…and I’ll take the Low Road

On a rainy Saturday morning we took a wee trip to Rowardennan. The West Highland passes through Rowardennan before heading off into the relative wilderness of the East side of Loch Lomond.

After many years the “Low Road” has been cleared, the path upgraded and it is now open to walkers and runners once more. I was last on the low road nearly 20 years ago when I walked the West Highland Way carrying heavy rucksacks with my son Hamish who at the time was only 8 years old or so.

This time the point of the trip was to run to Inversnaid and back, carrying out a recce of the Low Road as I expect to be “racing” on it in June. I put the word racing in quotes because I always find that I am pretty wrecked by the time I get to Rowardennan about 26 miles in to the route regardless of which race I am doing. Fortunately I usually recover later on, but the prospect of actually racing at this point is unlikely!

The total distance from Rowardennan to Inversnaid is around 7.5 miles. It is described on the official WHW web site here

The first section is along a good road which works its way past the Youth Hostel until it bears right and starts to climb uphill through a gate just after Ptarmigan Lodge.

The first section can be seen in the following short video clip

About 300m after the gate the new low road drops sharply to the left at a big bend in the road. It is likely that this route will be used by the West Highland Way Race this June (2016). The Highland Fling race will continue to use the “High Road” so Fling runners will not turn on to the low road but will continue up hill for another 2.5 miles. The Fling route is easier running but not nearly as interesting as the Low Road.

The Low Road can be seen here, slightly speeded up. Apologies also for the slightly jaunty angle of the video at times. Either my camera was squint or my head was, not sure which.

 

The Low Road joins the High Road once more and descends to the lochside for a nice 2.5 mile run through some nice forested trail with the odd waterfall to skip through for good measure before finally arriving at Inversnaid Hotel and the spectacular waterfalls there.

Inversnaid is a pretty god forsaken place on race day. Most people arrive there feeling horrible, there are very few supporters because it is too far to get there by road. It is only 7ish miles by foot and more than 30 miles by road. When you arrive in Inversnaid on race day you usually find the midges have already eaten the contents of your drop bag, and you have only the slowest most technical part of the course still to come in the next 6 miles to Beinglas farm.

Despite the rain, I thoroughly enjoyed my wee jaunt on the new improved Low Road and I didn’t even mind the run back to Rowardennan up the hills of the high road. And anyway, all roads lead to Milngavie in June.

I have posted other videos of the route from Derrydarroch to Tyndrum on this page

and more videos of the Rollercoaster here

WHW Run Rowardennan to Inversnaid

rowardennabSunday brough my first run on the West Highland Way of the year.  A straightforward run out and back from Rowardennan to Inversnaid.  Weather conditions started off perfectly but then turned to dreich smirry rain by the time I reached the hotel at Inversnaid.

I had it in my head this was a fairly straightforward section of the route but had completely forgotten just how much climbing is involved as you run up the side of the Loch.  The hill starts just after the Youth Hostel and seems to keep going forever.  The first few miles follow the forestry road so conditions are good underfoot. Eventually all the climbing is rewarded with the longest downhill!

As this was a training run, I tried to run continuously up all of the hills. I definitely wont be doing this on race day. I was pretty pleased to be able to haul myself up all of the hills withouth having to take a walk break. I had noticed my climbing getting better lately and this continued on these hills, so I guess all the squats and lunges are working.

IMG_0052I ran into Inversnaid, pottered around taking pictures of the waterfalls which were quite spectacular, then ran back a Km to pick up Helen and run with her into Inversnaid.

We ran together through the loch shore for a bit on the return leg then I slogged ahead up the hills while Helen took the sensible strategy of walking the uphills.

I made it back to Rowardennan in about 2 hours 35 for the round trip which was an average of about 11 mins/mile including time for faffing around taking pictures.

Elevation Profile
Elevation Profile

The funny wee blip in  the middle is due to me getting confused between the pause and start/stop buttons on my Garmin. The other thing which is weird is that I am using a Garmin 910XT which comes with a barometric altimeter. I had read that some people were having issues with it reporting strange readings. If you look at my graph, apparently I was nearly 100ft below sea level at one point! So much for technology.

The reward was a wee paddle in Loch Lomond to cool my legs.

cooling down
cooling down