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Starting at Sloy Power Station and finishing in Garelochhead, this half of The Three Lochs Way is strenuous but the scenery makes every blister worthwhile! Loch Long is your companion for the majority of the route and you also get glimpses of Loch Lomond and The Gareloch: the three lochs which give this long distance walk it’s name.
We parked a car in Balloch on day 1 and took the Citylink bus to Sloy Power Station, Inveruglas to start the walk from that end. It is service 916 and picks you up just after the roundabout on A82. We then walked The Three Lochs Way to Balloch over two days, where the car was waiting for us.
Route: Starting at Sloy Power Station, walk SW along the path next to the A82. After 700m take the way-marked track on your right (W) heading uphill and away from the village. Follow this road for 1.7km to a fork. Turn left (SW) onto a narrower path, crossing Inveruglas Water then turning left (S) to enter some forestry and then some woodland high above Arrochar. [If you wish to do a short de-tour into Arrochar look out for a marked track on your right after approx 5km, just beyond Glenloin House then return to the same point to continue the walk.] After approx 5.5km continue straight ahead (E) at the next two crossroads. Approx 400m along from the second crossroads there is a right turn (SE) which takes you out of the woodland at Arrochar & Tarbet Railway Station. Turn left (E) along the A83 for a short distance before crossing over and taking the first right (S), heading uphill on a stoney footpath. Turn right again (SW) 200m along to follow a track which runs alongside a dry stone wall. Continue along this elevated path for approx 6.5km, first following the wall and then the course of the railway line (which should be on your right-hand side). When you emerge onto Glen Douglas Road turn right (SW) to cross the railway. Almost immediately after turn left (S) onto the start of a wide forestry road. After 3km, just beyond Croggan Hill, turn left (SE). 1km along you will cross the railway line again, reaching a fork 280m further along. Turn right (W). After 2.8km keep right (S) at a fork. Continue S for a short 70m and you will soon emerge at a path junction. Turn left (S). Continue roughly S/SW for approx 2.8km. Look out for a way-marker on your right just as The Gareloch comes into view far below. It leads you over a gate (you need to climb it), alongside a fence and then descends down beside a dry stone wall to reach a small woodland area. There is only a very faint footpath and it can be very wet underfoot. You will emerge onto the A814 near a roundabout. Cross over carefully and pick up a surfaced path on the other side. Follow the surfaced cycle path to Station Road, Garelochhead. Turn left (S) to reach the train station or turn right (NW) to reach the village centre.
WALK REPORT: 11th June 2016
When my friend shared a link with me about The Three Lochs Way a few months ago, I right away added it to my ‘to walk’ list. He suggested that we could manage it over a weekend and the wheels were set in motion to get it planned. When the day arrived to start the 2-day hike, my sister and I met in Balloch after a 5am rise and joined up with Gleb on the Citylink coach to head up to Sloy Power Station. We had decided for logistical reasons to do the walk backwards and have the cars waiting for us in Balloch on our return. The adrenaline was pumping and I was ready to go! I wasn’t quite sure what was in store as this would be the first time I would walk 18 miles in one day and I knew we were planning to do that two days in a row…..all for fun :-)
The first thing to greet us as we came off the bus were midges, millions of them! I laughed out loud at the sight of Gleb wearing his midge net! Two minutes later I was more than happy to put my own on – what a relief! My net and some Smidge became my two best friends: two essentials for hiking in Scotland!
I really enjoyed all the wildflowers growing along the way – foxgloves, bog cotton, rhododendrons, thistles….. At the time I was 10 days in to the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild challenge which I am sure was responsible for my heightened love for these flowers: sadly Britain’s wild flower species are being lost at a very high rate and a lot of work is currently being done to try and preserve them.
The first village you come do doing the walk this way round is Arrochar. The route itself passes above however a short de-tour takes you in to the village and we went in search of coffee and filled rolls. I can highly recommend Viv’s tearoom – a seemingly insignificant little hut sitting just off the roadside but with very reasonable prices and delicious fresh filled rolls. It was busy too which is always a good sign. There is also a nice campsite at back if you are looking for somewhere to stay. While waiting for our rolls we got chatting to some railway workers who were in the area and their midge protection was impressive indeed, a full midge jacket with hood worn over their work gear! Just shows you how bad they get.
My favourite part of the walk would have to be hiking along the footpath high above Loch Long – the views were stunning (even on a cloudy day), the terrain kept us on our toes with lots of steep uphill and downhill sections. “Who said this was a flat walk?!” became the joke of the day.
At the end of day 1 we all had aches and pains and were looking forward to getting the boots off and seeing what damage had been done. I knew I had a blister on my heel – my first ever blister! My sister and Gleb did not believe me but it is true! I was a little annoyed by it as I knew it would cause me problems the next day but what can you expect from an 18 mile hike, you are certain to feel it somewhere. Compeed was a godsend and I was so relieved that I had remembered to pack some! My heart went out to the group of people we had met doing the entire 34 miles in one day for charity!
We spent the night at Three Lochs Hostel in Garelochhead which I would recommend. We had twin rooms with private facilities and the whole hostel was very clean and well equipped. The Anchor Inn is great for pub food (and a glass of wine). Definitely important for refueling ready for day 2!