As ever I started early, 5 am waking and wandering to the tram stop to board the 6:45 virgin express to Glasgow and then onto my final destination of Balloch.
This was by far the furthest and longest train journey 5 and half hours to be precise, having booked my ticket in advance ensures a seat with a view for the majority of the time, Virgin trains have been the best ones I have travelled on so far, comfy, plenty of space and free wifi that provides free movies among other things, just what I needed to while away the time.
I arrived at Glasgow on time, it reminded me of a little Euston station, people arriving and departing, running to catch ongoing trains, I wandered a little distance to my next train and a short 30 min journey onward to Balloch.
I shared my journey with a large group of uni students being led on a day out around Loch Lomond, each were being given a waver to sing in case non returned which made me laugh a little. The scenery was fantastic with rolling hills and country side as far as I could see, clouds followed and looked ominous for much of the time.
I departed the train and waited for the crowds of youngsters to depart before setting off on my next park, I headed out of Balloch along Stirling Road before joining the John Muir trail which was collection of quiet little back roads, skirting small hamlets and singular cottages and farmsteads, a cyclist passed by, her bike laden with all thing adventure and I felt a little jealous of her ease of movement and picked up my jogging pace.
At a little place called Tullycross, I spotted what appeared to be a short cut, the gate a little overgrown I pushed through the brambles and low hanging trees and onto open farm land, a few sheep kept watch over me as I moved through, attempting to skirt the many boggy and wet ground, I trod on managing to catch sight of some deer as I went, I came to a fence and realised that the path had long gone, I wasn’t sure if the path was now blocked by the farmer or I had missed the last gate. I took a quick climb over and then over another as I realised I was nearing someones private garden.
I could see the road I was aiming for and slid down a banking, crossing a shallow stream and then up and over a short wall, at this point things got a little stupid, in order to climb over the wall I had to shuffle backwards and then I fell backwards, yep like some comedy show I leaned to far back and the weight of my pack carried me over and onto my back like a large turtle, luckily no cars were near and so I managed to stand up and set off before any came.
The temporary fall must have scrambled my brains as I headed in the completely wrong direction towards Croftamie, realising my mistake I headed back the way I had come a lady asking if I was ok as I had now passed her the second time in the last 30 mins, I cheerily thanked her and headed into Drymen for a much needed cuppa and cake.
I was some 12 miles in and only just coming into view of Loch Lomond which irritated me slightly that this was basically a 12 mile detour away from the Loch it’s self. Joining the B837 before entering the little village of Balmaha, it was more of a holiday resort than an actually village as most of the house I saw were holiday cottages, lodges or BnB’s. I passed holiday makers and the group of uni students awaiting their bus back to Balloch before crossing the road and taking time to appreciate the legend that is Tom Weir, it was a wonderful statue and a fitting place for him to be remembered.
I managed to avoid the initial crowds of day walkers and settled into a gentle jaunt by the side of the Loch, the views here were amazing and as the path narrowed I was hemmed in by walkers very very slowly making their way along the paths to pictures points, knowing that time was fading along with the light I managed to force my way past and was soon granted to some more space and time to take in the views. The Loch was calm and serene with clumps of visitors along the way, I was hoping to reach the 20 mile point and my wild camp on the shores but it was becoming clear that this was not going to happen, I was quickly loosing time and light and needed to stop earlier than planned.
As I went I managed to capture a rather funny sight, three people taking the same picture of a tree with the Loch as a back drop, as nice as a picture as it was, this was one of the insta horror points where hordes flock to capture the same image, mine was one of three people taking the same picture.
As dusk began to settled and still some 4 miles from the intended camp, I took the choice to stop early at a little site called Cashel, I was happy that I was granted a spot for the night and pretty much had the choice of anywhere on site, I opted for a spot near the showers and under the protection of a tree, with the new tent set up (well sort of, its new and a bit of a faff to set up at the moment) I showered and cooked my meal before carrying out some social media admin and calls home before starting the task of trying to gain some sleep.
I had been awake since 5 am but had slept poorly the night before and it definitely showed, I hoped for a good sleep and to be ready to tackle some 30 odd miles the coming day. Well I certainly wasn’t aware of what to come.