled socks. She is from Amsterdam, she likes to travel alone, and last summer she did the Dingle Way in Ireland. The next one I will do, maybe.
Today, from Rowardennan to Inverarnan, it will be a 100% Loch Lomond day, especially for me, which I will finish two miles earlier, lifting an orange ball, to advise the ferry to pick me up and take me to the other side of the lake.
From Rowardennan to Inverarnan following Loch Lomond’s shore
The path is taken at the Youth Hostel itself, and stays close to the lake as it turns vertically slightly. After about two kilometres you reach Ptarmigan Lodge, where there is a fork in the road: the lower part, harder and with some complicated stretches but with great views, and the upper part, monotonous and easier but that passes through the forest and barely lets us see the lake. I wouldn’t have known what to choose, but since the lower section was closed for improvement works, it’s time to do the upper one. And it starts with a good climb.
On the top, and limping, I find yesterday’s couple, the five-mile ones. We talked for a while, where we slept, we were injured… They are Americans, from Ohio, and they have come specifically to do the West Highland Way, and when they finish it they want to go near Aberdeen to do another route. She often travels to Europe, and he doesn’t talk much. As we recount our lives, we come across the first brown goats, those wild goats that stink so much and that we have all fed on the Farmville. The photos have been moved, so I won’t show them to you.
The road, in this area, is full of these wild goats. But it is even fuller of small torrents coming down the mountain to deliver to Loch Lomond the water that fell yesterday. Between torrent and torrent, maybe only 100 meters pass. It’s the big distraction, that and the goats. The path below, on the other hand, passes through what is known as Rob Roy Prison, the cave where Rob Roy allegedly hid the prisoners.
Following in the footsteps of Rob Roy
And this is the area where Rob Roy, from the MacGregor clan, a rancher turned bandit who looked very much like Schlinder, the one of the list, moved. I don’t know if he did very regularly the West Highland Way or just the stage from Rowardennan to Inverarnan, but the point is that walking along the paths used by the most famous leader of the MacGregors, we come to Inversnaid, where we can see some waterfalls magnificent. It’s a good place to stop, eat and rest, because the part that comes now from is the hardest.
The next four miles, from Inversnaid to before Doune, are really exhausting. The path is a series of small slopes, along a narrow enough path that constantly forces you to have to lift your legs more than you should. There are even three or four stretches where the rocks completely hide the path, making it difficult to move if you go with a large backpack loaded on your back. They are not difficult stretches, but fatigue, weight and humidity complicate it quite a bit.
The scenery, of course, is still fantastic, with Loch Lomond on the left and a fairy forest on the right. While I was standing taking photos, I was approached by a couple who caught my eye on the first day: they were both very loaded, and with grey pants and a blue jacket. They are Germans, and they carry the tent on top, even though the night before they spent it in a hostel because it was all muddy. They also charge a reflex and also end up taking 90% of the photos with the mobile. This makes me feel less of a load donkey.
Towards the other side of the lake
The way torment ends right on a beach, with fantastic views to the south of the lake, as the beach draws an L entering inside. For a kilometre, the way moves away from the lake to return briefly before finally leaving Loch Lomond. The route continues for another three and a half miles, but I have a bothy (a mix between hobbit house and Indian tent) waiting for me on the other side of the lake. With your permission, I will lift the orange ball.