.I,d looked up Information on the Three Lochs Way,a New long distance walking trail going from Balloch to Inveruglas on Loch Lomond side.It travels through some interesting hill country, has fantastic views and is circular if you take the ferry across to Inversnaid and return down the West Highland Way.A lot of these new trails are appearing all over Scotland promoted by local areas keen to have visitors numbers staying and spending in the vicinity.
http://www.threelochsway.co.uk/balloch-helensbu.html Good maps of the route here also.
This one looks interesting as it visits some lovely wild scenery,interspersed with gun ranges,private MOD roads and little known tracks high above lochs most people zoom past on their way further north.
It was an easy uphill cycle on quiet roads to reach Hill House situated at the top of upper Helensburgh.I,d read the large garden surrounding the house was free to visit and it was someplace I,d never been.That was enough.I,m not a big fan of Charles Rennie Mackintosh though.He was unique and his ideas are bold and visionary with furniture and high backed chairs that look as if they were designed for aliens with eight foot spines but the outside of his buildings often look cold and detached.Just as well they are now saved for the nation,they don't look comfortable places to live in.The garden matched the house,large but fairly spartan.It didn't have enough colour,flowers or wildlife in it for my tastes.I didn't stay long and as I know Mackintosh designs well I didn't visit the house itself.Feel free though.It has its own sizable car park.
Anyway the main reason I was here was to go along the Upland way,an old coffin route, which runs at the back of the house left and right and travels through Highlandman,s wood to Rhu.Its one balcony trail I,ve never done and I do like a balcony trail as Alex will tell you :)
For part of the way this is also the Three Lochs Trail before it veers uphill across country to the north.You can also do part of this route described as a walk returning via Rhu and the sea front Promanade or take the Three Lochs Trail inland over to Glen Fruin Then Back Along Minor Tracks Via The Reservoirs.This also looks good.Glen Fruin is also the site of the Last great interclan battle in the highlands..A woman distance runner has completed the whole thing in 7.5 hours recently and a good mountain biker can do it in a day.(one for you Mr Vally?)
I soon discovered its not really suitable for a bike though once past the three loch turnoff as it has too many dips,tree roots and curves to be a safe ride for someone of my limited ability.I was happy to walk these sections anyway as it only increases erosion on a dirt and grass path like this to ride a bike along it.When I did it in the summer the trail was fine but the latest information on the link above suggests it is now muddy and rutted given the amount of feet, bikes and rain we have had since then.A large amount of money(£40,000) will have to be found to repair this.Not the result the makers of the way intended but in the words of a well known film...build it and they will come... then walk across it,trample it down and leave you with a trench.I suppose that's always the catch if it proves popular.Luckily much of the way is on decent broad tracks which can take the numbers involved.There is now a detour in place. I visited the ever popular Mugdock recently above Milingavie for a couple of hours and a lot of the grass trails there were looking pretty trashed and muddy due to continued use in all weathers.
The last time this sign wasn,t on the gate at the entrance though.
I also remember it being a belter on a bike,good views and peaceful.
Nothing has changed.As you can see from these photos its still the same.
As I still had a bit of energy left in the legs and hadn,t been round this section I followed the cycle track down to reach Ross Park and Auchentullich Jetty area on Loch Lomond with its Golf courses and loch side views.Very upmarket,not me at all :)
Wish I hadn,t bothered with this added on bit though as I slogged back over the hill to reach yet another area I,d never visited.This one was much more to my taste.The town reservoirs just above Helensburgh. Here I had a seat to recover and got talking to an elderly woman out with her dog.She was a local,owned a grand house in the upper town but was struggling to pay for the upkeep and heating bills now she was no longer earning money .Her family didn,t want to live in it after they themselves got married preferring something smaller and more modern so she was left sitting alone in a sleeping bag in this massive pile all winter trying to save costs and did all the housework and gardening herself as well .She was a nice old lady.Its a familiar story sadly. Over the years I have met a lot of people like that where the money has gone yet they still hang on to what they love,often places where they were born and raised a family... so some of these grand houses are not always what they seem.
A great day out with a variety of landscapes.Some of the hills are a bit odd looking around Garlochhead though.