We had a rough start on our third day. First, the weather — which had been so bright and sunny the first 2 days — finally succumbed to its more typical forecast of drizzle, fog, and gray skies.  More problematic, though, were Rachel’s feet, which had succumbed to blisters.

Ben Lomond

We suffered through the first mile or so before finding a very scenic bench on which to assess feet and apply about five more layers of bandaids. Refortified by the bandaids and the view of Loch Lomond, we got back on the trail.

Loch Lomond in the rain

We continued along the bonnie, bonnie, banks of Loch Lomond for much of the day, passing many small waterfalls taking rain and runoff down the hill and into the lake. Again, the trail was rough, with  lots of big rocks, loose stones, and narrow squeezes between tree and hillside.

by the loch in the rain

In the late morning, we passed through Craigrostan Woods, a remnant of the ancient oak woodlands that once covered most of Scotland. Human activity since Roman times (and maybe even before) decreased the Scottish woodlands, and by 1900 only 5% of Scotland was wooded. The UK has done significant tree planting since that time, first to supply the timber trade, and later to protect and expand biodiversity.

Craigrostan Woods

Craigrostan is an ancient woodland, which means it has been continuously wooded since 1750, when the earliest (still available) land surveys of Scotland were conducted. Why did this little patch of woods survive? Probably because of the steep and rocky terrain on this stretch of Loch Lomond.

Waterfall at Inversnaid

The beautiful Craigrostan Woods ended just before our lunch destination: Inversnaid Hotel. While it caters largely to coach tours, the Inversnaid Hotel welcomes walkers in the middle of the day when all the coaches have left. We took off our rain jackets and hiking boots in their walker’s entryway and wandered around the hotel in our socks. It had started raining pretty hard just before we got to the hotel, so we had a leisurely lunch in their dining room. And when the rain still hadn’t let up, we sat in one of the (multiple!) lounges with new friends we’d made on the trail.

Having a nibble by the lake

When the rain finally slowed to a drizzle, we got back on the trail. We continued up the side of the lake, and the trail continued to be rough and slow going. We knew that we would leave Loch Lomond behind before reaching our destination for the night, so we got our hopes up every time the trail headed up and away from the lake, just to have them crushed when the trail angled back down onto the lakeshore.

Rainy

We did eventually leave the lake behind, though with one last great vista of it from the hills as we left. The rain picked up again in the afternoon, but we were in good spirits as we passed a couple ruined farmhouses and went up and down the rolling hills, finally arriving at the Beinglass Farm just outside of Inverarnan. We warmed up with a massive plate of chicken curry, pints of cider, and chocolate ice cream in Beinglass’ cozy little pub and spent some time chatting with another group of folks we’d met on the trail before heading off to bed.

Last look at Loch Lomond