|Day 57 – June 5||Rowardenan to Inverarnan|
|Weather: Sunny, Cloudy, Muggy||B&B: The Drovers Inn (£40)|
|Departed: 9:00 Arrived: 15:20||Walked: 5h 22m Rested: 0 hr 45m|
|Distance Today: 15.5 mi / 24.94 km||Total Distance: 904.2 mi / 1455.17 km|
|% Complete: ~ 78.35%||Pint of the Day: Deuchars IPA|
|GPS Track for: Day 57|
Another beautiful day’s walk along Loch Lomond started when I was dropped off at the Clansman Pub at 9:00 this morning. I was joined by two ladies who also stayed at the b&b last night and who were feeling the effects of day one on the West Highland Way. About an hour later I caught up to the group of four Scots I met a couple of days ago and they too commented that they found the walk from Drymen to Rowardennan very tough. I wonder how they did today because I found the walk to Invernanan more difficult on account of the difficult conditions underfoot.
The road ends just north of the Rowardennan Hotel and once past the Youth Hostel the WHW follows a dirt track through the forest for the next 5 miles. It’s a long but gradual climb and there’s not much to see other than the steady stream of walkers. I walked and chatted with a couple of different groups before pushing on when they stopped for a break.
The track eventually narrows to a footpath and descends to the shoreline and this is where the walking gets tricky and your pace slows. Tree roots and a lot of rocks are the order of the day and it became quite a chore clambering over and around them on an increasingly muggy day. This went on for several miles although occasionally a meadow provided a respite from the rocky path.
Today was a banner day for Bluebells. Normally doors and windows are my favourite subjects to photograph but on this trip it’s definitely Bluebells. I’ve never seen so many as I did today and there were some stretches that were truly magnificent. I’ve been following the Bluebells since I left Cornwall but nature has definitely saved the best for last.
Eventually I emerged from the forest at the Inversnaid Hotel, situated on the water and next to a small ferry dock. A Loch Lomond Cruise boat had just deposited a large group of day-trippers and so bar sales were booming. I took advantage of a low retaining wall to have a quick rest and to eat some fruit. No cooked breakfast again this morning and so my stomach was growling by late morning. Best of all there was a fantastic breeze off the water which was really refreshing.
The WHW continued to hug the shoreline and I walked past a fantastic little area, owned by the hotel, that is set aside for walkers who want to pitch a tent (but for one night only). It’s nestled in the trees and right on the Loch so I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to camp. A little further along was Rob Roy’s Cave.
The next several miles were the toughest of the day as the tree roots and boulders required even more effort to navigate. I spent the whole time staring at the ground two feet in front of me — one wrong step could lead to an ankle or knee injury and that could spell the end of any LEJOG attempt.
The footpath became a little easier as I approached the northern end of Loch Lomond. The WHW veered away from the Loch just before the end and weaved its way through rough pastures and woodland for the last few miles into Invernanan.
The WHW emerges from the forest at a large campsite at the bottom of the hill, complete with wooden “wigwams”, cabins, a café and shop. The large field out front was stuffed with tents, a testament to just how popular this walk is. I crossed the field to access a bridge and the A82 which I walked along for a short distance to reach the Drovers Inn.
Established in 1705 the Drover’s Inn is famous for its eccentricity . On entering the Inn you are greeted by a gallery of stuffed animals, including a wolf and black bear bearing its teeth and claws. I was checked in by an Australian in a kilt who bore an uncanny resemblance to a former traveling partner. I had been warned that the rooms here were “old fashioned” and indeed they are, but in a very funky way. The whole place is a bit of a time machine and it doesn’t take much to imagine what it was like in the 18th century. Best of all this place is famous for being haunted. In fact Room 6, directly across from me, is named “The Haunted Room”. They even have a ghost cam you can check out at http://www.thedroversinn.co.uk/ghosts. Nice.
Tomorrow I’m off to Bridge of Orchy by way of General Wade’s 18th century military road.