I headed up North a while ago, determined to find some bushcraft spots and good quality beef! It was an amazing trip, with weather that was the warmest in Great Britain. The area was Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and I was wild camping.
Finally in Glasgow with just enough time to drink some fresh from the tap Irn Bru. Then it’s back on a train heading further north.
Start of West Highland Way
It takes a while to walk away from the noise and hurry of cities; the first few hours walking are always weird but then it all starts to settle in and then you are free to explore and simply walk with no worries of deadlines or time constraints.
My walk started by following the national trail and with a fair distance to walk before the first wild camp spot. It took longer than I had anticipated so I had to fall back on some night navigation and whip the ol’ head torch out.
Artificial forest blocks are not the nicest of places to be in, especially at night. They are very silent as the biodiversity is so low. The species of pine in them are for timber production so grow very quick but support very little wildlife. The trees alter the pH of the soil. Moreover the fact they are grown so close to each other that all the sunlight is blocked out, so nothing of worth grows on the forest floor. It sounds very bleak, but that’s just what it is. Walking through one in the dark is slightly worrying to say the least.
With camp eventually set up I put my lantern on and got the Primus Express Spider out. Dinner was well overdue and I was hungry. There was darkness all around with a very calm breeze moving through the trees as I settled down for my first night up north.
A lovely bright morning and already starting to warm up. Walking out of the forest block I started to see the lochs opening up in the distance. The huge fault lines (Highland Boundary Fault) that cut through Scotland create island chains that you can see from kilometres away.
My plan was to wild camp around Loch Lomond and the surrounding area. I wanted to get away from the crowds but also to get my fill of classic Scottish food and relax as this was an outdoor holiday as well. I spent the next 5 days exploring the area, island hopping on an open top canoe and soaking up the atmosphere while spending time relaxing watching the world go by.
One of many highlights was canoeing across to Inchcailloch Island which seemed to be out of a Jurassic Park movie. Everything seemed a riot with nature with a very ancient feel.
Sleeping next to the Loch with the sound of tiny waves, a calm breeze and the sun burning the sky into such deep vivid colours was just what I wanted. I noticed a few other people camping in the distance, some had small fires. As a person who is very much a leave no trace advocate I could not help but be concerned. The next day I started to see rubbish here and there and of course those appalling disposable BBQs.
I had bushcraft on the mind but this was a hiking trip. So I had my trusty trail stove with me. This meant I did not need to light any fires and was much easier for me to leave no trace each night.
I moved further north each night along the Loch, finding a new wild camp site each night.
As time slipped by my last day was upon me in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs wild camping.
Wild Camping – the Ugly Side
Around a month and half later I find out that wild camping has been banned on and around the shores of Loch Lomond. Read HERE and HERE. As usual a certain small group of idle minded people have ruined it for the rest of us. Reading the articles you find out it’s mainly the large amount of rubbish left around the place and people getting drunk. We live on a small island that does not have many wild places left. Above all with the ever expanding urban environment we should take extra care of the places we can explore. To an outdoorsman it’s a great shame however something had to be done.
I don’t know enough of the issue to say what exactly. Loch Lomond is a beautiful place and one that is worth protecting but people need to visit to see for themselves how important our natural landscapes are, everyone just needs to realise that.
I used the Vango Banshee 200 (2010 model) as my shelter for the entire trip. What a poorly designed tent it is. No porch to speak of what so ever, no hanging loops, leaky ventilation that can only be adjusted from the outside, poles that jammed inside of each other and poor stitching throughout.