For months because of covid19, Glasgow has been in lockdown, level 3, which meant that we were not allowed to travel outside the city. These restrictions were lowered to level two this weekend, meaning we could now travel outside our city. Stasia had some business to do in Drymen, one of the routes of my cycling outings. So I went with her, but by car this time. It hadn’t changed much, still the quiet little village, a few shops a couple of tearooms and a grassy square with a couple of pubs/hotels. However, a two tearooms had gone and there seem to be quite a few very large and expensive looking cars dotted around the square. We had lunch in the garden of the Winnock Hotel on the square, very nice indeed.
A part from cycling that area many times, it was one of our walking routes in the days before my cycling era. So we decided to go on and visit Balmaha, four miles further on, and Rowardennan, the end of the road there. Back then Balmaha was a quiet little place on the shore of Loch Lomond, a tearoom, a hotel, a small pier and a few boats bobbing about. We could sit on the shore where mallard ducks usually came by to see what you had to offer. So quiet the tearoom eventually closed. Rowardennan was about 5-6 miles further on, a dead end place with a small hotel that always seem to be closed when you wanted something to eat, and a youth hostel. It was the common starting point for climbing Ben Lomond, which was our only reason for going to Rowardennan.
As we arrived at Balmaha I went into a state of shock, the place was packed with people, two car parks were full, and cars were parked in odd places along the road. You couldn’t see the shore for people, the quiet hotel was festooned with sun umbrellas, all full with people eating. Balmaha is on the famous walk, “the West Highland Way” and there was a steady stream of walkers in groups of 2, 3 and 6’s making their way along the route. We didn’t stop and decide just to go on to quiet Rowardennan.
It is still a beautiful route as it twists and turns through a lot of untouched forest, dotted with the odd cottage and farm. We stopped at one point just to listen to the birds, amazing. However, the route has changed, every so often there is an entrance and caravan park, some with lodges, camper vans and “glamping”, all busy. This meant the the quiet twisting road was very busy with cars. On reaching Rowardennan, again, shock. The dark old quiet hotel was now a large white building with lots of facilities, a car park which you have to pay to stop there. We pulled into the car park and watched about 25 or more walkers in a long straggling line make there way into the hotel. Of course we didn’t pay at the car park, we just turned round and head back home. I’m still in shock at the change and massive commercialisation of that wild and beautiful part of our land that I once walked for solitude and to escape from the buzz of city life. I suppose, one of the outcomes of living so long.
A few photos on route:
The blueish haze are bluebells, a beautiful little woodland flower.
Visit ann arky’s home at https://radicalglasgow.me.uk