On a lovely clear day we drove north towards Aberfoyle from Appletree Cottage. Following the following the A809 heading north from Croftamie village we joined the A811 and followed it past Drymen to join the A81 towards Aberfoyle.
Once in Aberfoyle, having made use of their handy petrol station we turned right at the end of the main street up the steep hill to Dukes Pass (A821). The pass is a long , steep and winding road over desolate countryside with some spectacular views to enjoy. Near the highest point of the pass a nouse of the left is all that remains of the village which once serviced Aberfoyle Slate Quarries further up the hill on the left (west)
As we began to decend the pass we could see the pointed peak of Ben A’an across the glen with loch Achray glistening below.
At the bottom of the hill, just past Loch Achray hotel on the left we came to a T junction with Loch Katrine to the left and Callendar and Brig O’ Turk to the right. We took the right hand turn and followed the road for a couple of miles to the small village of Brig O’Turk
We turned left at the excellent Brig O’Turk tearoom (featured in the cycling sequence in the 1959 film The 39 Steps starring Kenneth Moore) and continued past the schoolhouse up the hill to a small car park at the end of the road.
From the car park we continued on foot up the remainder of the road (authorised vehicles only) and soon we saw Glen Finglas dam in the distance.
Just at that point, near to some picnic tables, there is an information board concerning the pre-raphaelite artist John Everett Millais portrait of John Ruskin. A path leads down to the burn and the point at which John Ruskin is supposed to have stood for this picture. (there is more on this below and at website: www.lochlomondtrossachs.org.uk/park-stories/glen-finglas-and-a-victorian-scandal)
Ruturning to the road we made our final climb up to the dam. An impressive structure constructed by Glasgow Corporation Waterworks as an extension to the nearby Loch Katrine water scheme which pipes water by gravity feed to the city some thirty four miles (55km) distant. The dam now also produces hydro generated electricity.
From the top of the dam there are great views across Finglas reservoir to the north with small islands dotted here and there. Flocks of birds abound in this remote corner of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
We made our way back to the car and back down the hill towards the village of Brig O’Turk. Nearby the old school and schoolhouse on the opposite side of the road is the famous “Bicycle Tree” . The tree can be seen from the road as can the remains of the bicycle which it has grown around, the rusting handlebars and forks clearly visible.
Back down at the excellent tearoom (which closes for winter) we turned right, back the way we had come. Just as we left the village a sign alerted us to the Byre Inn on the left. Set a little bit off the main road this cosy cottage pub offers excellent food and beers in front of a roaring log fire. More info at www.byreinn.co.uk
The round trip from Appletree Cottage took just under three hours and made for a nice easy winter stroll with a warm welcome at the end of it.
More about that John Ruskin portrait: