On our fourth day, we were going to hiking. The weather on our trip had been perfect so far. But looking at the forecast and the reputation of Scotland, I feared that the rains would come in and blow away my enthusiasm for hiking. Little did we know that we had come at the perfect time in Scotland; it was the dry season. There hadn’t been rain in a month!
So we bid Stirling castle goodbye and drove to Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater inland lake in the UK.. It sounded like the place to go. We had some difficulty finding a good place to hike. Again, we weren’t aware that Scotland allowed wandering, meaning you could wander onto land freely as long as you don’t squat. We ended up in a tiny town named Luss on Loch Lomond. We did a short hike out of town onto the nearby hill/mountain. It was perfect fall day. The trees were a splash of colors. Little brooks babbled. Idyllic. The hike took us back to town, past several pond/srivers, past the graveyard to the lake itself. It was absolutely beautiful. We toyed with the idea of renting a boat or kayaking but we decided that we wanted to do a longer hike.
Our destination was Ben Aan. I had read about it in the book; It sounded like the ideal hiking for us. A decent hike, a few hours at most, in the Trossachs region of Scotland. (Loch Lomond is part of it too). We did have some misadventures when we missed a turn for the hike and the GPS neglected to tell us to turn around. It decided that it wanted us to go completely around Loch Katrine. After miles of tall trees and other greenery, we did find ourselves in an area of scrubland, covered in orange and red shrubs. It was beautiful and strange place. It felt like James Bond Country (nope, we later found out). We eventually figured out what the GPS did and turned ourselves around.
After driving curvy mountain/hill roads in this forested area, we eventually found the car park for our hike. For some reason the original entrance of the hike is under construction. The website claimed it was to refurbish the trail but there was a lot of logging in the direction of the old hiking path, so I’m not sure. It was a beautiful, though slightly harrowing forest. Tall trees shot up into the sky leaving a slight darkness below. And lots of mud. It was evident from the beginning that this hike was going to be uphill for most of it. At times, we had to hold onto ropes to get us forward, though that might have more to do with the giant mud areas than steepness. It was well traveled; People had dogs and I even saw a woman with a baby on her back. I was deeply impressed as I was huffing and puffing.
Then there was the final ascent. It must have been the steepest hikes I’ve ever done. Lots of very carefully placed feet. Gazing on it at the top and at the bottom, you definitely wonder “How the hell did I climb that?” But we did. We earned our dinner that night. At the top, we had a lovely view of the other mountains/hills and lochs in the area. Astonishing. But we could see a lot of deforestation too, which was awkward. After taking the obligatory triumphant photos, we descended.
It was time to check in at our next bed and breakfast in Callander, the center of the Trossach region. The B&B was a little bit out of the center of town but it was comfortable. Tea and cookies in the room because that is service! We opted for Indian food that night to try something different. It was tasty enough but the gentleman next to us was a bit inebriated. He and his companion had a bottle of wine each. When he found out that we had been recently married, he had some rather ribaldry things that he said. Thankfully, his accent was so thick that I only understood a small portion of them. But I understood enough. He really was the only person we had difficulty with the accent. More to do with the drinking than anything else.
That’s all for now. Tomorrow we will check out Glen Coe, Castle Urquhart, and Loch Ness!