27.04.2013 - 27.04.2013 12 °C
Having been in Dublin for four days and another two in Blackpool, we were yearning for a foray into more natural surroundings. Loch Lomond National Park is less than an hour north of where we are staying so a hike was our plan. Confirmation of the wisdom of our decision was given by the skies which showed far more blue than white this morning. The fact that we were out the door by 9:00 am was also a good indicator of our mutual enthusiasm about the day’s undertaking.
Loch Lomond is the largest lake by surface area in Great Britain, while Windermere in England’s Lakes District, which we saw yesterday, is the largest by volume and length. It appears that both Scotland and EngIand needed a way to hold first prize. I suspect we will encounter a bit more rivalry between the two regions before long.
We chose to hike to the top of Conic Hill and as well as circumnavigate it. Apart from knowing that this walk had tremendous views of Loch Lomond and the surrounding countryside we knew nothing of the significance of this promontory. It turns out that Conic Hill is situated right on top of the Highland Boundary Fault. I knew that Scotland had two broad regions called the Highlands and the Lowlands but had never given much thought to where one region began and the other ended. The two areas differ greatly topographically and end and begin abruptly on this fault line that traverses the entire country. Conic Hill is a creation of the two tectonic plates pushing up against each other and there are hills both east and west of here who share the same origins. So today we can say we officially set foot in the Highlands of Scotland. In fact, we can say we had one foot in the Highlands and the Lowlands at the same time.
When we arrived at the trailhead there was a great gathering of people and much signage referring to a footrace. We soon discovered, today was the day of the Highland Fling Ultra Marathon. It is a 53 mile run which this year’s winner completed in just over 7 hours. Conic Hill is on the course and saw 500 runners cross over it at the three to four hour mark in their run. Fortunate for us, when we arrived less than 20 runners were left to finish this section and we were free to start our hike. It did feel a bit humbling seeing runners come down a hill which we would only dare walk down.
The hill is only 360 meters high which means we cannot claim to have bagged a munro today (hikers who climb a hill above 1000 meters are said to have bagged a munro) but we can boast capturing some great pictures. The climb to the top is quite steep and a bit muddy but very much worthwhile. We were one group of many out for a hike today and most trekkers seemed to be from Scotland. We find the Scots very friendly trailmates, with each group, no matter how large, giving an individual greeting as you pass on the trail. Part of our walk is a section of the West Highland Way, a 151 km walk across the park which takes seven days to complete. We saw numerous backpackers and were certain some were starting out on this epic journey.
After taking in the view from atop Conic Hill, we continued on a path that loops around its base. It is a 12 kilometer circuit that passes through a great deal of pastureland that is actively browsed by hundreds of sheep and newborn lambs. You can just imagine how often the word cute or adorable was uttered on our walk. There are picturesque stone walls that zig-zag across the landscape as well. We enjoyed our outing immensely and had great chats about all sorts of topics along the way. The talks alone are worth money and time invested in our 9 month travelling adventure.
If you want to see where we have been you can click on the controls on the map at the top of the blog and zoom in on the map to see more detail. I have inserted a closeup of our travels so far in the UK and Ireland.