After a great night’s sleep at the Oak Tree Inn we woke up to a great breakfast in the pleasant restaurant area, which opens out onto the garden.
When your bags are being carried by AMS they have to be ready by 9am, so we were up pretty early, which should give us plenty of time for the walk ahead of us.
After settling our bill, we chatted to some other guests in the garden before setting off back along the West Highland Way, soon arriving at the Craigie fort where the views across Loch Lomond are amazing.
Even though it was still early, the sun was already very hot, and we were glad to get back under the trees to follow the path along the water’s edge. There were considerably more people on the beach than last year as we rounded Arrochy Bay and cut across Strathcashell Point.
After a brief spell in the sun we were back into the shade of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, this section being the Rowardennan Forest National Memorial Park. We stopped for lunch at the spectacularly-situated Rowardennan Hotel and – in what was becoming a recurring theme – didn’t recognise any of the inside despite stopping here last year.
According to the barman we were here out of season last year so a huge section of it had been closed off. As with yesterday, despite carrying small bags this year we thought we’d done enough to deserve a proper pub lunch, so Euan ordered a beefburger and I had a veggie burger. Sitting outside in the sun, eating burgers and pints of iced juice, we admired the views up the loch.
Eventually summoning up the energy to get up, we continued up the side of the loch on what seemed to be a very, very long walk. Looking back and seeing the Rowardennan Hotel behind us didn’t really help!
When we reached the Inversnaid Hotel we were surprisingly tired given that we only had small bags on, although admittedly it was about 20 degrees warmer this year! We stopped to take some photos of the waterfall where the Arklet Water flows into Loch Lomond – a shadow of its winter self, but still impressive nonetheless.
We sat on the grass overlooking the loch, refuelling on muesli bars, thinking how good it would have been to stay at the fantastic Inversnaid Bunkhouse again. But we were heading for McGregors Landing tonight – our original destination last year before the weather changed our plans – across the other side of the loch.
The last 7km today seemed to take forever, and we realised what a good decision we’d made last year to stop early. Finally we spotted Ardlui on the opposite shore, and headed down to the pier to send the buoy up the pole to summon the ferry.
The short journey across the loch was an absolute treat, sitting back enjoying the sun and the scenery, and not walking! It was also much cooler down at water-level.
After paying the ferryman, we walked up the edge of the main road – the last few hundred metres for today – to the McGregors Landing complex. It would be fair to say it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting for my birthday night on the West Highland Way!
Standing at reception for ages with several others it soon became apparent that the place as under-staffed, but eventually a girl appeared and pointed us in the direction of our rooms. Despite the place not being full, we had to tell them at what time we wanted to eat, and with half an hour to go we went to our rooms to freshen up.
The room was quite small and pretty basic, but it was ok. At our allotted time we were directed to the bar for drinks while we looked at the menu. We must’ve been there for an hour before our order was taken, and then another hour before we were given a table.
But there was plenty to amuse us as we sat there, the highlight being a barman from Yorkshire – who freely admitted he knew nothing about whisky – trying to recommend Laphroaig to two French guests without being able to pronounce the name!
The food was really good, and almost worth the wait. Great pizzas were accompanied by salad from an all-you-can-eat salad bar which we made extensive use of. After eating we retired to the decking outside for a few more drinks overlooking Loch Lomond before heading to bed.
When we got to our room, we realised that the walls were just plasterboard, and we were kept awake by the incredibly loud snoring coming from the next room. When we finally did fall asleep, it wasn’t for long – our next door neighbour got up in the night for a glass of water, and with the pipe running through our room, we both woke up thinking our room was being flooded by a broken tap!