This was a two day camp on a trail, linking to public transport for my return journey. The trail I chose for this mid August walk was the Rob Roy Way, which begins a short way up the West Highland Way at Drymen, and ends at Pitlochry, passing through Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. On this trip I backpacked thirty miles from Drymen to Strathyre.
After enjoying a bunkhouse breakfast at Drymen with a group of West Highland Wayers, I covered myself with insect repellant and set off up a single lane road northwestwards for four or five miles to my turn off through the woods for Aberfoyle.
Many Scottish people have been making determined efforts recently to inform walkers that it does rain a lot in Scotland so, after some rainy days on my recent trips, I was determined to be prepared to enjoy the sunshine while it lasted, and take the rain on the chin.
It is a pleasant track through the woods, although views of the surrounding hills are very limited for a few miles. I stopped at Aberfoyle for tea and cake before turning north eastwards for Callander. For about three miles all was well, but I stopped to chat to a local man who warned me that the track was a bit squelchy further along. There are some less well developed sections of track on this stretch which can become muddy, so I was glad I had opted for boots this time round. When I finally emerged from the narrow track through the woods, I decided to pitch for the night as the sun gradually disappeared.
I managed a reasonable pitch on a smallish flat patch underneath a spreading oak tree, and went about preparing some food before bed. One big plus about the Duomid seems to be that, although I had brought my inner net, the midges don’t come under the flap, so luckily I wasn’t troubled by them. Tucked between the trees and a wall, my pitch didn’t offer up any exciting tent photos, but photos aren’t everything I guess. The nearest named place on my map was Bealach Cumhang in the Menteith Hills slightly to the north west of me. Bealach apparently means col in Gaelic.
Summer daylight hours often wake me up too early when I’m camping and this trip was no exception, so I just lay and enjoyed the peace for an hour or so before packing up to continue on my way. As I past a small lochan I was glad to find myself on firmer track but I could hear mechanical sounds up ahead. After a mile or so I reached diversion signs for forest operations. I was just trying to work out the route of the detour on my phone when the vehicle operator headed towards me and beckoned me past. This saved me a good couple of miles on tracks which might not have been as good as the one I was on, so I was really grateful to the driver.
Beyond the forestry operations, nice views opened up of Loch Venachar on the way towards Callendar, although the sky was looking ominous.
After crossing the river at Kilmahog, the route turns north westwards along a tarmac cycle path, where it started to rain, lightly at first.
During the stretch between Kilmahog and Strathyre the rain became gradually worse until the river beside the path was gushing like white water rapids. Thankfully there was a cafe to break up the journey at Stank, so I treated myself to a hot lunch, as much for morale as anything. I have discovered that my new phone is much less resistant to getting wet in the rain than my old one, so all thought of photos and videos had to be abandoned for the rest of the trip, which was a bit depressing.
I was sitting down for a hot drink a few miles later feeling like Rutger Hauer at the end of Bladerunner, and was forced to confront the fact that there was a problem with the zip on my waterproof jacket. Luckily my cheap and ancient waterproof trousers were effective at keeping the lower part of me dry, but my top was soaked when I reached the dry confines of a B&B at Strathyre.
Positives of the trip were that I covered thirty miles over two days, which is twice as far as my last trip, so I am hoping that this is a sign of some recovery from my tick bite. I am also starting to feel more confident about backpacking on my own, although I need to build up my upper body strength again.
I have opted to have the main zip replaced on my jacket which has caused problems for a few trips now.
Best bits of kit; Treadlite cuben cell and large Visisack peg bag, Tilley hat, Victorinox simple metal pen knife, cheap waterproof trousers and polycro groundsheet.
Not needed; Mosquito head net, Gaiters, Sun cream.