Walk on Cameron Muir, Loch Lomond and Trossachs
A beautiful time to visit Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Although many of our visitors chose the summer months to come and stay at Appletree Cottage in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, winter can have its own special and unique benefits. Not least the fantastic weather which we have been having this year. Yes, we've had a few wild wet and windy days and a reasonable fall of snow in January, but other days have been warm and sunny with clear blue skies.
During the winter months many of our guests at Appletree Cottage are from the UK - particularly Scotland as they know just how fantastic the days can be here in winter and what lovely walking there is to be had in unspoilt countryside.
One of our favourite walks is up to the hill with the TV mast on it. From here you can get fantastic views of Loch Lomond and also of the Campsie Hills. It's a really good time of year to do this walk for two reasons: Firstly it is easier to park in the lay-by at Finnich Toll (about a 5 minute drive from Appletree Cottage) as there are fewer people parking up in winter to explore Finnich Glen (The Devil's Pulpit). Secondly, the cattle have all been taken indoors for the winter so there is much less danger of suddenly coming across a herd of cows demanding to know what you're doing in their field.
Having parked in the lay-by at Finnich Toll we take the gated road to the West. (There is a pedestrian gate which is accessible next to the vehicular gate, the latter of which is padlocked.) From there the road climbs gently, old tarmac giving way to a well-made road recently refurbished to facilitate extraction of the timber from a wood about two miles away. Other than the very occasional timber lorry there is little traffic on this road. Already the views are vast. The Campsie Range to the South east with the distinctive Drumgoyne hill at its western end, at the bottom of which is the excellent and ancient Glengoyne Distillery. The village of Killearn can be seen perched on the hill to the east with its landmark 103 foot high (31.4meters) monument commemorating the celebrated linguist, historian and humanist scholar George Buchanan who lived from 1506-1582)
As we walk along, we notice that the snowdrops are out in full flower (it is the 15th Feb 2019) and the whin (Scottish name for gorse) is starting to bloom, brought on by the recent mild weather.
After about ten minutes we come to a gate on our right. We go through, remembering to bolt it again behind us, although the cattle are indoors there may well be sheep about, and make our way up the track towards the TV mast in the distance.
It is an easy walk up to the mast along the sometimes grassy, sometimes muddy track. There is one other gate to open (and close) on the way.
Once at the top we stop to admire the view. It is a bright but hazy day and although we can easily see Loch Lomond below us with the naked eye, it is not so distinct in the photograph (at the top of this blog)
Looking to the East we can again see the Campsie Hills - though all the more clearly.
The walk to the mast has been across part of Cameron Muir - a wild and lonely place with few visitors. Romantic desolation to some, a nature spotters paradise to others with deer, pheasant, osprey and other birds of prey seeking their dinner.
In the distance we can see a notch in the hill where the famous Whangy rock formation nestles under the cliffs. This unusual site is hugely popular with climbers practicing their sport within easy reach of Glasgow.
Having taken in all the views which were to be viewed we started to make our way back down the track to the road. On a clear day we would usually be able to see the tower blocks of Glasgow peeking out from the gap between the hills.
Descent to the River Carnack
Once back on the road, walking towards Finnich Toll again we notice that the fence between the field to our right hand side (south) and the road has been removed, presumably for replacement. As the cattle which usually inhabit this field were away in their winter quarters, we took the opportunity to explore. Walking due south, we came to a precipitous drop down to the Carnack burn. Following a trail, presumably made by the aforementioned cattle, we descended a long steep bank until we were down by the crystal clear fast flowing water.
Arriving by the river bank as the steep sides of the gorge levelled off to level ground we felt as though we were entering a secret world. Usually this area is the preserve of cattle and is seldom visited by people. Many trees had fallen across or into the water. The sun peeped through the trees shining on clumps of snowdrops and a host of bluebells yet to bloom.
A little further west from where we took these photos the Carnack passes under the A809 road from Drymen to Glasgow, and then enters Finnich Glen better known to some as Devil's Pulpit. This sheer sided gorge has been used as a dramatic location in films such as The Eagle and the Outlander TV series and has been very popular with younger visitors.
More of that in a future blog.
As the sun began to set and the light started to fade we made our way back to the top again and walked back to the car feeling that we had discovered a magical spot we hadn't even known was there. Another excellent afternoon out!