Allison, the proprietor at Glenalva, served us a lovely Scottish breakfast before we resumed our trek to the north. I had her special, smoked salmon on toast, topped with scrambled eggs, and it hit the spot.
Drymen to Conic Hill
As we left Glenalva, we were walking along a path lined with blooming Broom. It was chilly, and the wind was gusting from the south. When we hit the Garadhban Forest, that cut the wind substantially.
Part way through the forest, we crossed a road that led to town of Milton of Buchanan. That would have been the easier choice, but instead we chose ‘the high road’, which would ascend the 1,184 foot Conic Hill.
As we emerged from the forest, we started to catch sight of ‘the bonnie, bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond. It was here, when we stopped to take in the vistas, that we first crossed paths with a solo WHW hiker named Bobby, from Wheaton, Maryland. We would would enjoy his company as we hiked up Conic Hill, and though we separated on the descent, we would meet up again at Balmaha, and several times further along the trail.
Loch Lomond on the left, and Conic Hill on the right.
Bobby took this picture for us. Note the view of Loch Lomond just to our right, and the hikers just to our left. Also note the trail meandering up the right side of Conic Hill to a point farther north on Loch Lomond. That’s where we’re heading.
Here is part of the climb up Conic Hill, looking backwards to the northeast, and forward to the southwest.
The views near the summit were spectacular. You could see on the near shore of Loch Lomond, the town of Balmaha (to the right in this view), where we would be catching back up with our neighborhood friends who had stayed in Balmaha the night before.
Here is another view looking back to the northeast.
And here is our descent, with Bobby right behind Patty. In the left view, the long island on the right, with the open field in the center, is Inchfad. This island was taken over by the MacFarlanes in the early 18th century, and this is where they ran a government distillery until the mid-19th century.
In 1944, an English couple, Frank and Ann Davison, bought Inchfad, in addition to Inchmurrin, another island around to the south, to start restoring the farms to working order. Frank and Ann had been aviators in the early 1930’s, delivering mail around the UK, and operating a small commercial airfield. But with the onset of war, they had to sell the airfield and move on to new adventures.
Within a few years after buying Inchfad and Inchmurrin, they sold them, and began refurbishing a 70-foot ketch named Reliance, which they intended to sail across the Atlantic to start a new life. Unfortunately, the costs of refurbishing Reliance were ultimately beyond their means, and with a writ of repossession about to be nailed to the mast, on June 4, 1949 they hurriedly set off for the West Indies, not knowing that they were heading into the teeth of a gale. Reliance was blown down the Irish Sea, and then east, along the English Channel, before foundering on the shallow reef off the east side of Portland Bill, the point of the Isle of Portland, just off the coast of Dorset, England. Frank Davison died in the accident, but Ann was able to scramble to shore.
In 1953, Ann Davison became the first woman to sail the Atlantic by herself. She later wrote a book called Last Voyage, in which she described her early life with Frank when they ran the airfield, and then the later ill-fated purchase of Reliance. Later she wrote a second book, called Home was an Island, which was about the period she skipped in her first book, after the sale of their airfield, and before the purchase of Reliance. These were the years that Frank and Ann spent on the islands of Inchmurrin and Inchfad on Loch Lomond.
We met up with Bo, Peggy, and Bobby at The Oak Tree Inn, where we stopped for a pint, a salad, and a ‘scone with cream and jam’.
Balmaha to Saillochy
Bobby had reservations there for the night, but we, including our neighborhood friends, would be ‘pressing on’ to our reservations at The Shepherd’s House B&B, just 4 miles up the shore in Saillochy.
The Shepherd’s House was delightful. The B&B has two rooms, one in the main house, and the other in a mock shepherd’s hut wagon. With a picnic dinner being served on the patio, it was all we needed to be ready for what proved to be a challenging next day.