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LLC way and Cobbler in September

LLC way and Cobbler in September

Postby Nanook » Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:07 am

Route description: Loch Lomond and Cowal Way

Date walked: 24/09/2019

Time taken: 4.5 days

Distance: 110 km

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Going on a walking holiday on my own and I find it difficult to decide whether I will do a LDW which almost always involves road walking which I do not like. On the other hand the feeling of finishing a LDW is satisfying and it is an easy way of walking: once decided you don’t have to think about route and length of walk while you are there. So for me an LDW this year just to try it out. I do not fancy wild camping on my own (load of stuff to carry and I admit I am a bit of a whimp camping in the wild on my own :roll: . Leaving in the morning from Holland it was my goal to walk the first stretch of the walk from Portavadie to Kames on the first night.

Travel arrangements
Beforehand I figured out there are three routes you can take so you can suit it to your other travel arrangements.Glasgow-Gourock by train - ferry to Dunoon, bus to start of walk. Glasgow - Mcinroys point - ferry to Dunoon (other point of arrival so may make a difference in bus connection) bus from there. Bus (also 1 straight from the airport) to Tarbert - connecting bus to pier and ferry to Portavadie. I arrived at Glasgow airport at 1.15 pm and the route that was most certain to get me an arrival at 5.45 pm in Portavadie was the last one. This would give me enough time to walk 9 km before darkness set in. Another advantage for me was that I would not see the scenery I would be walking through (apart from Arrochar). So with the flight on good time I jumped on the bus as 2.20 pm and got into Scottish atmosphere straight away with a stop in beautiful Inverary. And now the walk :-) The description on the site is excellent and the way marking superb so I have not gone into details about this. As a backup I had a GPS with map on which the route as detailed.

Day 1: Portavadie to Kames hotel (8.75 km).
Lovely walk along some muddy paths with good views across the lochs and hills. Saw a couple of small deer close to Portavadie. Very quiet, some good camping spots on the hill just after you walk out of Portavadie. Arrived at Kames hotel at 7.30 pm just in time before darkness. Lovely easygoing start of the walk and great to get the legs stretched after a day of travelling.

Day 2. Kames to Glendaruel (22 km).
What a view from this hotel! A beautiful day with the sun trying to get through the clouds. Set off along the road and got some supplies for the next few days in Tighnabruaich shop. A bit more road walking along the shore with lovely views - spotted a seal. The path turns a bit rougher climbing through lush green shrubs and mosses and ducking underneath big boulders. The weather was so good I had lunch on a beach. How peaceful is the area around Eilean Dubh area :angel: . No camping allowed in this part as it is privately owned and agreed upon restrictions. Past Ormidale lodge it is back onto a minor road. There is roadworks on the go so that explains why my boots are sticking to the surface. Onto another road which I find fairly busy. Just as I am getting fed up with the tarmac and I am starting to count cars (nog a good sign!) the route turns onto a gravelpath which makes a good change. A short stretch on a major road and then onto another minor road at Glendaruel hotel (closed). Detoured for the celtic stones which are worth a look as is the church. Back onto the road and we stay on it for the rest of the way to Glendaruel caravan park where I am staying in a cabin. If you are staying there: be sure to look out for a sign on the fence as there is no road entrance from the Cowal way to the caravan park. Lovely place to stay. Review of the day: for me there was too much tarmac and road walking on this stage although the views are beautiful. I am just eager to get into the hills, they are tempting me!

Day 3: Glendaruel - Strachur (27.8 km)
Set off in the morning, back along the same minor road again. Hardly any traffic. After an hour rain starts pouring down and I jump into a wooded area to put on the waterproofs. Would be a nice place to pitch a tent but only if you weren’t wanting to stay at the campsite as this spot is only 6 km from there. A small stretch along the main road where someone kindly offers me a lift to get out of the rain but I am about to head into the hills. Yes the time has come and I am very happy to be walking up the hill along a forest road! It is all about big, thick mosses and waterfalls, small streams and hills. I am walking on the forest track all the way and although some people report it as boring, for me this was the first feeling of being in the hills of Scotland. This was helped by the fact that I did not see anyone all the way to Glenbranter! The route takes you right past the waterfalls which are very nice and the area is lovely. Stopped for a cup of coffee and stumbled into a sitting room with backpack and waterproofs and the lot :lol: but the kind lady didn’t seem to care. After Glenbranter it is back on the road again. Not a lot of exciting things although the views are nice here and there. A mile or so past the signpost LCC to Lochgoilhead I turn left to go towards Balliemeanoch B&B which is an excellent place to stay. Not so well signposted. Review: not very difficult walking but for me this is a excellent stage due to the solitude and the nice views.

Day 4: Strachur - Lochgoilhead (15.2 km)
After a beautiful breakfast I head outside where the rain from yesterday has stopped and it is starting to look quite friendly. I had thought on walking Benn Bheaula from this stage but decided I would have an easy day so I would have enough energy for the Cobbler tomorrow. This means I could take it very easy and the good weather helped in just enjoying scenery, taking photographs. This stage is absolutely great. Small boggy paths, jumping streams and a lovely loch at the top. And those views! Yes I am enjoying this. A rather boring track down the hill but the views towards waterfalls and across to Lochgoilhead make up for this and it takes me hours to get myself down to the village. Review: great hike, it is getting better every day! Did not see anyone on the walk all day :angel: .

Day 5: Lochgoilhead - Arrochar (16 km) with a side tour to the Cobbler (12 km)
The morning is dry but clouds are low over the hilltops. The route starts out on a forest path almost straight away which is great. As I am scrambling up the pathless hill I meet someone - the first person I have seen while walking (apart from in the villages of course). We have a chat about Scotland, hills and walking and he tells me he has 2 days which to complete the route which is quite a challenge! Luckily he has some extra time if needed. This is the only stretch of the whole walk where you could get confused about the route in very misty conditions as you would not see the markers that take you up the hill. After the excellent pathless section you get to walk on wider forest tracks, close to the main road and I start to see a lot of people. I cross the road and I am getting confused about where the route to the Cobbler is and I can’t see the tops yet. Clouds start to move and I have another lunch in the sunshine. Spirits are high as it seems weather is getting better. By the time I hit the path up the hill clouds have disappeared and it is starting to get very warm and sunny. I hide my rucksack in the bushes and start going up. I meet loads of people, often in shorts or even bare-chested! This is some busy mountain but when I get to the top I know why: views are stunning and the scraggly top is an attraction in itself. I didn’t attempt to climb is but loads of others did so it was quite entertaining :clap: . When the clouds came back (yes, I was so lucky) I start to walk downhill, pick up the rucksack and head into Arrochar. It was quite a trek to the village along the road so a few more kilometers in total. Review: great walk, the detour to the Cobbler is well worth it but very busy especially as it was a weekend day.

Day 6: Arrochar - Inveruglas (9 km)
Last day, last little stretch. Nice forest path, more green, thigh-high ferns, water and mosses. Lovely walk up the hill with the highest point at a electricity mast (did not see a cairn here as the description says). Saw one deer (first one) and heard one burling in the forest. Along minor road the the main road, where luckily there is a good footpath to the visitor information center. Yes I was looking forward to the monument at the end and of course the cafe to treat myself for finishing this walk. But disappointment: everything is under construction so closed off completely. But should be finished soon. There is no sign for the bus station but not to worry: the citylink does stop here when you wave it down - and it took me straight to the airport for my flight home late Sunday afternoon. Review: lovely last stretch, can easily be added to the former stage if that suits better. Bye bye Scotland :cry:

So all in all: great walk and looking back you can see how it is built up from start to the end, getting better every day and then getting you back into normal busy life at the last stage. It really gives you a bit of all Scotland has to offer, although I haven’t felt the real remoteness of the northwest of Scotland. I am thinking about doing this again next year with my teenage daughter which says it all: not too hard but gives absolutely great feeling and memories to look back on.

PS I have some lovely photo's but keep getting a message that they are not valid. So no pictures yet... I will try again
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Joined: Sep 1, 2019

Re: LLC way and Cobbler in September

Postby Sgurr » Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:07 pm

Usually with pictures the best thing is to get them hosted on a site like flickr and then transfer them. Interesting trip.
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