We did it, the Three Lochs Way in a day for charity and a worthy cause, the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow. Time taken: 12 hours exactly for me and that was with an hour long break half way as the roll'n bacon and sausage pit stop was late getting there just before we did!
A little background:
The Stray Cats Challenges started in 2014 in memory of our friend, Linsay Killeen. The Stray Cats group now exceeds 40 members and we all know someone who have used the amazing services of the Hospice. Each year a different challenge is set and different members take part due to their interests in the challenge never mind ability.
This year's Challenge participants are: Janice & Craig Ralston, Rosie Murray, James McCairns, Stewart Barr, Fiona Aptomos ,Wullie Clark and David McKerlie.
We are lucky to have Chris MacDonald as our mentor for our training and who will join us on the day of the big walk.
Earlier in the year Janice got in touch to ask if I would be the mentor for the group and help prepare them for walking the three Lochs Way in a day.
It's for a worthwhile cause and helping out a group I was up Ben Lomond with last year that were a great laugh to walk with. I have also had a terrible year so far so it was also something that would give me a different focus to take my mind off things combined with some time away from it all up the hills and back to nature.
Training the group meant I had some homework to do so I read up on the route and studied my maps, 34 miles/53km with 1500m or so of ascent and the walk pretty much starting with a hike up Ben Bowie so add in a small Marilyn at the start, then hike up and over Helensburgh into Glen Fruin followed by an undulating path up the side of Loch Long and the final pull up the side of Dubh Chnoc at Glen Loin.
Janice had organised a rough framework of planned training walks almost every weekend up to the one before the big day on the 8th of June and the first was the Glen Loin Loop at Arrochar at the end of March. Iain and Michele joined us for that one which finished with Iain and I ascending Cruach Tairbeirt after to make it a bigger day and include a hill.
I did some walking on Arran the following weekend, now into April, then headed up north to Loch Monar for a big 3 Munro day the weekend after that. This took us to Easter Friday where we had scheduled in Conic Hill, possibly the busiest hill you could choose to go up on this day but I had a cunning plan and we walked from Drymen and back to make it a 20+km day and increase the distance. This had the added bonus of less tourists and a herd of cows and deer at the end.
I had been up Ben Bowie before so knew that section of the path and decided to head up The Fruin on Easter Monday, an easy late afternoon stroll on the boggy hillside on a nice day with wet feet and the added bonus of another preview of a section of the Three Lochs Way.
The weekend after easter Fiona was doing more big walks up north from her highland base and it was back to Monar for me and an even bigger 40+km double Munro Bothy Trip at Bendronaig. What were the others doing while I was fighting 45km winds at high level or carrying heavy Bothy rucksacks and earning peak fitness and Fiona was walking and preparing not just for the Three Lochs Way with us but the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge then Great Glen Way the week before it?
Fantastic Chris and Fiona. I walked to the hairdresser today that was the height of my adventure. xx
As you can see I figured it might be time to up the ante when it came to the training!
Unfortunately we lost Aiden to injury around this point and he had joined us on the previous couple of walks which was a shame. There could be no slacking off for the rest of us though, time for a biggy!
The initial plan had been Ben Lomond again, yeah it owes us a view but no, I had Beinn Bhuidhe in mind, the Yellow Hill, remote Munro of Glen Fyne and giant guardian of Loch Fyne. Much like some remote Munros further north (Carn a' Chlamain comes to mind!) it was a 2 hour walk up the glen just to reach the part where you ascend the hill and is usually cycled, by wimps.
It was a big walk and a big hill that would be a good test of character for the group. I got them up it with a lot of fibbing from me to help them deal with false summits combined with lots of swearing from them for my lies, the steep rocky bits and never-ending ascent!
Everyone did great though and we even made it a loop walk going down via Newton Hill. Apparently legs were sore for days afterwards. Excellent, as Monty Burns would say, that will help speed us along for the training.
Scarred by this walk but still raving about the views, I promised an easier jaunt the following week up the Kilpatrick Hills. This went down well and even better since we got another cracking day for it like the week before and for them it was nowhere near as mountainous a walk as Beinn Bhuidhe provided.
However, the Stray Cats were learning fast and it had already become a joke for the group, when I say easier it means only slightly less pain for them. Not content with just Duncolm from Old Kilpatrick, we headed over the Slacks and Cochno Hill all the way to the Whangie where I received a brilliant birthday surprise of cake and a dram in the rocky surroundings with a cracking view of Loch Lomond and the southern highlands, perfect!
Unfortunately at this point Fiona's training and dodgy new insoles meant one of her heels came off (well the skin) and she had to hobble all the way back as only Wullie and I summited Duncolm on the way down. It was another excellent and long hike though, very much loved by the gang as the training gathers pace and increases distance with 29km covered for this walk, half the distance of our challenge with 1000m of gradual ascent, a perfect practice run bar the injury to Fi.
Next up the group had chosen to go to Arran and climb Goatfell and this obviously agreed with me and also allowed me to head home for a week with Mum then walk at the weekend. In the days before the others came down I realised that both the Arran Mountain Festival and Goatfell Race were both on the same day! We'll not be lonely that's for sure. Unfortunately the weather was damp for a while while clouds covered the tops and Wullie had missed making the journey down but the remainder still enjoyed the hike and they all loved their brief visit with Janice and Craig having been over and up Goatfell a few times before.
Closing in on the big day I then had a charity Munro hike up Meall Ghaordaidh at the end of May as Janice and Rosie joined a friend walking the Kelvin Walkway from the west end to Milngavie. I forgave them for having a few wines on the way, at least they were getting some training done and they had earned an easier weekend after recently being put through their paces by me.
Just one walk left and Craig was unfortunately injured leaving just four of us to head to the Gargunnock Hills for another 20+km hike up Stronend and Carleatheran which was once again enjoyable and in dry conditions.
So that was us, the big event awaited on Saturday the 8th of June and we were treated to regular updates from Fiona the week before as the maniac completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks then Great Glen Way on the 6th! Top effort, I just hoped her heels would stay together for the challenge!!
It's game time.... an early night and early 5am rise and just over an hour later I was collecting Wullie in the West End. One quick pit-stop at Dumbarton later and we were soon at the start in Balloch for 6:45am, driving into the car park as Wullie figured out Janice had tricked us and it was a half 7 start, not 7am, she knows Wullie and his time-keeping well!
I got ready then met up with the others for a group photo at the start:
IMG_20190608_071208 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
James, Craig, Wullie, Fiona, Janice, me, Rosie and Stewart, all raring to go!
Some of the other walkers had a unique mode of transport for the challenge!
IMG_20190608_071834 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
After a quick gathering explaining the checkpoints and other info we all set off through Balloch to skirt the edge of Loch Lomond:
IMG_20190608_073539 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Good morning Beinn Dubh, Ben Vorlich, Ben Oss and Ben Lomond:
IMG_20190608_073720 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Our group had been at the front of the larger one when we started and our training had us setting off at a decent pace before we started the climb up Stoneymollan Muir and I found myself in front with James, funnily enough we are both regular hillwalkers so the ascent wasn't a problem and didn't slow us down:
IMG_20190608_074844 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As we get higher up Cruach Ardrain, Ben More and Stob Binnien come into view along with more of Loch Lomond:
IMG_20190608_080715 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking back to Balloch and the two younger lads who kept pace behind us:
IMG_20190608_080727 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_082336 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The path joins the John Muir way and heads for Killoeter, Gouk Hill and Ben Bowie:
IMG_20190608_082343 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_083741 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We pass Ben Bowie's summit path and head down towards Helensburgh:
IMG_20190608_084526 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Arran's ridges, Greenock and the River Clyde to the south:
IMG_20190608_084536 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking back up the path to Ben Bowie summit:
IMG_20190608_085002 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The path on this section is excellent and at one point is even quite spongy and easy on the knees. James and I were keeping a good pace at the front of the pack while also enjoying the views. He had brought suncream he was that confident it wouldn't rain despite the forecast saying otherwise all week! Janice had even resorted to buying a Child of Prague statue to plant in her garden in the hope it would help the weather improve, only time would tell...
IMG_20190608_085324 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Ruadh and other Cowal hills in view as we head west:
IMG_20190608_090644 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We reached the A814 and headed into Helensburgh, turning right where the map indicates the path goes even though it means we have to loop around Helensburgh Upper Station, we're doing this by the book!
IMG_20190608_094539 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We head up Colquhoun Street, around the station and onto Upper Colquhoun Street where the Hill House and first checkpoint comes into view:
IMG_20190608_095814 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I reach checkpoint 1 and my number then time is noted, our support team of Jennifer and co. are going to take the break times off of our final time, i'm not sure what that will give me but I reckon under 11 hours minus checkpoint time.
IMG_20190608_101403 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As I have a snack and drink, get a water and caramel wafer refill (these were the first things offered at every checkpoint ) James arrives followed by the two younger guys and Jim who does the Hostel challenge every year and had been added to our whatsapp group as he was going to tag along for some sections.
The two young guys don't stay for long and head off as I too ready myself to continue, still no sign of Janice, Craig, Rosie and Wullie down the road yet. Fiona joins Jim, James and I as we head off along towards The Fruin through the woods:
IMG_20190608_102256 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The good path takes us up the hillside:
IMG_20190608_102458 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Turning right to head towards Glen Fruin we continue up and Ardmore point comes into view in the Clyde behind Helensburgh:
IMG_20190608_103137 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The view south as Jim catches up to me with James and Fiona just behind him:
IMG_20190608_103245 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Jim is a fairly fast walker and we both continue along having a right good blether. To the east it's cleared a bit and I can make out from left to right the Ochils, Carleatheran and Stronend, our walk last weekend:
IMG_20190608_103527 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
With both of us walking at a similar pace we would cover the next section fairly quickly:
IMG_20190608_103643 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_104320 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Glen Fruin awaits along with a long walk along the road towards Gairlochhead:
IMG_20190608_105520 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Heading alongside Beinn Chaorach:
IMG_20190608_111150 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Jim normally plays Squash over the winter then for summer he trains for whatever challenge the Hospice are doing. He had done a few routes down this way while training although he admitted that he's better on the flat and can't compare to us hikers when going uphill. His pace was fine and we enjoyed racing through this section as it was a bit on the dull side:
IMG_20190608_114407 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Fruin on our left, a deceptively long hill to traverse alongside and also one of the boggiest:
IMG_20190608_114950 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Finally we saw some excitement on this section, a lepidopterist who swung his net, twisted it around then stuck his head and a magnifying glass into it to study what he may have caught... "catch anything good mate?" I asked, "no not yet thanks" came the reply from the elderly English Gent.
IMG_20190608_115920 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Just across from him was the memorial marking the Battle of Glen Fruin which I jumped up onto the verge to look at. Jim thought I had far to much energy to be able to do this at this point of the walk :
IMG_20190608_120033 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking east down Glen Fruin:
IMG_20190608_120320 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The single track road climbs up the hillside just past Strone House then we turn off to the right to head into the MOD land and our half way checkpoint, enjoying the views of Cowal and the bigger hills up the side of Loch Long as we do:
IMG_20190608_120910 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Loch number 2 for the day, Gare Loch, with Faslane down below:
IMG_20190608_122016 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Jim and I were just behind the two younger guys as we reached the halfway checkpoint and either we were early or they were late as they were still setting up!
IMG_20190608_122048 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Fiona and James arrived not long after us as others soon joined us. The majority were taking the time to change socks (I did this, recommended) or talc their feet (this seemed very popular!). To the west the clouds were building but the hills were still visible:
IMG_20190608_122225 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The rest of the Stray Cats soon arrived:
IMG_20190608_122902 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
New friends were made:
IMG_20190608_130852 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Our excellent support team and at last the food was ready, my pit-stop was around an hour but I didn't mind as it was nice to blether, relax and walk about with no trail shoes on to air and stretch the feet:
IMG_20190608_130958 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Hot food was a bonus too, recommended for this walk if you have the luxury like we did! People blethered and munched as several other groups of walkers with dogs or children went by, then a police landrover angling for a free munch before I chased the chancer away then several Scottish power vans squeezing past, it was busy!
Jim and Fiona had taken off after about 15 minutes or so of half-time along with a few others, then as the Stray Cats readied themselves the other groups would all leave around the same time. Next we had a very long section up the side of Loch Long, no beating about the bush with the very apt name but we would have another pit-stop after the Hump Craggan Hill at the road through Glen Douglas.
Setting off from the MOD half-way pit-stop, careful not to pee on hidden snipers:
IMG_20190608_131324 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The baby of the Corbetts with it's impressive and gradually smaller tops was peeking out behind the hillside of Beinn a' Mhanaich, the rocky Saddle (L), Beinn Reithe in the middle and parent peak Cnoc Coinnich (far right):
IMG_20190608_132127 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As you can see the clouds indicated rain might arrive and it was forecast to shower at 2pm, this would prove to be an exact timing for a shower and over in Cowal it looked ominous:
IMG_20190608_132912 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The occasional rumble was heard but no flashes thankfully:
IMG_20190608_132928 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_132934 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I suggested we up our pace a little:
IMG_20190608_133617 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The chase us on:
IMG_20190608_133858 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As we rounded the bulky side of Beinn a' Mhanaich the view I had been waiting for finally appeared, several Corbetts and tops lined up all the way to Beinn Ime, Ben Arthur and Beinn Narnain, superb!
IMG_20190608_134456 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Sure enough as we were passing Binnein nan Boc and the Allt Darach it started raining but it wasn't as heavy as advertised and our track was taking us towards the one patch of slightly blue sky so I didn't bother putting on my waterproof trousers like others did:
IMG_20190608_135406 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Wullie rocking his shorts as usual even in the rain!
IMG_20190608_135531 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Apparently merry from lunch, I think a beer or two may have been consumed by others, a few of the groups broke into song and one was even playing tunes. Of course Janice and Rosie don't need any excuse to start singing and as you can see from this pic it was even going down well with the other walkers!
IMG_20190608_140245_1 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Oil Storage Depot on Loch Long:
IMG_20190608_141012 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I point out the wee house on the opposite shore, marked as Mark on the map, it's a Bothy that is very popular:
IMG_20190608_141021 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Continuing round on the path we approach Glen Mallan with Sron Mallanach and Craggan Hill, the Tump/Hump combo in front of a background skyeline of Arrochar mountains, nice:
IMG_20190608_142155 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A closer look at Cnoc Coinnich:
IMG_20190608_142224 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_142229 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Arthur and Beinn Narnain:
IMG_20190608_142235 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Narnain and A' Chrois:
IMG_20190608_142239 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Cruach an t-Sithein as the path continues twisting and turning:
IMG_20190608_142515 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Miles mean nothing to us now, we're racking them up at a rapid pace today!
IMG_20190608_143004 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_143105 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We reach the crossing under the railway then the footbridge and although a sign warns it's closed and to cross before you go under the railway at this side, the others ahead of me have gone that way anyway as I hear Craig up ahead and on reaching the bridge head over:
IMG_20190608_143324 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
This part takes us over the Glenmallan Burn and up the side of Sron Mallanach:
IMG_20190608_143617 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Janice and Craig with Beinn a' Mhanaich behind them, still going strong(ish) although i'd be lying if I said our feet didn't hurt at this stage, we were just past the halfway point too!
IMG_20190608_144231 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Janice decided it was time for a break to let Wullie and Rosie catch us up and most of the other groups we had passed earlier when they were taking off their waterproofs after the ten minute shower, validating my decision not to bother.
Despite the sore feet the legs were fine and once the 5 of us were reunited we caught up with some of the others again:
IMG_20190608_144859 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Leaving Cruach an t-Sithein and Beinn a Mhanaich behind:
IMG_20190608_145052 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Approaching the dip down to Glen Douglas and the leaving MOD land brief pit-stop where I am offered and gladly take a fresh bottle of water and caramel wafer:
IMG_20190608_152617 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We don't hang about, with tiring feet we just want to keep moving by this point. Leaving the Glen Douglas behind us, Doune Hill is now in view to the left, highest of the Loch Lomond-Luss-Loch Long Grahams:
IMG_20190608_153548_1 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Next stop, Arrochar! It's almost within touching distance too as we contour around Tullich Hill:
IMG_20190608_153601 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Sometimes you need a panoramic shot to convey the scenery properly:
IMG_20190608_154155 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Along with the height of this track up Loch Long, which was much higher up the hillside than I thought it would be (not complaining due to the view) the next surprise did bring a few moans from the others as this next part was very up and down:
IMG_20190608_154319 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_154504 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
This section from Glen Douglas to Arrochar was definitely the highlight for me:
IMG_20190608_154703 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_154946 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_155048 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It was also long so i'll let some pics do the talking as the view entertains instead:
IMG_20190608_155117 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_160000 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_160014 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_160405 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_160535 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Passing Ardgartan, Glen Croe and distant Beinn an Lochain as weird clouds bubbled overhead and thunder was heard:
IMG_20190608_160907 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It's a cracking spot:
IMG_20190608_160929 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
My view of the day:
IMG_20190608_161202 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The end of Loch Long is in sight along with Succoth way down below to the north:
IMG_20190608_161223 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Almost as high up as Cruach Tairbeirt!
IMG_20190608_161547 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Arrochar at last:
IMG_20190608_161613 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Despite their being a path down to the Village coming up our route takes us round the north of Ben Reoch now then down to the checkpoint at the Arrochar and Tarbet train station:
IMG_20190608_161620 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The final section in the distance! First we need to walk there then climb up Glen Loin and finish down where the edge of Ben Vorlich reaches Loch Lomond, easy peasy!
IMG_20190608_161624 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
This section just keeps on delivering in the view department:
IMG_20190608_162032 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_162133 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_162137 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_162141 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A zoom shot of Ben Arthur and when I explain threading the needle and the ledge involved Wullie decides there and then that he'll never do it!
IMG_20190608_162323 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Narnain, lumpy but good:
IMG_20190608_162328 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Distant rain again to the east of Loch Lomond:
IMG_20190608_162558 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Cruach Tairbeirt getting closer, a great wee hill with superb views all around:
IMG_20190608_163016 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_164930 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Vorlich's summit and South Top in view, that's the way we're headed and it looks so far away!
IMG_20190608_164936 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Hill angles changing all the time:
IMG_20190608_165310 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We passed a group of older gentlemen and ladies out for a stroll from the village down below and a few dog walkers, we're definitely nearing civilization again:
IMG_20190608_165833 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ahh, getting the classic view of Ben Arthur:
IMG_20190608_165922 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Narnain with the Spearhead peeking out at the top:
IMG_20190608_165927 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Wullie and Rosie as we continue descending towards Tarbet:
IMG_20190608_165934 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond comes into view, what started from the south we're now viewing from north west west!
IMG_20190608_170839 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The pointy side:
IMG_20190608_170844 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_170853 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We were definitely on the local dog walking route for this section:
IMG_20190608_171005 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Can't we cut directly across to the checkpoint? No, it would take you longer! -- end conversation :
IMG_20190608_171009 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We turn left off the track after going through, down a single track road and through another gate to reach the A83:
IMG_20190608_171616 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_171737 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We only have a quick seat and chat to the support girls. The normal route contouring around Cruach Tairbeirt is closed still so we've to continue along the road into Arrochar. We snack and refuel quickly then set off again, even more knackered than before and with feet on fire but still feeling great apart from that.
Passing the church I explain how an evil Caillich guard the entrance to Cruach Tairbeirt and is best avoided or escaped in a hurry!
IMG_20190608_172508 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Tullich Hill and the track we've just came down from, only a couple of groups were behind us at this point as we left the checkpoint:
IMG_20190608_173813 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A good choice of rest spot by this truck driver and the view that tries to make me crash the car every time I drive into Arrochar!
IMG_20190608_174321 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
You simply can't tire of this angle:
IMG_20190608_174335 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Now heading along the front of Arrochar, Craig's height makes him a handy coathanger!
IMG_20190608_174438 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_174658 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We pass the village shop then opposite Ben Arthur's Bothy Jennifer and co. are waiting to direct us uphill into the woods and back on the the proper Three Lochs path. Another group leave ahead of Craig, Janice and I so they decide to stop on the first bench to wait for Wullie and Rosie again.
Unfortunately in a sheltered wood not long after drizzle in the early evening it can only mean one thing, midge dinner time and we were on the menu! I blasted on another layer of Avon but could only handle so much and said to the other two I had to go on ahead.
So off I went at my own pace now and since my legs still felt fine and my feet were still on fire my aching soles then conveyed a message that I should get a bloody move on and dip them in Loch Lomond at the end. Knowing the group had done this final section before during training and spurred on by my plan for relief at the end I got a new lease of life and full steam ahead was back.
I passed one group as I entered Glen Loin:
IMG_20190608_175823 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_181821 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Destination Ben Vorlich:
IMG_20190608_182045 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Doing this section gives you another section in the long distance walk bag, the end of the Loch Lomond and Cowal Way:
IMG_20190608_182058 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Getting there, a few more groups up ahead:
IMG_20190608_182222 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I pass a few others and chat briefly as they politely let me by, now at the finaly steep section of the entire walk and as uphill is fairly effortless for me I go past a few others including James and Stewart, explaining that my feet are on a mission!
IMG_20190608_182735 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
First few ascents done the final one is now ahead:
IMG_20190608_183835 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
My legs still weren't sore or that tired, the training worked wonders, it's just a shame my feet were struggling. A quick breather at the top pylon looking back down Glen Loin:
IMG_20190608_184129 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A' Chrois up above:
IMG_20190608_184213 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Vorlich directly ahead:
IMG_20190608_184449 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20190608_185403 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Knowing this final section well helps it to fly by even quicker, Ben Vane now in view:
IMG_20190608_185446 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Path down to the bridge over Inveruglas Water and once across i'll then turn right and contour around Ben Vorlich down into Inveruglas and the finish line, woohoo!
IMG_20190608_185726 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Vane, the baby Munro:
IMG_20190608_185748 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A' Chrois, on the single track road I was now in end of walk zombie mode and just cruising on auto-pilot as thoughts of the ice-cold water of Loch Lomond cooling down my feet edged closer to reality:
IMG_20190608_190838 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Leaving the Arrochar Alps behind:
IMG_20190608_190841 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The final stretch and the loch is in sight:
IMG_20190608_191314 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The end of two long distance walks this-a-way!
IMG_20190608_191715 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Inveruglas, the end!! As I approach the car park we have a finishing line with the support girls waiting with a medal as I cross and enjoy the elation of finishing! Bang on 12 hours and it's still dry, i'll take that :
IMG_20190608_192240 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I don't hang about though and go to the wall, chat briefly to the two younger guys who finished not too long ago, congratulate them, then take my micro-towel and head down to the Loch to sit on the floating jetty, trainers off, feet dunked, bliss!!
IMG_20190608_193149 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I head back up and congratulate James and Stewart on finishing, recommending getting their feet wet. They soon make the sensible move!
IMG_20190608_195346 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As others crossed the line all at the car park were in good spirits and congratulating each other on their efforts. I was back about half an hour then it started bucketing down:
IMG_20190608_195815 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The other 4 were still to finish, what a dreich way to do it too! Within the next half hour first Janice and Craig then Wullie and Rosie reached the finish line and I popped out of the dry bus to congratulate them.
After months of training and a day of pain but we had just hiked the Three Lochs Way in a day, 12-13 hours to cover 55.5km/34 miles with 1645m of ascent. A massive well done to everyone in the Stray Cats for being such a great group to train and such an enjoyable bunch of lovely people to walk with, laughs guaranteed!
Apart from one 10 minute shower and the soaking for some at the end, the Child of Prague planted in the garden by Janice had worked a treat and kept an awful forecast all week at bay for the big day.
Congrats also to all the other walkers and finishers, poor Fiona had been told to finish at Tarbet on medical advice which was a shame but considering what she had just walked the week before this was understandable! There was no sign of Jim, he must have finished first and probably walked back to Balloch by the time we finished at the rate he was going with minimal breaks, well done!
Finally a big thanks to the employees of the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice and Ambulance crew who were brilliant throughout, always available for questions, well organised and provided fantastic support for the big walk.
As a final reward everyone on the walk got free vouchers for a chippy at Balloch which was inhaled on arrival and we also got to meet a few of the Killeen family who had also been at the finish to cheer us on. I drove off then dropped of Wullie on the way home. The group also surprised me yet again with a card and gift at the end to go with my medal and Hospice t-shirt, some haul, thanks again!
The Stray Cats Big Hospice Hike fundraising total was £1,493.00 raised of £1,000 target by 83 supporters. A big thanks to everyone that donated to us!
We had done it and after I was informed that the training had been excellent and just right for the big day which was lovely to hear, so all that moaning must have been in jest yeah?!
An entire long distance walk in one day is quite an achievement even if it is one of the smallest ones. Get some training, plan well and plant a Child of Prague in your garden and you too could enjoy the highs and lows of the track and walk, stunning views to go with throbbing feet and the chance to bag a big walk in around 12 hours.
If you go for it I hope this walk report helps you out and you have as much fun as we did. One thing for sure is don't expect to see any of the people that did it last Saturday doing the same route again any time soon!
(Update - my final time for the challenge, minus breaks, was 10 hours and 45 minutes)