Meeting at our B&B in Milngavie, the first challenge we faced was a long, steep flight of steps to the front door – it felt like some sort of fitness test for the walk ahead. When we’d all arrived, Jennie presented us each with a little gift – matching midge nets (!) and a handknitted poppy – a team badge perhaps? We supped at a local restaurant where we revelled in being re-united. As we were leaving, a fellow diner said, ‘There was a lot of hilarity coming from your corner!’ We started as we meant go on…
After a good night’s sleep and a tasty breakfast to set us up (smoked salmon and scrambled egg for most, but Collette couldn’t resist the fry-up – she got a real plateful!), we left our main bags for the baggage carriers and walked the ten minutes into town to the obelisk which marks the official start of the walk. There, we met my cousin who lives a few miles down the road and who had chosen to join us for ‘a wee stroll’ on his day off. I had told him that he was a brave man! He survived the day, though, and chatted away happily to us all as we walked, providing local colour to the group.
After multiple photos were taken at the obelisk and under the arch, we set off. We soon emerged from the non-descript suburbs into the beautiful mixed woodland of Mugdock Wood with fresh green leaves on the trees and carpets of bluebells underneath – a perfect spring scene. We came to a carved tree stump set into the path and tried to read the inscription: the brae? No, it was brea… Then Christine, reading it upside down, said: ‘Breathe!’ – of course! We were very pleased to do so!
I’d warned everyone to have plenty of layers as the weather could be very deceptive, but it wasn’t long before we started discarding them. It was actually a very comfortable temperature to be walking in with only a light breeze and no rain until the very end of our walk.
Soon we could see the Campsie Fells and the mass of Drumgoyne (locally known as the elephant because of its profile). We emerged from the wood and came to the crest of the hill where a beautiful panorama opened up ahead of us: right up to Ben Lomond where we would be in a couple of days’ time. There was still snow on the far peaks.
As we dropped down into the valley, a couple were approaching and the man, who had the hood of his red raincoat up said ‘Good morning’ to me. I recognised the voice: it was my brother! I knew he was in the area visiting family members and had arranged to meet him and my sister-in-law the following evening, but didn’t expect them to catch up with us on the walk. So, our group of six had been increased by 50% by my family – fortunately nobody seemed to mind! We all walked on, passing by the Glengoyne Distillery which a German group we met were drawn towards.
A little further on we reached the Beech Tree Inn which is a curious mixture of pub and animal farm. There were Shetland ponies and foals in the adjacent field. My brother and sister-in-law left us there to return to their car and go and visit our aunt. The rest of us enjoyed a good lunch – soup, panini or salad.
As we carried on our way, we heard a cuckoo calling in the nearby woods. The views expanded up to Loch Lomond and the mountains beyond, some with a surprising amount of snow still on them.
Shortly after crossing over the bridge at the falls of Gartness, we arrived at Drymen, our finish point for the day and Colin took our photos by the village sign. The B&B sign was even more welcoming and after settling in and freshening up we went down the hill to the Clachan Inn where we enjoyed a tasty supper and soaked in the atmosphere.