Bernard Humphrey, is a Music Hall Ambassador and earlier this year he walked the Cowal Way in aid of the Music Hall Transformation.
Beranrd tells us: "I am a 68 year old retired mechanical engineer, who formerly worked in the oil industry. Hill walking is now one of my pastimes. I try to walk a long distance trail in Scotland each year. I have previously walked The West Highland Way, The Great Glen Walk, The Skye Trail and the Isle of Arran Coastal Walk. This year I am walking the Cowal Way, and have decided to try to raise funds for causes close to my heart."
Bernard has chronicled his walk here and we felt some people might like to read about it... Thanks so much for your effort and take it away Bernard...
COWAL WAY WALK
"Since retiring I have taken up hillwalking on a more regular basis
As well as being a regularly visiting the Cairngorms National Park, I also try to complete a long distance walk each year. Having completed the West Highland Way, Great Glen Way and Skye Trail in previous years, this year I decided to walk the Cowal Way.
Having been an ambassador for the Music Hall renovation for a number of years, I decided to use the walk as a means of raising funds for the refurbishment.
The Cowal Way ranks as one of Scotland’s most scenic long distance routes, running for around 53 miles from Portavadie to Arrochar along the Cowal Peninsula. Bounded by the Arrochar Mountains, Loch Fyne and the Firth of Clyde, the Cowal peninsula has deep glens and mountain views over open moorland. The walk includes forests, waterfalls, the shores of sea lochs, and hill passes towards the end of the walk at Arrochar.
The walk took me 5 days, spending 6 days at bed and breakfast accommodation along the way. I travelled to the Kames Hotel. Although my walk was to start in Portavadie, due to lack of accommodation there I spent the night in Kames, just outside Tighnabruich.
Day 1 Portavadie to Kames
The morning of my first days walking it was raining, I took a taxi to my starting point at Portavadie It was a short jaunt for the first day of the Cowal Way, just, 6 miles. Started off at the Portavadie ferry slipway. I passed the remains of Asgog castle, passed through Millhouse where there used to be a gunpowder factory, there is a memorial to all the people that were killed there during various explosions, there was also a cannon included in the memorial that was used to test the quality of the gunpowder.
The walk took just 2 1/2 hours, so I was finished by 12.30, some time to spend in the hotel bar!
Day 2 Tighnabruich to Glendaruel
The second day's walking was from Kames/ Tighnabruich to Glendaruel approximately 11 miles. The majority of the walking would be along the banks of Loch Riddoch. The morning was sunny in Kames, but looking up the loch there were some dark clouds. Some of the going along the loch was slow and boggy, although there were some boardwalks and steps to make life a little easier. I came out of the loch side path at Ormidale Lodge. The walking was then on minor and single-track roads. Tonight I am staying at the Water Mill B&B north of Glendaruel in the middle of nowhere, so no chance of a beer tonight! The weather was an improvement today - mostly sunny with just one shower.
Day 3 Glendaruel to Strachur.
A little longer distance today - 15.7 miles and a 360m (1180 ft.) climb. The walk gets progressively more difficult as it goes on, longer distances and more climbing. This is good as it gives you the opportunity to work your way into the walk
Started at around 09.00. About the first 4 miles was quiet roads/tracks. Turned off the track for the 360m climb, which was very gradual and not too strenuous. The rest of the walk was along forest roads, with the last couple of miles into Stachur along quiet roads.
Day 4 Strachur to Lochgoilhead
Weather forecast said sunny and 0% chance of rain and it was right - what a gorgeous day showing the Scottish countryside in all its glory
Started on a quiet road and then a climb on forest tracks.
It was real boggy along Curra Lochan. A fairly steep descent all still boggy, with a great view of Sruth Ban waterfall.
It was then an easy walk in to Lochgoilhead along forest roads.
The best scenery by far today and the weather made it.
Day 5 Lochgoilhead to Arrochar
Woke up to rain, but the weather forecast said that it would be replaced by sunshine by 09.30, and sure enough when I had finished my breakfast the sun was out, so off I set!
The first section was a gradual climb on forest tracks.
This then gave way to a steeper more strenuous section. There was one particular section up through the forest that was very steep and straight up (no meandering path here). This section was so strenuous that there was a bench half way up to rest (I needed an oxygen tent!).
As the forest ran out, I crossed a stile onto the open mountain, but the steep climb continued, the going also got boggier. This is definitely the most strenuous day of the Cowal Way walk. The reward for the effort once I reached the top was a place where mountains surrounded me and there was not a sound - a truly magical place.
It was a steep track down, again on boggy track, but giving way to better track and eventually forest track, which was what I followed for the majority of the long trek in to Arrochar.
I got someone to take a picture of me above Arrochar, I forgot to breathe in and the result of 5 days of cooked breakfasts in the B&B’s and evening real ales are evident!
I really enjoyed the walk, and it was good that I was able to raise money for the Music Hall refurbishment in the process. It may only have been £250 compared with the millions that are needed- but every little helps.
Is there something that you enjoy doing that you could use to help to raise money for the Music Hall? – give it some thought, the folk at the APA are always willing to help with any ideas that you might have."
Thanks so much to Bernard for doing both the walk and the blog, it's been great to hear about the trip! And fantastic to add the money raised into the transformation pot, donations like this make all the difference.