LEJOG50: Milton of Campsie to Cashell

Today was the first day of the West Highland Way. Although only lasting a week this is one of the big guns in the world of long-distance paths. It includes lochs and mountains and is meant to be quite spectacular. I had followed most of the route previously by car and had been impressed then-I was hoping to be more impressed now.

It took a while to join the path, just enough time for me to get lost and be saved by a young teenage girl walking her massive black dog. She walked with me for a bit to show me the route and we talked about the area. She really liked living by the campsie hills but did admit that there was a bit of a drinking problem. I tried not to be over-friendly like a lecherous uncle.

With her help I made it onto the path. It was pleasant enough country walking, the main difference being a set of big hills on the horizon that i was sure the path headed towards. After a while though the tiredness really started to kick in. The route went through a pine plantation on it’s way to Conic Hill, a really cool looking hill which would have given me an amazing view. The plantation was arduous though and I ended up taking a short cut away from the hill because I didn’t feel up to it. It was rainy and windy and I just wanted to sit down and take my boots off. The day was a long one – 20-22 miles – and it was taking it’s toll. Eventually I got to Balmaha a small village on the edge of Loch Lomond and had an early dinner of roast vegetable pizza (cheesey stodge and vegetable goodness-a winning combination) because I got the feeling that food supplies were few and far between.

After a little rest I made my way along the bank of loch Lomond. It was misty and in the evening light the lake and the surrounding hills seemed to blur together, turning the landscape into a series of flat silvery blue shapes like a picture made up of layers of torn tissue paper.

If the view across the lake was lovely that on the sandy bank next to me left alot to be desired. It was covered in tents and camping detritus such as disposable barbeques. Staying here was obviously popular with all sections and ages of Scottish society. This is on the whole a good thing, the countryside should be inclusive, but I don’t think a little bit of snobbishness is a bad thing-it keeps us on our toes.

I was wild camping, despite it’s legality and popularity in Scotland. I needed showers and fresh water, as otherwise I would turn into those feral kids within a week or so. I made it to my campsite‎ which was also on the shore of Loch Lomond, which was lovely, and had a scrabby piece of land dedicated to Backpackers, which wasent so lovely. Once the tent was up it didn’t matter-I was quickly asleep. It had been a tiring day and I was feeling the effect of almost a thousand miles on my body. Oh well, only another 200+ plus to go!

Sent from my iPhone

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