I wake up more than well rested, and slowly head on over to my hosts breakfast nook attached to the main house. A light rain is falling this morning. A hearty meal of salmon, scrambled eggs and lox more than fill my belly.

I eat with three young people from the Netherlands, a married couple with the wife’s best friend. We all talk about our walks we have today, and I find they’ll be going almost twice as far as myself. Our host calls my walk today the “easy mans” version, an eight mile journey over Conic Hill. I wish them all safe travels, and never see them again.

As I am packing, I quickly realize I have brought way too much baggage. I decide to just trash a few items, including a coat, some heavier pants, etc….already on this journey I’m realizing how little I really need, which is a lesson I hope to keep with me long after my walk is done.

Mid morning I leave the village of Dreymen under a light rainfall. Spirits are high as I make my way out into the woods.

The rain lets up after the first hour or so, leaving an atmospheric cloudline along the mountaintops and the edge of the Garadhban wood. I see that the trail splits off in two directions, I can either go around or climb up and over Conic Hill. I choose the latter.

My first views of Loch Lomond are burned into my memory as I go. The rains from last night and this morning make for slow stepping, as the stones are slippy dangerous. Last thing I need is a twisted ankle so early in my walk.

I stop by a babbling creek to grab a bite to eat from my sack lunch, and encounter the dreaded midgies for the first time. I spray myself with bug repellent, and am thankful for a slight breeze that picks up.

I really start to sweat as I climb up Conic Hill. I only encounter grazing goats on my ascent, no other walkers to be seen. As soon as I reach the summit though, throngs of people dot the landscape.

I find that today is the final day before kids go back to school, so families from Balmaha and the surrounding area are out hiking Conic Hill as their last hurrah before a new school year begins.

The descent is much steeper than I would have anticipated, and with the wet stones it takes me quite a while to get down Conic Hill. No worries though, I have nothing but time.

Off Conic Hill and back into the woods for a short spell before I find myself in the quaint village of Balmaha along the shores of Loch Lomond. I admire the scenery and let the slight rocking motion of the boats in the harbor fill my mind with peace.

The pub at my nights accommodation has a wonderful family vibe to it, and I try Cullen Skink for the first time. Similar to Clam Chowder I suppose, I devour it as part of another amazing meal. I can’t believe how well my body is doing so far, and wonder what lies ahead of me on this journey along the West Highland Way.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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