BootsnAll Travel Network

Glasgow: Bagging a Munro

Bec and I left Edinburgh at around 8.45pm on Friday night, hiring a car to take us the hour or so west to Glasgow, where we were to stay with Trickey and Sarah. The next day we would be climbing the magnificent Ben Lomond, all 3200 feet of it. Here in Scotland any hill or mountain over 3000 feet is called a munro. And you don’t climb them, you bag them. Don’t ask me why, just trust me when I say we spent the weekend bagging a munro. But before any bagging could take place we had to get to Trickey and Sarah’s apartment.

To find our way, I used a website that, upon entering a departure point and a destination, will plot the most appropriate course for your trip. It’s a brilliant feature that seemingly includes every little detail you will encounter on your drive – but most importantly told us which exit to take off the M8 motorway linking the two cities. The A77. That was us. Follow the M8 around the North of Glasgow, then down the West side of the city, and take the A77 exit. All too easy.

We rounded the city at about 9.45pm, keeping a close watch on the exits. Then, looming up in front of us, was an exit that teased us, mocked us, with its simplicity; the M77.

“What exit does it say we should take?”

“The A77.”

“The A77? There’s no mention of an M77?”


“Shit. What do you reckon?” I asked, as the fork in the road came ever so closer.

“I dunno. The map says A77.”

“Yeah. Maybe it’s the next one. Alright, we’ll keep going for a bit and if we don’t find an A77, then we know that this one is the right one.”

So we drove on. And on just a bit more. No A77. Righto – better turn back, now, how the hell do you do a u-turn on this motorway?

I took the next exit, and veered right so as to cross to the other side of the motorway and get back on going the other way. I came to a roundabout, and started turning, following the sign clearly marked M8. This then lead me directly back to the M8, going exactly the same way as I’d started – the opposite way to where I needed to be going. Hmmm, this wasn’t going to be easy.

At the next exit I finally managed to achieve the turnaround, and headed back towards the M77 exit we had passed a little earlier. It was now getting to around 10pm. We took the M77 exit, and followed our internet-print-out map to then turn right and head south down the A77. This would take us right to Trickey and Sarah’s apartment, which was located just behind an easily recognisable commercial strip. We’d been to their apartment once or twice before, and so recognised the area, however we’d previously been either on the bus, or picked up from the bus station by Trickey.

We drove down the A77 through an area that looked familiar, from our last bus trip to their place, and were both pretty confident we would be there soon. And getting there soon was becoming increasingly important for both of us – and our bladders. Before we left Edinburgh we’d stopped in at a pub for a pint with a friend who was leaving Scotland a few days later. Those pints were now trying desperately to escape, and so we needed a toilet quick smart.

But as we travelled further down this road, the surroundings become more and more unfamiliar, as we got further and further away from the city.

“We’re going the right way, aren’t we?”

“We have to be. We’ve followed the map. And that bit back there was familiar. We have to be.”

But doubts were creeping in. I pulled the car over.

“Can I have a look at that map. Ok, there’s the exit we were meant to take, the A77. But what’s that 77 there….?” One exit after the one we were meant to take was an exit whose description was cut off by the printed page. What was visible was a 77. And half of an M.

“Shit, the M77 was the wrong exit. That means we’re all the bloody way down here somewhere. Trickey and Sarah live way over there. And where the hell is there a bloody toilet?!!”

It was now around 10.15pm. We had a vague idea of where we were, and knew the general direction we needed to head to find Trickey and Sarah’s toilet. That it was now pitch black, and that street signs in Scotland are ridiculously inadequate, and that we’d never been in this part of the city before, and that we had no map of any use, folks, these things were not going to stop us. Cause we needed to piss, and we needed to piss baaaaad.

We took off up the road, turning when we thought we ought to turn.

“Bec, left or right? Left or right?”

“Um, left.”

“Are you sure?.”


“That’s good enough for me.”

Somehow, 15 minutes later, a whole 45 minutes after we should’ve been there, we pulled up in front of Trickey and Sarah’s apartment. Our bladders have never been so relieved.

On Saturday morning, the 6th of August, we drove an hour and a half north of Glasgow to Loch Lomond, and the munro towering just to the East of the loch, Ben Lomond. The hike up and back was expected to take about 5 hours, and we hit the trail in good spirits and with the accompaniment of perfect weather.

The walk up was fantastic, and provided some wonderful views back down over Loch Lomond. The fact that we were walking was also a highlight – one that wasn’t realised until we were overtaken by some lunatic running up the mountain, in nought but a pair of short shorts and some runners. Choosing to run up and down a mountain seems to me like choosing to go to the dentist to perform an unnecessary root canal. 15 minutes after he passed us going up, he came screaming back down the rocky path. I don’t think he could’ve stopped even had he wanted, and how he made it down without breaking an ankle I have no clue.

We made it to the top in about 2 and a half hours, and sat down for a well-earned rest and a sandwich. Definitely a well-earned rest and a sandwich, cause those two and a half hours weren’t a walk in the park my friends. Think of spending two and a half hours on a stairmaster. But, as the cliché goes, it was well worth it. The views now stretched out in all directions, over countless lochs and numerous munros. Hopefully our photos will do it some justice.

After twenty minutes or so at the top, we started making our way back down. This time it was Sarah who was at the mercy of her bladder, and she began racing ahead, thoughts no doubt on the toilet block back at the base of the munro. Bec and I took a more leisurely pace, and two hours later made it back to the car, relieved to finally be able to sit down.

That night, we fired up the, uh, fire, in Trickey and Sarah’s backyard and cooked up a bbq, followed by some roasted marshmallows. Life’s tough, ain’t it.

The final feature of our weekend was on Sunday morning, as we watched the thrilling conclusion to the second Ashes cricket Test between Australia and England. It was the most enthralling two hours of sport I have witnessed, and will surely go down as one of the greatest Test matches to have ever been played.

Cricket is a sport that, like tennis and golf, can produce a tension only achievable in sports where players play not against a clock, and not at the whim of a whistle. Each ball was watched with held breath. Cheers went up as the ball raced to the boundary, sighs of relief came as the ball just missed the outside edge. This was sport as theatre, and we were caught in its drama, sometimes unable to watch – nervously walking around the room, fidgeting, making cups of tea. Upon the final wicket being taken, with Australia just two runs behind England, the air went out of the room. We sat, not really knowing what to do. But eventually we returned to our normal selves, and jumped in the car for the trip back to Edinburgh.

Only after a toilet stop first, though.


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