The Rob Roy Way 2013

Day Three: 6th June

Weather: Sunshine all day long

Route: Strathyre to Killin – 13.3 miles with 1120ft of ascent

Not very good grub last night, but it’s a sign of the times that the small village of Strathyre can only support one Inn as the other two have gone bankrupt. But it didn’t spoil our stay and a good breakfast at the B&B put the world to right. Today started with a diversion from the usual Rob Roy Way due to tree harvesting up on the hillside above Strathyre, and although it would have been nice to have had the views from higher up the hillside, the alternative was very pleasant. Mal from the B&B and her dogs guided me along the initial path – very good company and we had a good natter about Strathyre. Mind you as soon as we were in the fields the little Jack Russells let rip, and it wasn’t the sweet smell of gorse that filled the air. Moving on quickly, the diversion which is to become the new part of the Rob Roy Way, was along the valley floor beside the River Barvag. It followed an old farm track and passed through numerous gates, and was quite close to the A84 trunk road – which more or less accompanies the Rob Roy Way all the way to Killin. Down in the valley there are great views towards Meall an t-Seallaidh at 852m – short of a Munro by a couple of hundred feet. There is still some snow patches up on the higher NE facing slopes on the higher mountains. This day was mixed, mostly good with the odd section not so good, and one thing I considered today was that unless some judicious pruning takes place in the coming years, some of the views from the route will disappear due to tree growth. Anyways, a couple of miles of pleasant field walking, nice and soft on my feet and the way was rejoined near the Kingshouse Hotel (not THE Kingshouse Hotel). I think they are renaming this hotel to stop the confusion with The Kingshouse Hotel at Glencoe – it’s being called Mhor 84 I think. Pleasant field walking turned into a walk along the route 7 cycle way once more, close to the road for a while but swung away after a couple of miles - to be honest the road noise isn't that intrusive as there wasn't a lot of traffic around. The initial section of the cycle route beyond Kingshouse is through some mature pines and has a lovely rhythm to it, rolling gently up and down – must be a pleasure to ride along. It was popular today and many bikes swung by, all politely letting me know they were passing. I had a good chat with three of them as they slowed to pass – one a retired structural engineer who told me later that the gradient was probably 1:100ft or the trains couldn’t get up the tracks along Glen Ogle. A new metal span was built across a gap in the old railway line with money raised by a fund to commemorate a music teacher who was killed whilst cycling on the A9 - A good memorial to him, much used and appreciated by those who pass by. The route got a little steeper as the cycle track climbed up towards the old railway line, and the view down over Lochearnhead gets better and better, with plenty of boats bobbling about at the head of Loch Earn – probably why it’s called Lochearnhead. I actually passed a couple who were walking the Rob Roy Way – happy to know there was someone else walking the route. On and on the old Callander to Oban line runs, in a steady ascent to the head of Glen Ogle – I wonder if the TV series ‘Monarch of the Glen’ created Glen Bogle after Glen Ogle? The remnants of the old line can be seen as I made steady progress up the hill – old footings for the rails lined up like gravestones – quite apt really after the demise of this line. Great stone built embankments hold back the encroaching rock formations and where they were a little unstable, engineering brick and cable has been used to build retaining walls to halt the progress of gravity. Across the Glen the eye is drawn to Meall Buidhe and Beinn Leabhain, shapely mountains looking down on the A85 far below. Highlight of the day was the Glen Ogle viaduct built in 1870 and host to my lunch spot in 2013. The line was doomed in the Beeching closures but a rockfall sealed it’s fate as too expensive to run - there is an impressive amount of large stones close to the track at one point, tumbled down from the slopes of Meall Reamhar. Once I’d chuffed my way up the 1:60ft incline and reached the top it was all downhill to Killin. There is a nice Lochan which the track passes by, but it is obscured from view by the pine trees and I had to make a detour for a peek at the water – well worth it though and judging by the old fires seen a very popular picnic spot. Shortly after the Lochan the way crosses over the A85 road (careful not to get mown down as the traffic flies down here) and hallelujah there was a snack bar open – I had a can of Irn-Bru and a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer – when in Rome etc. That was a welcome break, but the route becomes a bit sanitised for a while – great for cyclists but lousy for walkers. My feet clung to the edges of the cycle track seeking out a narrow grass verge – at one point the cycle path is so clean and the pine trees so well pruned that it’s almost something out of a Disney park – which is something I don’t like to see in the UK. Thankfully it didn’t last long and the path veered away from the road and became peaceful once more. At a T-junction there was a sign announcing yet another diversion – 6 weeks work from the 8th April. It was 8 weeks past the date so I thought stuff that and carried on the main route – as it happens I was right as the work is now nearly finished – a horrible wide surface. But I had the pleasure of a peaceful walk along the old railway line all the way to Killin (apart from the new bit) with little interference from anyone who was working – they just told me to carry on ‘wee man’. I had to pass two security fences by walking past the side of them. The last bit of the day was a short walk along the road into Killin, a delightful little village, to finish the walk alongside the Falls of Dochart. Probably my favourite location along the Rob Roy Way especially as I was met at the B&B with a bottle of Peroni and a tub of ice cream - a nice end to the day. Later on we paid a quick visit to see Rob Roy's grave at Balquhidder - interesting old kirk and a few plaques on the walls - one of which was 'Margaret Maclaren of Maclaren' I wonder if she drove one

 photo DSC05343.jpg   No forest track this morning as the FSC were harvesting in the woods above Strathyre

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The Rob Roy Way goes this way - much better along the valley floor

   photo DSC05348.jpg   The River Balvag winds along the valley floodplain, a real pleasure after all the forest rides

   photo DSC05349.jpg   very quiet this morning

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but the route finally straightens out and heads up the valley, close to the main road

  photo DSC05354.jpg   looking back down the valley - about 2 miles to walk from Strathyre to Kingshouse Hotel

   photo DSC05355.jpg   paths veer off that would take you along the valley to Balquhidder eventually

   photo DSC05356.jpg   Rob Roy is along there, but not worth the diversion unless you have transport

   photo DSC05357.jpg   a little rise before reaching Kingshouse

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the national cycle route 7 has these steel marker posts now and again. Not that you can miss the route

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I quite liked the sinuous path through the trees - dappled light in many places, but close to the road

   photo DSC05365.jpg   looking back down the track, Kingshouse is down amongst the trees

   photo DSC05367.jpg   part of the old road forms the cycle track - not great walking, but only a short stretch

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the new bridge over an old viaduct. Restored in memory of Nigel Hester

   photo DSC05373.jpg   good views down from the old railway bed - looking over towards Loch Earn

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neat and tidy over the Kendrum Burn - it's quite close to Lochearnhead here

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straight and true like all old railway lines

   photo DSC05379.jpg   looking down on Lochearnhead, and of course Loch Earn

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up into Glen Ogle the old railway bed is as straight as can be as it enters an estate through a tall fence

   photo DSC05386.jpg   it's a long steady plod for a few miles up the gentle ascent. Views mostly to the east of Meall Buidhe, and the road far below

   photo DSC05388.jpg   old concrete pads stacked up like gravestones

   photo DSC05391.jpg   up to the west is Meall Reamhar

   photo DSC05394.jpg   and the view back down Glen Ogle to Loch Earn

   photo DSC05397.jpg   Meall Buidhe and the A85 far below, with the 'old military road' running up the valley floor

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rockfalls were peppered with lush green growth of ferns and birch

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Glen Oggle viaduct comes into view. A good point to stop for lunch

   photo DSC05406.jpg   My lunch spot - a short walk down from the viaduct

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just before the head of Glen Ogle

   photo DSC05412.jpg   no views from the track of this lovely Lochan Lairig Cheille - a popular picnic spot as the road is close by

   photo DSC05415.jpg   over the main road carefully, this snack van is a welcome sight at Glenoglehead

   photo DSC05418.jpg   over the watershed and the views ahead above Glen Dochart

   photo DSC05421.jpg   all downhill to Killin now on better forestry track - nice grass verge to ease the way

   photo DSC05423.jpg   looking over to the Tarmachan Ridge

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keep out said the sign, sod that said I. Nice rail track all the way to Killin

   photo DSC05430.jpg   off track and walking past the Falls of Dochart

   photo DSC05437.jpg   the bridge took me to my B&B in Killin

   photo DSC05439.jpg   the Clan Macnab burial ground on an island. Locked up to deter people taking a picnic amongst the graves

   photo DSC05441.jpg   after some nosh, a quick drive out to Balquhidder churchyard to see the man himself


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