Category Archives: Within a radius of 30 miles

Kicking up a stank

Starting near Kilmahog the walk heads gently uphill winding its way through woodland and culminating in views over Loch Lubnaig which lies between Ben Ledi and Ben Vorlich.  The path then strikes inland and up the Stank Glen.  After traversing the stream the path returns on the north side of the glen and descends towards Loch Lubnaig (the name derives from the Gaelic word meaning ‘crooked’).  Close to the shoreline the path picks up the course of the old Callander and Oban Railway line for the return journey to the starting point.

If you wish to be more adventurous you may want to return on another occasion to take the path up to Ben Ledi which has featured in many photos from past walks.

Starting Point:
The starting point is at OS Reference NN 607 080 which is the Forestry Commission car park adjacent to Bochastle Hill near Kilmahog.

Getting there:  45 miles/60 minutes
Take your favourite route out of Glasgow to join the M8 towards Edinburgh.  Exit M8 at Junction 13 onto the M80 (Stirling).  Exit M80 onto M9 (Stirling).  Option [1]: exit at Junction 10 onto A84 and *continue through Doune and Callander to Kilmahog and turn left onto A821.  After about 350m turn right onto a gravel roadway flanked by Bochastle Forestry Commission signs.  Option [2]: continue to the roundabout (Junction 11) and take first exit onto B824.  At the T junction turn left (A820) towards Doune.  Continue through Doune and turn right onto A84 and *continue as above.  Parking is free.

The Walk:  The Stank Glen – 10.0 miles
From the north end of the car park take the path/Land Rover Track (LRT) that gently climbs and winds its way through the forest.  Views over Loch Venachar, to the southwest, should be available from the path.  The LRT crests at a height of about 250m from which there should also be good views, to the north, over Loch Lubnaig.  At a crossroads of paths continue onwards (turn left to climb Ben Ledi or *right for a short cut down to the old railway line).  When the LRT joins another LRT turn sharp left and follow this uphill.  *For another shorter option turn right and follow the LRT down to the cycle path by Loch Lubnaig and turn right.  Ignore paths/LRTs on both left and right.  When the path/LRT bends left it is entering Stank Glen with Ben Ledi high up on the left.  Follow the path/LRT deep into the glen (ignoring a short link path on the right that avoids the glen) and as the path turns right to return on the north side of the glen it crosses the Stank Burn and passes Old Shielings.  Ignore the short link path (now on the right) and follow the LRT as it gently descends towards Loch Lubnaig.  Ignore the LRT that comes in from the right and continue in a northerly direction.  The LRT does a 180˚ loop to the right close to Tom Bheithe before finally descending to Loch Lubnaig.  Turn right and join the route of the old Oban and Callander Railway line which is now National Cycle Route 7.  Follow this cycle path for about 5km, passing the Falls of Leny.  Turn right when the cycle paths meets the A821 and follow the path, adjacent to the road, back to the car park entrance and follow the LRT to the parking area.

Callander to Kilmahog Circular

Park wherever you can find a space in Callander.

The Walk: you may find it helpful to purchase a copy of the map of the excellent way-marked paths around Callander from the Tourist Information Centre or downloaded from the website. The ‘coloured dots’ in the notes below refer to this map.

Begin by walking along the Main Street towards Stirling etc. and continuing past the junction for the road up to the Bracklinn Falls on the left and the Roman Camp Hotel on the right. A little further on a sign post directs you down a narrow path (blue dots on the map) which soon opens out, undulates along a low ridge and then makes down to the river. The stretch along the river is lovely. Continue along the very good path, past an information board and platform for fishermen, to where the path is forced inland up a set of steps, across a field and on to the main road at a bus stop. There are pedestrian traffic lights to allow you to continue up a track on to the old railway line. At the junction, you turn right (white markers on the map).

It is possible to opt out here by turning left and walking back along the railway line to Callander.

Turn right here and walk to the last in a row of houses on the right. Here there is a clear path on the left which leads up to the woods and saves a trek to the next corner and turning back. Cross an old wall and join a good path that continues northward, crosses another old wall and joins the golf course. We’re asked to skirt around the Greens. At Green 14 the path is indistinct but keep going and it soon re-emerges through some trees. Keep on the path, around the Greens, sometimes through attractive clumps of trees.

At Green 7, where you’re asked to wait until the bell has been rung, there is a lovely path going off to the right in the direction you’re coming from, i.e. on the right hand side of the path across from the bench and the notice. Follow this as it climbs gently and eventually emerges on the Bracklinn Falls Road where you turn left.

It is possible to opt out here by continuing down the road to the Main Road and turning right into Callander.

Continue down the road (White dots on a yellow road.) At the blue Parking sign, turn right and at the gate take the lower red-and-brown dotted route through the forest. At a viewpoint, a post with a red marker goes up hill, but you go left downhill. There are some very slippery boards here! Avoid! This path comes down to Tulipan Crescent.

It is possible to opt out here by turning left, going through the car park at the back of the Dreadnought Hotel and into the Main Road.

However, you turn right in Tulipan Crescent and go down to cross the main road (A84) and pick up the railway going in the opposite direction (red dots). Follow this old track all the way to Kilmahog where you cross the A821 but take the path immediately on the left rather than continuing to Strathyre. Follow this up to a second car park but continue on through a gate on to an excellent Woodlands Trust path above the road but well below Samson’s Stone. It comes down to the A821, crosses it and makes for the River Leny at Invertrossachs Bridge. Once across, turn left to the car-park at Coilhallon Woods. Here you have a choice:

You can turn left here on the lower path, (along a white un-dotted route) and wander along a lovely path, round a lochan and into Callander Holiday Park. Wander through the site (even in winter) to the gate at the end and down on to the Invertrossachs Road.  The road comes out at a little roundabout where the A81 goes left and up the hill to Callander. It’s much prettier and just about the same distance to turn right and go up the road to just before McLaren High School and Leisure Centre. Turn left and go down to a park, zig-jag on through the park to the pedestrian bridge across the River Leny and then on to the other side and up to the main road.

Alternatively, the main route takes the second track on the left and climbs a little up through the woods with excellent views across the hills. At a sign-posted junction  turn left and come down to a gap in the wall and the A81. Cross and follow the route above.

The Three Lochs Way above Garelochhead

Again, this is the simplest of walks beginning and ending at a (very large) car-park. The full length is about 9 miles but those not going over Tom Buidhe can turn back whenever they feel like it and make for the Hotspots of Helensburgh. It will be obvious from the drive to the starting point that the car does all the hard work on this walk, although ‘The Yankee Road’ which you follow there and back, undulates a bit. If you ignore Faslane below the car park and the Military area on your right, the great advantage of this walk is the (hopefully) wonderful views of Gare Loch, Loch Long and Loch Goil and the even more spectacular views of the Arrochar Alps: Ben Ime, Ben Narnain and Ben Arthur (The Cobbler). There are lots more knobbly bits like Caisteal Dubh and Beinne Raithe. Never mind the names, the overall views are lovely and with easy walking you can actually look at them! The surface is too good at the beginning (metalled), and very good throughout. This is yet another section of Three Lochs Way!

Your turning point is the iconic wooden hut where the men slept who built the “Gurkha Bato”, a road constructed in 2009 by the men of 70 Gurkha Field Support Squadron to provide a route across the dangerously boggy ground just south of the railway underbridge. The new bridge across the Glen Mallan Burn bears a small plaque in memory of Dave Markland who did the early project management work on the “Gurkha Bato”, Sadly, Dave lost his life in Afghanistan not long after.

Park in the ample space on the ‘Yankee Road’ over-looking Gare Loch

For once these notes start by suggesting how NOT to go! If you set your Sat-Nav for Garelochhead it will, quite rightly, take you up Loch Lomondside, ignore the A818 to Helensburgh, but take you on to Shemore to the A817. This new road, built by the Americans when enlarging Coulport, is more direct, more beautiful and lands you right at the start of the walk. Unfortunately it also by-passes two sets of toilets which, since there are no toilets on arrival, are pretty necessary!

So, don’t use your Satnav but take the A82, (Great Western Road) as usual, (Boulevard, Dumbarton, up Loch Lomondside). Beyond the huge roundabout with the flying geese (or whatever?)  at Balloch, continue on up past the Duck Bay Marina and then at the next roundabout, at Arden, turn left on the A818. This good road takes you to a roundabout where you turn left continuing on the A818. You’ll come into Helensburgh, go straight down the hill, across the A814 (the Shore Road) and into the huge pier car-park. Turn right in the car-park to go in front of the Swimming Pool. The toilets are very obvious in front of you, just where you’ll exit back on to the A814.

Exit from the car-park on to the A814 and turn left along the front in Helensburgh. Continue through Shandon etc. to Rhu where there is another toilet block on the seaward side and a small bus bay where you can park. The continue past the Peace Camp on your right and Faslane on your left.

At the roundabout with the High Security entrance to the Naval Base on your left, and Garelochhead and Kilcreggan straight on, DON’T go into Garelochhead. Instead take the third exit on your right, signposted to Arrochar.

At the next roundabout, ignore the road to Arrochar and Coulport on your left and take the right-hand road signposted Balloch with a huge brown Tourist Board sign pointing to Loch Lomond.

Drive up and up and up this road and when you see a sign on your left saying “Cross Roads’ and ‘Danger Military Vehicles Turning’ and a big exclamation mark, slow down and turn left along an open tarmac road. Ignore the first space, go through the gate (I think it’s a gate) and park along the left-hand side looking down on Garelochhead and Loch Long. This is probably the most beautiful car park we’ve ever parked in!

The walk

Simply set off along the metalled track, high above Loch Long and always looking towards the mountains. After about two miles, the tarmac ends at a gate and you’re on to much more pleasant walking, still easy, but with earth beneath your feet. At a pleasant junction, the main path goes straight on but those who would like to climb higher turn right here and go over the side of Tom Buidhe. There are good views from the top –including The Sleeping Warrior on Arran.)

On the way down, DON’T take the path to the right, signposted Arrochar along the Three Lochs Way. This is too far for one day. Instead, turn left and go down very steeply to the unmistakable ‘Gurko Bato’. If you have continued on the LRT, ignoring Tom Buidhe you may turn back here ; or you may go on a little to wave your red flannel petticoats at the trains which are just below you. You can get nearer to the trains where an alternative (and very-muddy-on-the-reccé-path) goes under the railway!

Ayr circular: A brisk walk along the front!

The promenade and cycle track are metalled, and the remainder of the paths are firm and well-beaten. Note that the path around Greenan Castle may be tide-bound if it’s a particularly high tide but there’s a clear inland route either just before the castle, which joins the cycle way, or up and over the castle.   That’s all the bad news! Otherwise, this is a lovely stretch along the sea front, beginning a few yards into ‘The Lang Scots’ Mile’ and making for the most romantic ruin of Greenan Castle. At the very start, Ailsa Craig is just in sight, soon to be hidden from view by the Heads of Ayr. You should see Arran and Holy Isle and you could have lunch at the Burns museum before following a most attractive path down Slaphouse Burn and through Rozelle and Belleisle Parks back to the seafront.

Park either at the Cromwell Road car park at the north (River Ayr) end of the promenade or anywhere along the promenade.  There are toilets in  Pavilion Road at the start of the walk and, in summer, by the Indian Restaurant.

To get there

Begin by taking your favourite route to the Kingston Bridge and the M77 where it’s a straightforward journey down the M77, following the signs to Ayr, to the Prestwick Roundabout, (take the dedicated lane to Ayr on what is now the A77); on through the next roundabout to Whitlett’s Roundabout. Here there are eventually four lanes, two outer (on the left) going on to Stranraer and two going half-way round the roundabout towards the Ayr Town Centre. The two lanes going towards the Town Centre take you down Main Road/ Whitletts Road/King Street but there are parked cars on the inner lane so  keep in the right lane. Go past the new race course, straight on at the traffic lights at Craigie Road and down to a huge roundabout with the A79 with TK Max in the corner. Go straight over here and down King Street to what is actually a T junction but you wind left across the bridge over the River Ayr and along the Sandgate with shops on either side. Continue over an awkward roundabout until you see Wellington Square on your right with a War Memorial Garden and the Council Offices beyond. Go on down past these imposing buildings to the sea front. Just past ‘The Pirates Ship’ on the left are the Pavilion Road toilets. If you don’t need these immediately, turn right along the sea front and then third right, just past the Horizon Hotel. This is Cromwell Street. Turn left into the car park. This may be full on weekdays but emptier on Saturdays and Sundays.

Your walk begins by getting on to the sea front where, depending on where you’ve parked, you’ll pick up the ‘footprint signs’ for ‘The Lang Scots’ Mile’. Greenan Castle looks some distance away but, in fact, it takes no time to reach the ‘new’ bridge across the River Doon.

Try to walk along the sea edge here – maybe even around the castle itself , but if it’s a very high tide, you may have to keep inland. In this case, the path you need goes off to the left just before the path takes to the shore around Greenan castle. An old cottage is clearly visible directly in line with the path.  Within 20 metres you will come to a mesh fence which is easily crossed.  Go straight ahead towards the cottage and after 10 metres the path will be clearly visible.  At the cycle track turn right and you’ll come to the route below.

However, If you’re doing this at low tide, keep walking right around the castle to the little cove where the Deil’s Rocks point out to sea and find a good track going up on the left towards Greenan Farm. Take the track up towards the farm, and then on to the A719, turning right where the cycle track forks. A dog-leg to the left takes you across the road and on to the old railway which runs for 1½ miles through not unattractive countryside. You might want to leave it at the Burns Museum possibly to eat but also for toilets.

After a break here, follow the road for a few yards to regain the old railway to Maybole Road where you turn left, again for a few yards. Just before Slaphouse Burn there’s a wicket gate leading on to a lovely path beside the burn which you follow, across Loaning Road, and on to Rozelle Park. You can divert left here to follow the track down to Rozelle House (with a toilet with a radar key) and pop into a little sculpture park on the left, and duck ponds on the right (just to get full value) before exiting through the main entrance on to Monument Road.

Here you turn right and then left into Belleisle Park. At the main house turn right to follow the path past the temporary café. You’ll come to a fairway. One way or another you have to cross over to the boundary wall beyond. If there are no golfers on the fairway go straight across. If this looks dodgy, turn left on a good track and where the fairway narrows, cross to a path beside the wall which runs back up to the right through a line of trees.

Either way follow the path to the old race course and go right round emerging on Racecourse Road. Continue down to the sea front the toilets at Blackburn Drive. After that, it’s a slog along the promenade to the car!

 

A trip to Anfield

This walk begins another of Scotland’s long distance walks – ‘The River Ayr Way’ which starts at Glenbuck and ends in the town of Ayr. It is actually easier to do the whole walk since transport along the way is inconvenient to put it mildly. If you are doing sections along this linear route you either need two cars; or find an alternative route back; or do as we did walking a ‘lollipop’ with a long ‘stick’ and a very small ‘lollipop! I was assured by at least two people that if we all walked out, turned round  and all walked back  the same way no-one would notice and so it proved.

The walk turned out to be one of the easiest we’ve ever done.  Glenbuck Loch is lovely and surrounded by daffodils, the sadly-over-snowdrops, but with splashes of marsh marigolds and with spindly-legged lambs it was looking spectacular. Note that the beginning of April is lambing and not the best time of year to do this walk. We had the farmer’s permission but anyone doing this walk should perhaps plan to go later in the year. Please also read the ‘Notes’ about walking with sheep!

Park at Glenbuck Loch, which is just into East Ayrshire. Your satnav for ‘Glenbuck’ will take you there – otherwise follow these instructions. To get there, take the M8/A74 motorways south.  YOU MUST COME OFF the M74 ON THE B7078, JUNCTION 11, CLEARLY MARKED FOR HAPPENDON SERVICES. There is no exit south or north from the M74 on to the A70. Take the slip road down to the roundabout and continue straight on towards the Services. You may wish to use the toilets here as there are none at the car park. Take care on exiting as you have to cross a dual carriageway (the old A74) to continue south. At the large roundabout beyond the Services, turn right on to the A70 and go under the motorway towards Ayr. Continue across the next roundabout on the A70. It is now 6½ to Glenbuck, past Douglas and Glespin.

When you (eventually) come to a small loch and then a larger loch on your right and a huge brown ‘Welcome to Ayrshire’ sign with ‘Welcome to East Ayrshire’ in white underneath on your left, begin to slow down. There are a number of black and white chevrons as you go round a series of bends, then a low red brick wall on your left. Now look for a road on the right with a very small notice ‘Glenbuck Loch Fishing’. Turn right up this road.

(If you miss the turn right, continue on until it is safe to turn round and come back. This time the hamlet has a proper sign ‘Glenbuck’ sign and you turn in left.)

Drive up the road, turn right at the ‘Shankley Memorial’ and continue up to an idyllic car-park over-looking Glenbuck Loch. The smaller car park by the Information Board may be full, but if you turn left through the stone gate posts there is a larger car park up and right.

The Walk

The walk starts in a beautiful spot  looking down on Glenbuck Loch where, in addition to the beauty of the scene, there are information boards about ‘The River Ayr Way’ and a ‘Sculpture’ path. It is well worth going down one of the several well-made paths to the loch-side partly to see the rather dubious ‘sculpture’ which marks the beginning of the Way; partly to look at the possibly more attractive Totem Pole of wild life, labelled ‘Muirkirk’; partly to go along the loch edge to the bird hide where the River Ayr way officially starts; but mostly just to admire the loch! If you take the path back up to the top car-park you will have completed a small interesting, and very beautiful  circuit. You might even have the good fortune to meet with the unofficial guides who will be delighted to tell you, and show you photos, of the history of the area.

Then follow the metalled road down the hill to the ‘Memorial to Bill Shankley’ which is worth reading even if you are not a Liverpool supporter!

Carry on taking the obvious road to the left and t the entrance to a farm  with a notice understandably saying ‘No Parking’ take the off-road path between a hedge and a fence which keeps you away from a dangerous bend on the A70. This comes down to the crossing of the A70 and a kissing gate with a River Ayr logo. The path goes off to the right and soon joins the route of the old railway.

The next 3½ miles simply take you through the valley on the disused railway line. The railway track bed makes for easy walking and enjoyment of the views towards the hills on the Ayrshire/Lanarkshire border, including Belt Knowe, Brack Hill, Little Cairn Table and Cairn Table. The route passes numerous ruins, for example the old Glenbuck Railway Station, and evidence of the industrial past of the area, with the huge opencast mine on the other side of the road a reminder that Ayrshire is still a major supplier of coal to Scotland and beyond. Where the path crosses tributaries of the young River Ayr there are sturdy bridges; and where the original railway bridges have been demolished, new paths down and back yp to the railway line have been created.

The route briefly leaves the railway line at Crossflat, heading right down the road for a short distance, then up the minor road towards Aldhouseburn before turning right through a fenced pathway. This route is now a filled-in canal and continues across open countryside before regaining the railway path just before Kames where you might stop for lunch.

On the way back you can take a slightly different route, just for a variety. This also uses an old railway line and takes you to and around Auldhousburn Farm before you regain the outward path. It is the ‘blue track’ on the Information Board at Kames, called the ‘Railway Walk’, To follow it retrace your steps, but where the River Ayr Way turns left, go straight on through a metal gate. This soon brings you to Auldhouseburn farm with large poultry sheds on your right. The path curves round to the left, by-passing the farmhouse itself, and brings you back to the River AyrWay and the route home.

Glenbuck Loch

The Loch was created 1802 by James Finlay for his Catrine Lace Mill and powered turbines there till 1967: the water also powered a dozen other water mills downstream. The dam’s creation largely drained the valley downstream and thus allowed the road to be relocated into the valley floor along the route of the modern A70 and paved the way for the adjacent railway line around 1839. Railway enthusiasts considered the Loch – dissected by the 1830 line – to be an exceptional place to photograph trains with still water either side of the line and many photos, well known to steam buffs exist. The last local train through Glenbuck station and over this dam was in 1964. The first steam railway in Scotland was between Troon & Kilmarnock had iron rails made in Glenbuck Iron works.

For other information about Glenbuck click below:

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenbuck#Glenbuck_Loch

Bill Shankly

 William “Bill” Shankly, OBE (2 September 1913 – 29 September 1981) was a Scottish footballer and manager who is best known for his time as manager of Liverpool. Shankly came from Glenbuck, one of five brothers who played football professionally. He played as a ball-winning right-half and was capped twelve times for Scotland, including seven wartime internationals. He spent one season at Carlisle United before spending the rest of his career at Preston North End, with whom he won the FA Cup in 1938. His playing career was interrupted by his service in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He became a manager after he retired from playing in 1949, returning to Carlisle United. He later managed Grimsby Town, Workington and Huddersfield Town before moving on to become Liverpool manager in December 1959.

Shankly took charge of Liverpool when they were in the Second Division and rebuilt the team into a major force in English and European football. He led Liverpool to the Second Division Championship to gain promotion to the top-flight First Division in 1962, before going on to win three First Division Championships, two FA Cups, four Charity Shields and one UEFA Cup. Shankly announced his surprise retirement from football a few weeks after Liverpool won the 1974 FA Cup Final, having managed the club for fifteen years, and was succeeded by his long-time assistant Bob Paisley. He led the Liverpool team out for the last time at Wembley for the 1974 FA Charity Shield. He died seven years later at the age of 68.

Lochs, Hills and Glens

The Lochs and Glens Hotel, which gives this walk its title, is aptly named since you’ll be passing Lochs Drunkie, Venachar and Achray and looking across and up to at least five hills and mountains listed below.  Originally, this was a glenda-white-cobbled-together route but in fact  good paths and signposts have sprouted everywhere! There’s a totally-new route through to Brig o’ Turk and an alternative path up Ben Venue. Indeed,  it was all getting so boringly unadventurous that an  exciting assault course through the forest has been included The photo on the website was taken from this track. This is a lovely walk among the mountains!

Park in the Ben Venue car-park at Loch Achray. The Postal Code for the Loch Achray Hotel is FK17 8HZ.

To get there take your favourite route to Canniesburn Toll. At Canniesburn Toll take the second exit (avoiding the first exit to Bearsden and Drymen etc) and go round to the exit to Milngavie and the A81. The A81 takes you through the east end of Milngavie (past what was the East Dunbartonshire Council Buildings and is now a hotel); round the roundabout at Homebase, etc. Take the road sign-posted to Strathblane; go past the waterworks; on to Strathblane, Dumgoyne, Gartmore House to the roundabout outside Aberfoyle. Here turn left and continue for a mile into Aberfoyle itself.

You may wish to turn left just before the TIC to use the toilets which are next to the TIC since there are no toilets in the car-park.

Then continue to the end of the main road and swing sharp right and up the steep hill to the Duke’s Pass. Go past the entrance to The David Marshall Lodge, past the entrance and exit to and from the Forest Drive (all of which we have used before) and then down past Loch Drunkie on your right to Loch Achray in front of you. At the bottom of the hill swing left with the road and go past the Loch Achray Lochs and Glens Hotel (hence the title of our walk!) Swing right with the road this time, cross the picturesque bridge over the Achray Water which we will be following for much of our walk. The car-park is sign-posted on the right (50 metres) but is (obviously!) on the left. (Turn right and you’ll be in Loch Achray.) The journey is 30 miles from Glasgow and will take about 1¼ hours including the toilet stop.

At the time of writing Forest Enterprise was charging £3 for a day’s parking.

The Walk

There are two exits at the back of the car-park but take the one on the left with your backs to the loch. There is a slight climb and then the most stupendous views up Ben Venue in front and Loch Achray behind. Continue on an idyllic path till you come to a metalled road complete with signpost! Turn left to the waterworks (marked ‘Private’ but this is for vehicles) which is signposted for Ben Venue and waterworks. (We all drink our water from here!) An easy walk follows along the lovely sparkling Achray Water. At the (signposted) hump-back bridge to Ben Venue,  go left to take this. (Alternatively, you can continue  to and over the dam at Loch Katrine. Initially, this is very easy, but there are stone, leaf-rot-covered, steps up the other side, then an easy path, then a fallen tree which is awkward and wet to get round. You should come down to a very substantial stile. Make sure that you continue forwards to join the path (which goes right up to Bealach nam Bo) and left back down to the hump-back bridge. 

 The hump-backed bridge comes up to join the LRT. At the first junction take the LRT to the right sign-posted Brig o’ Turk and Ben Venue. This follows round, losing the path to Ben Venue but sticking with the path to Brig o’ Turk. Ignore the first LRT to the left which goes nowhere and continue across a sturdy bridge and then on with fine views of Bens A’an, Venue and Vane. (You can argue about this but I think Ben Lomond is out of sight and you’re looking at two out of three of Beinn a’ Chroin, Beinn Chabhair and An Caisteal behind us; and Ben Ledi behind Ben Vane in front.) Ignore a tempting LRT to the left and down to the road and continue  up to an excellent path  down to and across the road, signposted to Brig o’ Turk.

Once across the road you have a choice. At the Forest Drive, and on your left going north, there are two short-cuts: one which goes straight down to Loch Achray and one which takes a slightly longer route. These are easy and well-marked. On your  right  the Forest Drive continues south (marked with a cycle symbol on the map). If you take this YOU MUST FOLLOW YOUR MAP CAREFULLY TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE NOT ON A DEAD END.

However, if you need a little excitement  go straight on! Be warned warned that there are three windfalls at the beginning, close together, which are very easy.  The fourth windfall is slightly more difficult but you can crawl underneath although it may be wet. The fifth windfall, a little further on. The fifth windfall has a crack in the middle which you can squeeze through. The sixth windfall is prickly. You can get round it on either side but it is a little more difficult.

Your reward for all this is the loveliest view of Loch Venachar you’ll ever see. It’s so unexpected. One minute you’re watching you’re feet and the next you’re lost in the view. There’s a lovely path down (which disintegrates a little at the end) and you emerge on a fine LRT part of the Forest Drive). Turn left here and  follow this past the Swiss–looking Loch Achray Farm.

 At the junction of paths,  leave the route to Brig o’ Turk and turn left to continue along Loch Achray on an excellent track. At the junction with the main Forest Drive turn right (actually straight on) down and over a foot bridge which emerges on the road. The footpath at Blar Loisgate appears to have been lost so you need to take to teh road for a short stretch.   However, just after the Loch Achray Hotel but before the bridge over the Achray Water there’s a splendid easy footpath along the Water, round the side of the hotel, on to a LRT on the right which crosses the Achray Water and leads back up to the hump-backed bridge you came over at the start of the walk. Alternatively, you can make your way back along the metalled road,  to the car-park. The total walk is just over 8 miles: 9 if you add-on the dam; 6 if you take the short-cut; five if you also make for the car-park along the road!

Callander Park

This is a cultural/historical gander as you wend your way from the 2nd century (the Antonine Wall) to the 21st (café, toilets, play-park) via two battles of Falkirk (one under William Wallace on 22nd July 1298 and one under Bonnie Prince Charlie on 17th January 1746). And there’s a 19th century chateau built in French Renaissance style complete with family mausoleum and a 19th century coal-owner’s estate. You begin with the Antonine Wall and eventually make for the Union Canal via a circuitous route through Callendar Woods. A detour takes you up into the Bantaskine Estate and the monument to the Battle of Falkirk Muir before you return via Falkirk High station. In addition to the picturesque woods, canal, and attractive views of the Ochils and the House, the walk clocks up more miles on the John Muir Way. You’ll recognise the logo on signposts and lamp posts but don’t try to make sense of this route since it divides for walkers and cyclists and we do a bit of both.

It might help to think of the geographical area in five distinct parts. You begin with the Antonine Wall to the north, under the care of Historic Scotland. The next section including the House, lake, café, play-park etc. has been restored and preserved by Falkirk Council. The third section, Callendar Woods, is part of Forest Enterprise while the Union Canal is maintained by the Forth and Clyde Canal Society. The final section, with its network of paths, is again provided by Falkirk Council although the Woodland Trust has contributed some link paths. All combined you are provided with a circuitous route of 9.5 easy miles. Most of the paths are very firm: one through the woods was muddy in places. There are two tunnels, one long and friendly and the other short and scary! In addition to a myriad mapped paths the locals, usually a boon and a blessing, have trodden down endless short-cuts so it might be wise to keep an eye on where you are!

There are at least two good cop-outs and many smaller escapes . The first is to turn left where you otherwise exit Callendar Woods and make straight for Callendar House. The second is to return via Falkirk High when instead of continuing to the Bantaskine Estate and the Battle of Falkirk Muir Monument. There is plenty to do besides walk. In addition to viewing the House itself (free to visitors), there is a museum with illustrations of and artefacts from the Antonine Wall. There’s a snack bar in the grounds and a café in the House, and two sets of toilets, again with one in the House. And you could even have a go on the chutes in the Play-Park!

Park in the main car-park next to Seaton Place at Callendar House. The postal code FK1 1YR works well with the satnav.

 

This is an easy and fast 26 miles from the church to Callendar House and should take under 45 minutes. (MY SATNAV took me this fast, but longer route, but you could come off on the A803 from the A80 or the A883 from the M876. If you know the way to Junction 6 on the M9 start reading from ‘Junction 6’ below!)

Take the M8 from Glasgow towards Edinburgh and then the M80/A80 off to the left, sign-posted Stirling/Kincardine Bridge etc. Follow what is now a motorway towards Stirling/Kincardine Bridge/Perth for about 20 miles. Just past the road to Denny you’ll see the first signpost for the M876 to Kincardine Bridge/Falkirk/Grangemouth. Keep in the inside lane and you’ll automatically go off on the M876 (while the middle and outer lanes go on to Stirling and Perth). Stay on the M876 for about 6 miles, and when it automatically joins the M9 get into the middle lane. (The inside lane goes off to the two Kincardine Bridges leaving you in the inside lane of the M9 going towards Falkirk and Grangemouth.)

IGNORE the A883 and continue to Junction 6, (with ‘The Kelpies’ on the right-hand side) to take the A905 signposted ‘Callendar House and the Mariners’ Centre’. Get into the right-hand lane of the slip road ready to turn right at the T junction and traffic lights.

Turn right into the middle lane (the dedicated inside lane goes off to Grangemouth) and continue to the large roundabout. Keep in the middle lane to take the third exit (A904) signposted Falkirk/Callendar House etc. Pass the entrance to ‘The Kelpies and the Helix’ on your right and at the next roundabout (Westfield) go straight over ignoring the sign to Callendar House on the left.

At the next junction (with traffic lights and a dedicated left hand lane) turn left on the B8080 Bellsmeadow Road. Go straight over the next roundabout into Estate Avenue and straight on into Callendar House Park. (There are blocks of high rise flats to the left and a car-park to the right.) Park in the car-park beyond the barrier on your right.

The walk

Begin by walking from the car-park down Estate Road, past a golf course on your right and the Club House, Snack Bar and Play Park on the left. Continue on towards the house and you’ll come to a signpost on the left, pointing left, to the ‘Antonine Wall’ with its the earthen ramparts and vallum.

Turn right to walk along the wall but you can see it coming in on the left from the car park where you left the cars and it’s worth pausing to admire it. At the end turn right again (notice the Roman Temple on your left) and come down to a simply stunning view of Callendar House. There’s a John Muir Way (JMW) logo here. Turn left here (yellow and blue posts) to walk firstly along the good path by the lake but soon go down to the path at the water’s edge which is more attractive. At the end of the lake turn right with the path but at the T junction of paths go left up on to the main path again. (There are two signposts here: Forest Enterprise ‘Callendar Woods’ and ‘Callendar Woods Path Network’ Scottish Rights of way Society). On the main path, by the signposts, go right and then take the main path to the right to go past the Mausoleum which is on your left. After the mausoleum you want to be on the path to the south on the left-hand side of the path you’re on. There are two short-cuts. The path above the blue footprint and beside the ‘M’ of mausoleum on the OS map is overgrown but the next path on the left is much easier! This takes you to the junction at the ‘W’ of Wood. Turn left here and then first right. This good path peters out a bit through attractive woods and is fairly muddy in patches. You can skip it if the weather is very poor.

At the end of this path turn left, climb a little to gain good views of the Ochils and the Forth, and at a junction turn right on a clear path. This crosses a drive not marked on the map (a local entrance from Hallglen), but your path continues with a dog-leg to the right and then left. It continues winding through the woods to the main, sign-posted path, down to Woodend Farm. You now join up with the JMW again.

The track by-passes Woodend Farm (on the right) and curves round to go down to a country road. Turn right here and then left on a very pretty path sign-posted to the Union Canal with a JMW logo. There’s a really scary little tunnel under the railway here after which you immediately emerge on the Union Canal.

Turn right and follow the canal bank to the Callendar Tunnel built to hide the barges on the canal from the Forbes family in the House. The tunnel, if you haven’t done it before, is long but well lit and with a broad path beside the canal which is separated by a railing. You would have to try really hard to fall in! You can see the end of the tunnel from the start. It’s good fun!

At the end of the tunnel is a signpost to Falkirk High railway station and a short cut to the car park. The main walk continues along the side of the canal to a bridge signposted to Bantaskine Estate and the Seagull Trust. Cross the bridge and enter the Bantaskine Estate. The Estate was once the home of the famous coal master John Wilson, one of Falkirk’s best known and most influential Victorians.

The path either continues along the opposite side of the canal or climbs a little up past an allotment making for Lionthorne car park. At the end of the allotment is a clear path running along the edge signposted ‘The Battle of Falkirk Muir Monument’. Follow this and at the burn turn left to come to the Monument itself.

Retrace your steps but this time go straight on instead of turning right to the allotment and the way you came up. On the way down towards the canal, at a fork, take the left-hand path and emerge on the canal bank. Continue towards Glasgow but at the first bridge and road, go down to the road, turn right underneath the canal and right again to come up the other side, this time returning to the Edinburgh direction. Go back along the canal bank to the exit to Falkirk High Station.

 Exit to Falkirk High Station and back to Callendar House

There is a signpost on the canal bank pointing to Falkirk High Station just after (or just before) the Callendar Tunnel. If you’re taking the short-cut it will be on your right; if you’re coming back from the full walk it will be on your left. Follow the short path across some shrubby ground and you’re soon at the station. Don’t turn right to go up immediately on to the platform but turn left to go through the tunnel underneath the railway. You emerge by the car park on your left. On the right is a set of steps, or a ramp, going up to the station forecourt. There are JMW logos on the railing showing the way. In the forecourt, with the station on your right, go to the far end where there’s a roundabout with a pillar in the middle. Turn left here (JMW sign) and then immediately right along a ‘No Through Road’ between some bungalows. The JMW sign is on a lamp post on the right. At the end of the road, at a set of traffic lights, turn left and then right into Kemper Avenue. Where the road swings to the left, ;eave it on a path (signposted) into Callendar House estate. Turn left over a pretty bridge and you come up to the Snack bar. Turn left for the cars (note the monument to the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 and right for the toilets, Callendar House etc.

Inverkip Circular

This is an interesting circular walk around Inverkip, which takes in the daff and Kip Glens and makes use of a local path to the Scout Hut at Everton which you should approach on foot only. For this reason the walk described here starts at Inverkip Station which, obviously, you can reach by train or car. There are cafe’s and a hotel nearby.

 

To get there

To get to Inverkip from Glasgow take the tunnel/Kingston Bridge across the Clyde on to the M8 towards Greenock and stay with the motorway. Go straight on at the Langbank roundabout. 2.5 miles from Port Glasgow, a roundabout takes you easily on to the A8, a dual carriageway. At the super-Tesco roundabout, follow the signs to Greenock, getting into the middle lane at the next roundabout still sign-posted Greenock. The simplest way to avoid Greenock town centre is to follow the route you know!

At Inverkip, from the A78 just before the marina, turn off left as signposted to go into the village and park.

Your walk

From the car go to the bridge over the River Daff and take the sign-posted path on the left-hand side of the river up the Daff Glen. At the top, on the road, turn right, and go up to Langhouse. At Langhouse take the path on the left which continues beside the Daff Burn. At ‘The Bell House’ (understandably marked ‘private access’) continue along the track on the right. Continue to the end of the track where you can actually see the Scout hall on the right. Through the gate on the right, there’s a faint path making for the Scout hall which, about 50 yards from a wall, turns suddenly left and comes down to a burn. There’s a path up to a good bridge along the burn and here the  fun begins. Don’t cross the bridge, but step over to the fence on the right which has barbed wire across it. Between the third and fourth posts the barbed wire is tied with yellow string. This can be unknotted, the barbed wire dropped and you can step over the fence. The yellow string and barbed wire should then be replaced. Take the path which leads up the side of the Scout camp.

At the cross-road of paths in the centre of the campsite, with your back to the sea and facing Leapmoor Forest, take the right-hand path (not the apparently obvious concrete path going straight up) but across some rough ground making for what looks like a bridge but is a hefty stile (with a entrance for dogs!). Immediately over is a good, rocky, if muddy and steepish path beside a burn which soon levels out as you reach a LRT at Leapmoor Forest. After taking in the (hopefully) fine views across the Firth, turn left and begin the long slow descent which eventually comes out at the shore. First though, you follow the forest track down past the waterworks and then round Langhill Farm (you’re directed away from the farm itself) and out on to a country road with a sign-post pointing back the way we’ve come. (The country road actually runs from Inverkip to Cornalees if you’re following this on a map.)

Turn left here and then almost immediately right along a tracked marked ‘Private access’. Cross the railway bridge and continue along in the same direction with the railway line on the right out of sight beside you. At a huge railway viaduct slither down (there are steps but I wouldn’t trust them) on to the path below. Turn left along a broad and well-beaten path with the Kip river way below you. At a fork, keep right, following the river. The next bit needs care but emerges at a good bridge across the Kip. Cross the bridge to the little hamlet with the stables, and, just before the A78, turn right as signposted to the Ardgowan Coastal Path. Then go sharp left through the underpass. The Underpass is hidden at this point, it’s just behind a pile of sand about 50 yards on the left from the gate with the horse-shoe handle.

Once under the road, turn left as directed, hidden from the road but going in the same direction. The leads gently out on to Cloch Road, which you cross using the traffic islands provided and go straight into the Ardgowan Estate. Here, take the path down to the right, then right again along a smaller path in about 500 yards, on the first good path and follow this down to North Lodge.

At North Lodge you can now go straight down to the shore where you turn left and keep walking parallel with the shore. There are glorious views on all sides. At the ever-expanding Inverkip Marina, where there is a rope tied to a tree and a notice saying that this is a ‘Family Beach’, you must turn left, inland: the good path goes on to the marina itself.

The path now becomes a muddy lane where the contractors have been working, but you’re soon on a pedestrianized path which leads to a bridge across the River Kip: look for the Daff coming in at the confluence. Go straight over, straight on to the foot bridge, and down into old Inverkip village and your car or the station.

Almondell and Calderwood Country Parks

The Almondell and Calderwood Country Parks have been created from two adjoining estates and amount to just over 200 hundred acres of rivers and woodland hidden to the east of Livingston between the M8 and the A71. The Almondell Estate is exceptionally well-laid out with beaten bark paths, tarmac driveways, bridges, play-areas, toilets and a Visitors’ Centre. The Calderwood Estate is also way-marked and bridged, but is much wilder and rougher. In both, you would never dream that you are a few miles from the capital city and the rivers Almond, Linnhouse and Murieston are spectacular in spate. There are numerous waterfalls, weirs, tumbling rivers and burns, islands and quieter mill lades. It is all exceedingly photogenic and picturesque, not least the various aque-and-via-ducts and bridges of various kinds.

Park in the NORTH CAR PARK of the Almondell and Calderwood Country Park. To get there the postal code for the park is EH52 5PE and worked well with the satnav. Otherwise, getting to the North Car Park is very simple and should take about 40 minutes from Glasgow. Leave Glasgow on the M8 heading east towards Edinburgh, and stay put for about 30 miles until JUNCTION 3 (not Junction 3A which you come to first) where you leave on the left to take the A899 to Livingston (and West Calder). You swing around the slip road, back over the motorway and come to the roundabout with a whalebone structure in the centre. Take the first exit down the main Livingston dual carriageway but after 800 yards take the road to the left sign-posted Pumpherston and Uphall Stations. (There are a pile of Livingstone estate names – ignore these!). You come down to a main road where you turn left and at the next roundabout also take the first exit on to Houston Road and the Houston Industrial Estate. At the traffic lights, turn right on the B8046 (Pumpherston Road) towards the unprepossessing village of Pumpherston. The road on the left beside the Bay Leaf Restaurant,  has been blocked off and is now a dead end. Instead, at the traffic lights in Pumpherston, go straight ahead and take the sign to Almondell and Calderwood Country Parks.

Turn left here left here and continue until you reach s big sign to Broxburn pointing left, but the sign for Almondell and Calderwood Country parks is hidden until you’ve actually turned right! Drive down this single-track country estate road till you come to the Estate Entrance with two traditional pillars and a lodge. You are not allowed to drive any further, but are encouraged to enter the North Car Park on the right.

The walk

When you are booted up and kitted out then make your way to the other side of the large car-park, opposite the car entrance, to a path between a dog-pooh bin on the left and a recycling bin on the right. Follow this made-up path as it curves round and down to the left (ignoring a small local path which goes straight on) to a set of steps down on to the main drive way. At the bottom of the steps you’ll come to a sign-post pointing right down the driveway to the Visitors’ Centre. At the Centre, you can have coffee, pick up a map and other useful information and use the loos.

 After coffee, leave the Visitors’ Centre at the front entrance and turn right, through the garden past the toilet block and turn right again to the Nelson Mandela suspension bridge across the River Almond. A path along a mill lade continues to the left but you strike up the series of wooden steps straight on and up. On our walk these were muddy and slippery but there’s a good hand rail. At the top turn right to follow the course of the river, but high above it. This excellent path meanders through larch woods, with open fields on the left and the river below. By-pass the Nasmyth Bridge and come out on the main drive way to the South Car Park which is currently closed. Turn left to continue along this driveway to the imposing exit/entrance. Turn right for 50 yards along the pavement and then cut back into the estate on a path sign-posted ‘Camps Viaduct 0.4 miles’. (Your path is just by the metalled entrance to some houses – look for the angled sign-post on to the path.) The old railway line takes you through pleasant countryside straight on to the viaduct high above the River Almond. Immediately over the viaduct is a set of steps on the left leading down to a path across a hump-backed bridge (the Dale Bridge) across a mill lade and on to the main estate path along the river. You will see an attractive shelter to the left, and look up to appreciate the remarkable workmanship of the viaduct. If you dog-leg slightly left and right you can pick up a grassy and lovely path alongside the river.

At the Pipe Bridge, turn left across the bridge and then follow the path through a particularly attractive area. There’s a sewage farm on the left but you don’t see much of this on the outward leg. Just before a metal bridge going straight into the village of Mid Calder turn left down a lovely path, and just before it emerges on the road turn right, down some steps, under the road and across a purpose-built metal bridge. Almost immediately you turn left again across another such bridge and you’re into the Calderwood Country Park. There’s an information board and map, and the return path is seen coming in from the right. Go straight on here, following the path west, on the south side of the plateau and high above Linnhouse Water, to a junction of paths. Oakbank is sign-posted to the left and Murieston to the right. Turn right and at the next junction, continue downhill to the Murieston Water (sign-posted Murieston), turning right at the river bank. This muddy but delightful path takes you along an idyllic stretch of the river and then back up to the higher path at the Spottiswood junction and Information Board. Continue straight on here.

At the time of writing, there was a huge puddle but you should follow the general line of the path. It is easy to wander too far into the central part of the plateau which is pathless. Keeping in line with the direction of travel around the puddle will bring you back to the information board at the entrance to the Estate mentioned above. Then cross the first metal bridge, turn right across the second, under the road, up the steps and back along the path round the sewage works to the Pipe Bridge where you have to turn left to cross the bridge and right to take the path home. Go past the hump bridge which brought you down from the Camps viaduct, under the attractive wooden shelter to the aqueduct. You have a choice of routes here – either is pleasant. But to vary the walk cross the river at the aqueduct, walk up the side of the Mill lade, cross the Nasmyth Bridge since you by-passed it in the morning and take the Red Route path alongside the river. This is a lovely stretch, going along the back of the Visitors’ Centre to the path you took in the morning. Turn left here, go up to the driveway and turn right to go back to North Car park and the cars.

The Bracklinn Falls from the River Leny

The first part of this walk is by far the prettiest but the second part stretches the legs and offers variety. You set off on a very lovely path along the River Leny. After the river walk and the railway track there’s a long gentle climb up to the Falls. Thereafter there’s a lovely woodland walk back down into Callander. The Longer route takes you across the meadows to Kilmahog and then climbs a little befoe returning through Coilihan Woods. The walk is as flat as you’ll get in the countryside – but oh so beautiful and with wonderful views. The Tourist Centre will have maps with walks around Callander which match the coloured posts en route.

Park in Callander. As this is a circular walk it doesn’t matter where on the route you park, but there is a charge in each of the two main car parks (down by the River Leny and behind the Dreadnought Hotel). Outwith the height of the tourist season here is ample free parking in Callander: round Callander Kirk, along the Main Street out towards the Roman Camp Hotel, and up and along the disused railway line, for example at Glenartney Road. You could also start at Kilmahog. Just check that wherever you park there there isn’t a time limit.

To get there take your favourite route to Aberfoyle (generally the A81 which you pick up either at Maryhill Road or Canniesburn Toll). The A81 takes you through the east end of Milngavie (past what was the East Dunbartonshire Council Buildings and is about to be a Hotel); round the roundabout at Homebase, etc (sign-posted to Strathblane); past the waterworks; on to Strathblane, Dumgoyne, Gartmore House to the roundabout outside Aberfoyle where you turn right to Callander, still on the A81. Drive past Braeval and the cottages at Lake of Menteith turning sharp left with the A81 and following the signposts to Callander. At the mini-roundabout, just past the McLaren High School and Leisure Centre, turn right to go up the hill into Callander, and right or left at the traffic lights depending on where you’re parking.

The Walk

Since the first part of the walk is the prettiest, you may like to begin the walk by continuing along the Main Street and past the junction for the road up to the Bracklinn Falls on the left and the Roman Camp Hotel on the right. A sign post directs you down a narrow path (blue dots on the map) which soon opens out, undulates along a low ridge between the town houses and the river and then makes down to the river. The stretch along the river is lovely. Pass an information board and platform for fishermen, and continue to where the path is forced inland (just over a planked deep stream) up a set of steps, across a field and on to the main road at a bus stop. There are pedestrian traffic lights to allow you to continue across the road and up a track on to the old railway line. At the junction with the railway line, turn right (white markers on the map).

The next part is very easy walking and very beautiful. Continue with the track past Auchenlaich House (ignore both the path parked ‘Private on the left and the Keltie Bridge Caravan Par on your right) and begin to climb gently but steadily. There are glorious views of Callander and Ben Ledi beyond. At the junction (with a notice saying Bracklinn FC to the left) turn right. This soon emerges on the main Bracklinn Falls path (purple dots on the map). However, it is particularly beautiful to go straight on here (instead of turning right to the Falls) on a new path created when the bridge was replaced. This is very short but brings you along the river upstream from the bridge.

After visiting the Falls get back on to the main path (purple dots) either by re-tracing your steps back the way you came down (gentler) or stepping between two boulders on your left and going straight up some steps (steeper). Continue along to the Bracklinn Falls car park. There have been forest operations along the route which, while untidy, have opened up the views. At the country road going up to Braeleny (through a huge gate), turn left downhill. (White dots on a yellow road.) At the blue Parking sign, turn right and at the gate take the lower red-and-brown dotted route through the forest. At a viewpoint with a bench, a post with a red marker goes up hill, but you go left downhill. There are some very slippery boards here! Avoid! This path comes down to Tulipan Crescent.

The Short Cut

If the weather has been dry for a couple of weeks you could turn right, cross the road, go down to the old railway but turn left around the car park (orange dots on the map). Alternatively, turn left in Tulipan Crescent to pick up the railway going in the opposite direction (red dots) and wiggle your way either along Ancaster Road (red dots) or the old railway (blue dots). (To follow the Ancaster Road route, from Tulipan Crescent follow the old railway track through to the car park and from the far, top corner of the car park go up some steps and across the bridge into Ancaster Road, and turn right.) Either way, you reach the Main Street easily.

The Longer Route

For a longer walk, cross the main road (A84) from Tulipan Crescenet and go straight over to the railway line turning right towards the signal. Follow the railway line towards Kilmahog. (Notice the very clear outline of a Roman camp on the right in the meadows as you near Kilmahog.)

At Kilmahog, cross the country road (A821) and take the off-road-path running parallel to the road on the left. Follow this to another car park on the right but go straight on to pick up the Woodlands’ Trust path contouring round the hillside parallel with the road on the left and under Samson’s Stone on the right. This comes down to the A821 opposite the Invertrossachs Road. Cross the A821 and go down the road towards the bridge. Cross the bridge and turn left. Follow the road to a car-park on the left. The main path (green dots) goes up directly in front of you. However, it is shorter and prettier to take the path on the left and follow this to a wee lochan at Callander Holiday Park. Follow the signs through the park to rejoin the Invertrossachs Road. Take the road to the junction with the A81. You can either cross the River Leny on the road here, or turn right at the roundabout, cross the road and take the path on the left to go down to the pedestrian bridge and up South Church Street.