I set off away from the main part of town. It was warm. Really warm. I hate warm. But I was going to get to water, godammit! (Are you feeling apprehensive? Yep. You should.) The conjoined buildings of Aberfoyle melted away into occasional buildings situated between wide, green yards. A church. A grammar school, tiny and with students and teachers across in the exercise fields. A few holiday cottages. The river was on my left, so I knew as long as I followed it I was going in the right direction. Fifteen minutes turned into a half hour. I was sweaty and hot but still enthusiastic. I kept walking along the road. Passed more holiday cottages. And then there was a fork in the road. Uh oh. Without too much pondering, I headed to the left, staying alongside the river. I kept walking and seemed to be going farther and farther back into the woods, though there were occasional cottages here and there. Finally I saw someone walking a dog and mustered the courage to ask her if I was close to the lake.
This lovely lady, Anne (as I found out later) and her Jack Russell terrier simply took me along with them. I must have looked a sight – red faced and tired. And, I asked about the “lake” and was corrected that it was the loch just ahead. They walked me right to its edge. Anne was probably in her seventies, spry and lively. Her dog, Alfie, was a tiny thing. They seemed to have no trouble with this walk while I was huffing and puffing and REALLY regretting I’d ever taken the bus north. We did eventually come to the loch though. They bid me farewell and headed back in the opposite direction.
I went down to the water’s edge. Immediately I sat on a rock, pulled off my boots and socks and put my feet in the ice cold water. Ah, pure relief!
There was no one around. It was a very small lake. A few homes lined its shores to my right, but they were far away from me. I didn’t see any people. So I took off my shirt, dunked it in the water, put it back on and sat shivering and looking out at the water.
After drying off (and thankfully much cooler), I put my boots back on, picked up my backpack and started the walk back to town. I noticed it was all downhill, which was one reason the walk seemed much longer and harder than the girl in the information center led me to believe. But when I got back to town, I checked my watch. Usually I walk a mile in 15 to 20 minutes. A half hour if the going is tough or I’m lolly-gagging. I’d been gone almost three hours! So even taking a half hour out for sitting and cooling off by the lake, that “about a mile” walk had to be about 2 1/2 miles! Which means I’d just hiked between 4 and 5 miles. In the heat. No wonder I was cranky and my legs ached.
Obviously, it was time for a coffee and some afternoon cake.
Took the bus home, retracing the route back through small villages and green, past the distillery (now closed for the day) and to nearby Strathblane. I hobbled up the hill to the farm. Whew! Thank goodness I didn’t have to feed and put away animals. I showered and got into bed by the very reasonable hour of 8 pm. I was probably asleep before my head touched that pillow.