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Published: July 12th 2015
The parade of the Marches
Wed 1 July. A long drive took us down through the spectacular Glencoe Pass and the scenery gradually starts to change as we reached the top of Lock Lomond. There was a noticeable increase in traffic especially coaches as we wound our way through the continuous stretch of bends and tight corners. As we approached the southern tip of the Loch we passed the famous Cameron Lodge where Marina and I spent two nights on the occasion of her 50th
birthday. We continued around through the small town of Ballock and a further 11 miles along the eastern shore of the Lock to our next pre booked site which was a small place called Balmaha. The site here is a farm with two fields once for Caravan Club members and one for Camping and Caravanning Club. The site offers an amazing view of Lock Lomond and is very quiet apart from the typical country sounds you’d expect. After setting up and enjoying the views we drove further down this road and came into Balmaha and were pleasantly surprised to find a sheltered moorings and pontoons along with a restaurant come pub visitor centre and café. This is clearly a popular place for
Pipes and Drum competition
walkers and visitors. We stopped for an (expensive) drink before retiring for the night.
The following day we woke to blue skies and decided to re-visit Ballock. We parked in the Ballock Castle country park and the memory of our visit of 2000 immediately came back. The back of the (closed) castle offers fine views across the Loch to Cameron Lodge and the (boating) marina. The main change to the area was the shopping and amusement centre known as Loch Lomond Shores which was being developed when we last visited here. We walked around the John Weir Way (Scottish explorer famous for making walking in Scotland popular) to the Shores where we took lunch and purchased gifts for the grandchildren before returning up a steep bank to the car.
In the evening Marina first noticed a pain in her left foot which was causing some discomfort. We soon realised that she had strained something making that climb earlier in the day. She spent an uncomfortable night and the next morning the swelling continued to come out as we made our way south across the Erskine Bridge and down the M74 to our next stop just outside Annan. This
was where we stopped on our way up nearly 4 weeks ago only this time instead of rain and gale force winds we were welcomed by warm sunshine. We pitched and while Marina rested I drove the 4 miles or so into Annan for some supplies. Annan is preparing for the biggest day of its calendar, known as the Ride of the Marches. The borough of Annan was granted Royal Charter status by King James IV back in the 16th
century because of the support the town gave to the Crown at that time. The tradition of riding around to check the boundaries has remained and developed into a festival which seems to galvanise the whole town. The programme includes Scottish pipes and drums bands competitions as well as a host of events and entertainment and attracts good crowds every year.
The weather held good so we had our first bbq of the holiday but the forecast was for storms. Sure enough around 3 am the wind got up, the rains hit and the first burst of thunder was close and very loud so that the van actually vibrated with it. This went on for about 4 or 5
hours so not much sleep.
Because of Marina’s foot problem we decided to change our plans and make our way home tomorrow.
Having cancelled our planned stops at Carnforth and Tewksbury, we set off quite early (for us) and made good time. However once we hit the M^ around Sandbach the traffic was horrendous and we got held up just half a mile from the services. Like many others we decided to pull over, opened up the van and had a reasonable break with a bite to eat and a cup of tea. After about 45 minutes the traffic had begun to move again so we followed suit and had a reasonable run home, stopping at Strensham before arriving home about 7 pm.
All in all a great break with many memorable moments, people and scenery. You don't go to Scotland for the weather but on the other hand we weren't too bothered by the 'beasties'. Will we go again - almost certainly yes especially with accommodation costs averaging £16.45 per night for the two of us.
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