A walk in the woods

It is essential that the Queen Elizabeth Forest Drive will be open  for this walk (April to October). The Forest Drive allows cars to journey deep into the forest and to explore Loch Drunkie. Although most of the trees are evergreen,  the deciduous trees on this walk are stunning in any season.

Park at the Visitors’  Lodge (FK8 3SX) in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. To get there make your way to Aberfoyle probably on the A809 and A81. At the end of the village, swing sharp right to climb steeply up on the A821. When you see the signs for GO APE turn in right.  Park as close as you can to the Visitors’ Centre and purchase a £5 ticket per car. This covers parking all day and the £3 entrance to the Forest Drive. The Lodge offers coffee, cakes,  snack meals and toilets.

Set off from the front of the Lodge following a wide gentle track (with white, green, red and blue markers). Look out for the memorial (statue and plaque) to the ‘Lumber-jills’ who worked the forest during two world wars producing the supports for trenches. A little further, take the track on your right with green and orange markers. This good path winds around and down through the forest to a typical highland river, the Allt a’ Mhangan, with peaty waters tumbling over rocks and leading to a magnificent waterfall. After oohing and aahing over this  return a few steps to cross a bridge and make your way to a hide to watch red squirrels quarrelling over peanuts. Coming back across the bridge,  turn right to the waterfall and pick up a path on the left which leads miraculously back to the Visitors’ Lodge! And all this in less than two easy miles!

Back at the cars and drive out of the Visitors’ Centre, turning right up and over the Duke’s Pass. Drive for just over 1.5 miles, climbing steadily and passing a cottage at a sharp corner. Turn right into the Forest Drive (signposted) and follow the instructions in the forest. Ignore the payment meter and follow the drive for about 3 miles. When you are driving along the edge of Loch Drunkie you are almost there. Park at the large carpark where there are toilets.

The second walk begins on a good track besides Loch Drunkie. It winds around the Loch edge and just before the Fishermen’s car-park, a path leads down to a glorious promontory. A second path takes you back on to the forest drive for a short stretch before you dive back into the forest once more to emerge at the dam across the northern end of Loch Drunkie. A new path continues down to the shores of Loch Venachar. Here  turn left and follow the Forest Drive back to the Fishermen’s carpark. From here  retrace your steps to the cars. (Distance, about 4.0 miles).

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