Taking the low road to Loch Lomond

21:43 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

The weekend in Scotland began with a bang. I was travelling to the train station and was involved in a bus crash. Nobody was hurt, and luckily it was the presence of an ambulance that distracted the bus driver and caused the crash.

Unscathed and only slightly late, I met my friend Marcella (Italian, vegan, animal botherer) at the train station and we boarded the train to Glasgow. We chatted, listened to the Scottish playlist that I'd made on Spotify and practised Italian. My Italian is very basic and I spent most of the evening counting to ten and asking Marcella whether she liked red chairs. Thankfully she had enough patience and humour to put up with the infantile conversation!

In Glasgow, we made our way to the Mercantile City, where we were staying with our AirBnb host, Andrew. I was slightly apprehensive about paying money to sleep in a stranger's spare bedroom, but it turned out to be great. Andrew was a lovely host and even had a pet rabbit to entertain us. The rabbit was so fat, it had a huge furry tudor-style ruffle around it's neck. It was completely friendly and Marcella took full advantage of the furry fatso and petted the rabbit all evening.  (That's definitely not a euphemism!)

Marcella and I both appreciate sunny mornings and decent breakfasts. Evidently, our host did too. He'd prepared a feast of breads, fruits and cereals for us. We filled our boots, knowing we were going to be spending the whole day cycling round Loch Lomond.

The Trossachs National Park is only a 50 minute train ride from Glasgow and it is stunning. We checked in at another AirBnb place and headed out to collect our hire bikes. We set off towards Balloch Castle just as the heavens opened. The rain poured down in heavy showers, but that didn't stop us from cycling and taking pictures. Occasionally we'd sit underneath a tree for a bit of respite and laugh at how soaked we were. We made our way to the shore and around the loch.

Near to a marina we got chatting with a Scottish father and his two sons. He'd picked up on our foreign accents (Italian and Oldham-ish) and we were soon swapping stories together. When our new friend found out that Marcella had never tried Irn Bru, he insisted on giving her a 2 litre bottle to try. All the while, the two kids were peppering us with ice cold water from their super-soakers. One of the kids managed to get water right down my ear and I jumped out of my skin, much to everyone's amusement. It was time to set off, but our new friend insisted on us taking the 2 litre glass bottle of Irn Bru with us.  I tried to explain that we had no way of carrying the bottle when one of the kids shouted;
"You can stick it in yer willy!" in the broadest Scottish accent you can imagine. We were in hysterics.

As we continued round the loch, the weather alternated between showers and sun. Several times I confidently proclaimed we'd had the last of the rain, only to be soaked again a few minutes later. Despite the weather, we were loving the ride. We arrived in the beautiful village of Luss caked in mud and soaked to our underwear. We parked out tired backsides in a cafe, dripped dry and refuelled.

In Luss, there is a lovely little pier that protrudes out into the loch. After our meal, we dangled our feet over the edge and watched as the most vivid rainbow began to appear before us. It was worth all the rain, just for that moment.

The next day began as the last, with a big breakfast and lots of conversation. Our host's family was Italian, coincidentally not far from Marcella's home town. They shared stories of Italy and my imagination was illuminated with images of food and wine, warm weather and warmer people.

After breakfast, we hired a canoe. Out on the loch, the fog was hugging close to the water and gave a mystical atmosphere. We made our way across the loch, despite my apparently crap paddling. The canoe would occasionally threaten to capsize and we'd burst out into nervous laughter. It was great fun.

All too quickly, our weekend was coming to an end. We got lunch and took the leftover bread to feed the ducks. We'd managed to coax a few birds right to our feet, which Marcella was loving.
"Look!" pointed Marcella, as a giant swan waddled our way.
The swan wasn't scared of us as it stomped towards us and started hissing angrily. Marcella bolted behind me and I fell over into a ball of laughter. The family behind us were laughing too.

And as quickly as it had begun, the trip was over. We had a great time cycling and exploring the loch; laughing all the way along. I'll definitely look forward to visiting Scotland again in the future.

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