We woke up on Saturday morning feeling quite angsty and stressed. The past few weeks of planning, packing and visa application research has bothered us more than we had thought.
Suddenly Mike sprang out of bed and starting unpacking our "camping" box from the wardrobe which I had efficiently packed aside from our "camping spares" box which contains everything we won't be taking on the round the world trip. This is our life now.
Mike said, "where can we get to quickly and cheaply and good for camping?". I whipped out the Macbook and hoped we could get to Aberfoyle by bus. Sadly, the Glasgow to Aberfoyle train line stopped taking passengers 1951, and closed altogether in 1966, and there isn't a direct bus for tourists. Google told us we'd have to get by train or bus to Stirling and then a bus to Aberfoyle. "It's less than 3 hours travel" I said, eagerly, though once Mike pointed out the only return bus from Aberfoyle left at 7.30 the next day, the possibility and excitement dissipated. If we missed that bus, we'd be stuck.
Glasgow is perfectly placed for access to Loch Lomond though, so we jumped on the train to Balloch for £5.20 each. Balloch is a small town at the end of the train line lying at the southern tip of said famous loch with easy access to the hills to the north east.
The rain had stopped but the temperature was dropping and we had been telling ourselves that we needed to test the kit out in cold weather so there was no way we were turning back. Whilst we are chasing summer across the trip, we are going to hit nights of freezing temperatures in the higher altitudes and the higher latitudes.
Up through the Balloch Castle grounds we marched, ignoring the perplexed looks by tourists and locals alike. Beyond the back end of Balloch Castle grounds and through a gate is the start of Whinny Hill. The path, in places tarmac in others mud, wound up through pine trees; the higher we got, the more snow there was. I was taking the opportunity to try out my new trail running shoes (I hate hiking boots) but I had forgotten my waterproof socks. So far, it was fine, I was feeling rather smug.
At one point in our walk, when we were really thinking about finding somewhere to set up camp as the light only had a few hours left, we came across the most spectacular view of the western side of Loch Lomond which a camera doesn't do justice. "Yes," we thought, "this'll do nicely".
The temperature was bordering on freezing by this point but we felt warm from the walk so whilst we still had dexterity in our hands and fingers we set up the tent, unpacked and got the pasta on to boil.
The light faded and the temperature dropped and into our sleeping bags we retreated. The test was really now beginning. I had on two layers of FINDRA merino wool and a thermal top, two pairs of thermal leggings, three pairs of socks and a FINDRA bobble hat. Mike was sporting two woollen tops, a soft shell, a waterproof, wool leggings, trousers, wool socks and waterproof socks (he'd remembered his, the jammy git). Once our body heat permeated through to our sleeping bags, it was pretty warm.
Six hours later I woke up to owls hooting gossip overhead and my face was freezing; Mike estimated it at about -5 when we went out for a different call of nature. Thankfully I'm short, so I shuffled down into my sleeping bag with my pillow and pulled the draw chord tight above my head to seal me in. Genius! Though I had to release it a little because I got short on air, but I was toasty.
By morning, there was a lot of condensation in the tent. The outside of the sleeping bags were damp to touch, as was the inside of the tent but as the sun starting to come up and we vacated to the outside this seemed to help. We've never had that problem in warmer temperatures so we don't think it's a concern, just something to be aware of.
The journey home always feels quicker than the journey out. I wasn't so smug after a bit of rain overnight and the bog lied about being iced over. Always remember waterproof socks. Lesson learnt.
We were back in central Glasgow by midday. That 24 hour adventure was exactly what we both needed to destress, regroup and be ready for another week of planning, training and people. Packing up your life is far more complicated that we thought it would be. I came to Glasgow to do a specific job and getting it done within the next 7 weeks is a headache, but doable. On top of wedding planning, visa planning, training and saving, it's a shame it isn't more done by now, but hey ho. There'll always be more to do, so just get it done.
So those 24 hours taught us a few things we hadn't thought of:
- pack a hat for chilly nights,
- remember your waterproof socks,
- wear all your layers when it's due to be freezing,
- wear lightweight gloves you can perform tasks in, and
- pasta is a pain to cook when you're starving and low on fuel.
Imagine finding all that out when you're not going home the next morning. That would be a bummer.