Schottland 1973, Teil 4 …Scotland, part 4

 Die Deutsche Version findet ihr HIER (zusammen mit Teil 3, ich habe daraus wieder zwei Teile gemacht, weil ich den alten Text zu lang fand).

Part 4 : Rowardennon – Kinlochard – Aberfoyle

July 10, 1973

On Tuesday, the Dutch guys leave at five in the morning. Susi and I have decided to walk 12 kilometers to Kinlochard. Climb a little. Margaret McNeill and her two daughters Heather and Janet are coming with us. We became friends. Heather is a little Celtic beauty with black long hair, fair skin and huge dark blue eyes. Janet is the older one, has reddish hair, but is also pretty and at 10 years old already interested in boys, much to the sorrow of her mother.

So, then five molly-coddled tourists set off, two of them loaded with insane weights. When we get to the place where we were with Albert the day before, Susi and I have our tongues hanging out of our mouths already. After an hour the suggestion of a path stops and we are moving on a pebble slide. And it’s going up, up, up. Twice we encounter a blue mark that is supposed to show us the direction. Margaret had received the information the day before that at the so-called half-way-well, i.e. halfway to the summit of Ben Lomond, we should „turn right“. But there are so many small becks on the way up … When we get into the low-lying clouds, it gets wet. The children are freezing in their shorts and put on long trousers. A strap on Janet’s sandal is torn, and the white knee socks are already looking quite worn. Margaret walks on wooden slippers, only held in front by a strap. How does she do it with the prevailing upward direction?

We’re passing another mark. „Is it blue?“ Susi asks, „it seems more like pure rust to me!“ Well then, we march on and rest in the wettest place we can find. There is a typical Scottish signpost there: three signs and all broken off. [I am not kidding!!!] Only the first letter is left; that is basically enough. There is all kinds of stuff in the direction of Loch Ard, but no path. Mainly I see moss. I probe the terrain and find various rusty tin cans: „Somebody went up here!“ I exclaim happily. „The only question is when that was and whether the people survived!“ So Susi’s remark. A local who, according to Susi, ’happens to be passing by’ (on Ben Lomond, in the middle of a thick cloud, it is quite common that people are passing by by chance) confirms that we have to go in that direction. “You have to try to walk straight or you will come to the steep side, it is dangerous there. Then walk down past the new forest and the river. It will then lead you to Loch Ard. ” Crystal clear!

The red line shows, where we should have gone, the blue line, where we did go (I guess, roundabout …)

So we are on our way again. We might as well have waded through a stream, it’s that wet. The sheep that hobble around are bleating at us. We refresh ourselves at a spring. I have never drunk such wonderful water! We drag ourselves over two hills more, when we see the river. Deep down below us. We got to the steep side with determination. There is no coming down. It is so slippery that we lie on our butts after every second step. Heather starts crying; Margaret is losing her nerve; Janet is tough. And we? We just keep moving because we can’t stay here. We crawl along the top of the ridge until we come to a shallower point. We are only separated from the river by a two meter high wire fence and the new forest behind it.

So we climb over. First Margaret, then the children, Susi, the luggage and then me. Our path leads us directly through the newly planted trees. [Good that nobody saw us!!!] Well, there is no path, we are just moving towards the river. Our marching rhythm is: one step, one leap; one step, one leap; every jump goes over a drainage ditch. And all this with this insane backpack! In the end we no longer feel the them and only move forward mechanically, thoughts switched off. I don’t care at all anymore, I would love to drop myself into the swamp to sleep. We rest on a large rock. Margaret sighs: „We are lost, totally lost!“ At that moment, Susi’s eagle eyes see a wide path! We rush there as fast as we can and come across a true wonder of the world: a real signpost with all the signs still intact. Further down we also see real forest. We de-mud us in a mountain stream. I get in with my shoes on and actually can’t tell the difference to the outside.

We have already been on the road for eight hours and about three hours are still ahead of us, but Margaret’s friend Eddy comes towards us in a car. First he takes the children and the luggage, then he fetches the three of us. Gosh, we are grateful! Eddy drives like a madman saying, „It’s not my car!“

Photo: Wikipedia – Loch Ard

In Loch Ard our first act is a long hot shower, then a good dinner and finally a deep sleep.

July 11, 1973

The next day, Susi and I take the heroic decision to have a good rest. We have breakfast with Margaret and her daughters, and we also study types. [I visited Margaret and her family and Eddy on my second trip to Glasgow. After that we still corresponded for a while, but that also ebbed out.] Two South Europeans have coffee and cigarettes for breakfast. Two Scots are sitting at the next table, apparently nice but incredibly shy. A boy is standing in front of the window making sandwiches. He belongs to two English people, but his pronunciation is German. Obviously he wants to be taken for an Englishman and yells around in his terrible accent. The volume is probably supposed to compensate for the quality. But the most wonderful thing is the extended family from the backwoods: dad, mommy, son and daughter, who looks like son no. 2, and grandpa. Grandpa is polishing all day, first the table, then the dishes, then the table again. Later you can see him swinging the duster and polishing the banister. He whistles and sings all the time; so I find him extremely likeable. The children are bursting with energy and release it in the form of volume. Dad reminds of  a Canadian lumberjack. Mommy creates an impenetrable mist in the shower room with the comment: „This is my first shower in ten years!“ [They lived somewhere in the mountains without running hot water.]

Susi and I decide to hike to Aberfoyle (5.2 miles, one way) [didn’t we want to rest ???]. As far as I remember, Rob Roy [an outlaw to the English, a hero to the Scottish, who seems to have fought in all the Jacobite risings there were] was „active“ there among other places. We also have to go shopping, we have almost nothing to eat. So we are on our way. The road is bordered with a stone wall on the lake side. There is a wonderful view of Loch Ard and the opposite bank. In Aberfoyle, civilization invades us in the form of souvenir shops and English coffee grannies [Coffee? Not tea?]. We go into a shop and ask for tea towels. „An ordinary tea towel?“ we are asked.
– „Yes, please!“ I say. We get astonished looks, because most tourists buy those with a bagpiper on it or ’Bonny old Scotland’. They then cost four times as much.

Photo: Booking.com – Aberfoyle

We feast on coffee and sandwiches in the town’s huge cafeteria. Warm food is only available from noon. We tuck the box with the groceries we bought under our arms and take a look at Aberfoyle. But there isn’t much to see, so we sit down on the municipal playground. I decide to sleep and lie down on the grass. We get plenty of amused looks. An hour later we are headed towards the cafeteria again to have lunch.

Then we think it is the correct thing to do, to hike back to be at the youth hostel in time for afternoon coffee. I photograph a beautiful old country house. The various construction workers whom we are now meeting for the third time have a disruptive effect. They make quite a noise and express the urgent wish to be photographed for posterity. My comment that I would like to take pictures of the house and not the gentlemen triggers a real cacophony of remarks. Fortunately, we don’t understand anything because they’re all roaring at the same time. We prefer to remove ourselves. The rest of the way back is quite harmonious. We come to the deep insight that cardboard boxes are very impractical for transporting food, especially over long distances.

Back at Loch Ard we meet a couple of hobby painters. We talk to the woman for a while. Her daughter has a German pen pal. She tells us that anyone can paint, you just have to try.

Some new overnight guests have arrived at the youth hostel. There is a German with a daughter, who lives in England, and a strange woman who tiptoes through the shower room and looks through open doors. She tells us a lengthy story about a hanky that she didn’t have in an emergency situation, but that’s the only thing we understand of the whole story. Finally, Susi asks: „I beg your pardon?“ And we get the whole thing served again. Not that we understand more the second time around.

I found this old photo of Loch Ard Youth Hostel, taken in the seventies, on this website: https://www.geograph.org.uk/article/Former-youth-hostels-of-Great-Britain/6#syha–scotland