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Three Lochs Way in a day - end of the summer run/walk

Three Lochs Way in a day - end of the summer run/walk

Postby unigamer » Sun Sep 20, 2015 12:08 pm

Route description: Three Lochs Way

Date walked: 19/09/2015

Time taken: 1 day

Distance: 54.1 km

Ascent: 1237m

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The day didn't start well, after getting up at 6:00am to get the bus to Inveruglas the driver told me my unicycle wasn't permitted on the bus. Apparently Citylink only accept boxed or well padded bikes in the hold. Disappointed but undeterred, I returned the unicycle to my flat and changed my kit for the day so it was suitable for running. By the time I got to Inveruglas on a later bus it was 10:20am which was a much later start than I had planned... Oh well I'd just have to run a bit quicker! I chose to do the route in reverse because there is a reliable and regular train service back to Glasgow from Balloch till late. Being stranded in Inveruglas at the end of the day was not my idea of a good time!

After following the path next to the A82 for a short time the path takes you up the road that is the start of Ben Vorlich or Ben Vane. There were a few groups heading up for their day's walk but I soon left them when I head south along the Three Lochs Way path. The section from Inveruglas to Tarbet is very pleasant and testament to that was the frequent groups I passed in both directions. This is comparison with Tarbet/Arrochar to Garelochhead which I barely saw a soul. Two cyclists and a few cars but not a single walker.

The path from Tarbet starts well as you are treated to a nice view of Loch Long while you walk along a path that seems to have been planned by someone with a twisted sense of humour (it's never flat, you just climb and descend constantly!). Unfortunately when Craggan Hill separates you from Loch Long, in my opinion something is lost. It's nice countryside but the road is uninspiring and when you get to the MOD testing site it's not exactly a friendly place. Every 20 metres there are signs warning you to clear off if red flags are up or lights are flashing! On Saturday the area was open to the public but there was some training going on but I didn't hang around to find out more.

At Glen Fruin my body started reminding me that I hadn't done much long distance running recently. Resisting the urge to try and cadge a lift from the passing locals speeding along in their cars I resolved to focus on getting to Helensburgh. Occasionally stopping for breaks and walking for short periods I finally got to the path that heads north-west to Helensburgh. It was great to be finally off a road and onto a path even if it was an ascent.

The descent into Helensburgh took me past Hill House which has a garden run by the National Trust. You have to admire the choice of route, it has been carefully designed to ensure you pass "areas of interest". Now that I had finally made it to Helensburgh I had a choice to make, continue on to Balloch or call it a day and take the train home. This is one of the nice points about doing the Three Lochs Way because there are plenty of bailout points. However, I decided to soldier on (after refuelling at the Co-Op of course).

I'm happy to say the final section from Helensburgh to Balloch was worth it. I enjoyed the scenery and the feeling of seeing Balloch and Loch Lomond down below was a massive encouragement. By this time I was splitting my time between short period of walking and short sessions of running. Normally I would thunder down the kind of descent presented by the one into Balloch but somehow after 8 hours on the move this wasn't quite possible.

I've been to Balloch a number of times, normally I do the 20 mile or so run along the Clyde Walkway from Glasgow. However, it's flat and certainly much easier than what I had just done so it was with great satisfaction I made the Tourist Information Office that marks the end of the route. I bought my ticket and was told I had about 25 minutes before the next train, plenty of time to get fish and chips from Lomond Fish Bar and pose for a photo. I stretched my legs out on the journey home with a smug satisfaction having done a good day's exercise.

Some final thoughts. For a multi-day walk I don't think the Three Lochs Way would be my first choice, but as a long distance run it's a good day out. The long road sections are more suited to a pedal powered machine, the short unrideable sections can easily be pushed over. Although there are no major climbs (the highest point is about 265m) you continually ascend and descend which can make the going tough. No problem at all for a multi-day walk but for an unexperienced runner (or someone who has been a bit lazy on the running front recently like myself) this is a tough challenge to do in a day. In saying that there are people who seem to be able to run the West Highland Way in less than a day so it can't be the toughest thing in the world!

I struggled to find a single GPX file of whole route so hopefully the one attached to this post will be of use to someone :)
me at the end of my day at Balloch Tourist Information Centre

threeLochWay3.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 16, 2011

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