Road to Loch Lomond
Dunure was too wet.
But the weather looked better further north and it might be that I could do some bouldering later, so we set off again.
I hadn’t had much sleep and being on road we really wanted to have a bit of a wash before starting the day so we headed for the nearest place that might be open on a Sunday.
Ayr is an interesting town, akin to a Brighton of the North – although I think more the rich and retired or the out of city holiday beache town rather than the hipster hippie Brighton of today. Heading, rather over hopeful, to a cafe in Ayr involved us being turned away by the proprietor with a look of ‘Dear lord people, why’ as we disturbed his morning preparations. We’d not noticed the change in opening times scribbled in pencil on the door…
So we had a much nicer breakfast in the van and with a toilet stop at a supermarket headed onto the fast road North.
The land rolls out and is gentle as you drive towards Glasgow, although things are still deceptive and the city is hidden until you are nearly in it. Suddenly it stretches before you, The mountains rising up behind. And then landscape be damned you have to navigate four roads converging as one, some weird double back that insists you are on a different motorway to the one you were on and suddenly 11 lanes becomes 2 and you are out and through. Heading through the valley to The Trossacks and Loch Lomond. According to Google merely 20mins away.
We stopped in the village of Luss, which we agreed (with every sign) was pretty. But too touristy after the quiet of Galloway and my morning coffee was still warm.
So we headed further up the Loch, to Firkin and then Inveruglas. Here we could get an overnight permit for £3, use the toilets and sit in the lovely cafe. I am more than happy to pay for a permit for a motorhome/campervan. The facilities are worth it and you’re taking up parking space, and if it helps support the rangers I feel £3 is definitely worthwhile. I have little idea how this impacts the ‘wild camping’ debate but actually feel it’s a different issue and should be treated as such.
It hadn’t stopped raining.
Kate made lunch of wraps and salad but even after food I was low and just needed 20 minutes with my head down to get some energy back. This worked wonders and I was totally up for sitting in the cafe, writing and knitting for the next hour waiting for the rain to pass.
Still to wet for bouldering it was fine for a walk if we wrapped up really well. We did so and oddly colour coordinated set off up to the Sloy Dam. This is around 11km and 300m of ascent up very gentle paths. I was yenning to go up the mountain but the low cloud and risk of whiteout would not have made for a sensible afternoon stroll. The Dam valley is deep and weathered, rock falls have been frequent in the distant past and we could only guess at the height of the peaks hidden in the cloud above us. The feeling that you are surrounded is only heightened when the dam appears, solid and brooding, black brown against the deep valley green.
After getting very wet and chatting with some baby cows (whilst keeping an eye out for mum) we headed back.
It is wonderful to get back somewhere that is warm and dry. Which, leaving our wet clothes in the cab and using the hob to make a hot toddy, the van is.
After an outstanding dinner we settled down to knitting and listening to my daft music collection before a not so early night whilst the rain drummed on the roof. Perhaps tomorrow will be dry.
North to Glen Coe
It’s still raining
I decide to go left again. Actually I Google maps search for Whiskey and get a pin by Loch Funeral. This takes us up into the mountains past Arrochar which is where I refused to walk to the day before, so it looks like a good detour.
As we set off the weather just gets worse. What we can see of Loch Long is beautiful but by the time we get into the small town of Inveraray (small but with castle and jail) on Loch Fyne the rain and mist have set in. Facing the storm we go gift hunting. The rain ups its game from summer shower to solid downpour and visibility is reduced to ‘grey’. Hunting and gathering has been completed an outstanding breakfast has been consumed and whisky is safely on board so we set off again.
We are, with unfathomable optimism, heading to the Glen Coe Mountain centre so that ‘when’ the weather lifts we will be up in the mountains to get the best views. I am increasingly concerned that I will have driven to the Highlands in order to see fog.
Kate insists she would be happy to walk, despite sopping wet shoes, but on nearly losing a van door to the wind I make a beeline for the cafe.
After the cafe we make it safely the 100yrds back to the van. Unwilling to go outside but still unwilling to give up we attempt to sit out the weather with knitting.
Then, just as we are due to leave, the rain clears, the clouds lift and the sun comes out. We drive the route back to Crianlairch in sheer splendour.
We meet Tris (Kate’s brother) at the bothy in time for sunset and he drives us to the Tyndrum Inn for our first pub dinner. I get to be a passenger and have the Haggis Neaps and Tatties I’ve been longing for – covered in thick creamy whiskey sauce!
The moon rises on the Bothy for our last evening. Although I’m in Scotland another day I am heading south and it feels like the ending of the trip as I’m leaving Kate here. This had perhaps been one of the longer ‘lifts’ I’ve given a friend. The van has stood the test well and although I’m happy enough to have the space to myself I’m delighted how comfortable the space and the company has been. I’ll see Kate again in London. For now sleep then onwards in the morning.