The Rob Roy Way 2013

Day Two: 5th June

Weather: A fine start, clouding over, and a light shower

Route: Aberfoyle to Strathyre - 17.2 miles with 1350ft of ascent

Day two and the day started with bright sun lighting up the waters of Loch Ard. A great view from the B&B window and a perfect breakfast set me up for the long day ahead. Normally I try and plan my long walks to let me in gently with a couple of 12 milers, but today was going to be either 9.5 to Callander or 16 to Strathyre(17.3 on my Satmap gps) and so I girded up the old loins and prepared for a long day. As it happens it all turned out well with one truly exceptional moment – see later. I slapped on the factor 50 again and opted for the minimal approach again, with the addition of my Berghaus Paclite jacket as the forecast was for a light shower or two later on – how right it was – thanks MetOffice. Walking out of Aberfoyle centre to the east I soon turned off road at the medical centre and headed uphill to pass the Doumans centre – educational fun and games outdoor adventure type place. A few dog walkers were around but not many people all day long again – I still haven’t met anyone doing the Rob Roy Way. Lovely dappled light shining down through the trees for a while as I made my way uphill and bluebells aplenty in the verges. I was soon through the Doumans Centre grounds and up onto another forest ride that follows the contours on the flanks of the Menteith Hills – a wide ridge running to the NE. I walked above Aberfoyle Golf course and how tempting it was to have a stroll along the fairways and imagine duffing a few shots here and there. A great setting with a backdrop to the south of the Trossachs, and the shapely Drumgoyne. Once past the golf course the way turned to the NE and entered mature plantation with some huge pines left and right, with breaks giving glimpses of the landscape beyond. There was plenty of birdlife flitting in and out of the trees, and it was very sheltered in amongst them – thankfully it was a little overcast which stopped me from being fried. After a couple of miles I was pleased to see the forest ride disappear to be replaced by a real path, no stone, and worn down by boots and animals, not machinery. Another mile of forest walking, crossing a small burn and some muddy stretches and it was out onto open ground leading me across some rough pasture with a boggy moss away to my right. Through another deer fence gate and I was back in forest again, slightly ascending before starting the long downhill descent all the way to the side of Loch Venachar. The path wound down through the forest, becoming increasingly boggy as I approached the delightful Lochan Allt a’ Chip Dhuibh – a small body of water with plenty of fish apparently, and a good portion of wildfowl. Very peaceful and here I met a gent from Glasgow taking timeout to walk around these wonderful hills to Callander and beyond. We chatted until we reached the end of the Lochan and went our separate ways, and it was back on a forest ride once more. A little further on and the highlight of the day, and in all probability the highlight of the week – was a pair of Pine Martens running uphill on the track towards me. Unfortunately interesting wildlife always runs faster than it takes to get the camera out and focussed – but I did manage to get a shot of the cub galloping after it’s Ma (I assume it was a pup) – there's a blurry picture in the flora and fauna section. That put a smile on my face for the rest of the day, along with the fantastic views down over and across Loch Venacher to Ben Ledi beyond. A great vista now that there has been some substantial harvesting of the plantations – I wish they would do more of this across the country. There was a plastic seat at the top of a metal tower, presumably a fire watch seat, but it looked like a tennis umpires chair. Some lovely small falls tumble down the hillside to run beneath the forest track, fresh water for my water filter – delicious. The way continued down the sandy forest track to reach the East Lodge gateway of the Invertrossachs estate, and back out onto the tarmac road for a couple of miles down to the Gartchonzie Bridge. I met another gent here who was touring Scotland looking at film locations – apparently the bridge was used in ‘The 39 Steps’ – ‘they crashed into that wall and the baddies got away under the bridge’. You learn something useful everyday in this life! The short route would have finished for me in Callander a few miles away, but here I turned to walk over the bridge and cross the Eas Gobhain river up to the main road which would take me around to the route up to Strathyre. To my surprise my chauffeuse was just up the road, so I stopped for a lift down to the Lank Inn at Kilmahog for lunch. I had a ham baguette and I think they had killed ma hog to fill it – not a good idea as I still had 9 miles to go. I was dropped off again where I had finished just below the hillfort of Dunmore – a big place judging by all the earthworks, and a little further along the hillside is ‘Samson’s Putting Stone’ a glacial erratic, perched on the hillside. Plenty of flowering gorse and broom, both yellow and fragrant, as the path contoured around the north to meet the cycle track 7 which took me all the way to Strathyre. A boring bit really along an old railway bed, bits of worn out road and more track – about 6 miles of it. But I found a nice piece of woodland path adjacent to the old railway track that took me along to the Falls of Leny – masses of bluebells and fresh green bracken, with the water a little noisy as it passes over small falls. The main falls were not too spectacular and the better view is probably on the other side of the river. Much of the route is flanked by trees with occasional views through breaks to Loch Lubnaig and the hills beyond. Ahead of me lay the Strathyre Log cabins, all undergoing some renovations, so the ‘quiet’ track was busy with several large trucks flying along the cycleway. Thankfully the track shrunk after the cabins and it was quiet all the way to Strathyre. Not much to see to be honest, except grey clouds gathering to give me a light shower just before I got to the village. The birdlife was interesting though with Blackcaps and Goldwings flitting through the trees – very colourful and unusual for me to see. High hills to the left, trees to the right, and across the Loch plenty of harvesting which will keep me down in the valley tomorrow. I finally reached Strathyre and walked through the village to the B&B – there used to be three pubs/ hotels but it’s now down to one – The Inn at Strathyre. God I hate some pub grub, deep fried everything except the lettuce leaves - I expect it's better when they have more customers for the bistro that was shut. Another good day in Bonny Scotland and hopefully it will rain at night, and not tomorrow – we shall see.

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  the lane beside the medical centre that leads away from Aberfoyle

 photo DSC05237.jpg   up through the Doumans Centre enters the trees ahead

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some more mature trees in the plantations

 photo DSC05242.jpg   up above Aberfoyle golf course with distant views to the Campsie Fells and Ben Lomond

   photo DSC05246.jpg   nice and peaceful along the forest ride

   photo DSC05249.jpg   no harvesting along the route today

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off the track and onto a footpath for a mile and a half - a rare treat

 photo DSC05251.jpg   the route is flanked by the Menteith Hills to the north

   photo DSC05254.jpg   out into open sheep pasture with the moss to the right

   photo DSC05257.jpg   the nicest part of the day down to the Lochan Allt a’ Chip Dhuibh

   photo DSC05258.jpg   it could be boggy passing here, but not too bad today. No midgies either by the Lochan

   photo DSC05260.jpg   and looking back, it's getting overcast

   photo DSC05262.jpg   a short walk through the plantation and it's open views over Loch Venachar

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some delightful small burns flowing down across the hillside

 photo DSC05271.jpg   storm clouds over Ben Ledi, but thankfully they passed before I got around there

   photo DSC05272.jpg   this is where the Pine Martens came bounding up the forest track

   photo DSC05275.jpg   a strange site, presumably a firewatch chair or maybe keeping a lookout for birdlife?...or there's a giant baby roaming the countryside

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all downhill to the lochside - not a lot to see through here

   photo DSC05279.jpg   storm over and sunshine across the water

   photo DSC05284.jpg   Gartchonzie Bridge crosses the Eas Gobhain - used for the '39 steps' film apparently

   photo DSC05290.jpg   across the A821 and the path goes up below the site of Dunmore Fort - the 'Samson's Putting Stone' can be seen up on the hillside

   photo DSC05291.jpg   looking back across the road to the Menteith Hills

   photo DSC05300.jpg   Dunmore Hillfort site and plenty of bluebells on the hillside

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quite a nice path contours around the base of Boschastle Hill

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onto the old rail track just past Kilmahog

   photo DSC05305.jpg   but down to the right you can walk through the woods all the way to the Falls of Leny

   photo DSC05308.jpg   The Falls of Leny - probably impressive when it's in spate

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   overcast now turning to the north on my way to Strathyre - busy along this stretch with traffic

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   I think that is Creag a'Gheata halfway up Loch Lubnaig in the distance....maybe

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   more bluebells as it becomes increasingly overcast

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   plenty of harvesting along the far shores

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   and an old rockfall beneath the high crags of Creag na Comh-sheig

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   the path climbed a little away from the loch as the route ahead will bend around the corner to Strathyre

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   back on the flat and passing by a big old farm close to the end of Loch Lubnaig

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more old railway bridges

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   just before the end of Loch Lubnaig the path climbs up once more on some zigzags

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   across the valley it's raining on my route tomorrow

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arriving at Strathyre is a nice little suspension bridge over the River Balvag - it's nearly raining!


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