Loch Katrine and Stronachlachar
Its a beautiful sunny day at Appletree Cottage and we decide to go for a drive It takes us about fifteen minutes to drive to Aberfoyle. From Aberfoyle we continue straight ahead along the main street (signposted Inversnaid and Stronachlachar) A very pretty road takes us along the shores of Loch Ard where the water is still as glass. Loch Ard is the source of the River Forth which at this stage is just a medium sized burn. After passing the tiny village if Kinlochard the road enters a pretty birchwood forest and soon we see Loch Chon through the trees with menacing slopes towering above it on the far side. Passing places allow vehicles to pass on the narrow track. Eventually the road straightens out and we leave the forest. To our left is Loch Arklet and we can see right down it to the gap in the hills in the distance where the road descends to Inversnaid on the remote eastern shore of Loch Lomond. Soon we come to a T junction and the first house we've seen for a while. We take the right hand-turn and descend for about two miles to the hamlet of Stronachlachar.
Stronachlachar (pronounced Stronachlachar) is on the shore of Loch Katrine and can be fairly busy in the summer months as it is a favourite drop off point for the pleasure boats on the Loch.
The hamlet boasts a few houses, a former hotel and a fantastic tearoom which has a glass conservatory which extends almost onto the water.
The tearoom (which also does meals) offers a friendly welcome and a huge array of home baking. A huge wood burning stove at one end of the cafe provides abundant heat on this cold winter day
Loch Katrine is the setting for "The Lady of the Lake" written by Sir Walter Scott and hugely popular in 1810. Fittingly the two pleasure boats which ferry passengers around the loch are called "The Sir Walter Scott" and "The Lady of the Lake" However, there are no boats out today. The water is beautiful, still and eerie and a mist shrouds the hills and adds to a sense of mystery. The pier lies empty awaiting the visitors in warmer months.
The cafe is closing and although there had been other customers, we were now the only ones left. We thanked the friendly staff and started to make our way home.
Back at the T junction (the one with the house) we decided to take a quick detour down to Inversnaid. After following the shore of Loch Arklet we passed a small castellated dam at the head of the loch and then commenced our descent towards Inversnaid.
It was beginning to get dark when we reached Inversnaid Hotel - a huge building on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. Only accessible by foot, boat or the road on which we had come the hotel is popular with walkers on the West
Highland Way which crosses its doorstep. Across the loch we can see the lights of Tarbet village nestling in a gap between the hills.
As light was fast disappearing, we decided to make our way home. On the way we again passed Loch Ard, bathed in the fading evening gloaming....