Today’s staff post comes from Jillian, our Finance Director.
Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are in Glasgow to be able to enjoy the benefits of a bustling city life whilst also having easy access to the beautiful Scottish countryside. With the bonny banks of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park less than an hour away from the city centre, this year we have decided to take advantage as much as possible.
Now this is no mean feat with 3 ‘tweenagers’ who would far rather stay indoors glued to their gadgets. However, after the initial moaning about being too tired and the bickering over who doesn’t want to sit next to who, we set off with our backpacks. The good thing about walking is apart from a decent pair of shoes and a backpack (owning a decent waterproof jacket is a prerequisite for living in Glasgow anyway), you don’t need much more and with so many reasonably priced outlets, whether online or some of the low-cost outdoor shops such as Decathlon and JD Sports, it doesn’t need to break the bank.
After a bit of online research and a decision to start gently and work our way up (quite literally!), a good starting point was always going to be Conic Hill, a small hill of some 360m in height sitting on the east bank of Loch Lomond and bordering a section of the West Highland Way. A train to Balloch, and a short bus ride (309) to Balmaha car park and information centre, takes you to the start of the walk.
This is a really popular walk and did feel a bit like Sauchiehall Street at times, especially when we met people we knew! Quite steep in places, but with amazing views and because it only took an hour to reach the summit we decided to take an alternative, longer route back, forming a circuit along the West Highland Way to the north side of the hill and back to the car park at Balmaha. 2 hours later, with 3 hungry kids and 2 very thirsty adults, perhaps the most appealing part of this walk is the Oak Tree Inn that sits opposite the car park. A well-earned cake and/or a refreshing pint of their locally brewed beer awaits!
Next on the ‘hit list’ had to be Ben A’an, Gaelic for ‘small, pointed peak’. Just over an hour’s drive from Glasgow, Ben A’an is situated close to Loch Katrine in the Trossachs and for those without a car, local buses run from Stirling and Aberfoyle.
Ben A’an is a lovely short walk, quite steep in places, taking us about 1.5 hours to reach the summit, 454m high. Having our lunch at the top with these views over Loch Katrine and beyond were easily worth the effort.
So what’s next? With a wealth of hills to choose from our goal is to ‘bag a Munro’ by the end of the summer – Ben Lomond at a height of 974 m. In the meantime, we will continue to train on smaller inclines and see more of Scotland:
- Ben Venue, beside Ben A’an – 729m
- Goatfell, Arran – 874m (an early train and ferry across to Arran, very doable within a day, and the lovely Wineport bar bistro awaits you at the bottom)
- Ben Ledi, near Callandar – 879m
- The Cobbler, Arrochar – 884m
Watch this space…..