Great Trossachs Path | Day 3
It was a tough day, 13 miles, nearly all of it on tarmac. The route today, around Loch Katrine was stunning. Best of all it got better the further we went.
Eve was awesome as usual and just hiked, head down arse up, motivated to get to her Brownies meeting this evening.
It was another early start with the alarm set for 6.30am.
The weather was predicted to be clear blue sky and sunshine but we had intermittent rain all day. The rain was never bad, but was enough to make you feel cold, especially with the wind whipping over the loch or down the glen.
The drive to the start was wet, with torrential rain the whole way, except for a few minutes. We decided wet weather clothing was going to be essential straight away.
We had anticipated starting to walk in the dark, so we both had head torches in our pockets. We started driving in the pitch dark, but in the 30 minutes it took us to get to the start, the sun had started to come up. We didn’t need our head torches after all.
The car park was deserted on arrival. Just the way we like it. The rain had eased to just a slight drizzle and the wind was gentle. It was cold but not freezing. It was shaping up to be a lovely morning. Even the sky was starting to look magical as the sun rose over the hills and glistened on the loch surface.
We had a quick kiss and cuddle with Sarah before setting off. Sarah was heading straight to work.
We were walking by 8am and it felt brilliant. We all prefer walking in the mornings. It’s quieter and watching the sunrise is always a privilege few people allow themselves.
Eve had jam on toast for breakfast, but I am sure Sarah put something more potent on it. Eve was on a high and didn’t stop talking, laughing, jumping, throwing questions at me and trying to make me laugh.
After walking just 1 mile I was exhausted 😂. I couldn’t keep up with her talking and questions. I felt like I was being assessed, having multiplication and spelling challenges thrown at me with increasing speed and complexity. It was too early! 🤣
Ben Venue that sits imposingly on the opposite banks of the loch looked mighty with its rocky outcrops. With the sun rising behind it made it look truely majestic. Eve kept commenting on how beautiful the sunlight looked as it came over the top and cast its rays onto the loch
The sun was coming up slowing, but the sky was so grey it was struggling to give much light or warmth. It created a sky that was spectacular and the patterns on the loch were mesmerising.
One of the most popular places on this first section is Brochelli Point. A small grassy outcrop with some engraved stones and magnificent views up and down Loch Katrine.
By now we had walked about 3.5 miles. We had read several of the information plaques that are scattered all around Loch Katrine, had a few mini breaks for photographs or to just admire the views and re-adjusted shoes several times.
Finding a bench, we decided to have our first actual break. We ate one of our jam sandwiches (can beat the traditional sandwich fillings) and a graze flapjack. Graze have been amazing and kindly given us a huge box of their tasty flapjacks to help fuel us on our journey. Thank you Graze!
Eve decided to keep walking as we were getting cold. The bench was positioned perfectly to catch the breeze coming off the Loch 😂. The view however was perfect.
The trail today was tarmac, except for a short section of a few hundred metres. The location of the bench was the only section of walking that was not on tarmac.
Walking these few hundred metres after 3.5 miles on tarmac was like walking on springs. It felt like a foot massage. It didn’t last long enough. We were then back on tarmac until the end.
This small section is about the closest you will get to Loch Katrine without a diversion. Most of the trail is through the old forests, which have an eerie but comforting feeling of somehow stepping back in time.
The whole Loch Katrine section is relatively flat and easy. In fact you could, if you wanted, push a wheel chair or a pram the whole way. It would be hard, but doable. The biggest challenge would be the cattle grids, of which there are many.
Further along we passed picnic areas that people clearly use for wild camping.
We also walked past the old burial area for clan McGregor.
The infamous Scottish outlaw Rob Roy McGregor was born and raised at a house (now replaced) on the banks of Loch Katrine. This was also where many other members of the McGregor family lived and are now buried. We walked passed the house with its graveyard when we reached the other side of the Loch this afternoon.
The walking continued like this for a while; reading information plaques, mini breaks and photo stops. Being cold we didn’t have a big break, but many smaller ones.
One thing that was a challenge today was seeing the end point when you are only about 1/3 of the way around on the opposite side of the loch due to Loch Katrine’s shape.
Within a mile or so, you then see the Loch disappear into the distance knowing that you actually have about 8 miles left to walk before reaching Stronlochlochar, the end of today’s section.
Reaching the end point of the Loch and walking over the small bridge over the river that’s feeds into it from Glengyle Water is somehow surreal. Loch Katrine is huge, and is the catchment for hundreds of burns and rivers, but this river we crossed almost feels like the source of the loch.
Incidentally the loch is actually a reservoir that was developed in the 1950s. It used to be much smaller and there are pictures as you walk around showing the loch as it was before.
It made for a great home education discussion with Eve and helped to answer some simple questions as to why there are trees growing out of the middle of the Loch!
Eve walked with power and motivation all the way until the last couple of miles when she started to slow down a bit. I think, like me, the hard surface was starting to take its toll. The cold wind had also picked up as we walked head on into it.
This was by far the hardest section and by now the light was starting to fade and the temperature was beginning to drop.
We walked slowly, holding hands, mostly in silence. Eve, when she did talk, was asking if mum had left work yet and if we would make it to brownies!
The walk into Stronlochlochar was to be honest a relief.
I didn’t want to say it yesterday but we were dreading todays section having to walk on tarmac all day. Getting to brownies would also be a push. Eve really loves brownies!
As we rounded the corner to walk towards that car park we could see Sarah and our pink marshmallow. It was a relief.
Eve got a second wind and ran.
Sarah scooped her up and they hugged, long and hard. It was a beautiful sight.
We popped our bags in the car, got a wee picture of us in our Scottish Autism T-shirts before driving home.
Today we walked 12.9 miles.
I am pleased (and relieved) to say that Eve got to Brownies on time!
We hope you all had a fantastic day and we will see you in the morning.
Tomorrow we plan on reaching Inversnaid on the banks of Loch Lomond. Inversnaid is the end of the Great Trossachs Path.
We are both excited to have completed our first of the 29 Scottish Great Trails in aid of Scottish Autism
Sleep well, I know we will.
Ian, Sarah and Eve