Trails and trials of the writer who walks
Today brings a long dull trudge through Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. I’m glad to see that much of the conifer plantation all over the UK is being cleared and replanted with indigenous woodland species. I’ve never enjoyed pine forest walks.
Inversnaid Hotel provides a break at 12 pm and this time I am delighted by the service and price. My big 3-cup pot of coffee costs a mere £1.50 and the slice of lemon drizzle, just £1.
My fellow trekkers, who have become a rather fragmentary convoy since yesterday, are bonding as we pass each other and meet up again at the various staging posts. For many, the final stretch of loch-side path is the hardest part of the trail – ‘treacherous’ one lady declares – as it involves rock scrambles, good balance and intense concentration. I resort to the ‘bum and all fours’ mode several times. But, like one or two others, I enjoy it more than the straight plodding trails.
When I’ve cleared the most difficult bits, and the path begins to straighten out, I’m quite concerned to see a young man heading in the opposite direction with a dog on a lead and carrying a mountain bike. Some of my convoy have dogs with them, and it clearly requires a fair effort from two people to get a dog over the obstacles. But carrying a bicycle as well?
That evening we arrive, in our dribs and drabs, at Beinglas campsite (also close to the famed Drovers Inn where some have booked accommodation), and it is here, after a pint or two of Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted, and a tasty lasagne, that I leave my convoy buddies and never see them again, because I steal a day on them and join a different convoy.
It might be the Bitter and Twisted, or the two large wines that accompany my food, but I have a strong urge to do a real ‘wild camp’ and bathe in a river. (Note the reckless disregard for midges – still not getting the message am I?)
Feeling fully rejuvenated, I continue from Beinglas for a further 5 miles until I spot a tumbling burn that holds the promises of a bathing pool further up the hill. I leave the trail, follow the burn and find the perfect spot. Off I strip, get the soap out, plus a pair of socks that need washing, and have a delightful icy cold bath, also washing my hair. Unfortunately, by the time I’m dried (using a couple of J-cloths which hang on the back of my rucksack) and turn my attention to the socks, they are already floating across the pool and disappearing over a waterfall. Should I chase after them? No. There’s probably some law against pensioners fell-running in the buff. Farewell, my only spare socks.