Very cold weather this February has produced much cold weather. Apart from being good for our apple orchard (the cold kills the unwanted bugs) the weather has produced contrasting views and conditions in the space of a few days.
Last week the Endrick Water burst its banks on the flood plain by Drymen Bridge.
It didn't take long to drain and a few days later the water had gone and was replaced by sunshine and snow...
The flood plain by the bridge, an area which forms part of the show ground for the Drymen Show (one of Scotland's oldest agricultural shows) works very well. Quick filling up after heavy rain and then dispersing - flowing into Loch Lomond - within usually 24 hours
Last week the water must have risen around ten feet (3.3 meters) The skies were dark and everything was wet. This week bright and cheery with a dusting of snow.
Even the cold wet dark days are impressive in this ever changing landscape.
Further down the road near Finnich Toll, not farm from the Devil's Pulpit, the water form a puddle in the road has splashed onto the adjacent fence and trees causing a myriad of little icicles..
Further up the Endrick Water still we found some good icicles on the bank at Gartness....
On a beautiful clear sunny day we drove for a a few minutes up the east side of Loch Lomond from Drymen to the pretty Sallochy Bay for exercise in the fresh air..
Sallochy Bay is just a couple of miles past Milarrochy Bay which we visited in the mist and fog.. (see blog)
Sallochy Bay car park and camp site which is on the West Highland Way is run by the forestry commission and is a small well kept peaceful area on the eastern shore of the loch. Across the water the magnificent Luss hills rise out of the water covered in snow at this time of year.
All the way along the route we come across one secluded small bay after another
Sallochy lies on a strata of slate which runs through from the Aberfoyle Slate Quarries across Loch Lomond to Luss on the western shore and beyond. The small slate pebbles make excellent material for skiing stones across the surface of the water. Many happy hours can be spent doing this!
Another misty January day here at Appletree Cottage and Shandon Farm. So we hop in the car and head up to Milarrochy Bay, just past Balmaha on the east shore of Loch Lomond and about 15 minutes away. The car park is nearly empty and just a handful of people have come to exercise here..
As we arrived the mists were beginning to clear. Looking to the north the sun was beginning to warm the hills
Milarrochy bay is a hugely popular place for swimmers, sunbathers and paddlers in the summer. However hardly a soul was to be seen there today.
The moorings and pontoons at Balmaha were frozen over but the ice nearest the shore had been broken - perhaps by the ducks which seemed very keen to greet us!
After our brief stroll down to the passenger pier it was back in the car and return to Appletree Cottage and Shandon Farm.
A dry but overcast day which gave way to this magnificent sunset. Rushed indoors to get the camera and just made it in time.
Hopefully this means that the weather will be good tomorrow!
We've had a few days of snow here at Appletree Cottage which gives a whole different appearance to the area. Stunning when the sun is out. By way of exercise we went for a walk around Strathendrick Golf Course which is one mile away from Appletree Cottage
Strathendrick Golf Club
This excellent and beautifully maintained nine hole course was created in the early 1900s, by Willie Fernie. As well as some challenging holes it has some of the bet views you will find on a golf course anywhere.
The original distinctive clubhouse is still in position but there was not a should around when we visited on this snowy day apart from a couple of dog walkers in the distance.
A herd of deer occupied the fourth hole - taking their opportunities whilst the course was empty. they quickly legged up to the 5th as we approached.
Sun, snow and blue skies were the order of the day. We appeared to be the first people to cross the bridge over the gorge on the second hole that afternoon.
The course is open to visitors and charges a modest fee for a day ticket. Apart from competition days there is usually plenty of space. It is well worth a visit.
As we walked back to the car we walked along the bank of the Endrick Water which runs along the western side of the course. Ice was beginning to form on the water as the temperature dropped.
After an excellent walk it was back to Shandon Farm and Appletree Cottage for a cup of tea.
On a gorgeous crisp clear sunny January day we take a walk up the famous Whangie.
The Whangie is a bizarre and most unusual rock formation at the eastern end of the Kilpatrick hills. To get to it we drove for ten minutes south from Appletree Cottage and along the A809 until reaching Queen's View car park. From there a track leads up the side of the hill to the site.
Although the path has been made up and maintained - with good styles, gates and walks over the boggiest bits it is recommended that secure stout footwear is worn.
The path follows the north flank of the hill and can be icy in winter.
The walk up to the Whangie takes about 30-40 minutes.
The views on the ascent are fantastic. To the north one can see Loch Lomond with Ben Lomond towering above it on the eastern side whilst the Arrochar Alps in the distance look exciting for further adventure on another day!
To the east there are views down the fourth valley with Killearn and Balfron villages nestling in the dip..
And to the south east lie the Campsie hills..
Arriving at the Whangie
The Whangie arrives quite suddenly and unexpectedly. It is not like any of the hills or geology which surround it.
An unusual geological phenomenon the Whangie is the result of what is called "glacial plucking". This is caused when extreme low temperatures froze slabs of the basalt rock to the glacier. As the glacier moved the rocks stayed attached and were plucked from the hillside, causing a split and lean sheer rock walls rising above either side of the gap.
The Whangie is hugely popular with local climbers due to it being easily accessible. The craggy stable rocks form many faces, gully and chimneys for the climbers to try out, practice and learn their skills.
More about climbing at the Whangie and its various routes can be found here: https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/the_whangie-193
After a good look around we climbed to the trig point at the top of the hill and thence to a cairn on the east. From there the views were panoramic. As well as Loch Lomond and its surrounding hills to the north, the Forth Valley to the east and the Campsie, we could see south to Glasgow with the distant high rise flats on its outskirts clearly visible in the bright sunshine
We followed the crest of the hill on the journey back to the car. This we agreed was preferable to the initial climb route as it was in the sun and less icy - although a little boggy here and there.
As the terrain began to tail off down hill we were treated to an excellent view of Glengoyne Distillery at the foot of Drumgoyne hill.
Glengoyne is one of the few whiskies in Scotland to be made without the use of peat. The water for its superb distillation is taken from the burn which runs down the hillside.
After a great walk we made our way down to Queen's view car park and drove back to Appletree Cottage at Shandon Farm - with perhaps the prospect of a dram of Glengoyne later!
Freezing fog around Appletree Cottage today. I was out taking photos when I came across this pheasant looking a little surprised to see me. The cottage has been empty for some time due to covid and he may have become used to having the run of the place with nobody around to disturb him.
Trees in the fog
The day had a feeling of Sleepy Hollow about it...
Stunningly beautiful Weather here in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
We're looking forward to when visitors are allowed to return to this wonderful area...
Haste ye back!
Fantastic waterfall trail at David Marshall Centre
David Marshall Lodge is just north of Aberfoyle on the famous Duke's Pass road, about fifteen to twenty minutes from Appletree Cottage. Once going through the picturesque village of Aberfoyle turn right, just after the Coop and go up the hill, heading north for about a mile. The David Marshall Centre is on the right.
The David Marshall Lodge Visitor Centre was established in the 1960s as a new brand of outdoor centre. David Marshall was then the chairman of the Carnegie Trust and funds for the trust built the centre. There is a restaurant, a sit out picnic area a red squirrel feeding station and numerous walks through the woods. It is also the location of Go=Ape tree top experience with one of the longest zip wires in the UK - see below...
The Trossachs has been host to many films - a couple of the more memorable are Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the Kenneth More version of the Thirty Nine Steps as well as the most recent version. All inspired by fantastic scenery. As the David Marshall Centre is in an elevated position the views are quite awesome.
From the terrace a well made path leads down the the valley floor where timber walk ways and bridges take you over the boggy bits and the little picturesque bubbling burns,
Throughout the walk there are interesting sculptures here and there. One of the most interesting was a number of human figures made out of mirror which appeared like ghosts in the woods.
Soon and quite suddenly we come upon the waterfall. High and magnificent with a mass of white foaming water.
Throughout the walk there have been good bits for kids. A badger pokes out if its set whilst a couple of roe deer graze in the autumn leaves. There is also a game of water channeling and many sculptures to amuse the young.
As we made our way up the hill back to the David Marshall Centre we noticed people flying through the treetops at some speed. These were visitors to Go Ape - a fantastic tree top experience with high walkways and swings through the upper branches of the mature forest as well as one of the longest and perhaps the most attractive zip wire in the UK.
So at the end of our waterfall walk we jumped back in the car and followed the road to the north end of Dukes Pass where we got this fantastic view down Loch Achray.
Truly fantastic scenery, all so close to Appletree Cottage!
Its Harvest Time at Shandon Farm and Appletree Cottage. The trees have begun dropping their fruit so its time to pick. There are around 350 trees on the farm with 48 varieties of apples including many old Scottish varieties.
The soil in some parts of the farm has quite a high iron content which can mean that the red apples turn out very red! The variety shown here is Discovery.
Once the apples are picked they are juiced, bottled pasteurised and sold locally. One favourite is a variety called Beauty of Moray which is shown here. A green dual purpose apple (cooker and eater) it produces a very clear sharp fruity juice. Once tasted many people come back for more.
Each year we do a pressing entirely of red varieties. This produces quite. a red medium sweet juice. Another very popular choice.
The bottles we sell contain pure apple juice and nothing else - no sweetness, preservatives, salt or pepper. Just pure apple juice.
Once bottled the juice is pasteurised which means a bottle will keep for over a year.
In addition to the apple juices we produce apple jellies and marmalades - again from our own fruit.
Be sure to ask about our produce when you come to stay at Appletree Cottage.