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Ben Lomond, Scotland. (3 day backpack)
Tue 17 - Fri 20 Apr 2012

Tue 17 Apr 2012

Tue 17 Apr 2012

Wed 18 Apr 2012

Thu 19 Apr 2012

Fri 20 Apr 2012

This is my last morning with the coach holiday group as they head off home while Iím staying to go walking. After the spell of clear blue skies and sitting in a coach the weather has now changed with constant overnight rain. Because of an earlier start the breakfast was at 06:40 but Iíd been out earlier in the rainy gloom to sort out my rucksack. I said goodbye to Ann and Geoff who Iíd shared a meal table with and waved goodbye as their coach drove up the lane in the pouring rain. It was quite unpleasant getting my full waterproof on, wrapping the camera and camera bag in plastic bags before setting off south along the West Highland Way that runs along the east side of Loch Lomond.


Base of the old cableway for the dam construction

I suppose I should be positive about it. The last time I set off along this same path was mid Dec last year and then it was dark and windy and I had to walk the first mile or so by head torch. After about one and a half miles I came to the cottage of Cailness. It was occupied the last time I came by in Dec and was today. There was a vehicle parked up but the only access is by a very long and rough track to Aberfoyle to the east. I wandered up to the building and a rough looking man came out. He was unshaven with very dirty teeth. He told me it was private but I explained I wasnít trying to walk through as I was on the path by the loch.


Cailness

It wasnít a friendly place to be so I continued my wet walk south. I soon met the first walker of the day, a young map heading north, presumably doing the West Highland Way. It is interesting to note that all those Iíve seen do the walk south to north though I cant think of any particular reason why thatís the way its mostly done. On my last walk here there were many signs of the early December storms as many trees had been blown over and many still lay across the track. All those across the track had been cleared and I was making good time as I walked along. Low cloud prevented any views of the mountains but the occasional view higher up didnít look good with a wide covering of snow. I started to see more walkers approaching. First a couple then a small group and then a large group. I was certainly going the right way so they soon passed.


On the West Highland Way

The buildings of Ptarmigan Lodge were down to my right but nobody seemed to be about. The track levelled off towards Rowardennan Lodge but I wasnít going that far. On the final approach I turned left up through the trees, the same path Iíd taken the last time I was here. From now on it was steeply uphill but at least I had a path to follow. Behind me I noticed a solo walker coming up behind. He had a small day pack but kept stopping to take in the view so didnít overtake me as Iíd expected. The clouds started to clear for a while but they soon closed in again. I reached the fence line as last time where the same narrow gate is in place. You can only get through without a pack on and those with a day pack can easily take it off. There should be no need for this as the gate should have more space. I did like many others and climbed over the wire fence. Because many had done this I could easily stride over without climbing it.


Gaining altitude


Wide view of the south end of Loch Lomond

At an altitude of 490m I looked up ahead to see a lot of snow and the path vanishing into cloud. Tomorrowís forecast was for more of the same but with stronger winds. I was about a mile short of my planned camp so decided to quit while there was only a light snow covering, some visibility and water nearby. It was only early afternoon as I finished putting the tent up and collecting water from the nearby stream. Just as I put my pack in the tent I began to pour down with a mix of rain and sleet. As the afternoon progressed the weather continued to change drastically. Brief spells of rain and then clear sunshine which pushed up the temperature in the tent.