Ghastly (but brilliant).
Walk #3 in this book.
Roughly 2 miles, but with a climb that makes it feel much longer!
My lovely James.
This was without question the worst day weather-wise of our entire holiday in Scotland. It was wet, windy, cold, overcast, misty – in short, a concoction of the most miserable conditions you could ask for. But through all that I could feel the wild, rugged strength of the landscape in a way that I wouldn’t have done if it had been mild and sunny. I was viewing the mountains in their natural habitat. And this walk was my personal highlight of the entire trip.
We parked up at Inversnaid – the carpark is pretty easy to find, drive until you run out of road and it’s there – and set off on a nice, wide path. The shore of Loch Lomond is very rocky, however, and it wasn’t long before our path started to reflect this. We met rather a lot of walkers using sticks – I have my suspicions that said sticks probably just got in the way.
As we continued on, the path got rockier and less easy to follow. Eventually, we came across a sign pointing towards a heap of boulders at the water’s edge, saying “Rob Roy’s Cave”. The journey up to Rob Roy’s cave is a bit of a scramble over some large rocks and you do go up there at your own risk. I personally like a good scramble so took a deep breath and channelled my inner mountain goat. The good news is that you can tell when you’ve found it because they’ve painted “CAVE” in large letters on the rock face next to the entrance, presumably so it can be easily pointed out on boat tours.
On the way back, we detoured through the RSPB woodland and this is the point at which it all got so beautiful I barely knew how to deal with it. The path leading away from the shore is incredibly steep and steps have been provided to help you as have strategically placed benches on which you can catch your breath, look at the view, and remember why you’re doing it. The view over the Loch to the mountains on the other side is pretty awe inspiring – and, naturally, the higher you climb, the better it gets.
All of a sudden we reached a plateau and the landscape changed completely – I feel like I’d stepped into some classic fairy tale woodland: moss covered stones, the occasional twisted tree, wild flowers, bracken, winding streams, and a narrow twisty path to follow. I half expected a pixie to pop out and start causing mischief. It was a really magical place and, as we were the only people mad enough to venture up there in the driving drizzle, we had it all to ourselves.
This isn’t a long walk by any means, but the twists and turns and ups and downs of the woodland track makes it feel like you’ve been lost in the wilderness for hours. It’s quite a shock to the system to find yourself back at Inversnaid with it’s large carpark and even larger hotel. On our return, we went round to the far side of the hotel to see the waterfall which is said to have been the inspiration for Wordsworth’s To a Highland Girl. It’s well worth the extra time to see, there are steps up to the top of the fall which take you into Craigrostan Woods (a firm fixture on my to-do list for my next visit) which is a whole other world again. As we turned to head back, we were lucky enough to see one last treat: a Pine Martin sitting on a rock by the water.