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"Sorry we got no spots left" - How I nearly broke out in tears!

Drymen to Milarrochy campsite ~ 10 miles (16.5 km)

 

After a good night's sleep at Drymen campsite, we set off in the direction of Loch Lomond. Matej and I were a bit excited as we couldn't really judge the distances yet and we knew that we had to manage to find a camp that still had capacity. The West highland way was quite busy and it was holiday time. But why were we so exited? Well, right behind Conic Hill starts the Loch Lomond national park, where wild camping is prohibited. As I am a big fan of nature reserves, I wanted to respect this in any case. So our destination for the day was Milarrochy Campsite.


The road to Conic Hill led out of the small towns into a beautiful forest area. After we had left the first part behind us, we had our first view of Loch Lomond. Those who have been there know the view. What is particularly etched in my memory are the purple lupins, which add a beautiful touch to the green dull landscapes.


After a few kilometres through the forest, we moved towards a flatland from which Conic Hill emerged on the horizon. Our bodies still had to get used to long distance walking, and as it was our first run ever, we had 100% too much weight in our backpacks. Accordingly, after a few hours of hiking, the first signs of exhaustion became apparent. In fact, we thought we were going around the hill in front of us, not to climb it. Until we saw the strikingly eye-catching backpack covers in orange and green snaking their way up the hill. So our enthusiasm was limited. After a break at the foot of Conic hill, we took it in hand and "brawled" our way up the whole 360 m climb (yes, our mountain friends will definitely find this funny!). We definitely felt the weight on our backs and since we did have rather standard stamina we were accordingly exhausted by the time we reached the top. It's worth mentioning that we didn't have to go all the way up to the top, the path doesn't necessarily lead up there, but we thought "if you're going to do it, do it". and it was worth it. The view of Loch Lomond was unbelievably beautiful. here not only the lupins but especially broom heather growing all over the hill added a picturesque touch.

After we had eaten our lunch on the top of Conic hill, it was now time for the descent. The main part of the descent was made up of stairs, which are heavily frequented by local residents and tourists.


 

Long-distance hikers know it. The hate. The jealousy. The indignation.... Day-hikers! All over these brushed, good looking, well smelling people climbing the hill with little bags and rucksacks, panting louder than we did. I think this was one of the days I came to understand why all long-distance hikers make jokes about day-hikers. After we had escaped the mass migration of day-hikers, we reached Milarrochy Campsite after a few kilometres.


 

Right at the entrance there was a small white house where you had to register. Our feet were chronically dead after the descent from Conic Hill and every step hurt incredibly. Outside the registration there was a sign that you should leave your backpacks outside. So we took them off and entered the registration. When we said we needed tokens for 2 tents for one night, we got the shocking answer that almost! (actually really close) brought tears to my eyes. "We got no spots left, you have to go to the next camp." When we asked where that was, we were told that the next camp was about 2 miles away. For me, a world collapsed (yes, it was very dramatic for me!). When I said to Matej that I wouldn't be able to walk another mile, the gentleman asked if we were not there by car. We explained that we were backpackers and his expression became much friendlier. "Why didn't you say so? You came in through the caravan entrance, so I thought you were here by car! We have an extra entrance for backpackers! They are always welcome! Don't worry, we'll find you a nice spot on the meadow and then you can have a hot shower and rest. Rarely have I felt such relief. I didn't even care about the shower. I was just happy that we didn't have to walk any further and that we had found a place for the night.


After setting up our tents and having something to eat, we went to Milarrochy Bay, which is right next to the campsite. Here we just sat there. In silence and enjoyed the sunset in anticipation of the next day. And that is something I love about long-distance hiking:





No matter how exhausting your day was, how tired you are. You are still looking forward to the next day. The way thats infront of you. Every morning is a reset, the end of an old chapter and the beginning of a new one.

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