I was so broken after the walk to Rowardennan on day two that I couldn’t face actually committing the day to paper! (the excuse for the next couple of evenings may have been more due to beer and socialising though)
According to the guidebook, Drymen to Rowardennan is about 13 miles – it has a big hill (Conic Hill) at the start and then is a relatively gentle stroll along Loch Lomond to the YHA about halfway up. As it turns out, it’s closer to 16 miles and while it levels out once you hit the loch, it also finishes with some brutal hills before finally finishing in Rowardennan.
The days starts with a nice climb out of Drymen through fields before beginning the climb to Conic Hill – we probably had the West Coast’s first really sunny day so it was packed with day hikers as well as the rest of us on the West Highland Way. It’s quite a climb up, but stunning from the top where you can see the lowland/highland geographic divide. The way down the other side is knee-shakingly steep steps, down into the Loch-side village of Balmaha.
We stopped there for lunch – a bit longer than we should have in retrospect – and then headed on up the path. For a flat, waterside walk there were an almost shocking number of hills to get over. It undulated along, all the while the road it followed seemed to stay absolutely flat and straight. Then, just as you think you’re pretty much there, up pops a set of steps (turns out to be something like 300 steps) that just about puts the final nail into the second-day-stumble coffin.
Finally, tired, a bit dehydrated and quite broken we got to the Rowardennan YHA, and what I can safely say is the worst shower I’ve ever come across travelling in my life. Everything else was great – beer, people, food, beds, etc – just the shower, which after a long hot day would have been greatly appreciated.
We didn’t fancy the kilometre walk back to the pub in the village so we had a couple of beers and food in the hostel before calling an end to the day that ran from about 9am to almost 6pm (with an hour-long lunch stop), to head for bed in preparation for day 3’s hike to Inverarnan.