By the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond – a blog by Jim Hogan

Twenty colleagues from the West of Scotland met on the banks of the firth of Clyde to start our walk on the John Muir Way between Helensburgh and Balloch via the banks of Loch Lomond. No one had done this walk before so we did not know what we were letting ourselves in for. “Just as well” I heard of few howl as the reality kicked in “I wouldn’t have been here if I’d known it was going to be this tough”

We got on our way walking through the picturesque and affluent Helensburgh. It soon became apparent that man y of our party had done this kind of thing before and were in no mood to support the less able. In no time they had disappeared into the distance leaving Angela, Linzi. Moira, Gary and me behind – or so we thought.

The famous 5 trekked along, the ladies talking about Linzi’s wedding dress and the boys feeling decidedly left out – NOT. Then the singing started with renditions of ‘Amarillo’, ‘American Pie’ and ‘Pack up your troubles’. We were still on the road at this point and it all felt a bit too easy – If only!! We soon turned off onto a steep path that went upwards for 3 miles. The singing and chatting came to an abrupt end with basic survival the only priority.

We soldiered onwards and upwards wondering in between each gulp of air if the other 15 mountaineers in our party had finished by now. Then we spotted a yellow H4H t shirt way down the path. In short our intrepid explorers had got themselves lost and in the process added at least 4 miles extra onto their trek – We were gutted for them particularly as they had shown so much compassion for the weak and feeble.

We trudged along starting to feel normal again as the path levelled out. Then we hit it. The forest that looked like something from Lord of the Rings. Had a few Orcs and Hobbits appeared at that point none of us would have been surprised. The path had disappeared completely with an almost vertical decent through dense undergrowth. Angela announced at this point that “this is the best bit for me” It takes all kinds.

We were soon out of “Mordor” and back on a proper path. The whole world opened up at this point and the views of Loch Lomond were stunning. The mood was fantastic as we knew the worst was behind us and the sense of achievement really kicked in. We got to the finishing point “The Tullie Inn” after 4 hours trekking where Eddie Thompson greeted us with a nice cold ice cream – Believe that if you wish.

Everyone had a fantastic time and raised a significant amount for Project Africa. Thank you all for making the effort and joining us on this great day.