During the CRF Step Challenge I amped up my steps/road miles with the Outer Hebrides and had a great time doing it 🙂
After my wee blog about it I thought it would be nice to document my wee trips for the Sustainability Committee – promoting the benefits of getting on the bike/walking on physical health, mental health and sustainability.
Now I’ve got the cycle bug and keen to keep the momentum going – this weekend I decided to get up to Loch Lomond.
I set off from an unusually toasty Edinburgh Waverley and got myself a cold iced coffee to get me going ( with a paper straw I must note ) accompanied by snacks of course. A swift change from Glasgow Queen Street and on to the train to Balloch – the mind the gap notice is extremely valid with a bike, so beware! A nice chap helped me get my quite heavy bike onto the connecting train – panniers full of snacks. Never be scared to accept / ask for help 🙂
Arrived in Balloch to some lovely sunshine and set off to ….have lunch! Headed to a wee cafe I have frequented before called Corries – for a no nonsense sandwich and coffee. After wolfing that down… THEN I began my 20 mile cycle to Rowardennan Hostel – located on the East side of Loch Lomond.
Most of the cycle is Route 7 – which takes you firstly through the beautiful Balloch Park and then off onto the quieter roads. Passing some friendly faces on the way …
Carrying on I even made it through THE SHIRE – the fence does say the shire on it I swear! ( Below)
And across a lovely bridge!
On I went … flying down some hills and pedalling furiously up quite a few too. It was pretty muggy as the cycled went on. I amazingly resisted quite a few nice looking cafes along the way. ONWARD!
Arriving at the idyllic hostel .. where I believe it had been raining as I got CLARTED in mud from the huge puddles I tried to dodge. Alas – I made it. Sweaty.
The hostel is located at the very end of the road, so it’s nice and quiet and away from the busy campsites. No midges in sight – INCREDIBLE.
It even has it’s own wee jetty!
Checked in – I was RAVENOUS. So walked along to … THE CLANSMAN (Still Game lovers appreciate) for some dinner and a few .. glasses of wine. Eating alone was cool, I enjoy people watching as you can imagine ( in a non creepy way ) and was soon joined by a lovely dog called Habber who didn’t leave my side … probably wanted my food. Most definitely did.
After sitting alone for a while past dinner I heard a bunch of Glaswegians having a laugh – and one of them putting their fish and chips in a sandwich? Criminal. So I headed over with my glass of vino to introduce myself – firstly mocking the fish and chip crime, which went down well! I had a great night of laughs with them all – discussing their near fatal mistake in trying to get up Ben Lomond via another hill in front of it … bloody knees and mangled ankles were evidence of a poor choice in Munro tactics. Ben Lomond was on the cards for me the next day!
Side note – you’re never really alone in Scotland so don’t hold back from saying hello! 🙂
I awoke in the very comfy hostel bed and got a move on! Full breakfast done with lovely views over the loch .. and maybe a few Ibuprofen for the head .. I began my walk to Ben Lomond. The start of the trail was about 5 minutes walk from the hostel – man it was muggy! A wee bit cloudy and glimmers of sunshine coming through, I headed up. The route was pretty quiet on the way up and pretty clear weather wise until……. about 3/4 of the way up the cloud came on down. I like this kind of weather .. everything looks dramatic! It’s a straightforward route with no need for maps etc . Just a good pair of boots / sturdy trainers. NO FLIP FLOPS… believe me. I saw some.
To the top I made it .. after a blustery last chunk. Snacked on some Twiglets ( yum for those of you who like Marmite ) Zero visibility up there .. but some nice sheep darting about haha.
WHAT A VIEW…Beautiful all the same!
Down I went – waterproofs on by now and mascara all over my face (what’s even the point!?) A tiny wee bit of clambering about and then back to the normal path. ( There is another and steeper way down if you so wish – but due to visibility I thought I’d head back the way I came. It was a swift downward walk, passing larger groups now hiking to the top. Quite a few of them asking “how much further?” To which I replied “just keep going!”
Half way down now and Loch Lomond and the lovely hills around me appeared again. Went a wee bit rogue and avoided the rocky path, opting for some of the grassier bits to save my legs. Thump thump thump.
Back to the hostel and the very warm air (actually should have brought gloves for up the top as it was freezing!) Needed some hot sustenance … ended up with a chicken and mushroom pot noodle. No judgement please.
A strong coffee and feet up for a brief moment with a view to recharge my wee legs.
The torrential rain began – my cue to get on the bike and cycle straight back to Balloch! Waterproofs on again and buzzing from the coffee – I was off!
Remember those hills I was flying down on Saturday? YEP! Nasty wee hills on the way back but the feeling when I got up them was great 🙂 The rain didn’t let up so it was a bit of a wet cycle back but also a fun one. The rain eventually stopped and the best thing happened …. see below.
If you haven’t heard me ranting at work, I am a huge horse fan – for those of you who maybe are or just want a dose of pure joy please watch the video below 🙂 Sound on if you want a laugh at my excitable sounds.
After dragging myself away from this heavenly sight I pedalled on to Balloch – past the friendly coos! Once I arrived I bought a huge chippy ( wrapped in paper and eaten with a wooden fork for sustainability) and hopped back on the train to Edinburgh!
All in all I had a lovely weekend away and I did this wee trip solo – I feel it’s a nice way to reconnect with yourself without sounding like Mystic Meg.
YOU can do this and many other trips. Day trips to full weekends – Scotland is out there!! It’s so easy to hop on a bus,train,bike,ferry and get your feet walking too – those boots were made for walking!!
(please see lower down in blog for info on transport)
Sustainability is also at the heart of this – with Eco miles adding up travelling on public transport and cycling/walking you can contribute towards striving for a healthy environment and planet 🙂
The great outdoors are also so so great for your Mental Health – getting away from it all, even for a few hours can make such a difference and get you back into a positive state of mind / provide some time for yourself – which is important 🙂 The feeling getting to the top of a hill, to the end of your cycle, walk, swim- exerting yourself physically, however much that may be makes a difference to your mentality and body too.
Some ideas for getting on a bike if you don’t have one 🙂
- Cycle to work scheme ( this is how I went about getting a bike – it’s quick , easy and covers accessories for your bike too.)
- JustEat bikes ( all over the city – you can pop down to Cramond and beyond! )
- Invest in a rail card ( great discounts! )
- Thetrainline ( Scotrail etc – book in advance and it can be super cheap)
- Megabus ( you can even hop up to Aviemore too!)
- First bus ( a day trip out to North Berwick then walk to Tantallon / Seacliff? – highly recommend a cafe called DRIFT just outside North Berwick for yummy cakes and coffee )
Why not get out to an Island for a day/night, weekend?
- Ferry ( such a treat to get out to the isles and if you are on foot / by bike it’s super cheap too! )
Along the Mental Health side of things I thought I’d do a positive song suggestion too.
Song of the week for me is, Old Old Fashioned – Frightened Rabbit. A positive song and fitting for switching off and getting out there 🙂
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog entry and it’s inspired you too.
Til next time.
Great blog Ana! Sounds like a brilliant weekend. I don’t know where you get the energy!