We got battered by wind and rain this today. After the glorious weather we had yesterday, it came as a particular shock to the system. We've had it easy for the last week, today was a reminder to not become complacent. The Scottish climate is wonderful, but can also turn savage and unpredictable within minutes.
This morning was the same as yesterday. We had an early(ish) start, as Sarah had to be at work by 9am. The alarm was set for 6.15am to be in the car and driving by 7.20. We got to Helensburgh by 8am getting dropped off on the high street where we finished yesterday. It was still dark and all the shops were closed. Except for Greggs!
We like Greggs, it’s cheap(ish) and cheerful. Although the staff member this morning was not cheerful. We definitely felt like we were an inconvenience when we walked in and ordered. I got told off for trying to scan my Gregg’s app too quickly as apparently I have no patience! (Yes, I have a Greggs app!) But the staff member made an absolutely awesome hot chocolate, so I wouldn’t hesitate to go back!
We spent ages there as we were in no rush to start hiking. Sarah couldn’t come to get us until after work, and then the drive to pick us up was going to be over an hour. We were not expecting to see her until 5pm. It wasn’t quite as late as that in the end, much to our relief!
We sat drinking hot chocolate until it was light. We didn’t actually start walking until 10am! We had a very lazy morning! Whilst drinking we received a message from Sarah to tell us she had got to work safely which is always a relief!
When we did start hiking it was raining. It wasn’t bad rain but enough to warrant waterproofs.
The walk out of Helensburgh was not hard, but there were no signs that we could see to indicate the way. We relied on GPS and intuition! More specifically Eve’s intuition, as I have virtually no sense of direction!
The route out of Helensburgh followed a long straight road that disappeared into the distance. We plodded it out slowing talking about letters, words and reading.
Eve is into her reading at the moment. As people who followed our JOGLE adventure last will know, reading was part of Eve's home education that we wanted to focus on over winter. As we are hiking earlier than we expected we are trying to focus heavily on reading whilst we hike. Luckily Eve wants to learn, which is half the battle. So we were playing word games as we hiked out of Helensburgh.
The route takes you passed a Scottish National Trust property called The Hill House. I don’t know why, but it was encased in a huge cage. It looked like a film set for a James Bond movie! We found our first Thee Lochs Way trail marker in the car park.
The trail turned left here and followed a wonderful and undulating gravel path. It was easy to follow the path as it was lined with some really gnarly trees. Whenever there was a break in the trees the views over Gare Loch were beautiful.
Unfortunately because it was wet and cloudy the views were limited. I imagine on a clear day the views would have been even more beautiful.
We met lots of dog walkers, but to our surprise the path was quite clean (if you know what I mean). There was however dozens of dog poo bags hanging from trees like Christmas decorations.
At the end of the path there is a 90 degree turn that takes you straight over the hill and moor into Glen Fruin.
The path was just as well made and easy to follow. We took the hiking slow and admired the views stretching out behind us over the Loch. The clouds seemed to have temporarily lifted so we could see for miles and it was stunning.
On our way up, the path was lined by a fence with the all the fence posts having stones balanced on them. Eve wanted to find a post without any stones on so that she could balance some for herself... we eventually found one, and we both placed a stone! Eve was very happy!
We found a small rock on the way down into Glen Fruin to stop for a break and have some lunch. It was pleasant, and definitely the lull before the storm.
Soon after we started walking again the rain and wind picked up. The clouds turned grey and the heavens opened.
Glen Fruin is a beautiful and wide glen, with fields full of livestock, intersected by burns. Today it felt cold, harsh and very bleak. We had no phone signal so relied on our satellite messenger to contact Sarah.
The hike through the glen was on a quiet rural road. There is a much busier road that followed the hillside further up the side of the Glen. We would hear cars coming down the main road and stepped off thinking it was on our road due to the wind blowing in our faces.
It was wonderful walking as Eve and I were still playing word games, and we were both having a genuinely good time, laughing and joking. We stopped on and few occasions to add layers and to finish our lunch. I am glad we did this as the weather was about to get close in on us.
Within a a few minutes of finishing our lunch, the wind and rain had picked up and we were getting battered. It continued to get worse. The combination of the cold, wet and wind is most people’s kryptonite. It’s soul destroying and zaps the life out of you.
Eve seemed fine and at one point leaned into me and said “just imagine being at home, in bed, with a hot water bottle cuddling mummy”. Words can not tell you how much I love our daughter and how amazingly strong she is! I don’t know where she gets her strength from but she is an unstoppable force!
The wind and rain continued to lash us as we walked but we did have brief rest-bite as we found a small area protected by some trees, that we made use of. We immediately felt warmer and our morale
increased immediately. We had some food and drink and chilled for 10 minutes before hiking again.
The route continued to follow the road passed a military training camp with lots of warning signs about not flying drones and warning of illumination, loud noises and smoke. We joked that we were going to get attacked by the SAS! We survived!!!
By now we were soaked. Our waterproof clothes were doing well, but as everybody knows they will only delay getting wet, waterproofs will never stop it. We had rain going down our faces and slowly soaking our torsos, it was soaking up our sleeves too! You get the idea.
In these situations waterproofs act more to keep the heat in and the cold out. It’s better to be warm and wet than cold and wet! I like to think of it as virtual dryness. If you feel warm you don’t tend to feel as wet.
Did you know humans can’t feel wet?
It’s impossible for us to feel wet as we don’t have the correct senses! What we feel is a change in temperature and texture! It’s why we can’t tell if clothes are wet or dry on a cold day if you hang them out to dry. We can all use this to our advantage. Wear clothes that don’t change texture much when they are wet but still feel warm when they get wet. The perfect example is a wet suit that divers wear! As soon as it’s gets wet and your body warms it back up, you can’t tell the difference!
I will write a dedicated post to the clothes both of us wear when hiking when I have time.
Anyway… we carried on walking, but as I was so wet I struggled to use my phone and camera, so my apologies for the lack of photos.
I also made a navigational error. This was because the rain and wind was stinging as it hit our faces so we kept our heads down. I didn’t see the sign post marking the point where we leave the road. The error wasn’t huge, thank goodness. We backtracked a little bit to get back on the correct route.
Within a few minutes we had reached the A817 where Sarah was picking us up.
Sarah hadn’t arrived yet, so we found a small sheltered area, got the emergency shelter out and got in it. We felt immediately warmer. We had some food and waited for Sarah.
It wasn’t long before we heard Sarah shouting at us. She had arrived YAY. She took Eve to the car to get her wet clothes off while I put the shelter away.
The drive home felt like it took hours as we were all so tired and weather beaten. We had an awesome day although challenging.
I checked with Eve if she still wanted to hike tomorrow and she said “yes”!
I think I need to dry out our clothes ready for tomorrow!
Today we hiked 8.6 tough miles.
Tomorrow we will be back out there and according the Met Office it’s supposed to be drier, but I won’t be putting any money on it!
Sleep well, I know we will.
Ian, Sarah and Eve