Day 27: Loch Lomond (Sallochy) – Bramaha – Drymen – Forth & Clyde Junction Railway – Balloch

20.9 miles – warm, sunny, virtually cloudless

Morning tranquility

Maybe it was the tranquility of the morning, or the sun on the lush, dewy grass, or the scent of honeysuckle and warm bracken that sent my mind flying homeward (and perhaps even to a mythical youth that never existed). Whatever the reason, my thoughts that beautiful morning were of homecoming, and I realised how incredibly important this aspect of the walk is to me.

Home to Sussex, home to Hastings, home to Rachel… and beneath these, I realised, at the kernel of my walk, is the journey home to myself (perhaps all journeys have a parallel inner meaning).

In coming home, you see, there is a releasing of everything which is not of home, or not of myself. So as the old skin of Cape Wrath, Ben Dreavie, Loch an Nid and the Knoydart Peninsula fall away into the past, so too do the operas I never wrote, the operas I never sung, the sermons I might have preached to shock good Christians, but now never will, and the beer which I never brewed. All these partially-fulfilled dreams fall from me with the advancing miles… as do the opera I did write, the roles I sang with joy, in England and Russia, and Toby the wicked baritone in Serbia! the celebrations of the Eucharist at which I had the great honour to be the celebrant, and the beer I did brew, albeit at home, and which I, rachel, and my friends consumed with deep pleasure. What is left is only that I-ness, stripped of its worldly festoons, and thus in this sense, my homecoming is a kind of a death (because I die to what is not of me). And so each death, I hope, can be viewed as a joyful homecoming.

Emerging from this reverie, I found myself on a Loch Lomond beach with a public toilet. They were offering free sanitary pads and tampons in the gents!

Farewell to Loch Lomond
Perfect serenity
The scent of honeysuckle
Some oaks actually grow on the beaches. Their roots often form into these strange sculptures…
…here a trio of oaks.
A mother duck looks out for her chicks
Last glimpse of this beautiful loch

I turned from the loch and entered another world altogether, of different landscapes and textures, and later suffering with the same old aches in the same old places. But that’s the story I’ll pick up tomorrow. I was diverting from the West highland Way to Balloch to visit my friend, Jason,

Poppies and cornflowers by the roadside south-east of Drymen
The perfect poppy

Comments (5):

  1. Jason

    24 June 2022 at 08:33

    It was so good to see you on this most impressive of journeys, Tobes. A great night, as usual in your company, of beer and strange conversations. I miss them.

    Good to know I can track your progress via this blog. I hope the journey is going well. Enjoy the silence.

  2. Julia Bevan

    26 June 2022 at 10:25

    Lovely reverie, Toby, thank you for sharing x

  3. Guy Harbottle

    26 June 2022 at 22:58

    Here here, Julia!

    Goosanders again.

  4. Dot

    9 July 2022 at 16:20

    Where the poppies are , is where we met you and stopped to talk. I told you that we had passed you the week before as you headed south from fort william and my friend and i were heading into fort william at the end of our WHW walk. Im glad to see you are now down in england and on your way south. An incredible journey and i am following your progress. You are an inspiration. Dot

    • Toby

      10 July 2022 at 11:32

      How Kind of you, Dot!
      It was extraordinary passing you twice several days apart. I passed you last on a lovely day. Much wind and rain since, but Summer has hit at last. Thank you so much for your support.


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