Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
Click for Northbound hike
River Clyde from the Erskine Bridge, looking west
DS24 Clyde lookinwest from Erskine Bridge
Days S21 - S27                                                                    Central Scotland
Day S24 - Balloch to Renfrew 
Day S23             Hobson hums along happily                 Day S25
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Northbound Home
Monday, March 17, 2008

Time of departure: 9.00 am
Time of arrival: 3.45 pm
Place departed: Balloch, West Dunbarton
Place arrived: Renfrew, Glasgow

Miles: 17
Cum miles: 315.2
Percent complete: 32.5

Bed sign Normandy Hotel, Renfrew **
Cost for bed and breakfast: 45 ($90)
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DS24 Inn
DS31 Border collie
Hobson is happy. He has finished his 17-mile hike, exhausted but in good shape considering his antiquity. He is relaxing in a bath, no less, in a non-smoking room at the Normandy Hotel, sipping an Italian Cabernet-Merlot from a bottle which was included in the discounted room rate that he found on laterooms.com.

The sky is blue. And it's hardly wavered from that all day. Not a drop of rain has dampened his clothes or his spirits. His navigation has been unerring, his stride unbroken, his time-on-trail precisely per his plan, and his mood unaffected by the rivets dropping out of his homemade hiking stick. After all, it's survived 1250 miles now, and there's always duct-tape.

The expansive hotel room radiator is ready to do its drying job on clothes washed in the capacious bath. Even articles like trousers can be washed today, secure in the knowledge that they'll be starchy clean in a couple of hours.

Mostly, however, Hobson is feeling good about progress at last. A decent mileage for two days' running! The route from Balloch started on the bike track to Dunbarton that ran along the banks of the River Leven. He passed the rowing club and the angling club, unfazed by beady-eyed oldies who looked at him suspiciously over their white or grey beards, with dogs at their sides. From time to time, Hobson skipped over to the road when the river looped, thusly avoiding extra miles. Although he was entering the supposedly-blighted Glasgow metropolitan area, it all felt respectably suburban. He passed the first supermarket he'd seen since Fort William, a hundred-odd miles ago.

When a man is happy in his hike, he hums and he sings. Not "A-hiking we will go" but real verse torn from the inner-psyche. Approaching the River Clyde from the north, with his night's accommodation on the south side, Hobson's lyrics reached new heights:

"The River Clyde is mighty and wide,
But my hotel's on the other side".

Then, to add even more meaning:

"The River Clyde is mighty and wide,
Doo-dah, doo-dah,
But my hotel's on the other side,
Doo-dah, doo-dah, deh."

Hobson suppressed some extra lines:

"Goin' to hike all night,
Goin' to hike all day,
I bet that plane's goin' to fly away
Without ol' Daryl May".

He planned to reach the Normandy Hotel long before nightfall, and he did. Sunrise to sunset is about twelve hours now as it's a few days from the equinox of March 21.

To cross the Clyde, Hobson took the Erskine Bridge. It's one of those "super bridges" that towers above whole neighborhoods and is of a height to allow ships beneath. Hobson worried for a while how he was going to access the bridge from his bike track, but it all worked out. Guided by a very old school crossing guard, he found his way to Kilpatrick Station, then the local lawn bowling club, and then the bridge's pedestrian path lay at his feet. After the mile-long crossing, he walked through the new subdivision of Erskine, hung a left near Glasgow airport, crossed a swing bridge, and entered the Normandy Hotel through the automatic, front doors. The doors, the oversized lobby, and the crisp clop-clop of high-heeled receptionists told him he was entering an establishment not usually frequented by hikers. He strode up to the reception desk in his grease-splattered, orange overtrousers and other grungy attire such as his wool hat with its faded old-glory and bald-eagle emblem. Much to his disappointment, his boots didn't leave hiking mud on the polished tile floor.

Ten minutes later, in the bath, Hobson thought: "All I have to do now is do this mileage every day. Then I really will finish before my flight home."

On-time breakfast next morning was not the Normandy's strong point, so it lost a star on Hobson's rating scale when he had to go in search of kitchen staff.

Tuesday is to be a day of complete urban slog as Hobson tries to put Glasgow behind him, and progresses to the southern uplands. We will have to see what Hobson says about urban slog! I shall enjoy reading about it with you.

Day S23                                   2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                      Day S25