Tuesday, January 05, 2010

West Highland Way, Day 3: The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond

We waited over breakfast for the rain to clear but by 8 AM we knew we were in for some heavy rain. We geared up - gaiters, ponchos, umbrellas, backpack covers - and met out front under the 500 year old oak tree that gave our inn its name.

Even in the rain and mist, the Loch was mysteriously beautiful and we had only seven miles on foot today to reach our destination, Rowardennan.

We walked an up and down path along the banks of Loch Lomond, through the dense woodland of Arrochymore and Lag an Arnair Wood, coming to a ranger station just before lunch. After answering our questions, the ranger began to play a strange flute like instrument and, encouraged by our attention, he soon donned a wreath of leaves. It's these little intimate moments that make traveling on foot rewarding.

We found a spot for lunch on the shore after our serenade, and what a beautiful spot,

even with the rain and midges that come out in the damp weather. Jan had her own system for staying dry and protected.

After lunch the skies cleared and the lake was a beautiful mirror.

We walked on through the oak and pine Rowardennan Forest and Ross Wood, one of those experiences confirming that God is the master landscape designer.

We had plenty of time today to pick berries, straight off the bush to our mouths as nature intended. Yum.

We reached our inn in mid-afternoon. One of the nice things I enjoy about traveling on foot is never knowing what the guys at MacsAdventure have in store for us in the evening. It could be a B & B, dairy farm, room over a pub - but I always know it will be an experience.

This evening we stayed at the historic Rowardennan Hotel, dating back to 1696, where one of Rob Roy's sons brought a kidnapped heiress and forced her to go through a marriage ceremony - earned him the gallows in Edinburgh - and where drovers stayed on their way to markets in Stirling and Falkirk with their cattle.

The inn sits on the edge of Loch Lomond and at the foot of Ben Lomond, the first of the munros of the Scottish Highlands. (A munro is a mountain over 3000'.) The view from our window is breathtaking.

With the long "white nights", we had lots of time to enjoy the area and Kathleen and I took a walk on the beach, each of us taking some quiet time.

Along shore was another reminder of Scotland's sacrifice, the Ben Lomond Memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives in service.

Dinner on the patio on the shores of Loch Lomond, the best fish and chips in the world along with a half pint of Scottish beer...it doesn't get much better, except if Patty was here.

Tomorrow, Rob Roy country.


Anonymous said...

Haven't checked your blog in a while - love all the Scotland photos and stories. Did you mean Rob "Roy" in the last sentence? Can't wait :)

Pat said...

Aww - you're too sweet! It does look like it was a glorious day, rain and all, and your post did it justice. Good job!

Katharine said...

Still working on the Rob Roy one. It's complicated.