Compared to the last couple of days, this morning was a soft start. We still had the alarm set for 7 am, but the pressure of getting out the door wasn't there as Sarah was not at work today.
We took it slow, had breakfast and got dressed, not leaving the house until 8 am. We arrived at our start point just after 9 am. It felt nice.
The route today was simple. All we had to do was follow a relatively straightforward path until we reached a road where Sarah would be waiting. As is usual for us this didn't quite go to plan.
On route, we managed to go slightly off trail and I lost my gloves! I must have dropped them somewhere when I was helping Eve on with her waterproofs! I am secretly (not so secret after writing this) quite upset about it. I really liked them! They are actually cycling gloves that were donated to us by Sealskinz. They fitted perfectly. Unfortunately, they don't make them anymore. Gutted!
Eve was tired today. She is really into her reading at the moment dedicating a lot of energy to it whilst hiking and also in the evenings. I think it's all taking its toll. The weather yesterday also didn't help. The wind, rain and cold really took it out of both of us.
Arriving at the start point on the A817 (Haul Road) overlooking the naval base of Faslane felt dramatic and imposing. It was also cold with a breeze which didn't help. It took us 30 minutes of walking before we warmed up.
Yesterday it was so wet we couldn't see Faslane naval base in Gare Loch very well. I even forgot to mention that! Faslane is a very controversial naval base, especially in Scotland. Faslane is where the navy's nuclear submarines are based that carry the British Nuclear Deterrent, Trident ICBMs. We couldn't see any submarines (or any naval ships) today.
The whole area that we walked through today is one big military training area. Today the red flags were flying which meant live fire exercises were happening. To my relief, we didn't get shot at or attacked by angry royal marines. We got rained on instead!
The trail was easy as we were following a tarmac road that was being used by a few dog walkers. We keep turning around taking pictures and looking at the naval base below. It looked huge.
Eve and I stopped a few times just to adjust clothes and shoelaces which is standard for us.
I had read that this first section was "boring". I disagree. The tarmac road is dull but the scenery all around was magnificent. The hills and lochs beside us, with the snow-capped peaks of the Arrochar Alps in front of us... how can this be boring?
One of the things we were doing was looking out for discharged ammo casings (I would be very concerned if we found live ammunition!) We didn't find any, much to Eve's annoyance! She wasn't bothered about not finding any, what bothered Eve was she spent so long looking for some on the ground and missing what was all around.
The tarmac road lead us into a wooded area that restricted the views. I would agree this small section was a bit boring. Eventually, the tarmac road ended, much to our delight and it merged onto a muddy forest road.
This is where we started to see the countless wooden shelters that were everywhere. All of the shelters were locked, as they are for the sole use of military personnel not tired travellers like Eve and I.
We did look inside a few, and they are all very basic with nothing more inside than a wooden bench. There were also countless portapotties, again all locked.
The time by now was about 1130 am so we found a boulder and stopped for a break, ate a bread roll reach and had a drink. Whilst we were eating we heard a fog horn that was loud enough to make both of us jump. I think Eve was a little bit worried as it was so loud!
After lunch we carried on walking slowly until we came to a railway bridge. The trail took us under the bridge, and this is where we made our navigational error!
The map told us to go one way, but the trail clearly lead in the other direction. It was odd as both seemed equally plausible. We decided to follow the path, hoping it would meet up with the map route, but it didn't.
The problem was that a bridge crossing the burn was no longer there. It had been moved slightly further back up the trail closer to the railway bridge. The maps had not been updated. We crossed the bridge, went through a small area of trees following a faint trail and we were back on the correct path.
By now the rain had stopped and started several times. Today should have been a dry day, but the Scottish climate decided otherwise.
We walked down a beautiful narrow path between some trees. It was gentle and undulating with burns crossing the path regularly. It was lovely.
Crossing a bridge and climbing a gentle gradient we found a flat area that was clearly popular with wild campers. We decided to stop there (at Eves's request) for our second long break.
As soon as we sat down with our food it started to rain, a lot. I decided to use our shelter so we pulled it over ourselves and ate our lunch in the warm and dry.
We always carry an emergency survival shelter whenever we go walking. I have never used it as an emergency, but it makes an awesome shelter for lunch on a wet day!
By the time we finished our lunch, the rain had stopped (typical) so we put our bags back on and plodded on.
The trail went uphill a bit more before flattening out onto a forestry road again. The road was dull and muddy but the views were absolutely spectacular. The scenery as we walked today got better and better even if the weather was slowly getting wetter and wetter.
After walking for about an hour, we saw Sarah coming over a hill. It was like a scene out of a chick flick. Eve's eyes lit up and she ran towards her. I was genuinely happy to see Sarah.
One of the hardest things I have to deal with whilst hiking is being away from Sarah. The other thing I worry about loads whilst walking is Eve's education and hoping she is genuinely happy! It plays on my mind more than I ever write in my posts, but that's a subject for another day!
With the last few metres of trail before we reached the car we found an old smoke grenade!
As we got back to the car the sky went black and the rain poured. We made it back just in time. It was only about 3 pm, which at the moment, for us, is a very early finish. It felt odd to not be thinking about head torches towards the end of the day's hike!
Today we walked 7.3 miles.
We all drove home looking forward to a hot dinner and playing word games with Eve.
Tomorrow is the final section of the Three Lochs Way, with a road-walking section at the end that is notoriously dangerous. I am not looking forward to that one little bit! The actual endpoint however is a beautiful viewpoint over Loch Lomond that we are looking forward to. We also have 10 miles to walk tomorrow with a very tired Eve! I have packed extra chocolate!
Have a great night and I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.
Ian, Sarah and Eve
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2023 Charity Adventure...
Eve and Ian are currently thru-hiking all 29 of Scotland's Great Trails totalling nearly 2000 miles, aiming to complete them ALL by 2024.
They are doing this to challenge stigmas and stereotypes of autism and raise money and awareness for the fantastic charity Scottish Autism.
About Eve & Ian
Eve and Ian are both autistic and struggle with elements of life most people take for granted, as well as the mental health impacts this causes. Eve is just 8 years old and passionate about the outdoors with ambitions to scale Mt Everest. Eve is also the youngest person to ever walk the length of the UK in one continuous hike at the age of 8 in 2022. Ian, whilst hiking, is also home-educating Eve. Ian then spends every night writing 2000+ word daily blogs containing dozens of photographs so you can follow along on their adventures.
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