A fine day out from Appletree Cottage walking in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
Once we were kitted and booted we made our way to the car park entrance and crossed the road to the beginning of the forest trails.
The path was clear and the signing good. A gentle slope took us up to the first junction – we followed the right hand fork and continued up through this pine and birch woodland. Some very attractive sections as the path disappeared into the trees which were bathed in the winter sunlight.
After a short while there was another fork in the route – again we took the right-hand branch.
Shortly we arrived at our quest. A collection of ruined buildings peeking out from the undergrowth forming the long abandoned settlement of Easter Sallochy.
The OS Names Book of 1858-61 for Stirlingshire lists Easter Sallochy as being a former farmhouse occupied (at that time) by cotters. More information can be found on this website: scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/digital-volumes/ordnance-survey-name-books/stirlingshire-os-name-books-1858-61/stirlingshire-volume-06?display=transcription
The Forestry Commission website mentioned earlier tells us that these buildings would house women and children working seasonally at coppicing the wood and making charcoal.
One of the buildings (presumably the original farmhouse) had the remains of a fireplace at each end. All of the buildings seemed to be danger of being overwhelmed by surrounding vegetation although periodic efforts are made to clear away the brambles and bracken and preserve what remains of the former farm steading.
The Ordinance Survey 6 inches to the mile map of 1863 shows a road running north to south on the eastern side of Easter Sallochy. Little trace of that road can be seen now but the remains of the dry-stone field wall which runs in line with where the road would have been can be glimpsed through the birch trees.
After a good inspection of the ruins we continued following the track which, after a few hundred yards popped out unexpectedly out of the woods onto a forestry road.
We turned right onto this road and followed it up hill.
Further up the hill
The road is well made and of gentle gradient. We continued on upwards past first one attractively flooded former quarry on the right hand side followed shortly afterwards by another on the left hand side of the road.
On the other side of the road at this second quarry is a marker post with a red band around it indicating the start of the path leading up to the top a nearby crag.
We followed this path – muddy at times – the short distance to its conclusion. There, on top of this rocky outcrop we enjoyed stunning views down Loch Lomond to the south. The islands in the Loch were clearly defined. The village of Luss visible across the water nestling at the foot of the snow capped Luss Hills. Sallochy peninsula down below us stretching out into the loch to Ross Point at its western extremity.
With the sun beginning to lower towards the distant hills we made our way back down the mountainside.
Allt a Mhuillin burn
On the forestry road and shortly after the two flooded quarries which we had passed earlier there was a marker post with a dark blue/black band on it on the right-hand side of the road as we descended. We left the road at this point and followed the grassy track which ran steeply downhill.
This soon became one of the prettiest parts of our walk as the path soon ran alongside a bubbling brook - Allt a Mhuilinn or Mill Burn. No sign of a mill but lots of little waterfalls, bridges to cross and peace and beauty.
Eventually we completed the circle by arriving at what had been the first fork in our journey. It was a short walk from here back to the car at Sallochy bay. Our walk had taken about three hours and included many stops to enjoy and study our surroundings. Although this was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we had passed not a single person in our entire journey after leaving the main road. What a brilliant day!
Once back in the car, we headed back down the loch to Appletree Cottage