Our third day was the easiest of all – a gentle walk along the east bank of Loch Lomond from Balmaha to Rowardennan. As it turned out, it also gave Collette’s feet a chance to recover themselves as she had been suffering from the outset with nasty blisters on her right heel.
The short walk ahead enabled us to have a relaxed start. We walked through mixed woodland, along the shores of the Loch, up and over some rocky headlands, and finally some short stretches on the road. The east side is the quiet side of the loch, with the main road and railway running along the western side. So, we had the privilege of enjoying the peace and quiet (except when interrupted by speed boats and jet skis, of course!) As it was a sunny Saturday, there were a lot of day trippers and weekenders enjoying an escape from the city life of Glasgow, but they confined themselves mainly to the sunny bays. The waterbus service links the opposing shores and the round trip is also popular.
Many walkers do the day before and this one together, so we found there weren’t so many Wayfarers with us, but we did encounter some fell runners towards the end of the walk, cooling off in the cold waters of the Loch. We were pleased to be walking ourselves in gently and having time to enjoy the splendid scenery.
We met a couple of friendly volunteer wardens at the National Park centre at Milarrochy Bay who told us about the famous much-photographed tree which grows in the water there when the level of the loch is highest. The loch isn’t tidal, of course, but the level varies, being controlled by a weir at the southern end.
We stopped for a coffee at Cashel campsite and also passed some designated wild camping sites. Although you can do wild camping throughout most of Scotland, it is now restricted to designated areas around Loch Lomond as, sadly, too many people were abusing the environment they had come to enjoy.
At Sallochy, we met a guy sporting a glengarry (a tartan hat with a feather in it for the unititated) sitting on a log by the path with his wife. He was full of advice on the route ahead. We wondered how often his wife had had to listen to the same story. The rest of our group ahead had certainly had it. I must admit to tuning out after a while but his advice about the next day’s walking did prove to be accurate.
We arrived at the Rowardennan Youth Hostel – a beautiful Scottish baronial-style lodge on the loch shore – at 3pm, giving us plenty of time to relax in the sun or enjoy the view from the lounge before our much longer, tougher walk the following day. We had supper in the hostel and then some of us went for a drink in the pub along the road, which was packed with fellow walkers. The hostel was luxurious compared with the bunkhouse the night before so we retired early to be fully rested for the day ahead.