Yesterday was the last in the trilogy of sunny days. Today is what we call dreich
. And it's to stay like that for the next few days at least. Ah well.
So yesterday I decided to go to Aberfoyle
. It's a small village that's popular with hikers (due to its location in the Trossachs
), with old folk (due to the Scottish Wool Centre) and with Bikers (due to the road in). There's not much to Aberfoyle at all. It's essentially a street with a car park at one end, a petrol garage at the other with some cafes and outdoor shops inbetween. It's never too busy because unless you're visiting Aberfoyle or the surrounding areas, there's no reason you'd be there. Unlike Callander (one of the many 'Gateway to the Highlands' we have in Scotland) that can get very crowded at times due to through-traffic from folk heading further north.
When I first got my bike I was there a load of times as it's not too far away but since I started doing longer trips it's been largely forgotten about. Since I was on a time limit due to a trip to the cinema I decided that I'd re-visit the roads that I learned to ride my bike on.
To get there you head through Callander and hang a left a mile afterwards. The road in is phenomenal. I'd almost forgotten just how good it was. When I was last on it there were a few segments where the tarmac quality was poor but I was happy to see that huge swathes of it have been resurfaced. It's as close to a tarmac roller coaster as you'll ever see. Once you're passed the 2 lochs you are met with a road that winds its way up a hill with twists and turns and sees you lose your stomach as you crest hills and then swoop down again on the other side. Did the whole thing with a grin on my face.
The first section takes you along Loch Venacher
. I pulled in at a rest stop that I camped at when I was a teenager. I remember setting up the tent and then diving onto the sleeping bags only to discover the hard way that we'd pitched the tent on top of a huge boulder. A think layer of moss disguised it. No camping and thankfully no cracked ribs today though.
The road beside the loch, while lacking the up and downyness (to erm, coin a phrase) of the latter stages of the road is still fantastic.
My next stop was at Loch Achray
. Just a wee loch but the carpark that I stopped in is a relatively busy one as it's where people park up when they want to climb up Ben Venue
There's nothing pretty in this next one. I took it to illustrate my observational skills. I climbed my way down that pile of rocks you see on the left only to take 3 steps, turn round and notice a perfectly good set of stairs had been provided. D'oh!
Taking those photos, I was standing next to fresh water on marshy ground. As some of you may know, that put me right in the killzone of Scotland's most fearsome predator. The Midge
. I managed to get only a few photos before I had to make a run for it. By the time I got back to the bike they were everywhere. Never got my gear on so quick in my life.
The next part of the road is the spectacular bit. It's called the Duke's Pass. Unlike a lot of roads in Scotland it's not the views that make it so fantastic but the road itself. Like I said earlier; it's a tarmac roller coaster. I couldn't really get any photos of it though as the nature of it makes it disappear round corners or over a peak. I did stop to get a photo of Ben Venue though but I apparently stopped in the middle of a swarm of flies. Which was nice. That meant it was another super quick stop and away.
This is the view of Loch Drunkie from the road.
After fleeing the insects I was heading into Aberfoyle. Duke's pass takes you over the top of some hills and the very final stretch is coming down the side of one. It sees you going round several hairpin bends as you gradually descend down the hill. The road here is not great quality so I was taking it easy.
Into Aberfoyle car park and I sat down with some juice and burger from the van and relaxed. The road that I was taking out of the village is almost straight and certainly lacks the fun factor of the road in. Got me home quicker than if I'd retraced my steps though.
I debated with myself whether I should go over and rip that pole out of the ground to get it out of my way. C'mon Aberfoyle, I'm trying to take pictures here.
And that's another trip done for the day. I'm already looking forward to getting back on that road. Anyway the weather here is to be pretty poor until at least Monday so next lot of photos will have to wait.