Rowardennan - Crainlarich
Trip Start May 18, 2002
9Trip End May 26, 2002
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This is the first really long day (so not really sure what yesterday was). Ronan's knee is hurting him a lot, so is going to see how it goes for the first seven miles until the pub at Inveranan. Had breakfast in the hostel. Particularly unappertising. Cereal (cornflakes or museli), orange juice and tea/coffee, which were fine, but then these two dry burger baps with plastic cheese and/or ham. Urrimmin - but only #2.50 so what can you expect.
Lovely and sunny outside. Photo opportunity by the lake, then headed off on a path round the side of the hostel. More wood and bluebells, and people out camping by stream. Very nice though. Then unpaved road through trees, all uphill. Francois's feet are hurting him a bit so taking it easy in the rear.
Can't get over the fact that it's hot!!! All very unexpected.
Got to the top of the hill and there's a viewpoint and seat looking out over Loch Lomond, so stopped there for photos. Jon almost stepped back off the edge for the sake of a better photo! Lovely views. Ronan having his knee re-strapped up by Sinead (having rejected Jon's bandage). I'm not allowed to unzip my trousers into shorts as apparently that would be tempting the weather and be my fault if it then rains! So did as I was told, but unzipped slightly for ventilation - such a rebel.
Onto narrower paths when the main track came to an end. Now only for walkers. All gravel paths, and very well done. Still lots of ups and downs (what is with this). Ronan say's his knee is better going up with the new bandage, but now hurts more going down! Frequent breaks for water as hot....
Getting into more woodland, then suddenly saw the side of this building, and we've reached Inveranan. Crossed bridge over big waterfall and down some steep steps, then very happy to collapse at the side of the carpark. Staggered over to picnic tables and collapsed again. Feet hurt. Jon very kindly (like I've always said, such a nice man) went in and got me a half of 80 shillings.
So its about 11:30 and we've only done about seven miles, so thirteen more to go - ahhhhh. Ronan is going to get the ferry over and then bus/hitch to the hostel. His knee is giving him too much pain. Such a shame. Francois changed into trainers as he thinks it could be his boots that are hurting his feet.
Sat for a while, but have to go if going to get this done today. (And there are these really irritating kids kicking a football way too close - kept hoping they would lose it over the side into the river, but unfortunately they somehow managed to avoid that). Checked that can get a bus from Inversnaid (another seven miles) and got some sandwiches to eat later on down the trail.
Very sad leaving Ronan (he has to wait for the ferry), but waved him goodbye and walked off into the trees again, all old woods. Francois is now jumri,ig over puddles as his feet feel so much better. Very nice under the trees, walking on ahead with Jon, chatting about work/interview etc. Got more rocky and path narrower, so had to clamber a bit. Past Rob Roy's cave, where saw the girls from the first night having their lunch. Then walked on with Sinead talking about girl's comics and Barbies, and other childhood influences etc. All very intelligent stuff (although some of it a bit weird) but this is interesting.
Many many ups and downs, turning corners and bending to avoid trees and rocks. Good that it's sunny though as would be very muddy if not. Lovely walking alongside the loch, especially as the trees still not have too many leaves, so can see through to the water. Get open areas too where people can stand on rocks and have their pictures taken.
Totally lost Sinead at one point. She was just ahead of me but started to draw away. For a while I kept seeing her occasionally when turned corners, but then that stopped. So no idea where she is.
All far too much effort (and having serious doubts about the last six miles). A shame in a way that we have to do so many miles, as would be good to stop and sit for a while. This could just be my feet talking, 'cos it is good and rewarding to be doing so much. Knee started to hurt. Trapped nerve or pulled something? Definitely relying on sticks more. This is not good.
Eventually came out of the wood and into small field of sheep and had to sit down on a wall. (Where is Sinead?) Others just behind and decided to have our lunch here. So stuffed our little faces with sandwiches and chocolate, and drank water (Jon's lost his water bottle). After fortifying rest set off again. Small cottage by the edge of the loch. Lots of people around it, but still made good photo. Then the rest of this bit seemed to go on forever, and still no sign of Sinead! Up hill and down dale and all that stuff (not quite as enthusiastic any more). Some good views and getting hillier and more open at times. Have left the loch behind. Francois almost skipping along in his trainers.
Bit of a long walk down into Inversnaid. Mine and Eli's feet hurting so not going along so well. Reached a campground at the bottom and sat for a moment, then headed off across the field to the Drovers, 'the oldest pub in Scotland'. (The Staggers pub is just over the road if you need a change of scenery - mind you there is a fairly busy road separating them and people driving fast, so wouldn't think it would be the safest of drunken crossings). Very old pub. Hobbled in and looked around for Sinead, but not there, so where is she. Am sure that we talked about this place at Inveranan. The girls from Milngavie are there (looking far too fresh). Eli and I have decided to take the bus, which leaves at 4:30, so time for a pint of 80 shillings and a chat to other hikers. Had to restrain Eli when the barman came out from behind the bar and was shown to be wearing a kilt!
Jon and Francois still going on, but we took their bags and waited for the bus. Tried to get Jon to take his waterproof, but he know best (ha!). Waved bus down and said hello to some very cute men getting off it!, then relaxed. And eight minutes later we were in Crainlarich. Totally stunned as would have taken at least another three hours on foot. Kept looking out for signs of Sinead and her orange jacket as we were driving along, but nothing....
Walked up to the hostel (which is a lot harder with two bags each) and checked in. Only one other person there, and that's Ronan. He hitched his way there. Gave him the other's bags and arranged to meet at 6pm. Big room, and not too many bunk beds in it. Great to take off boots and shower and change - my poor little feet..... and my knee still hurts....
Asked the slightly unfriendly hostel woman which were the best pubs in Crainlarich, and there are a choice of two (the names of which I have forgotten). So Eli left notes for Sinead, and Jon and Francois, with various options, depending on which one we liked best. First place (Rod and Tackle?) was a bit naff, so walked off to find the next one - apparently just round the comer! I don't think so. Couldn't find it, so went the other way, but not there either, so asked this guy carrying a heavy metal canister, and had to go back the other way and just keep going. Finally made it (the Bell?) and was much better. Once again had 80 shillings and settled down to write a few postcards and discuss the day.
Pub stops serving food at 8:30, so by 7pm we were wondering where the others were (well started wondering before that, but beginning to become time critical). Ronan and Eli rang the hostel several times but they're not there. Around 7:30 ish walked up to the main road and along a bit to see if could see them - then realised it was raining heavily and that I was getting soaked, so went back and dried off infront of the radiator. (Very friendly people in the pub). Ronan and Eli tried again, but still no-one there (and the hostel woman is getting a bit fed up with us).
Starting to get a little worried, especially about Sinead as she was on her own, but then she turned up, so that's one of them safe. Not the happiest of people as she had kept waiting for us at various points and at the campsite at Inversnaid had waved to Eli. Then had missed the sign to Crainlarich and almost walked on for miles when met some people coming the other way who told her to go back, so she got to the hostel 6:30/7pm. Eli said she thought she'd seen someone wave but that when she went over it wasn't Sinead. So all rather confusing. But anyway, after a few more sips of beer Sinead relaxed and in a better mood, so everything fine. Said she'd spent a while waiting at that little cottage, but then thought that we must have passed her there (as she might have closed her eyes for a moment or two). And that there was beer at the campsite so she'd waited there then figured that she'd better head on. Hadn't seen Jon or Francois at all, although kept thinking she did, but it wasn't them.
Decided that we had to order food, and would get them sandwiches so that at least they'd have something to eat. Had just done that when they arrived! They'd done the same as Sinead and missed the Crainlarich sign, but had had no-one to correct them. So they walked about half-way to Tyndrum. (noting in passing that 'couldn't that be Crainlarich') before they found another sign with a 'you are here' showing them where they were. Fortunately managed to hitch a ride back with some Scottish fishermen (not as exciting as Ronan's hitch with two German (I think) girls). Jon is a little damp - see now he wishes he'd taken his jacket (told him so). They said the walk was ok apart from the cowpats at a farm near Crainlarich, where Francois had a lot of fun trying to avoid them in his trainers.
Phew, so we're all here at last. Nice evening, good food and beer (again).
Back to hostel. Fortunately not raining now. Everyone else in bunks, so being quiet, or was until Eli (on bottom bunk) childishly poked me through the mattress, so obviously had to grab her duvet and then both couldn't stop giggling (and didn't even have that much to drink).