Scotland is falling apart

Scotland is falling apart

One of the things I love best about long walks (and travel in general) is the rich history waiting to be discovered. Like the ruins of this Augustinian Priory, built in the 13th century. (In)famous Robert the Bruce loved this place so much he endowed it in 1317.

Fillan’s Priory

Next to the priory is an ancient graveyard. It might be a little hard to tell but this headstone is likely from the 7th century! That’s some history.

7th Century headstone in the Kirkton graveyard

Speaking of Robert the Bruce, here’s where he was defeated in battle in 1306. Looks like just an empty field now, but imagine the stories it could tell.

Battle of Dalrigh in 1306, where Robert the Bruce fled into hiding.

Sometimes (when there’s no interpretive plaque, for example) the story isn’t quite so obvious.

Another Stonehenge or just discarded bridge abutments from the 1960s?

Other ruins are definitely of a more modern era.

You might want to take shelter in this farm building on a typical stormy Scottish day but it might not be a good idea.

Not everything in Scotland is falling apart, of course. Take this train station in Crianlarich for example. It’s the best place in town to tuck into a crisp serving of fish & chips. Yet another thing I love about travel 🙂

Crianlarich station & cafe
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The Way Gets Rougher

The Way Gets Rougher

It’s been pretty gentle walking on the West Highland Way so far. Today, beyond Inversnaid and its beautiful waterfall, the walking got a lot rougher.

Inversnaid waterfall
Inversnaid Hotel

Much of the Way follows the shores of Loch Lomond. Those shores got a lot more rocky and rooty this morning. Water cascaded down into the lake, making the trail slick and muddy. Imagine if the weather weren’t so unusually dry!

With views like this, how could you not stop and take a break?
Loch Lomond
Watch your footing
Hideout of the infamous Rob Roy, Scottish cattle drover

Free accommodations – try a “mountain bothy”

All the shades of green

All the shades of green

It’s Day 3 of walking the West Highland Way and I still can’t believe how vibrant the colours are. I’ve walked in Scotland twice before but I stayed up high where I was enveloped in fog or fighting through blowing rain and tromping through lingering snow, rather than basking in the soft light of the glens far below.

Another day on the West Highland Way
Life on life
Looking toward Ben Lomond
Loch Lomond hostel
New leaves of spring

Yesterday it rained just enough to remind me that, yes, you are in Scotland. I can hardly believe how mild it’s been. If the forecast is right, that incredible weather will last for the entire walk. How many more shades of green will I discover?

Upgraded

Last night when we arrived at our accommodations in the little Scottish village of Drymen, I realized we had a problem. I’d booked a single room rather than a double. No, you can’t sleep on the floor. Or pitch your tent in the back. Uh oh.

A little small for two

Luckily, we found a rather basic house around the corner with a room free. I was kind of relishing having to go find a hidden spot to camp but I must admit it was nice to have somewhere warm to spend the night, since I’m approaching this walk “as a vacation”.

Scotland is known for its wet weather. Yesterday was so warm and dry I second guessed if I’d even landed in the right country. Not to worry, today I awoke to rain and chill air.

More tunnels of green
Climbing Conic Hill

A stiff climb up Conic Hill into the clouds reminded me why I love walking in Scotland so much. The harder the wind blows and the more the rain soaks you, the more rewarding the views.

Looking down to Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest fresh water lake

The reward didn’t end at the top of the hill. When we arrived at our bunkhouse for the night, the owner excitedly informed us that she was upgrading us to a private room! What luck.

Luxury
All this for the price of a bunk
Wet

Beginning the West Highland Way

Beginning the West Highland Way

I arrived in Glasgow last night and after a good sleep started walking the West Highland Way this afternoon. It’s wonderfully green this time of year but also shockingly warm and dry. I’m looking forward to enjoying the changing scenery as the trail winds its way from peaceful countryside, through thickly scented forest, and up onto the windy highlands.

Glasgow
It all starts here
Tunnels of green
Home sweet home
Fields of green
Trailside poetry

2017 in 12 Photos

I’ve been terribly remiss in writing about my travels over the last year but I’ve had some great adventures. At the end of one year and the beginning of the next, I love looking back and reflecting on what I’ve experienced. Here are a few of my favourite memories from each month of 2017.

January - I discover my new favourite place to hike & cycle - the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona
January – I discover my new favourite place to hike & cycle – the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona
February - Crisp early mornings give way to scorched afternoons
February – Crisp early mornings give way to scorched afternoons
March - the desert comes alive with the colours of spring
March – the desert comes alive with the colours of spring
April - My first cycle race, the Round-the-Isle Randonee on England's Isle of Wight
April – My first cycle race, the Round-the-Isle Randonee on England’s Isle of Wight
May - I discover the soft rolling landscapes of England's South Downs Way
May – I discover the soft rolling landscapes of England’s South Downs Way
June - Iceland's thundering waterfalls
June – Iceland’s thundering waterfalls
July - An unusually dry summer makes for great mountaineering among BC's rarely visited peaks
July – An unusually dry summer makes for great mountaineering among BC’s rarely visited peaks
August - I discover just how hot the Grand Canyon can get on my first full crossing from the north to the south rim
August – I discover just how hot the Grand Canyon can get on my first full crossing from the north to the south rim
September - I do my best to capture the beauty that Ansel Adams discovered in California's Sierra Nevada
September – I do my best to capture the beauty that Ansel Adams discovered in California’s Sierra Nevada
October - Cycling through Vietnam and Cambodia, I discover some wonderful people and delicious food
October – Cycling through Vietnam and Cambodia, I discover some wonderful people and delicious food
November - I'm awed by the unbelievably massive mountains on Nepal's Annapurna Circuit
November – I’m awed by the unbelievably massive mountains on Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit
December - Sunset over the Himalayas
December – Sunset over the Himalayas

Here’s to more fun adventures in 2018.

2016 in 12 Photos

Another year is about to close and a new one beginning with endless possibilities. I love taking a few moments in the short days of winter that come around New Years to reflect on both the ups & downs of the last 12 months. Here’s what my year looked like…

January - Cycling to the Edge of the World Tasmania, Australia
January – Cycling to the Edge of the World
Tasmania, Australia
February - visiting the famous The Twelve Apostles along Australia's Great Ocean Road
February – visiting the famous The Twelve Apostles along Australia’s Great Ocean Road
March - awed by Bali's new year celebration, Nyepi
March – awed by Bali’s new year celebration, Nyepi
April - salt cracks form octagon shapes in Death Valley's Badwater Basin, the lowest point of North America
April – salt cracks form octagon shapes in Death Valley’s Badwater Basin, the lowest point of North America
May - cycling through the tail end of winter on the Icefield Parkway
May – cycling through the tail end of winter on the Icefield Parkway
June - caught in a snowstorm while traversing off-trail through the front ranges of the Rockies
June – caught in a snowstorm while traversing off-trail through the front ranges of the Rockies
July - mountaineering in BC with the ACC
July – mountaineering in BC with the ACC
August - Rio Summer Olympics!
August – Rio Summer Olympics!
September - sharing great times while trekking through the rugged landscape of Ladakh, India
September – sharing great times while trekking through the rugged landscape of Ladakh, India
October - in Idaho, the higher you get, the higher you get
October – in Idaho, the higher you get, the higher you get
November - stumbled upon a UFO recovery and repair service
November – stumbled upon a “UFO recovery and repair service” in Southern California
December - desert magic in Sedona
December – desert magic in Sedona, Arizona

With 2016 come and gone, I wish you the best in 2017. Happy adventuring!