Rowardennan to Drymen – The West Highland Way – Day 5

Rowardennan to Drymen – The West Highland Way – Day 5. 14 miles from the Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel via forest paths and Conic Hill descending to Drymen.

In May, Lady Lynne, our friend Jen and I completed the 96 miles (154Km) West Highland Way walk North to South from Fort William to Milngavie in 6 days. This is our day by day recap of that walk.

Rowardennan to Drymen was our fifth day walking The West Highland Way. Make sure you’ve caught up on the previous 4 days first:-

Rowardennan to Drymen The West Highland Way walking along the shores of Loch Lomond.

Rowardennan to Drymen – Day 5

Folks, thanks for joining me for today’s recap of the Rowardennan to Drymen section of The West Highland Way.

As per the previous 4 posts let’s start off by rating the breakfast at the accomodation we stayed at.

In this case our accomodation the previous night had been The Rowardennan Youth Hostel.

There was a choice of continental or cooked breakfast available.

I had the cooked, whilst Lady Lynne had the continental option.

The breakfasts were both good. But not quite as good as The Drovers. But for a Youth Hostel perfectly adequate!

Maybe I’m just rating the hostel slightly lower as I had to wait for my egg to be cooked. Whilst the rest of the breakfast got cold. First World problems you know….. 😉

Loch Lomond seen from Craigie Fort.

The previous day’s walk from Inverarnan to Rowardennan had covered 14 miles.

Today’s walk from Rowardennan to Drymen would be a similar mileage.

Although by no means as long as the 21 miles we covered on our third day, Inveroran to Inverarnan.

The going alongside Loch Lomond for seven miles until we reached our lunch stop at Balmaha would be mostly up and down.

So still quite a physically challenging day. With lot’s of rain forecast from lunchtime onwards.

We planned to arrive at the Best Western Buchanan Arms Hotel, Drymen at roughly 4pm.

Maybe even giving ourselves enough time to have a spa!

We set off close to 9am and made our way along the beach at Sallochy Bay (2nd photograph above).

Then on reaching Balmaha looked down over a rather wet Loch Lomond from Craigie Fort.

Lynne Lockier climbing up the path on Conic Hill on The West Highland Way from Rowardennan to Drymen.

We bought sandwiches for lunch from the local shop in Balmaha.

Then we sat and ate them as the rain steadily came on heavier and heavier. Just as forecast!

Lady Lynne was certainly a lot more prepared for this type of weather than the 2 girls we passed (above). As we began our climb of Conic Hill.

Talking of Conic Hill. I have never yet had the pleasure of being able to see anything from this hill!

And today was certainly no different.

Mist on the path ascending Conic Hill. Lynne Lockier and Jennifer Lynch in the background.

Fortunately you do not have to actually climb Conic Hill (although it is only 350m).

The West Highland Way route from Rowardennan to Drymen just goes round the north side traversing the slope below the summit.

There is a short detour from the route though if you do want to climb it.

And on a suny day, apparantly the views over Loch Lomond are spectacular!

Today’s view though only allows us visibility of about 20 metres. I was often checking back to ensure Lynne and Jen were still behind me!

Lynne Lockier descending the West Highland Way path on Conic Hill approaching the Burn of Mar.

The continuing rain made descending paths rather challenging. Especially when we approached the Burn of Mar.

I’d joked, when we were eating our lunch in the rain at Balmaha that we should buy some miniatures of booze from the shop.

I didn’t realise the ladies were actually serious when they said “yes” let’s do that.

This would have helped ease the many aches and pains all of us were now experiencing.

Especially now that my Talisker hip flask was slowly running dry. 🙁

View of a river on the West Highland Way from Rowardennan to Drymen.

You just get used to walking in a certain way, on a flat piece of path that doesn’t put any pressure on your sore muscles.

Before all of a sudden, you have to start going downhill using those sore muscles!

There is just no happy medium!

Neil Lockier checking map on the West Highland Way in a felled forest between Rowardennan and Drymen.

After crossing the Burn of Mar, I took stock of where we were on the West Highland Way Map (amazon affiliate link).

I thought we should be coming into High Wood and Garadhban Forest.

It turns out that those forests were recently felled and replanted since the publication of the map.

Phew! I thought I had got us lost!

Looking back on a mist covered Conic Hill on The West Highland Way.

Looking back it seemed that the low cloud might have actually been clearing on Conic Hill!

It was just a blip though.

The rain continued for the majority of the day.

Only easing slightly when we got near to Drymen.

Loch Lomond seen on this section from Rowardennan to Drymen.

The fact the forest had been felled some years ago would have been of benefit to us if it hadn’t been raining.

This picture above would have been much clearer and shown some of the best countryside around the Loch Lomond area,

What I did note on this section from Rowardennan to Drymen was another long distance walk.

We crossed The Rob Roy Way. That’s one saved for future.

I think next year, as I write this we’re planning to do The Cumbria Way.

The Buchanan Arms Hotel, Drymen.

Just after 4pm (on time for once!) and with the rain finally off. We arrived at The Buchanan Arms Hotel, Drymen.

Our accomodation for this evening.

We had booked a large family room. Which we assumed would be similar to the family room we had at the Inveroran Hotel.

With a double bed and two single beds but it turned out to only be a smallish double room. With a double bed and a bed settee.

Fortunately the staff at the hotel were understanding. They quickly sorted out the issue and gave Jen her own double room for the night.

Jen also made use of the Spa and leisure facilities and went for a swim.

Lynne Lockier in the bar at The Buchanan Arms Hotel, Drymen holding a pint of larger.

Of course that was after what had to be done first.

I mean we couldn’t go an evening without our traditional end of day beer could we? 🙂

We also ate dinner at the hotel too and it was really good. I forget what we had on account of being slightly tipsy………

So folks that ends Day 5, Rowardennan to Drymen. A bit of a wet day which meant not many great views to be seen unfortunately.

Check back soon for Drymen to Milngavie, Day 6. Our final day.

If you enjoyed reading this then you might also be interested in reading about our other walking adventures.

Why not check out our 84 miles coast to coast Hadrian’s Wall Path walk across Britain.


  1. Jeff the Chef

    Well it’s no surprise you had to wait for your egg to be cooked. It’s so foggy in some of these pictures, the cook probably couldn’t find the kitchen!

    • Neil

      Ha ha yeah that could have been the reason Jeff. That or the fact that the hostel was full and everyone wanted breakfast at the same time.

  2. David @ Spiced

    Umph, that looks like a wet, muddy, messy day. I feel bad for the other ladies in that photo! Lynne looks like she was well-prepared, but I bet the other ladies are still drying out from that day. Hah! You guys really are troopers, and as poor as the weather was, there is something kinda appealing to being out in the countryside in the rain. Great day to be alone with your thoughts as you walked…and sipped on Talisker! 🙂 That’s my kind of hiking right there! Loved the recap here, Neil. Have a great weekend ahead, my friend!

    • Neil

      It was concerning to see those other ladies as poorly dressed as they were David. It’s easy to get cold and damp out in those hill and catch something more severe. I’m glad they were on their way down instead of on their way up! But yes it was a god day otherwise. Even better when we got to the bar at the other end! 🙂

  3. Shashi at SavorySpin

    Even with such low visibility, your day five trudging looks so hauntingly beautiful! I, personally, love misty, foggy trails – even though all that rain makes hiking any sort of elevation that involves rocks and sand harder. Glad your room issues were sorted out and glad to have followed along on day 5, Neil!

    • Neil

      Thanks Shashi. I think we were getting a little bit fed up from all the rain we’d faced so far. It was dry on the final day, however. Day 6. That I’m just finishing off writting now! 🙂

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