Balloch to Strathblane

Dumgoyne

Dumgoyne

“That’s one small step for man, one long walk for man+dog”.  Given today is the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the Moon (closely followed by Buzz) it seems appropriate to paraphrase his comment for this second section of the John Muir Trail (JMT).

River Leven, Balloch

River Leven, Balloch

The walk itself is a long, hot trudge on a lot of tarmac but there are a few highlights that I’ll concentrate on.  The first is Balloch Castle Country Park which we enter almost immediately following the River Leven with its boats and lovely views over Loch Lomond to the hills beyond (including the famous Beinn Jazz).  It’s a magnet for the local dog-walkers and doesn’t seem to be as afflicted as the other bank with Lomond Shores drawing the punters.  Lots of good views and picnic spots (most checked by Jazz).

Cool topiary

Cool topiary

Ben Lomond and Duncryne

Ben Lomond and Duncryne

Then it’s tarmac time as we follow a very quiet byway (and cycle route) towards Croftamie.  The views north towards the hills and geologic features such as Duncryne 1 is attractive enough but this section is just hot tarmac and we were developing a thirst: let’s hope the pub in Croftamie is open.  It was and the odd order (“two pints of water 2, a pint of cider 3 and a packet of peanuts 4 please”) quickly dispatched.

Footbridge

Footbridge

JMT near Croftamie

JMT near Croftamie

Bit Confused

Bit Confused

Now refreshed we continue over the River Endrick with its nicely perspective bridge 5 to pretty hamlet of Gartness where we join the West Highland Way (WHW).  Unfortunately it is now early afternoon and we are fighting our way through the hordes heading north who started this morning.  There are groups every few minutes and continually making way on a path that is quite over-grown quickly becomes a pain – fortunately everyone is friendly and grateful, even if they don’t all understand my “It’s worse than Sauchiehall Street” comment. Two groups in particular stick in my mind:

  1. The young couple where the girl asks “How long to Drymen?” with a “Does it have an active cemetery?” sub-text as she clearly about to kill the boyfriend for dragging her along.
  2. The Dutch couple with a large dog that had panniers on its back with drinks in its pouches.  Now why hadn’t I thought of that? That’s Jazz’s Christmas present sorted…
Dumgoyach and Dumgoyne

Dumgoyach and Dumgoyne

Dumgoyach from WHW

Dumgoyach from WHW

Looking north from above Strathblane

Looking north from above Strathblane

We are now heading south along the Campsie Fells, past Glengoyne Distillery and the volcanic plugs of Dumgoyne and its wooded smaller cousin Dumgoyach.  We go round the latter and then climb a bit towards Carbeth Loch.  The view backward is well worth the effort as the scenery here is lovely.  The JMT and WHW now part company as we follow and old right of way through the trees, sadly obscuring the view over to the Campsies, towards Strathblane although you do get one final glimpse at a bench commemorating a local lad killed as a Marine in Afghanistan aged 22: a sad and thought-provoking end to the walk.

Previous section of JMT: Helensburgh to Balloch
Next section of JMT: Strathblane to Kilsyth

Notes:

  1. Best view of Loch Lomond and its hills from here.
  2. Me and Jazz
  3. Me
  4. Mostly Me
  5. Albeit a little rough on the paws.
Distance:30km
Effort:
Scenery:
Do It Again:
Duration:7½ hours