Tag Archives: Balmaha

The West Highland Way – Drymen to Balmaha

August 2 – We shared breakfast with our B and B companions – a couple from Holland and a young couple from Paris. We all practiced saying Balmaha (Bal-muh-HAAA). They are all walking 14 miles today, but we are only walking seven. Some people walk 21!

Nice young couple from Paris

After yesterday’s long but fairly flat walk, today’s route will be more challenging, requiring a steep climb to get over Conic Hill. The weather is overcast and gray, but the promised rain isn’t falling yet. Off we go.

Conic Hill – see the trail heading up on the right?

We met a couple from Calgary, and walked together until the trail started to get steep. Everybody is faster than me when going uphill.

We saw our first glimpse of Loch Lomond. Remember the old song?

You take the high road and I’ll take the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond is a great long lake and we will be walking beside it for days. Gaelic for Dummies advised to always pronounce Loch as though clearing one’s throat. Lochhhh LOW-mun .

First glimpse of Loch Lomond in the distance

As we climbed, the rain started, and the trail was busy with hikers ascending the narrow path. The trail became a stream, with water cascading down as we went up. I was going really slowly, and looking for a place to rest, but there was none. No pix of the uphill slog – you’ll have to use your imagination! Finally, we got to the top.

Made it to the top!

What goes up, must come down, and so we did. The rain stopped, and the views were gorgeous.

Heading down toward the Loch

We walked triumphantly into Balmaha, and found our B and B. Our hostess invited us to use her hot tub – what luxury!

Balmaha is a lakeside tourist town, with lots of boats in the harbor and families on holiday.

Their hometown hero, Tom Weir, has a statue at the waterside. I wonder what he did to deserve it?

Tom Weir

A tiring but successful day!

The West Highland Way – Balmaha to Rowardennan

August 3 – After a hearty breakfast, we put Balmaha in our rearview, and walked on. Once again, it’s gray but not raining, temperature in the 50s.

Because most hikers do not stop overnight in Balmaha, the trail was quiet this morning, as we walked along the shore of Loch Lomond.

Ducks!

In a little while, the sun came out.

Even when the path moved close to the road, we could still hear the sounds of the nearby Loch.

A house flying the Scottish flag – St. Andrews Cross

We met a man from Bangalore, taking a holiday hike before starting his new job in Ireland. Lots of young people are hiking with big packs on their backs, and some are just out for the day.

Jim climbing some stone steps – I’m not far behind

We saw some Oreo cows – they are actually called belted Galloway cows. They looked content.

Belted Galloways

So we followed the up and down path throughout the day, ending up in Rowardennan (Row-ar-DEN-an) at the edge of the Loch.

There isn’t a town, just a hotel and a youth hostel. People come here to enjoy the Loch, or to climb Ben Lomond, a huge mountain that is, thankfully, not part of our plans. Rowardennan is literally the end of the road – there is no way to proceed north from here except on foot.

View of the Loch from Rowardennan Hotel

We hear Polish, German, French and languages we can’t decipher at dinner. I order steak and ale pie, which is neither steak nor pie, but chunks of pot roast in brown gravy served with mash (potatoes) and veg.

Bird that kept us company

Our hotel room is actually a little cabin!

We have walked three days in a row, and now deserve a day of rest, don’t you think? This will be a lovely place to chill out.