Day 159: Cove to Mark Bothy
Distance: 25.60 miles
Ascent: 6658 feet
Weather: Sunny Morning, Light Rain Afternoon, Heavy Rain Evening
Accommodation: Mark Bothy
I was up early, and the tent was absolutely covered in midges but fortunately none had got through the mesh. But now I had to get out of the tent and the midges seemed to be asleep, so I packed everything up very gently and then got out of the tent as smoothly as possible to disturb as few as possible and fortunately it seemed to work. I had a bowl of cereal in the house and then sneaked of as quietly as possible to try and not wake anyone up.
The weather was glorious once again and the first part of the day was following the quiet road along the coast. Suddenly a police car slowly approached and then stopped just in front of me and I was a bit apprehensive stupidly and they then asked whether the citroen parked a few hundred meters away was mine and where I had come from. I said it was not mine and that I had walked from London which confused them completely. I presume the car was a bit to close to the military base for their liking.
Before the military base I headed inland on a quite strange road, it was an incredibly quiet road as went nowhere really other than the military base but it looked more like a really busy road due to its width, Armco barriers and general design maybe because they sometimes have large deliveries/vehicles heading to the military base. I was on this road through the pine forest for almost 5 miles until reaching the roundabout.
I was a little apprehensive about the next part which followed a road that I knew had no verge. Unexpectedly at the beginning there was a little café (The Green Kettle) where I popped in for a quick tea. The owner told me that the road was fine to walk if a little busy which gave me confidence for the next bit. In fact this road section was surprisingly nice with the high pine trees keeping me in the dappled shade, and I made quick progress along the flattish road, though I was still on it for over 2 hours.
I finally reached Arrochar which would be the last and only village I would pass today and luckily it had a shop. I bought supplies for this evening as I would be in the bothy, though the things I could buy were not really ideal for dinner.
On the other side of the Loch the road was much busier but fortunately there was a path (The Cowal Way) which went in the right direction but just slightly inland. The beginning of this after the carpark was incredibly steep but once up the path was a forest track and made for easy and incredibly scenic walking. This was exactly what I expected West Scotland to be like with massive hills around me, several just shy of 1000m, and stunning lochs down below me. After recrossing the road at Ardgartan I followed a forestry track South parallel to the Loch. At a little cottage (in fact the last place I would see) I asked for some water and the guy said fine to use the tap and the water comes straight from the brook anyway. It is a little disconcerting when there is sediment in your water but I could only presume it was fine as he drank it himself.
The forest track slowly got more and more remote, and after an hour and a half I started to descend down to Mark Bothy managing to cut of the last switch back by heading straight through the forest. I arrived at the bothy which was very quaint and had a little fireplace and tools for cutting wood etc. For those who don’t know the MBA (Mountain Bothy Association) maintain a series of huts and cabins often old sheperd huts that are very basic but free for walkers, climbers etc to use. I had arrived around 5 and no one else was there and after over an hour I assumed I would be the only one staying. I had cut some wood to get the fire going and unpacked some of my stuff. Suddenly 2 other guys arrived (from Fife) and then not long after the torrential rain started. Another couple of guys arrived later completely soaked, one surprisingly having come up from London today, much quicker than the 23 weeks it had taken me. It was great to have other people around, including kindly being given a nicely cooked vegetarian dish, though after some cards and a wee dram of whisky I went to bed much later than normal on this walk. The only downside of this bothy was the oil depot on the other side of the loch.
A really good day, incredible scenery and I am now looking forward to the other bothies on my route.