Our Travel blog
Monday 9 May
We left the site and immediately entered Glasgow's motorway system. On the one hand its very useful to speed through a city and out the other side without the congestion of somewhere like London. On the flip side the map looks like someone's spilled spaghetti on the page and navigating it resulted in dialogue along the lines of "Was that junction 7?" "I don't know, I think it was 18b" "But according to the map that's in Leeds...Oh look there's the Cathedral again."
After taking the North rather than the intended South route and now safely in the hands of the sat nav we headed out of a city that looks to be building in every available space. All along the route new houses were going up, each one a carbon copy of its neighbour. Painted green they'd make ideal houses for a giant game of Monopoly. Whatever Glasgow's other charms its people were the star for us, polite, helpful and giving of themselves in a kindly fashion. If only they'd speak a bit slower I could take an active part in discourse with them, a problem that didn't seem to afflict Alison who is updating the Christmas card list as I write.
So we headed North and wound our way through the Trossachs National Park to the Western shores of Loch Lomond. The mountainous fringe of the Eastern shore, at first hazy and indistinct slowly revealed their colours of greens, browns and purples as the day wore on. Small islands hug the shores, with tufts of erect trees sprouting above stony shores. At the southern end the Loch was azure blue, gently rippled by the breeze but further up it took on the colour of rich peat, slightly golden like a well aged whiskey.
So entranced were we that we stopped to paddle on a small, isolated beach. Well Alison did while Ray fiddled around with the camera. She returned with blue feet, either because it was cold or she'd trodden on a smurf. Either way we scrambled up the bank, crossed the almost deserted highway and to the joyful tunes of Paul Simon we cruised ever upwards keeping the Loch with its rugged backdrop to our right until, in a rare moment of spontaneity we decided to spend the night at a site at Ardlui on the northern most point of the Loch, where the river Falloch feeds it.
We had a spot overlooking the small marina, sandwiched between peaks on either side, some still with traces of winters snow. Alison took immediately to befriending everyone, and our kindly neighbours spotted a possible punctured tyre on Mavis. One re-inflated tyre later we returned the favour by inflating their air beds.
Not wishing to stereotype, but they did eat nothing but fried food, drink Tenants from the can or Iron Bru from the bottle and they spoke in a rapid staccato way, as if each sentence was being kept in until the absolute last second and then released in a rush of exploding air. But they were friendly and welcoming and we got on well until they decided to get up at 5:30am the next morning, slam their van doors and talk at a volume that probably sent ripples down the Loch.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Back to today. We took a walk out of the site, but everywhere seemed to lead to narrow stretches of heavily littered road so we contented ourselves with watching the setting sun cast playful shadows over the peaks and troughs of the steep Loch banks. We watched sparrows giving themselves dust baths or hopping over the grass as if it was red hot, swallows swooping down over the waters to hoover up insects and a duck with 9 ducklings in tow, proudly fussing over them and rounding them up when they drifted off too far. We heard a cuckoo's lonesome call, somewhere upstream a goose honked in that slightly cartoonish way they have, a robin trilled an evening song and a contented bacony burp erupted from next door.
By the way, I'm fairly confident on the Cuckoo, reasonably okay with the goose and less so with the robin. It might have been a chaffinch, skylark or a stoat. I'm not great on ornithological matters. For years I thought pinemartin's were like housemartin's but favoured coniferous trees. I lived in dread that after cleaning the toilet they'd fly in and nest, unable to resist the pine fresh scent. Alison has wisely bought pocket sized guides to birds, wildflower's and suchlike from charity shops and has binoculars so is clearly an authority. I bow to her judgement on all wildlife matters, and much else besides.
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