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!