Mary, Denis’s wonderful wife, (both stars of the small screen) delivered us to the end of the Pipe Track, a pleasant route that follows the pipeline that feeds Glasgow with it’s supply of H2O from Loch Katrine.
The pub jukebox was playing ‘Hey Jude’. We craved cold lager, we’d already walked over 50 yards and we were both determined to remain hydrated throughout the walk to come.
We’d earlier had a brief chat with J.D. who just happened to be toddling off to buy his daily newspaper – and maybe a bottle of milk. Or something. He takes hydration seriously too. Obviously.
Then we walked, laughed, chatted, laughed some more…and then we found a distillery. We’d been forbidden from entering but Denis, clearly a closet Boy Scout, was suitably prepared.
An anonymous <koff> Challenger in familiar surroundings
Continuing north we came to a pub. Well it could be considered rude not to…..
Denis chatting with John, another sometime TGO Challenger. I met up with John on last year’s Challenge whilst walking with Beryl on a cold and snowy Lochnagar. John goes ultra-lightweight: his waterproof gloves were Marigolds and his waterproof leg-protection was a sort of skirt made from Sil-Nylon. It worked for him!
One for AlanR
Balmaha, gateway to Loch Lomond (apologies to the late, great Peter Sellers)
We walked as far as Drymen where there was a pub. Denis’s daughter came to meet us and drive us back to Denis’s house – where Mary had prepared a wonderful meal. After a gallon of tea and a damned good chinwag and more laughs it was time for bed. My hosts couldn’t have done more to make me feel at home – my very grateful thanks!
Next morning Mary delivered us back to Drymen where we continued our foray northwards. The pubs were still shut so we just started walking….and recalling our Challenge memories and laughs.
AlanR recently wrote on his blog ‘The good thing about the Challenge is the assistance you get from other challengers’. I think he hit the nail on the head. There’s far more to it of course, but assistance is freely given to those in trouble with no expectation of reward – it’s what happens in the hills of course. The ample reward is the knowledge that you’ve done good.
Denis (with his Irn Bru) at Sallochy Campsite
Sallochy Campsite is run by Forestry Commission Scotland. At a fiver a night it’s a good deal. Although there’s not a shower block, the composting toilet is, er, convenient, and clean water is available.
Evidence of the area’s volcanic past
Brilliant pitch at NN325162, overlooking Loch Lomond
The Cenotaph, Crianlarich
St Fillan Priory Burial Ground, and Kirkton Farm. Ben More (?) in the background
Cooling my overheated feet in the River Ba
Bridge over the River Ba, NN277483
I’d previously received a text message from Gayle asking if I was going to be at Kingshouse – which I was. This was A Good Thing, Mick, Gayle and Colin were also planning to be there. I was delighted to be invited for dinner in Colin. Gayle had conjoured up a rather fine Shepherd’s Pie. It was a bit nice. After dinner we wandered over to the much-maligned Kingshouse (I’ve always experienced good ale and pleasant staff on my previous visits) where quantities of beer (TT Landlord seeing as you asked) may have been consumed.
Before bed I had a mess around with my camera, set on a mini tripod:
Buachaille Etive Mor at 11.30pm
Kingshouse by night
The following morning Mick & Gayle again invited into Colin’s interior – to enjoy an egg & bacon butty washed down withe finest Yorkshire Tea. Thanks for your kindness - I could get used to this!
Clach Leathad (?) from Kingshouse
The view from Colin’s side window
Colin, and if you look carefully you may spot Mick & Gayle lurking in the shade
Pass of Glencoe….Scotchland’s answer to High Cup Nick
En route to Kinlochleven
Arriving in Kinlochleven I toyed with the idea of booking into the bunkhouse – it was blisteringly hot and I was in dire need of a shower. It was also a bit early. After a Co-op lunch of cheese butty, carrot cake and a bottle of something refreshing (non-alcoholic) I decided to press on a bit further.
The LRT running WNW from Kinlochleven passes some superb wild camping spots, I settled on this one:
Perfect pitch just south of Stob Ban
I was able to strip off and have a really good wash down – I hate feeling sticky and mucky when climbing into my sleeping bag. It’s so much nicer feeling clean(ish) and smelling sweet(er).
My new toy, a Caldera Cone
My only reservation with the Caldera Cone was that they’re designed for specific pans – in my case an 850ml MRS Titan. I frequently need to give my rehydrating meals a bit of a nudge (bringing them back to the boil to speed the rehydration process). This shows my MSR pan sitting in the Caldera Cone ‘unlocked’. It worked well although it’s as well to keep an eye on it’s stability – just in case. I’m happy with this arrangement.
Identification challenge for AlanR
Ruin at Tigh-na-sleubhaich
Debris left behind after the forestry had been chopped down and carted off. Worramess.
So that was it, well the first bit of this section anyway. It had been good fun, Denis & Mary were tremendously good fun and wonderful hosts. The weather had been glorious, a bit too glorious sometimes – I frequently had to sit out the hottest part of the days, starting early to avoid the heat and high UV levels.
Pubs on the route were noticably expensive – certainly pricier than other pubs on LDPs that I’ve walked. If you’re interested I suggest that you check out The Rowardennan Hotel and the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and it’s bunkhouse on TripAdvisor, I wish I had.
The End…..of this bit.
Although I should add that I spent the night in Fort Bill’s Bank Street Lodge, an excellent bunkhouse / hostel. I ended up sharing a room with TGO Challenger Keith Leonard (Grandad). He was doing the Challenge with Charles who was also staying at the hostel.
We ate in Fort Bill’s Wetherspoon’s pub, The Great Glen. Unusually for Wetherspoons, the food was awful. The beer was excellent though.
We decided to give the place another chance for breakfast the next morning. No change – the food was still awful.