There are glenda-white-cobbled-together-walks and Mark II glenda-white-cobbled together walks and this one is definitely in the latter category. Indeed, wyou actually walk through Cobleland which adds to the convolutions. But it’s all astonishingly beautiful – even in misly-misty rain. You’re never far from the River Forth sparkling over rushy weeds, tumbling over boulders and overhung by berried trees. The forests are composed of deciduous trees of every hue and, so far, the weather has conspired to produce one of the most astonishing autumns on record. This is just the walk for it.
The total walk is only about 7.5 miles but it seems longer because of the twists and turns and both the kirk with its mortsafes and the Woollen Centre are likely attractions. The route, except for the very last bit, is flat-ish. A climb of Doon Hill isn’t included (you go round the base) but of course you may want to go up. The LRTs are firm underfoot but even they, and especially the paths, can be slippery with rotting leaves. Some of the paths are also joyously muddy but nothing serious.
To get there
Even getting to the car park is a bit of a cobble! You can either opt for the route through Drymen (the A811 which then joins the A81) or take the A81 direct through Milngavie, Strathblane etc. Assuming you can find your way going towards Aberfoyle on what eventually is the A81, take the first road signposted (left off the A81) towards Gartmore Village. Follow this road to the sign directing you right into the village street and go up past the picturesque houses and shops. At the top you come to the back entrance of Gartmore House which is on your right. You turn left with the road (the Cunninghame Graham monument is on your right across the green). The road now curves round sharply to the right and follows the back road towards Cobleland and Aberfoyle. Not far along this road is the signpost on the left to LEMAHAMISH CAR PARK. Unfortunately, the signpost which should face you is missing so you won’t see the signpost for those coming the other way until you’ve past it! If you drive fairly moderately you’ll see the LRT going into the forest.
The first part of the LRT is reasonably good. At a sharp bend follow the blue parking signs to the left and at the cross-tracks follow the signs to the right. This section is not so good and you’ll want to take it very slowly where there are potholes. Follow this track down to the river.
Begin by taking the path along the River Forth – going down to the river and turning left. This idyllic little gander brings you on to the LRT coming in from the left directly from the cars. At an obvious path and sign post for the footbridge, turn right and follow the track through the woods, up over the footbridge across the Forth and down to the cycle track. Counter-intuitively, turn away from the massive sign pointing towards Aberfoyle, going right on the cycle path. Cycle paths are better for conversation than for walking but you soon come to the ‘pill box’ remaining from World War II. At the road, turn right again across the river and then right down into the (closed) Cobleland camp site. Take the track going straight down and along the river and follow this through the camp site. A very good path hugs the river, and opens out at some picnic tables. (If you continue on you’ll come to your car.)
Leave the picnic area by taking the path on the right-hand side of an unnamed (and apparently unmarked) burn. The path heads up through the woods and comes out on the LRT that you drove in on. Turn left here and come back to the cross-tracks which you also drove to. However, now turn right and walk through the forest to ‘Easter Park’ which you ignore, continuing down to where the path around Doon Hill joins. You will see that you can avoid going around Doon Hill by continuing straight on. This will save about ½ mile.
You are going widdershins around Doon Hill and the path is a little harder to find and less well-walked from this ‘southern’ end. It’s not actually marked on the OS map. However, it follows the contours around the hill (which looks high from this point but isn’t!) until it joins the LRT coming in from the northern side. Just before you emerge back on to this LRT a clear path on the left goes up to the top of the hill. However, it’s covered with trees so there are no views but you may want to go up for the fun of it. The base path continues to the junction with the LRT which you left ½ mile before and where there is a sign explaining how the minister of the kirk in Aberfoyle was stolen away by the fairies. You now follow the LRT to the road, cross the bridge over the Forth and turn right along the river path to where a ‘Welcome’ notice encourages you to visit the Woollen Centre.
Back on the riverside walk, follow this to the junction of a contributory burn where you turn left up to the cycle track. Once on the cycle track, turn right to begin the walk back to the car. The first part is fascinating as you see Aberfoyle from a completely different viewpoint. You can also see what the Parish Council has done with devolved monies – a play park, a cycle run and a wild-life area. Well done them! The cycle track continues to the large ‘Aberfoyle’ signpost which you rejected earlier in the day, and back across the bridge to the LRT track leading to the car. If you want to go straight back, turn left here and retrace your steps along the outward route.
However, there is one more lovely bit to do if you’re up for it. Turn right, heading for Easter Park, and a little way along, on your left, is a path leading up to Easter Park. This is the only climb (ish) of the day! At the top, turn left and come down a particularly lovely path through deciduous trees which eventually reaches the outward LRT. Here, turn right and the car will be in sight.