Going north with periodic sprinkles, we pedaled beside Loch Lomond, a 22 by 1 mile wide freshwater lake. Between the hillsides of sheep a castle appeared and we imagined it was the 200-bed hostel we’d been told about.
|Loch Lomond, Photo credit: teamroberts|
Along the north end of the lake Andy has a flat. He swore. There is never a good time to repair a leak. I helped pinpoint the hole by pumping his tire, then listen for the hissing sound. With the noisy traffic it takes a couple tries. I offered a chocolate cookie bar to keep his spirits up.
Much to my delight chocolate is less expensive than in the U.S. Cheese also. We bought brie to add to our lunch and ate on the banks of Loch Lomond swatting at an insect called midges. Like a flea, they are a nuisance when we rest or camp, little ferocious biters. They go for my hairline and ankles–anything that is exposed.
|Jim gave this to Andy.|
45 miles, Tuesday, July 5
The dismal weather broke this morning. Andy and I walked with the guys a mile or so along their track. As we passed through sheep pasture the animals with splotchy black and white faces dressed in striped socks trot towards us then skittishly back away. Dead sheep are left where they fall. One appears to stare at us with gruesome empty eye sockets.
Returning to our bikes we pedal onward, cresting a small summit then coasted downhill beneath a ceiling of puffy clouds and sunshine. Scottish Highland cattle roam the valley; their brown shaggy coats reminding me of miniature wooly mammoths.
In Bridge of Orchy we meet Jim, Brian, and George again. Jim had returned home because his wife broke her ankle. The others plan to continue, ending in Fort William later in the week.
|Rannoch Moor, Photo credit: Mogens Engelund|
Descending into Glencoe (a glen is a valley) the rocky summits and cliffs fall to the river. The Highland Way passes through here, following the old stone road. As I gaze up at the rocky edges of the path I envision the MacDonald and rival Campbell clan and the famous massacre that took place between the families.
|Scottish sheep, Photo credit: David and Cheryl M|
Again, sheep outnumber humans, crossing the road, bleating from the hills, ambling after on another. I am struck by the earthy colors: grey rock, vivid green pastureland, white buildings. Only tourists dressed in teal and purple on similarly pigmented busses, zoom the roadways, infusing color to an otherwise stark landscape.
We reach the western coast of Scotland and head north to Fort William. Ben Nevis’s rocky top hangs over the town. If the weather holds, we plan to explore the trail tomorrow.