Eighteen mile Cycle ride around Croftamie
Today we took a fantastic round trip cycle ride from Appletree Cottage. This took us eighteen and a half miles from Appletree Cottage to Caldarvan Station, Wester Cameron, across Cameron Muir to Finnich Toll, down to Blane Bridge then over Barnford Bridge back to Croftamie and eventually Appletree Cottage.
Going in an anti-clockwise direction (heading westwards first of all) along the route gave the impression that we were going more downhill than uphill!
There is little traffic on the road - and just the odd farm vehicle.
After a couple of miles, we come to a T junction. We take the left hand turn signposted Cycle Route 7 and Caldarvan Station.
The views are fantastic as we cycle along. We can see up into the Kilpatrick hills in the south and to the Ben Lomond, the Luss Hills and the Arrochar Alps to the north.
After Caldarvan Station there is a little bit of a climb which takes us up to cross roads on the Auchincarroch Road. The right-hand turn leads to Jamestown and Balloch. Straight ahead leads to Merkins Farm but we take the left hand turn signposted as the John Muir way and a dead-end/ no-through road.
We are now heading east along part of the Auchincarroch Road towards Gallangad Muir and Wester Cameron Farm. After the climb from Caldarvan Station we are on slightly higher ground and the view across to Ben Lomond and the surround hills is fantastic.
We cycle a couple of miles to the end of the tarmac road to Wester Cameron Farm. At the farm we go straight ahead through the gate following the John Muir Way sign.
Soon we part way with the John Muir way as it turns south and ascends further up into the commercial woodland and over the hills towards Carbeth.. As we cross Cameron Muir. it is hard to appreciate that up until the nineteenth century this was farmed. There were at least three farms and a mill dotted around it - all of which now lie in various states of ruin. The first section of rough farm track joins a road recently re-constructed to allow access for forestry vehicles to transport timber from the forest..
Towards the eastern end of Cameron Muir, the road is bordered by pretty Whin (Gorse) bushes in full bloom with their yellow flowers which smell slightly of coconut.
As we descend towards the main road our track forks. We take the right-hand road down past the cottage at Finnich Toll.
At Finnich Toll, which is a T junction we continue straight ahead down the hill signposted Killearn. The many cars parked at the toll belong to the many visitors to the nearby Devil’s Pulpit.
This is the start of about a mile on the main roads.
At the bottom of the hill we cross the single track Blane Bridge with its traffic lights.
At the bottom of the hill, we cross the single-track Blane Bridge with its traffic lights and continue to the second, larger roundabout on the A81. We take the first exit and continue on this main road for about four hundred yards until a track on the left takes us down to the Barnford Bridge over the Endrick Water.
To the right we can see Dalnair Castle peeking through the trees. This recently refurbished pile is now home to several apartment dwellers with recent housing having been constructed in the grounds.
The farm track has now become a tarmac road and joins another single-track road, the Gartness Road, at a T junction. This road forms part of the West Highland Way which runs from Milngavie in the north of Glasgow to Fort William on the west coast. Ninety-six miles long (154km) the route can be quite challenging even in fine weather.
We turn left and follow the West Highland Way for about half a mile until we come to a path running off to the left, formed on the track-bed of a former railway (the Forth and Clyde Junction Railway again).
We follow this path for about a mile until we come to a high bridge across the Endrick Water.
Once over the bridge we can see over to the Luss Hills and Ben Lomond again. The path leads us to Croftamie Village where we cross the main road and continue along until we join the pretty tree-lined single track road leading back to Appletree Cottage
We had an excellent ride in fine weather - and look forward to doing it again soon!
The Famous Campsie Glen, Clachan of Campsie near Appletree Cottage
The famous Campsie Glen is accesses from the hamlet of Clachan of Campsie - about half an hour drive from Appletree Cottage. (Clachan is a Scots word for village or hamlet)
We drove to Strathblane and then took the turning at the roundabout in the village signposted Lenzie and Kirkintilloch. About another ten minutes took us to a turn off to the left signposted Clachan of Campsie, immediately after the village of Haughhead. About five hundred yards up this road we parked and walked into the main square.
The three main businesses in Clachan of Campsie are Sonas Cafe Bistro, the excellent bike shop Wheelcraft and an art gallery. There is also the remains of the very ancient Church of St. Machan dating back to the twelve hundreds when it was reputedly founded adjacent to the grave of the saint.
The bell from the church was mounted in a stone surround in the village but unfortunately disappeared. Although tiny, Clachan of Campsie is the terminus of the X85 bus from Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow.
After a quick snack in Sonas Cafe we set of to explore Campsie Glen. The path starts from the corner of the building low on the right just after the Art Gallery.
As we enter the glen, we see many mountain cyclists descending the rough path on the hillside. With many leaps and jumps they make their hazardous way to the bottom
As we walk up the glen a wide burn (river) flows gently southwards. This is the Endrick Water which makes its way past Strathblane, Croftamie and Drymen to end its journey on the south eastern shore of Loch Lomond.
Soon we come to the first big waterfall. This is popular with swimmers in summer although in early April when we visited the water is a tad cold. Campsie Glen is close to Lennoxtown which was very industrial in the nineteenth century with mining, chemical works and textile printing. A visit to the glen was a relief day out in the country and very popular not just with the local inhabitants but with visitors from Glasgow who would travel there by rail to Campsie Glen railway station on the Aberfoyle line.
In former years a path followed the burn right up to the view point on the B822 high up above. However, rockfalls and fallen trees have blocked the river side path and an alternative route now clings to the hillside higher above.
The Glen is still popular. Here and there is evidence of camp fires and there are many fallen trees. It wouldn't take much to bring this special beauty spot back to its former splendour.
Beautiful Walk near Aberfoyle
A lovely day here at Appletree Cottage and we've heard that a walk up the forestry paths to the Craig of Monievreckie is a good walk so we jump in the car with our clumpity boots on.and drive up the A81 towards Aberfoyle.
At a roundabout just before Aberfoyle, at a hamlet called Braeval, we took the second exit (signposted Port of Menteith, still the A81). Just past Aberfoyle Golf Course on the left there is a turning into the car parking (free). We took the footpath going straight up the hill
The ascent is reasonably steep. Tall pine trees tower majestically towards the sky either side of the path. Although in the wood we are blessed with many sunny patches. It is a beautiful day and the occasional shade is appreciated.
Here and there small burns (streams) cross under the path which is generally well maintained. Apart from the running water and a soft breeze in the trees the only other sound in the forest is birdsong.
As we climbed the views were terrific. At the occasional fire break in the forest, we could see right across to the Campsie Hills in the south. What a fantastic day!
Not long after we had vistas across the Lake of Menteith with its ruined Abbey on Inchmahome island - well worth a visit. It can be accessed by a ferry from Port of Menteith and is a great place to take a picnic and explore.
At the end of the road, we were still below the summit of Craig of Monievreckie. It looked very steep - probably best ascended from the north looking at the map. So we found a nice log and sat down to have sandwiches which we'd bought in Aberfoyle. From our position we could see the Wallace Monument, Stirling Castle and even the high girders of the bridges over the Forth at South Queensferry. A perfect day for such a view.
After lunch it was just a case of following the forestry road back down the hill to the car and Appletree Cottage. An excellent fairly easy walk with fantastic views which we will surely do again.
Springtime at Appletree Self-Catering Cottage for eight in The Trossachs
It is our favourite time of year here at Appletree Cottage. Spring is springing! We've just said goodbye to the snowdrops and now the daffodils are in full bloom and looking magnificent around Appletree Cottage.
For the last few years, we've planted around 300 daffodil bulbs a year over the whole site.
All are up this year and we shall be planting some more next year.
With so much sunny weather recently everything is coming to live - buds on the apple trees and many new plants are peeking their way above the surface for another year. The largest of the rockeries which we created a couple of years ago is well adorned with daffodils whilst in the other rockery primroses are beginning to open
Our young rhododendrons are also in full bud. We hope that this fantastic weather lasts and that sometime over the year you will visit us at Appletree Cottage and see how our garden is growing!