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Rob Roy Way, Drymen to Kenmore

Rob Roy Way, Drymen to Kenmore

Postby LaurenAlexandra » Fri May 08, 2015 1:10 am

Route description: Rob Roy Way

Date walked: 25/04/2015

Time taken: 6 days

Distance: 99 km

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I'm living in America again, but I recently came back to Scotland for a walking holiday. The Rob Roy Way seemed like a good choice - more challenging than the Great Glen Way, but still with manageable daily distances. After more than two years of living the typical sedentary American lifestyle again, I was nervous about whether my fitness level would be equal to this trip, but I took it one day at a time and quite enjoyed it. I didn't quite finish the whole thing, but I did make it as far as Kenmore at the east end of Loch Tay, for a total of approximately 99 km or 62 miles. Here's my walk report!

25 April 2015
Drymen to Aberfoyle
Start: 10:00am
Finish: 4:45pm
Distance: 11 miles
Weather: Sunny and mild

This day was longer and harder than any of my expectations (no sex jokes, please). I checked out of my hostel in Edinburgh at half past six this morning, caught the train to Glasgow, and got a bus to Drymen. I walked out of the Drymen town square at about ten in the morning.

The first couple of miles out of Drymen are gently but insistently uphill. And the sun was out! And it was warm!! Which meant that I was dripping sweat in my base layer, fleece, and raincoat within half an hour. I quickly tempted fate by shedding the raincoat and walking with it slung over my pack for the rest of the day.

The Rob Roy Way follows National Cycle Route 7 for a pretty significant part of its length, including the first three and a half miles. After that, it makes a left-hand turn onto a Forestry Commission road. This is where I saw my first proper way-marker for the RRW. Then it was forestry tracks for pretty much the rest of the day. At one point I had to take a diversion due to tree-felling going on the area. I'm not sure how much distance it added to my total for the day - maybe a mile or two? And having to go the additional distance was not fun. Finally emerging from the trees to see Aberfoyle just up the road ahead of me was an amazing feeling.

Overall, I can tell that it's been a while since I've done this. I had to make frequent stops for water and rest, and actually ran out of water while still well short of Aberfoyle. My pace is somewhat slower this time around. But overall I feel fine at the moment (after a nap, dinner, and shower at my B&B), except for the worst case of chafing I've ever had in my life on the insides of my legs. This whole walk is going to be a stern exercise in simply living in the moment and not being in a hurry.

26 April 2015
Aberfoyle to Callander
Start: 10:00am
Finish: 3:45pm
Distance: 9.5 miles
Weather: Sun and clouds, with occasional drizzle

This day was brilliant, up until the end.

After a hearty breakfast at my B&B in Aberfoyle, I climbed out of town along a forestry track, being serenaded by the dulcet tones of distant chainsaws all the while. The trail followed the shoulder of the Menteith Hills for a good long while, passed through a broad sheep pasture, and finally crested the Menteith Hills before descending along Loch Venachar and thence to Callander. Superb views and good walking. And unlike yesterday, I had lots of company: several groups of twos and threes, plus a large group of kids going as far as Loch Venachar. I was grateful for this, not only for the sheer comfort of seeing other people, but because the path becomes quite thready when going through the pasture, and I think I might have lost my way if I'd been alone.

Just as I reached Callander, I messed up. I saw a sign pointing away from the town centre, simply saying "Hostel." I thought, "How many hostels could there possibly be around here?" You all know where this is going. The answer is two. I wept. But I'm trying not to let this screw-up spoil what was otherwise an excellent day.

27 April 2015
Callander to Strathyre
Start: 9:00am
Finish: 2:00pm
Distance: 9.5 miles
Weather: Sun at first, followed by clouds, wind, and occasional sleet

This was my favorite day of the walk so far. I started by walking west out of Callander, with the River Teith beside me and Ben Ledi looming up ahead. I eventually passed the foot of Ben Ledi, passing the car park at the trailhead, and came to a holiday park with a cafe where I stocked up on snacks and water. Loch Lubnaig was on my right-hand side for most of the rest of the day, although it felt like every time I sat down to enjoy the view, the wind picked up and it started sleeting. I reached my B&B in Strathyre just before the foul weather began in earnest. I woke from a brief nap in my room to find that the mountains I passed earlier in the day are now covered in snow. I just hope this weather passes on through overnight.

My body feels surprisingly good. In three days of walking I have developed only one blister, and I didn't even realize it was there until I pulled my socks off today. But if I have to stop this walk due to bodily discomfort, it's going to be because of the chafing. My right thigh currently resembles freshly tenderized meat. Gotta do something about that. On the bright side, I just had the most amazing mussels EVER at the Inn at Strathyre.

28 April 2015
Strathyre to Killin
Start: 9:00am
Finish: 3:15pm
Distance: 13.5 miles
Weather: Rain, snow, sun, repeat

Today was a long day and a hard one. The first few miles out of Strathyre were fine, but around the time I passed by Lochearnhead, it started SNOWING. Big fat, wet flakes. Rewind to me packing my bag a week ago, going "Will I need my thermals in Scotland in late April? Surely not..." I briefly considered walking down into Lochearnhead to find somewhere indoors to wait out the weather, but ultimately decided to just press on toward Killin and hope for the best. I was plenty warm as long as I kept moving, after all. The snow lasted a good hour or so, until I was well into Glen Ogle. Then as I was walking high up on the valley wall, the sun came out and the glen opened up in all its splendor and grandeur.

The intermittent rain, snow, and sun continued well past the viaduct and into Acharn Forest. I must say I'm getting tired of forestry tracks. A mile or two from Killin, I started thinking I'd never get out of the forest, and would be doomed to spend the rest of my days roaming the trees. Then finally, bam. The Falls of Dochart. And beyond, Killin. Hallelujah.

Then I had to walk all the way through Killin to get to my hotel, which probably brought my total mileage for the day up to closer to 15 miles. Zut alors.

29 April 2015
Killin to Ardeonaig
Start: 9:45am
Finish: 4:15pm
Distance: 9.5 miles
Weather: Sun and clouds with occasional drizzle for most of the day, hail at the very end

Today was a beast.

The climb out of Killin is a b!tch. There's no other way for me to put it. I thought the winding ascent would never end. For the first time on this walk, I had to strip down to only one layer of clothing, because the ascent just kept on and on and on and I was wringing sweat.

At long last I got to the hydro dam on Lochan Breachlaich, passed to the other side of the ridge, and started the twisting, turning descent back down to earth. At some point during this time I got my compass points confused, and it was with not-inconsiderable alarm that I saw Loch Tay heave into view in the exact opposite direction from where I expected it to be. I consulted my map in a rising panic. Had I missed a turn? Should I backtrack back up the hill to the hydro dam and start over from there, or would that just get me even more confused? Eventually I decided to just keep following the path, because even if it might not be the right path, someone had made it and therefore it had to go somewhere.

The pipeline saved me. Turns out I had been on the right path the whole time, just confused about where my landmarks should be. Re-oriented and feeling confident again, I followed the pipeline for a short distance. And then it was time to leave the path and follow the posts! What followed was a boggy slog through somebody's sheep pasture, another boggy slog through somebody's cow pasture, a burn crossing, and a pretty inept traverse through several gates. All downhill. And I didn't have walking poles. It took hours for me to travel what couldn't have been more than two miles or so. Someday I will look back on this experience and laugh.

I finally found the road down into Ardeonaig, just ahead of the hail. In my one outlandish luxury on this trip, I am staying at the very nice (seriously, I am not worthy) Ardeonaig Hotel. And bless them, they met me at the door, muddy from the hips down, and didn't so much as blink.

30 April 2015
Ardeonaig to Acharn, and thence to Kenmore
Start: 9:15am
Finish: 1:15pm
Distance: 9.5 miles
Weather: Sunny and windy

I woke up this morning pretty sure that I wasn't going to make it to Aberfeldy on foot. And I was okay with that.

It's a fairly straightforward walk up the southern shore of Loch Tay from Ardeonaig to Acharn, with splendid views across the loch to Ben Lawers. When I got to Acharn, instead of making the right-hand turn to stay on the RRW, I elected to part company with it and continue straight on toward Kenmore. I quickly reached the Crannog Centre and had lunch at the marina next door, and then it was just a short walk further into the town centre of Kenmore, where I caught a bus to Aberfeldy.

I've already decided I won't be doing the final stage to Pitlochry tomorrow. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, I've enjoyed myself, and I'm genuinely ready to stop.


Some notes: I bought a new pair of boots for this trip (Salomons), and they did me proud. In six days of walking I developed only one blister, on the side of my left big toe. Also, kudos to the person who commented in my walk report for the Great Glen Way with the recommendation that I wear two pairs of socks. I followed that advice on this trip, and I'm so glad I did - that probably prevented blisters as much as the new boots. I carried a women's Osprey backpack with (I think) a 55 or 60 litre capacity, which in hindsight was probably bigger than I really needed. The landlady at my B&B in Strathyre gave me some cream for the chafing, which worked wonders. I had no problems with it for the rest of the walk. The third day of the walk is still my favorite day, although the second and fourth days were great fun as well.

'Til my next trip and my next walk! :D
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Re: Rob Roy Way, Drymen to Kenmore

Postby Gordie12 » Fri May 08, 2015 1:03 pm

Thanks for that, perfect timing as I start this walk tomorrow.
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