Doesn’t have the same cache as Route 66 though?
This weather has been unbelievably good, an Indian summer methinks.
I spent the time after last weeks Bute run noting further places with easy reach to explore and this wasn’t one of them. I thought with the colder months fast approaching I’d get some ‘outer’ trips in the log.
I did think of returning to Bute but that will be for another day before the ferry returns to its regular Wemyss Bay run. I threw my front lights in the pannier which was a knowing sign I would be out longer. I was still swithering about where to go and what to do.
I set off to look up my old work crew before the intention of crossing the Erskine Bridge with Balloch in the back of my mind. I headed downhill and took the path along the A8 where I soon passed through Langbank before the ascent of Hatton Brae. I stopped to look at the view through the Leven valley towards Ben Lomond and beyond, an inspiration of course not tired legs, those would come much later.
I swung through Bishopton and soon I was on the cycle path on the bridge, I see it has had a good sweep since my last visit. It tends to get all the crap flung sideways off the road. A turn under the bridge and I were heading down Lusset Glen where left in 200 yds I’d turn right to join Route 7 at Old Kilpatrick. It was a busy track although I had left much later in the day than I normally do, as I’d forgotten to charge my phone, doh!
The canal was still and it was down to the river viewpoint at the canal entrance at Bowling where I hoped for a few photos but construction work had safety fencing up everywhere, I had a quick chat with a couple of anglers and I was soon heading west.
The track surface is excellent although a wee bit rattly canalside from Old Kilpatrick to Bowling Harbour, and not before long I was passing through Dumbarton, this time, I followed the official signs which swung me south then north, I normally take a short cut which keeps you off most of the roads.
I stopped at Dalreoch then up along the path which runs along the River Leven, it was busy with cyclists heading back, I assume early birds plus there were plenty of anglers taking advantage of conditions more likely as the season closes soon and not good water.
I reached Balloch at the Cruise Lomond berth past the Barrage, decision time.
Okay, Route 7 north-east it would be…
It was a case of following the blue signs and off up through Balloch Country Park, winding my way up whilst sign searching, I left the park onto a single track road which after a quick downhill took me to the A 811 junction but I could see my next side road, a drag uphill.
I was now on country back roads, I could see occasional glimpses of the Luss hills to the west and Ben Lomond to the north. I knew the next village would be Croftamie so I took in the scenery and smells as I passed fields full of cattle, sheep, and the occasional horse. This was good as it gets, the sun just kept shining and with a slight chill in the air, it made pedalling along comfortable. I wound this way and that and soon dropped down to the path which would take me through Croftamie, the path was a bit rattly and I arrived at the village. Look right left then across the A809 and I left the village, a fleeting visit as I must have spent 20 secs there, through another gate and the same rattly path. The path is a converted old railway track, the Forth and Clyde Junction Railway which ran from Balloch to Stirling. History HERE. The grass is encroaching the first path and it is not more than two feet wide in places, the second part is wider.
Oops, mmmm, a ‘long’ metal bridge. This bridge has been built on the remains of the old ‘Endrick Viaduct’, not much width for Bob and ‘Polly’ but I made it with a stop above midstream for obligatory river photos. I looked for signs of any fish movement but only the odd rise to an early afternoon fly further up the river in a deeper pool.
It wasn’t long before this part of the track ended and on to tarmac once more, a sign said ‘Drymen’ 2 miles, I had now joined the ‘West Highland Way‘ so I started off downhill, I was thinking all downhill would be nice until I met another sharp rise and another.
I saw a sign randomly placed on a wire fence between the roadside hedging with an arrow pointing to where I’d come from and the words ‘The Shire’ and I looked for Bilbo and the lads but they must have been on an adventure.
I later discovered I’d passed an old Roman Fort at Drumquhassle which I never saw signage for so one reason for another visit.
I crossed the main road, up some steps and soon I was sitting in the square. 33 mile gone.
The last time I sat here, my old Superdream had collected a slow puncture and it had been another impulse ride where I intended to head to Balmaha but I felt the wobbly back tyre as I turned into Drymen, I had not brought my usual tin of Tyreweld which had got me home on a few occasions but the local garage called a local agricultural dealer just outside town who soon got me going again with the premise of not going over 30 mph home, today I’d manage just over 10 mph average on my trip.
A visit to a nearby shop for scran and a decision to make, the route home?…
It was the A 811 down to Balloch, the road was busy and a bit ‘up and down’, I stopped at one bit to look down on an old Endrick fishing haunt at Mains Farm but carrying on, I met road works and traffic lights at Gartocharn, it was onto the opposite pavement and I rejoined the road just outside the village, this made the following traffic worse as they were all rushing past obviously to make up time. I was glad to meet my cut off to Route 7 again above Balloch.
A long haul uphill at first and meeting a BMW who thought of cutting a 90-degree corner on a single track, tut…
Entering the Country Park. it was a leisurely downhill run this time. I resisted a Palumbo’s fish supper, I must be getting soft in my old age.One was always the highlight of a stop heading home after fishing the loch.
I’d thought if I’d made this trip a couple of weeks later, the autumnal foliage would be good to see, today just the odd signs of it on the banks of the Leven. Mention has to be made of upkeep of these tracks as I met no broken glass and almost litter free. Hats off to the volunteers and local authority workers en route.
I made reasonable time through Dumbarton and when passing the animal home at Milton, I’m sure it was still the same dog howling that I heard on my outward journey. It had an eerie sounding howl.
The next thought on my mind, the route home after the bridge, I mulled this all the way over the Erskine Bridge to Bishopton and the thought of one hill in particular made up my mind to head over the ammo fields past Formakin to Houston, Bridge of Weir and Route 75 home.
My legs were feeling the last five miles as I rode towards home….
Just slightly over 70 miles on the Polar.
A hot bath, the Radox poured and a long, long leisurely soak was had…
and, of course, a chilled cider followed.