Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Rob Roy Way - Day 2 of 4 'Aberfoyle to Balquhidder'

Day 2 of my Rob Roy Way adventure...




...After a tasty breakfast of sausage & black pudding rolls, I packed up camp leaving the place just as I found it & continued from where I stopped yesterday & head off up the forestry road & over the Menteith Hills looking forward to what the day was going to offer.



The forestry road soon came to an abrupt end & there was a track leading off to the left with a RRW way marker pointing me to follow this path. 



This track was an absolute nightmare, it was really hard going with all the weight my bike was carrying. 
Thick gloopy mud & greasy wet roots making cycling through it pretty much impossible, as soon as I was on the bike I was off it again to push.
The mud was made all the worse by the constant light rain that fell throughout the night.



I was never so glad to get out of the trees & into the open country through a field of sheep, stopping at the burn to wash the thick mud off my boots & more importantly clearing the mud off my bikes gear mechanism & bottom bracket which was making some very gritty noises with each turn of the pedals.


Following a sheep track over to the other side of the field where there was a gate leading back into the Achray Forest & I was hoping it was not going to be like what I just endured !



Thankfully it was not nowhere near as bad, still very rooty but at least it was dry, the track was a lot narrower too with rocky outcrops to push the bike up & over.




Coming to a clearing in the trees in front of me was Lochan Balloch & there was a sign on a post in the middle of it which I could not read as it was in the middle of the water :-/ so I had to take a zoomed photo to be able to see what the sign said !

This would of been a great choice to wild camp, protective cover from the wind on three sides by the tall pine trees, a nice flat grassy area to pitch the tent, plenty of firewood, water to wash & a sign telling you that there's a free meal of brown trout too. 




Continuing along the side of the loch & trees I spotted a big bird of prey working the water back & forth, I couldn't believe my eyes, it was an osprey :-) a first sighting for me I've never saw one in the wild before so I stopped to watch it for a good 15-20 minutes before it flew away over the trees, I was slightly disappointed that it never swooped down & caught a trout but I was still well chuffed to actually see one in the first place & this had to be the highlight of my holiday.
The pictures are not very good as it was hard trying to photograph it at full zoom & moving quickly.

*All British ospreys move south to Africa after the breeding season, with most wintering in Senegal & the Gambia.
*In Britain collectors exterminated ospreys in the early years of the 20th century & the birds didn't return to breed until 1954.
*The returning birds were not re-introduced, but were Scandinavian birds that colonised naturally.
* The returning ospreys had to be carefully guarded for many years to protect them from egg collectors.
*Today there are more than 200 breeding pairs in Scotland & almost all suitable territories are occupied.




So after watching the osprey fly over the trees & out of sight I set off along the track which then joined onto a forestry road to take me downhill to the south eastern corner of  Loch Venachar, the deforestation opened up some brilliant views over the loch & Ben Ledi behind.




The forestry road soon gave way to a nice tar-mac road which felt like I was floating due to being off road for so long.
There was quite a strong wind blowing off the loch but it was in my favour behind me helping me along.


Some highland coo's grazing.


Across this little hump back bridge with the Eas Gobhain water running under it, is an alternative route for those wishing to avoid going into the town of Callander & it rejoins the main RRW route further along at Kilmahog. I on the other hand needed to go into town to get some supplies.






Just before entering Callander the route takes a scenic detour through the Coilhallan wood.


Over the bridge crossing the river Teith & into the town centre to get some water, energy drinks for the bike water bottles & best of all some delicious sausage rolls & steak bakes from Greggs the bakers to eat now for my dinner.
I noticed this on a building in town & couldn't resist taking a photo.






Now fed & watered I left Callander along an old dismantled railway & now the National Cycle Network Route 7.
I love these old dismantled railway tracks, other than the track being removed everything else is pretty much as was.



The scenery changes to a birch wood with the Garbh Uisge river the outflow from Loch Lubnaig further upstream. Garbh Uisge is Gaelic for 'rough water' & this river is very popular with kayakers. 
The river is often informally called the River Leny due to the Falls of Leny where the river crosses the Highland Boundary Fault & because it flows though the Pass of Leny.


An information panel about the mountain Ben Ledi & another lovely smooth road to glide along.
Ben Ledi is a Corbett standing at a height of 2883ft-(879m) & is the highest in the Trossachs area.




Reaching Loch Lubnaig I stopped for a look at the information panels & maps.


Cycling along in my own wee world enjoying what's around me I spotted this strange little door just to the side of the path, being nosey & going by the well trodden path leading to it I'm not the only nosey one wondering what's behind this little door...
...And there was nothing other than someone else's rubbish, very disappointing !
Being an old railway I'm guessing it had something to do with that.




Cycling along the track with Loch Lubnaig to my right which was a nice easy pedal for about 5-6 miles. 



The landscape was forever changing along here & there was always something to catch your eye like the sheer size of some of the pine trees or this tiny little renovated fishing lodge.

Stopping to collect a geocache which is near to this old railway bridge, a bite to eat & to have a little walk about to straighten my back & stretch my legs.



The track eventually leaves the loch side & climbs up a series of hairpin bends into some woods before dropping down again into the village of Strathyre.
I often wonder what's in these old seemingly abandoned sheds that I come across from time to time, nothing but rubbish for the skip or forgotten treasures like an old vintage car, who knows !


Crossing a very bouncy bridge spanning the River Balvag going into Strathyre.



Dun Lubnaig Broch
A broch is a dry-stone twin walled round tower like structure, first built in the Iron Age. In 2004 a group of dry stone wallers set out to build a section of a broch using only tools & techniques used around 2000 years ago. Dun Lubnaig is the result of their efforts & a great effort it is too. It would of been nice to go inside for a look around but there is a fence circling the broch.



Crossing the road & out of the village by an old converted chapel & into the Strathyre Forest which started off ok on clear trails but it soon changed into roots & rocks to climb up & over.



But soon enough I was back onto some good forestry roads which went up & up & up & by now I could feel the burn in my legs & I was starving, but knowing I had only a mile or two to go before I set up camp for the night I pushed on.
At some of the forest clearings I could look down & along the Braes of Balquhidder  & I could see the church in Balquhidder where the grave of Rob Roy MacGregor is located.



I found an ideal camp site although there were no open views it was still a great spot surrounded by big mature pine trees.
I set up the hammock on the edge of an embankment with a big 12ft drop on one side & I hoped that I tied my knots good enough ! I was a bit worried about building a camp fire in here as all around was a thick layer of dry pine needles, so I foraged for some sphagnum moss & in a near by burn for some big flat stones to lay on top of the moss then building a wall around the flat base stones & finally more sphagnum moss around he wall, so hopefully it would contain the fire from spreading. 

So now my camp site is all set up & organised it was time to get some water on the boil for my dinner & tonight's main coarse is Chilli con carne & rice which was superb followed by rice pudding with plums which was absolutely disgusting & ended up going in the rubbish bag :-/


My little private stream next to the camp & after my dinner I stripped down bollock naked & had a good wash which felt great & very energising in the cold water.


A change of clothes after my wash & a little walk around the woods exploring my home for the night, I went back to camp & lit the fire a small contained one just to be on the safe side, made a coffee & read the newspaper while my smoked sausage was cooking for supper.

The perfect end to another perfect day.
In the hammock by 10pm & dead to the world by 5 past.

Well I hope you enjoyed the travels of day 2, day 3 will be up in a day or two titled...

...Rob Roy Way - Day 3 of 4 - 'Balquhidder to Ardeonaig'

Thanks for reading.