Day 05 - Drymen to Balmaha

Date: 9/11/2016

Location: From: Drymen To: Balmaha

Mileage: 8 mi.

Weather: Partly cloudy with moderate winds

Temperature: 64°F

Lodging: The Oak Tree Inn

GPS Location: 56°5’3” N and 4°32’ 22” W

Highlights: Leaving Drymen and the Drymen Inn, walking through the moors and climbing Conic Hill with views of Loch Lomond

Summary of the Day:

I got up at 6:30 this morning and got ready to leave even though there was no hurry as we couldn't eat breakfast until 8:00 and it didn't matter anyway as today was a short day with only 8 miles to go. We could leave at nine and still arrive at our destination by noon. We finally walked out about 9:00. It was a easy walk out and not too long before we got to the Garadhban Forest, which the Forest Service was in the process of reseeding and restoring. There were still a lot of large trees remaining after a conifer clearing in the recent past. We quickly passed through the forest, but behind us there were a lot of people coming up fast. It wasn’t too long before the trail opened up into the moorland where you could see across to the valleys and the pasture lands where there were both cattle and sheep below.

We walked along and started dipping down into a small wooded section of trail before starting our ascent up Conic Hill. The trail stared to climb steadily toward the summit, but was only going to skirt just below the summit. This was a pretty good climb but the views were spectacular. You could see Loch Lomond below. At one point just beyond the high point you could see the resort area and all the sail boats. There was a sail boat race between about 10 boats. At this point the clouds were blowing away and the winds were really picking up. From our vantage point, we started to descend down to a stand of old growth trees. The trail maintainers did a great job on this section of trail as it went pretty much straight down and they had installed a lot of wooden steps in the side of the hill to help give you footing. It was along that when we reached the parking lot and the road which we crossed to get to the Oak Tree Inn, where we are staying tonight. It was a few minutes after noon.

We all thought that this was great as we could get cleaned up, rest a little and then I could walk down to the shops and stores and look around. It didn't take long to realize that just wasn't going to happen. First of all the lady tells us that we can't check in until 3:00. We decide to get a cup of coffee and maybe a little to eat, and then I thought I would walk to the shops down the road in this resort community. The next shocker is that there aren't any little shops in this resort community and that the only places to shop is right next door, which is an ice cream parlor and a general store which only sells things like fishing tackle and snack foods as well as beer and wine. Oh joy now it's just sit and wait to get into the room. Finally at 2:45 we ask about checking in now and the lady looked at the clock and said that it wasn't 3:00 yet. We stood around there talking to her and finally she gave me my room key but not Hawk and Little Pony. They walked up to my room with me.

My room is really nice, it's in the tower of this little cabin. It’s big enough for me, but the only problem that I have is that it has a low ceiling and I've hit my head about three times. I have a nice view out my back window to the loch. About 6:30 I met up with Hawk and Little Pony for dinner in the restaurant. The place is packed as it is the only place within miles. The food was great. I had a big cheese hamburger with French fries, which they call “chips.” I also tried a little bite or two of haggis, a traditional Scottish pudding made from sheep's "pluck" (offal) (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. It wasn’t anything to write home about (even though I am) but it wasn't too bad. I wouldn't order a full serving of it. 

After we ate we sat and talked over plans for tomorrow's walk. It looks like it might rain some. We have been pretty lucky as its only rained lightly during the day and mostly at night. I hope that it continues this way. So far this trip hasn't been anything like what I was expecting. I hope that along the way we hit some little towns, but we’ll see. As for now that's about all the news from Scotland. I will write again tomorrow. The journey continues.

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