Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 7: The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks

June 27, 2014

We set out early for Loch Lomond and found our schedule driven by our dedication to using public transportation.  We got off the train in Balloch, and after strolling around getting oriented, located the ferry landing just after the boat left, and the next one wasn't for an inconveniently long time.

So, we set out to look over the bus schedule and found that the next bus going in our direction wasn't leaving for an hour.  It's this kind of thing that leads us to see things we might otherwise have missed, in this case a leisurely walk about Balloch Castle Country Park, which was lovely and had nice views of the loch.

Our bus eventually took us up the east side of the loch to the national park center in Balmaha. The park center was small but had some interesting exhibits, and afterward we weighed our (two) options, and in view of the somewhat cool morning, chose the hot sit-down lunch at the Oak Tree Inn instead of a cold sandwich. To our delight, the food was excellent and we plotted our afternoon feeling much refreshed.  We walked up the West Highland Way, following the lake shore and enjoyed the scenery.
After a pleasant hour or so, we came upon a ranger station and had a nice chat with the park staff.  (They told us how fortunate we were to have such nice weather...and were astonished to find out that this was usual for us during our UK visits.  They invited us to stick around.)  We looked at the map and consulted our plethora of schedules, and decided that we had enough time to walk to Rowardennan and make the last ferry across the lock to Tarbet, which has a train station.   The park staff assured us that the trail followed the lake and was mostly flat.  "Only one real hill,"  they said blithely.

We set off at a fairly brisk place, and were not in the least sorry to see more of the area.

However we soon came to doubt the ranger's veracity.  We had at least half a dozen respectable candidates for 'just one hill'.

We balanced scenery appreciation with the need to keep moving.

In some cases, the scenery looked back.

I was just as happy I wasn't taking the photos, as time ran shorter and we continued to hustle.
Me, hustling.
We reached the ferry landing with only about fifteen minutes to spare.  I used the time to score us a couple of cold drinks at the youth hostel next to the landing.

And then we were off to Tarbet, at last getting to see the shores from out in the lake.

We landed in Tarbet, which was a slightly larger village and walked the couple of miles up to the train station. Consulting the schedule we found a train due shortly and started speculating on what we might have for dinner when we got back to Glasgow.   Only the train did not come.  A train going the other way stopped and picked up most of the passengers waiting on the platform, leaving half-a-dozen puzzled people still standing there.  It was then that Jonathan consulted the schedule again and noted a small unobtrusive 'S'- denoting Saturday service only- next to the train listing.  Today was Friday.  We mentioned this diffidently to the other passengers and they all exclaimed, reviewed the schedule and agreed that we were out of luck. There was another train, fortunately, but not for two hours.

Jonathan and I contemplated our empty stomachs for a moment.  "You know," I said.  "We passed a restaurant just at the bottom of the hill before we turned up the station road."  We decided to go check it out. It was called Slanj, and turned out to be quite new, but located in an attractive renovated church.  And the food was excellent.  

We had a terrific dinner, walked back up to the station, experienced the insect life of Scotland (the midges come out at dusk, quite annoying). And then we took the train back to Glasgow.


  1. Looks like those delays gave you the perfect opportunity to explore!

  2. Delay = finding a good restaurant. How often does that happen in real life? Gotta love it!