Saturday, July 5, 2014

Day 43--Cycling Route 7

Scotland's National Cycle Route #7 is a total of 514 miles long. Not counting yesterday, I've done 61 miles of it today. Well, not at the beginning. I saw the route, but it was up a bad dirt road. I stayed on the road until the route crossed it, then I got on the route.
I think this part above was the old railway. This part was great! All downhill. I did have to periodically negotiate these gates.
The first one I just went over the "cattle grid". But, from then on I went through the gate to the right.

The route is very well signed--better, even, than the North Sea Route (in Norway). I would have only one complaint. That is that it does it's best to completely avoid roads with cars. That means it uses a variety of trails, goes over mountains, and adds miles (today, about 9 more than taking the road). I wouldn't complain at all, except for a long distance route, with the expectation that there will be heavily loaded touring bikes, some of the parts are not very suitable.

That being said, today's ride was beautiful. I passed by 3 Lochs (Loch Earn, Loch Lubnaig, and Loch Venacher)
Loch Earn
Loch Lubnaig
Loch Venacher

I ended up in Balloch, at the end of Loch Lomond, but didn't see the lake itself. 

I also passed Rob Roy's Grave.
Although, according to the info, it is doubtful he is actually buried there.

The route went through a variety of small towns. In between the towns, I was up in the hills, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
I would climb up, up, and up some more, then all the way down and pop out in a town. Here's a cool trail gate as I came out into Aberfoyle.

I finally reached Balloch. My intention had been to ride into Trossachs National Park (on Loch Lomond), and free camp. But it was already 6:30 when I came into Balloch (and 59 miles). I went to the Lomond Woods Holiday Park, but they don't allow tents. The nearest camping place was back the way I had come a half an hour's drive. No thank you. Not knowing how far I would have to ride up into Trossachs, I decided to continue on the route until I found a suitable place to camp. I was able to get water at a restroom in town.

I was riding along the river on the trail when I saw an opening in the wall. I stopped to investigate. It is a grassy area behind what looks like some industrial building. It is out of sight from the trail. There is a fair bit of trash lying around, but the grass is nice.

I had just got my tent set up when a couple of boys came by with their dogs. They said it wasn't a good place to camp because of the "Junkies". Then the one kid rattled on, but I couldn't understand what he was saying. Then the other kid said, "Ya can't use Scottish slang, she's American. She doesn't understand you!" When I told them how far I'd ridden, they seemed to accept the fact that I was staying here. 

A couple of other guys came by too. They said it wasn't a good place to camp because of the rats. Hmmm...junkies and rats. Could be an interesting evening. So far, it's been pretty quiet, just the usual bird sounds. Still, I'll be up at the butt crack o' dawn and outta here! I didn't even cook dinner. I just had some carrots and hummus, some cheese (Mini Baby Bell travels well), and a roll. I've brought my food panniers inside my tent, and everything of value is off Betsy. She is locked to a big tree.

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