I was really starting to get into bikepacking after my initial foray and the Dartmoor adventure and with a trip to Scotland planned it was time to expand my ambitions. Plus, I had finally completed my bikepacking outfitting for the Cannondale with a custom made Alpkit Stingray frame bag and a Alpkit Fuel Pod giving me plenty of capacity to load up and ship out..
I’d wanted to head back to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park for some time, an area I used to hike in regularly, so roughly planned a two day route with a loch side bivvy in the middle. Settled in The Dub at Cashel Campsite on the western shores of Loch Lomond, I had some fabulous views distracting me from the business of completing my final preparations but finally at almost midday I was off along The West Highland Way.
This was the start of a stunning route that saw me mostly riding down the shores of huge lochs throughout Day 1. First Loch Lomond, along the West Highland Way, before cutting east by Loch Arklett to the shores of Loch Katrine where the Pier Cafe in Stronachlachar, one of the only settlements I cycled through all day, provided a timely refuel of soup and cake, and a much needed water top up. From there it was a long, beautiful route around Loch Katrine before nipping by Loch Achray and finally down to the shore of Loch Venachar to find a place to settle for the evening. A perfect 5hrs 30mins of cycling on dry trails and back roads through fabulous vistas.
I found a cosy little spot to overnight, with well placed trees to support my tarp, all just a short walk from the loch’s shore. I chose a loch side viewpoint to prepare a tasty dinner (Chorizo, Pepper and Couscous, my lightweight camp favourite!) then drink hot chocolate and contemplate until darkness set in and I retired for an undisturbed, comfortable night.
Day 2 started early with tasty porridge (how very Scottish…) and a tea before I was quickly packed and back on the trail. The 3hr 20mins ride was different in character from Day 1 as I moved away from the lochs and headed cross country back towards Loch Lomond. It is typical of the second day of riding that the bikepacking rig feels lighter but the legs feel heavier and after a cold start I couldn’t resist going full hobbit and stopping for ‘second breakfast’ when I reached Aberfoyle! The rest of the ride was enjoyable, especially the final section back on the West Highland Way again, from Balmaha back to Cashel Campsite.
Back at the van it was both a shame for the mini adventure to be over and a timely return as the weather took a turn for the worse! It showed just how lucky I had been to have such superb conditions in Scotland for riding in March. A wonderful area of the world and a taster for more adventures to come…