A day walking in the Trossachs
Discovering the walking possibilities in the Trossachs revealed within Ronald Turnbull's guidebook to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. It's early February, and the weather forecast is promising. We have the perfect excuse for a trip to Scotland.
Discovering the walking possibilities in the Trossachs revealed within Ronald Turnbull’s guidebook to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is for the residents of the cities in the central lowlands of Scotland a bit like someone from London discovering the walking possibilities of the Chilterns or the South Downs. Ronald provides a range of walking ideas for literally all abilities, within less than an hours drive from the city, with utterly beautiful landscapes and views – not to mention guidance on where to get a good cup of tea at the end!
It’s early February, and the weather forecast is promising. We have the perfect excuse for a trip to Scotland, as our daughter is working in Glasgow for a month and we want to visit her. With an early Sunday morning start from Cumbria, we were in Glasgow just after 9am, and deep into the Trossachs near Aberfoyle by mid morning. The plan was to have a fairly gentle day, and we had spotted a couple of routes with a medium length and difficulty grade, based from the tiny village of Brig o’Turk, nestling between Loch Achray and the reservoir Loch Venachar, with Loch Katrine a little further to the north west. Unfortunately the tiny road from Aberfoyle to Brig o’Turk was closed to traffic due to snow and ice. We ignored the signs for a while and carried on up the road, but eventually it all got a bit too icy for comfort.
We didn’t follow any of Ronald’s routes. But we did have a great time.
The landscape in this area is best described as lumpy, interspersed with lakes of varying sizes from tiny tarns to full sized lochs such as Loch Katrine. There are several hills over 700 metres, but many are lower. Much of the hillsides are forested, densely in places, however numerous forest tracks and paths thread their way in all directions and are fairly wel marked, even with the occasional picnic areas and viewpoints.
We decided to create a circular route taking us steadily downhill along an icy forest track, past the tiny Lochan Reoidhte, then on and down past Loch Drunkie towards Brig o’Turk. The air was cold and still, the lakes frozen with a glassy surface reflecting the winter sun, which provided a glimmer of warmth. Cassie (the Labrador) was having a brilliant time. Having been cooped up in the car for several hours, she couldn’t believe her luck – a walk somewhere new, and snow to play in. Her only problem was that the water wasn’t water. Puzzling.
On reaching the flat farmland just to the south of Brig o’Turk, we threaded our way past a splendid herd of Highland cattle, through a farm, and joy – the little beer mug sign on the map proved to be the Byre, a small pub and restaurant with its own micro brewery. It was open, and yes, the dog was welcome too.
After a delicious warming pub lunch (the sandwiches in my rucksack remained there), we retraced our steps for a kilometre, then headed steeply up a fairly indistinct path through the forest. In places large trees blocked our way, and some of the boggy bits got the better of us, but eventually, with careful navigation we popped out onto the icy road near a panoramic viewpoint. With the clear winter air the view was pretty great. Finally a short walk further uphill to the car brought our walk to its conclusion.
We had enjoyed three or four hours walking, had only seen about seven or eight people (apart from in the pub, which was packed), and had generally had this beautiful forested area to ourselves for most of the day.
Jonathan is Cicerone’s publisher and managing director. He spends far too much time in the office but escapes whenever possible to explore mountains, routes, trails and regions and to collect ideas for the future guides and improving existing ones.View Articles by Jonathan Williams