In the last few years Calum and I have completely fallen in love with climbing mountains and hills in Scotland. You probably have noticed it here anyway…I genuinely believe it is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world, standing on top of the hill.
Ben Venue is perched right next to Loch Katrine and even it only being 725 metres high (which makes it almost a munro, almost…) the climb is great and views are truly breathtaking. It took us good 3 hours to get to the top. There are few ways to climb it and this website is always great for recommendations. We tend to screenshot our route, so we don’t have to rely on having internet while climbing. I would recommend wearing proper footwear though, the last half an hour are quite rocky and involve a bit of scramble. But the views are so worth it.
I have to confess the fact, that this climb was actually done pretty much a year ago to the day. But it stays one of the most amazing memories and I really wanted to share the photos.
‘It may be small in stature but it is a mountain of real character, the finest in the Trossachs when seen across Loch Venachar, Loch Achray or Loch Katrine. The ascent is a great walk with both boggy and rocky ground higher up, and stunning views from the summit.’ (source)
The first bit of the walk goes through beautiful forestry, slowly climbing through the trees. After an hour the path goes around the hill for a while and the final bit is a pretty steep climb. But as you can see you get rewarded with some incredible view of Lock Katrine.
The day 3, oh the day 3. It was so hard. I think it was the hardest day for me. We started off the day at Rowardennan hotel, after having a hearty breakfast we were out of the door by 8am. A few other people were leaving at that time (we actually ended up chatting to lots of them later on and made friends).
The first stretch takes you past some lovely forests, there is a division in the path and there are two options – lower path goes past the loch and is much harder; or there is a higher one, goes through forest and is a bit less dramatic but easier. We obviously chose the later one and didn’t regret it once. The woodland area is actually lovely and when Loch Lomond pops up between the trees – it is stunning.
So we made our way to Inversnaid in about 2 and a bit hours which meant a third of the day was done. We actually been to Inversnaid last October so didn’t spent too much time looking around but there are beautiful waterfalls there – definitely worth having a look around.
After some tea and a bit of sitting down, we were heading to our next stretch, another 10km along side of Loch Lomond…Everyone warns about this bit – it is so hard. The path almost disappears at times hiding behind giant boulders and big drops. The path is beautiful and actually quite fun but so strenuous. It would have been pretty exciting if it lasted 30min and not 3 hours. So we took our time getting through it and chatted to a few people in the way. By the time we were done, both were really hungry and knackered. We had our packed lunch sitting on a grass under the tree. Also I caught a tick but I managed to pull him out before he was fully in.
By the time we reached Inverarnan, lots of people were staying in Beinglas campsite – we were so jealous leaving them all behind as we had another 10km ahead of us…We had more tea and rested for a bit before taking on the last stretch. It is a very beautiful walk and relatively easy one. The first hour and a bit we were almost enjoying it, the last half an hour was torture. Funny how your brain works and just gives up when you know you are so close. We wobbled into Crainlarich around 7pm, had a few beers and dinner (more Mac and cheese) and were in bed by 10pm. Excited about the fact that we only had 20km to go the next day.
Well, the start of the day was great!We had breakfast at Rowardennan and headed off around 9am. There is a gentle incline for the first hour going through beautiful woodland and Loch Lomond reveals itself. The second hour we spent walking towards the Conic hill and climbing it. Got so lucky with the weather on that day and it was sunny pretty much the entire day. After taking photos at the top, we walked slowly down to Balmaha. And actually, I feel I should add that the climb to the Conic hill is very reasonable. (I still had to stop a few times to catch my breath, but that’s probably has something to do with the fact that we didn’t train…).
After we walked down to Balmaha we had a lovely lunch at the Oak Tree which is a great pub. It was so nice to sit outside and take my boots off…but we did make a crucial mistake here by thinking that that’s the hardest bit is over for the day. Oh how wrong we were. On the map we still had around 2 hours of walking to Rowardennan. It took us almost 3…
For the first third it is an incredibly pleasant walk along the shores of Loch Lomond. After that the path gets really hilly while snaking through woodland. We climbed so many hills. Actually the mobile phone said that we climbed five times higher than the day before. It was a very hard walk through never ending woods.
By the time we got to Rowardennan hotel, we were drained. It was only 4pm but we decided to have dinner already. Disappointingly food was pretty bad and so were the pints. And somehow we managed to book a room that had a separate bathroom to which we had to walk to through the hotel hall. In all honesty by that point, I couldn’t imagine walking ever again. And all I wanted was to stay in bed for ages. But we had our hardest day ahead of us the next day.
Our very first day of walking the West Highland Way we have started at 8.30am on a Sunday at the end of April. The first day was actually a really nice and relatively easy walk. For the first hour we walked through Mugdock Country Park and it was very serene, especially walking though woodland covered in bluebells. The second hour took us past Dumgoyne and it is the most picturesque part of the day – we got incredibly lucky and it didn’t rain at all that day, so the views were incredible.
Later we walked pass the Glengoyne Distillery which is a very popular destination but decided against popping in, we weren’t tired yet plus we visited it last year already. But many walkers did a bit of a detour to visit the distillery.
The third hour took us through farmlands and small forests. We actually ended up having our lunch just on the side of the road about three hours in, which meant we only had one more hour to go that day after eating sandwiches and drinking coffee.
The last hour took us through very beautiful countryside, past the fields. We also made a few friends on the way which was lovely – to have a friendly chat while walking.
And by half past one we were in Drymen. We had a cup of tea and shared a can of irn bru in a lovely cafe called Skoosh before checking in into our hotel for the night.
After a few pints in local pubs, great Mac and cheese and an obligatory whisky we were in bed by, embarrassingly, 7pm.
Feet were definitely a bit tender after 21km but no blisters yet and legs were not sore at all. So we settled for the night watching tv and reading books, excited to see what the next day would bring!
There have been so many changes in my life in 2018, I’ve changed a few jobs and actually found myself being creatively stimulated a lot and also challenged. Hence why I haven’t had much left for this cosy place.
And of course none of that stopped me from traveling. I have so many amazing adventures to report on but this time here are some photos from our very recent trip to Marrakesh. Remember how every January we tend to travel with my mum for a few days? Well this time it was Morocco’s turn.
Of course I loved it! However it was so overwhelming that every night I wanted to be back at our lovely riad to chill and read a book.
We stayed at a traditional B&B called the Riad in Medina which is an old town, I chose Riad Shambala which I just found through the usual booking sites. I search for same things most of the time and so far I have never been disappointed. (Things like free WiFi and breakfast are the must for me.) This time I also searched for a roof terrace as I knew that lots of riads have them and they are stunning in Marrakesh.
I cannot recommend this particular riad enough – they are so friendly, we booked all our tours and transfers through them and it made life so much easier; and to be able to have breakfast on the roof terrace is incredible
Feel like I should add that I don’t really care for expensive or luxury hotels – atmosphere and surroundings are much more important to me.
I am a vegetarian (and I eat vegan probably 90%) so I was worried about food a bit as it tends to be pretty meat based. But everything was incredible! They don’t really use much dairy so all veggie options were vegan anyway. I had an amazing vegan tajines and falafel platters most of the time. Also their bread is incredible!
Getting to the hotel
I would recommend booking a transfer from and to the airport if you can (cost us 30 euros both ways). I did it through our Riad and someone met us at the airport and dropped us off. Even though I travel around a lot, it would have been waaaay too overwhelming to use public transport in Marrakesh
Things to do
We only had two full days in Marrakesh so we decided to get a walking tour on the first day which took around 6 hours and the second day we actually spent on a day tour to the Atlas Mountains. And this trip deserves a post of its own so stay tuned.
Hopefully that was helpful to anyone who is planning a trip. If you have any questions, ask away!
We had to drive back to London on this day but to extend our trip for a little bit more we decided do a few things in the morning before the big drive back home.
Tate St Ives
In the morning, we visited Tate ST Ives which is a brilliant museum. I always been a huge fan of art so visiting museums is something that we do pretty frequently anyway. Located right on the seafront with some incredible views, definitely one of those places i hope I will get a chance to return to one day. Somehow I never realised that St Ives, and Cornwall in general, have such a phenomenal art history, many great artist lived and still live here. Being such a charming part of the world, I can easily see why. The museum itself isn’t massive, only took us around an hour to visit all of the rooms. And of course, there is a great cafe at the very top with some brilliant views. We only had coffees so not sure what the food is like but cakes looked good.
After strolling around charming streets of St Ives for a bit longer and buying a few books from a lovely bookshop, where lady that worked there told me that she used to live a few streets away from where we currently live in London…small world. I am trying to do this thing, where I read books from places that I have visited. Such a great way of understanding and remembering the atmosphere better; that was my excuse to buy two books there. (Also you can follow me on Goodreads to see what i am currently reading.)
St Michael’s Mount
Our second and final stop was St Micheal’s Mount, one of those places that I have been seeing on pinterest for so long and it was hard to believe it actually exists in real life…Make sure to check their website for opening times and more importantly tide times. I wish i had a chance to see this place at sunrise or sunset but it is very impressive nevertheless. It is a very touristy so unless you are visiting during the week, prepare for crowds and many children.
And this actually concludes our trip to Devon & Cornwall. I know we only had 2.5 days but I do feel we made the absolute most of them. Have you been to Cornwall?