walkhighlands

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The Rob Roy Way

The Rob Roy Way


Postby ramblingpete » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:12 pm

Route description: Rob Roy Way

Date walked: 03/06/2013

Time taken: 7 days

Distance: 128 km

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Just finished this walk last month and was lucky to have 7 dry days. Mixed thoughts on the route but overall happy with the way it went. Sorry if the posts are a bit long winded, and added a few pictures.....well quite a lot really. Let me know if it slows down things and I'll remove a few.

Hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed the walk.

Spot the Pine Marten on day 2 - hint - it's a poor picture :lol:
Last edited by ramblingpete on Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ramblingpete
Walker
 
Posts: 61
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Joined: Nov 29, 2011
Location: Manchester

Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ramblingpete » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:13 pm

Day One: 4th June
Weather: Sunshine most of the way, cloudy later - about 21deg
Route: Drymen to Aberfoyle - 12.8 miles with 775ft of ascent

Day one dawned, my bed was too short, and my toes were poking out of the duvet - which was a shame as the rest of the B&B was just fine. A lightish breakfast was quaffed down
with quantities of tea, and a bottle of pink grapefruit juice – very refreshing and it’s always best to start the day hydrated, saving me carrying the extra weight of too much water. I pinched a sausage from my breakfast for my lunch, wrapped it in foil and that was enough for my lunch. Today was a shorter walk of around 11.5 miles with an added 1 1/4 miles to my B&B just past Aberfoyle. The weather forecast was good with no chance of rain, so I reduced my kit to the minimum for my bumbag and slapped on the factor 50 - I
crammed in my snacks (snickers bar, chewy trail mix, soreen malt loaf, apple bake, apple and a foil wrapped sausage from breakfast), 0.75l of juice (I also had my travel tap for using as needed), GPS, packet of Fruit Pastilles (essential kit that rarely lasts beyond 5 miles), compass and Harveys strip map, plasters and lipsalve, and a few coins. I didn't bother with an extra layer as I was fairly certain of the weather being set fair (but only just as it happens, although I had my Berghaus Paclite strapped on the back of the bumbag). I looked like a ghost leaving Drymen, with milk bottle legs, but I’ve had tandoori baked legs before and it’s not nice. Another little
faff around and I was ready to go, said my goodbyes and settled down to some relaxed walking - I love the first steps of a long distance walk, and Drymen had the buzz of people about to savour the second day of the WHW. The route today took me just over 5 hours including a stop for a toasted scone in Aberfoyle, a nice steady plod, a pace to be repeated over the next few days. The route sets out north of Drymen, passing the local school, houses and village hall, and out to the north on the old Gartmore road - dappled sunlight and very quiet apart from the WHW walkers. Ahead of me was a steady stream of people taking the shortcut to the West Highland Way, a walk I remember so well from a few years ago. It was great to look across the fields towards Conic Hill and although I couldn’t see Loch Lomond I knew it was there - I was a little envious of those going to enjoy the WHW and the scenery they would see or not depending on the weather. Up the minor road I soon caught up with some Chinese hikers, heavily laden with pots, pans and tent. I reassured them they were heading in the right direction and after a bowing contest I was soon at the top of the lane and on my own. I didn’t see another walker all day long – very peaceful and tranquil, and a little strange at times. It was a bit odd to be walking on Tarmac for the first 6 miles, although there was enough too see with just me and the birds; plenty of insects but precious little else in the terms of wildlife. Scotland always has the views to distant hills which look very enticing, but I shan’t be climbing any of them this week - I'd probably include Ben Ledi if I did this walk again, as it could be incorporated if I'd had a short walk to Callandar instead of Strathyre - but that's another day. My general fitness isn’t what it was so it's probably just as well that the Rob Roy Way is fairly flat in terms of ascent. There has been plenty of harvesting of the pine plantations which has opened up the views to nearby hills, and as ever the cuckoo was calling – I don’t think I’ve ever been to Scotland in late spring and not heard it.
Up on the top of the Old Gartmore Road at a lowly 233m the views opened up to the north to Ben Venue, Ben Ledi and the Menteith Hills, with plenty of fresh green growth around and abundant bluebells in the verges – splendid, and quite a few other wild flowers in bloom. From the mast at Bat a' Charchel it was all downhill for the next mile, dry and dusty, but with the views opening up to the NE.
The first change on the Rob Roy Way came after 4 miles where the way turns from the NE to the NW just before the Drymen Road Cottage. More roadwork, but very quiet and open along here I started to see the evidence of the aqueduct that carries fresh water from Loch Katrine down to Glasgow – a great feat of Victorian engineering that was completed in only 4 years – must have been hard task masters in that era, but it helped to wipe out Cholera in Glasgow. There are some distinctive stone built shafts, now covered with metalwork domes that were used as ventilation shafts and for removing spoil from the underground tunnels - they are quite grand built of red sandstone blocks. Old stone markers show the path that the aqueduct takes underground, usually overgrown with grass so you don't see that many of them. I suppose that the highlight of the day was the Corrie Aqueduct, dating from 1859, still in working order and now covered over. It’s been painted black recently and looks in fine condition - I resisted the temptation to shin up a ladder for a peek inside the aqueduct, and carried on, finally off the Tarmac and onto some forestry ride. Shortly after the aqueduct the path rose through a bluebell covered hillside, zigzagging gently as I went. That was the last view I had today back to the south and the Campsie Fells, with the old volcanic plug of Drumgoyne prominent against the skyline. Unfortunately so are the electricity pylons – definitely not a thing of beauty, and you pass by many on the Rob Roy Way. Once up on top by the Drum of Clashmore the way turns to the NE and it’s mostly downhill all the way to Aberfoyle. There is a beautiful property at Clashmore, and I’d rent that one if it was available, lovely fish ponds and beautiful landscaped gardens. The final couple of miles out of the forest were beside the Bofrishlie Burn with some wonderful sunlit glades. It reminded me a bit of BC in Canada, but without the bears, wolves and other things that want to eat you. High above against blue skies the buzzards were soaring on thermals, shame they weren’t eagles.
Out of the forest it was back to the Tarmac and a wander down into Aberfoyle. I passed by the Kirkton church with its two ‘mort-safes’ – coffin shaped,
made of heavy metal and designed to thwart the body snatchers of the day. I suppose that was the dead centre of Aberfoyle then – sorry I’ll get my coat. Once onto the high street I plonked down on the nearest cafe seat at Liz MacGregor's and had a very welcome toasted scone with a cup of Earl Grey tea – aah. All that remained was the 1 mile walk to the B&B at Milton, arriving to an empty house, it gave me a chance to type the blog up in peace, looking over the start of Loch Ard - another lovely setting. Overall a very good start to the Rob Roy Way - no footpaths, half road walking and half forest ride.... Did I say it was sunny?
After a wash and scrub, we drove over to Port Menteith to finish the day – the best view I’ve ever had scoffing a burger. Absolutely perfect watching the sun go down over the Lake of Monteith, and even the midgies left us alone.
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Last edited by ramblingpete on Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ramblingpete
Walker
 
Posts: 61
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ramblingpete » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:14 pm

Day Two: 5th June
Weather: A fine start, clouding over, and a light shower
Route: Aberfoyle to Strathyre - 17.2 miles with 1350ft of ascent

Day two and the day started with bright sun lighting up the waters of Loch Ard. A great view from the B&B window and a perfect breakfast set me up for the long day ahead. Normally I try and plan my long walks to let me in gently with a couple of 12 milers, but today was going to be either 9.5 to Callander or 16 to Strathyre(17.3 on my Satmap gps) and so I girded up the old loins and prepared for a long day. As it happens it all turned out well with one truly exceptional moment – see later.
I slapped on the factor 50 again and opted for the minimal approach again, with the addition of my Berghaus Paclite jacket as the forecast was for a light shower or two later on – how right it was – thanks MetOffice. Walking out of Aberfoyle centre to the east I soon turned off road at the medical centre and headed uphill to pass the Doumans centre – educational fun and games outdoor adventure type place. A few dog walkers were around but not many people all day long again – I still haven’t met anyone doing the Rob Roy Way. Lovely dappled light shining down through the trees for a while as I made my way uphill and bluebells aplenty in the verges. I was soon through the Doumans Centre grounds and up onto another forest ride that follows the contours on the flanks of the Menteith Hills – a wide ridge running to the NE. I walked above Aberfoyle Golf course and how tempting it was to have a stroll along the fairways and imagine duffing a few shots here and there. A great setting with a backdrop to the south of the Trossachs, and the shapely Drumgoyne. Once past the golf course the way turned to the NE and entered mature plantation with some huge pines left and right, with breaks giving glimpses of the landscape beyond. There was plenty of birdlife flitting in and out of the trees, and it was very sheltered in amongst them – thankfully it was a little overcast which stopped me from being fried. After a couple of miles I was pleased to see the forest ride disappear to be replaced by a real path, no stone, and worn down by boots and animals, not machinery. Another mile of forest walking, crossing a small burn and some muddy stretches and it was out onto open ground leading me across some rough pasture with a boggy moss away to my right. Through another deer fence gate and I was back in forest again, slightly ascending before starting the long downhill descent all the way to the side of Loch Venachar. The path wound down through the forest, becoming increasingly boggy as I approached the delightful Lochan Allt a’ Chip Dhuibh – a small body of water with plenty of fish apparently, and a good portion of wildfowl. Very peaceful and here I met a gent from Glasgow taking timeout to walk around these wonderful hills to Callander and beyond. We chatted until we reached the end of the Lochan and went our separate ways, and it was back on a forest ride once more. A little further on and the highlight of the day, and in all probability the highlight of the week – was a pair of Pine Martens running uphill on the track towards me. Unfortunately interesting wildlife always runs faster than it takes to get the camera out and focussed – but I did manage to get a shot of the cub galloping after it’s Ma (I assume it was a pup) – there's a blurry picture in the flora and fauna section. That put a smile on my face for the rest of the day, along with the fantastic views down over and across Loch Venacher to Ben Ledi beyond. A great vista now that there has been some substantial harvesting of the plantations – I wish they would do more of this across the country. There was a plastic seat at the top of a metal tower, presumably a fire watch seat, but it looked like a tennis umpires chair. Some lovely small falls tumble down the hillside to run beneath the forest track, fresh water for my water filter – delicious. The way continued down the sandy forest track to reach the East Lodge gateway of the Invertrossachs estate, and back out onto the tarmac road for a couple of miles down to the Gartchonzie Bridge. I met another gent here who was touring Scotland looking at film locations – apparently the bridge was used in ‘The 39 Steps’ – ‘they crashed into that wall and the baddies got away under the bridge’. You learn something useful everyday in this life! The short route would have finished for me in Callander a few miles away, but here I turned to walk over the bridge and cross the Eas Gobhain river up to the main road which would take me around to the route up to Strathyre. To my surprise my chauffeuse was just up the road, so I stopped for a lift down to the Lank Inn at Kilmahog for lunch. I had a ham baguette and I think they had killed ma hog to fill it – not a good idea as I still had 9 miles to go. I was dropped off again where I had finished just below the hillfort of Dunmore – a big place judging by all the earthworks, and a little further along the hillside is ‘Samson’s Putting Stone’ a glacial erratic, perched on the hillside. Plenty of flowering gorse and broom, both yellow and fragrant, as the path contoured around the north to meet the cycle track 7 which took me all the way to Strathyre. A boring bit really along an old railway bed, bits of worn out road and more track – about 6 miles of it. But I found a nice piece of woodland path adjacent to the old railway track that took me along to the Falls of Leny – masses of bluebells and fresh green bracken, with the water a little noisy as it passes over small falls. The main falls were not too spectacular and the better view is probably on the other side of the river. Much of the route is flanked by trees with occasional views through breaks to Loch Lubnaig and the hills beyond. Ahead of me lay the Strathyre Log cabins, all undergoing some renovations, so the ‘quiet’ track was busy with several large trucks flying along the cycleway. Thankfully the track shrunk after the cabins and it was quiet all the way to Strathyre. Not much to see to be honest, except grey clouds gathering to give me a light shower just before I got to the village. The birdlife was interesting though with Blackcaps and Goldwings flitting through the trees – very colourful and unusual for me to see. High hills to the left, trees to the right, and across the Loch plenty of harvesting which will keep me down in the valley tomorrow. I finally reached Strathyre and walked through the village to the B&B – there used to be three pubs/ hotels but it’s now down to one – The Inn at Strathyre. God I hate some pub grub, deep fried everything except the lettuce leaves - I expect it's better when they have more customers for the bistro that was shut.
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Last edited by ramblingpete on Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.
ramblingpete
Walker
 
Posts: 61
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Joined: Nov 29, 2011
Location: Manchester

Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ramblingpete » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:15 pm

Day Three: 6th June
Weather: Sunshine all day long
Route: Strathyre to Killin – 13.3 miles with 1120ft of ascent

Not very good grub last night, but it’s a sign of the times that the small village of Strathyre can only support one Inn as the other two have gone bankrupt. But it didn’t spoil our stay and a good breakfast at the B&B put the world to right.
Today started with a diversion from the usual Rob Roy Way due to tree harvesting up on the hillside above Strathyre, and although it would have been nice to have had the views from higher up the hillside, the alternative was very pleasant. Mal from the B&B and her dogs guided me along the initial path – very good company and we had a good natter about Strathyre. Mind you as soon as we were in the fields the little Jack Russells let rip, and it wasn’t the sweet smell of gorse that filled the air. Moving on quickly, the diversion which is to become the new part of the Rob Roy Way, was along the valley floor beside the River Barvag. It followed an old farm track and passed through numerous gates, and was quite close to the A84 trunk road – which more or less accompanies the Rob Roy Way all the way to Killin. Down in the valley there are great views towards Meall an t-Seallaidh at 852m – short of a Munro by a couple of hundred feet. There is still some snow patches up on the higher NE facing slopes on the higher mountains. This day was mixed, mostly good with the odd section not so good, and one thing I considered today was that unless some judicious pruning takes place in the coming years, some of the views from the route will disappear due to tree growth.
Anyways, a couple of miles of pleasant field walking, nice and soft on my feet and the way was rejoined near the Kingshouse Hotel (not THE Kingshouse Hotel). I think they are renaming this hotel to stop the confusion with The Kingshouse Hotel at Glencoe – it’s being called Mhor 84 I think. Pleasant field walking turned into a walk along the route 7 cycle way once more, close to the road for a while but swung away after a couple of miles - to be honest the road noise isn't that intrusive as there wasn't a lot of traffic around. The initial section of the cycle route beyond Kingshouse is through some mature pines and has a lovely rhythm to it, rolling gently up and down – must be a pleasure to ride along. It was popular today and many bikes swung by, all politely letting me know they were passing. I had a good chat with three of them as they slowed to pass – one a retired structural engineer who told me later that the gradient was probably 1:100ft or the trains couldn’t get up the tracks along Glen Ogle.
A new metal span was built across a gap in the old railway line with money raised by a fund to commemorate a music teacher who was killed whilst cycling on the A9 - A good memorial to him, much used and appreciated by those who pass by. The route got a little steeper as the cycle track climbed up towards the old railway line, and the view down over Lochearnhead gets better and better, with plenty of boats bobbling about at the head of Loch Earn – probably why it’s called Lochearnhead. I actually passed a couple who were walking the Rob Roy Way – happy to know there was someone else walking the route. On and on the old Callander to Oban line runs, in a steady ascent to the head of Glen Ogle – I wonder if the TV series ‘Monarch of the Glen’ created Glen Bogle after Glen Ogle? The remnants of the old line can be seen as I made steady progress up the hill – old footings for the rails lined up like gravestones – quite apt really after the demise of this line. Great stone built embankments hold back the encroaching rock formations and where they were a little unstable, engineering brick and cable has been used to build retaining walls to halt the progress of gravity. Across the Glen the eye is drawn to Meall Buidhe and Beinn Leabhain, shapely mountains looking down on the A85 far below. Highlight of the day was the Glen Ogle viaduct built in 1870 and host to my lunch spot in 2013. The line was doomed in the Beeching closures but a rockfall sealed it’s fate as too expensive to run - there is an impressive amount of large stones close to the track at one point, tumbled down from the slopes of Meall Reamhar.
Once I’d chuffed my way up the 1:60ft incline and reached the top it was all downhill to Killin. There is a nice Lochan which the track passes by, but it is obscured from view by the pine trees and I had to make a detour for a peek at the water – well worth it though and judging by the old fires seen a very popular picnic spot. Shortly after the Lochan the way crosses over the A85 road (careful not to get mown down as the traffic flies down here) and hallelujah there was a snack bar open – I had a can of Irn-Bru and a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer – when in Rome etc. That was a welcome break, but the route becomes a bit sanitised for a while – great for cyclists but lousy for walkers. My feet clung to the edges of the cycle track seeking out a narrow grass verge – at one point the cycle path is so clean and the pine trees so well pruned that it’s almost something out of a Disney park – which is something I don’t like to see in the UK. Thankfully it didn’t last long and the path veered away from the road and became peaceful once more. At a T-junction there was a sign announcing yet another diversion – 6 weeks work from the 8th April. It was 8 weeks past the date so I thought stuff that and carried on the main route – as it happens I was right as the work is now nearly finished – a horrible wide surface. But I had the pleasure of a peaceful walk along the old railway line all the way to Killin (apart from the new bit) with little interference from anyone who was working – they just told me to carry on ‘wee man’. I had to pass two security fences by walking past the side of them.
The last bit of the day was a short walk along the road into Killin, a delightful little village, to finish the walk alongside the Falls of Dochart. Probably my favourite location along the Rob Roy Way especially as I was met at the B&B with a bottle of Peroni and a tub of ice cream - a nice end to the day. Later on we paid a quick visit to see Rob Roy's grave at Balquhidder - interesting old kirk and a few plaques on the walls - one of which was 'Margaret Maclaren of Maclaren' I wonder if she drove one
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Last edited by ramblingpete on Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
ramblingpete
Walker
 
Posts: 61
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ramblingpete » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:15 pm

Day Four: 7th June
Weather: Fine once more. Sunny all day
Route: Killin to Ardtalnaig – 12.7 miles with 1710ft of ascent

The middle day of seven dawned bright and sunny again. I had around 12 miles to do today with a fair bit of ascent. I faffed around having a lazy breakfast – lots of tea, and got my backpack from the car as I have to lug my own gear today before being picked up tomorrow. I wondered about the factor 50 today as both my legs look like milk bottles, but you can’t see them under troos anyway, so I slapped it all on again.
I was pretty slow again faced with some incline, but I’m in no rush anyway and didn’t want to arrive too early for my B&B lift. I lugged my bag up on my shoulders and ambled out into the bright sunshine – I must have been good boy lately as karma was on my side. Crossing over the bridge above the Falls of Dochart, past the pub, and then it was uphill all the way for the next 4 miles or so, Tarmac for three of them, not my favourite surface. I walked on the grass verge when it was available which wasn’t very often, and it was a mile up the road, passing by freshly harvested timber and stay out signs before I reached the turn off. then up another access road that runs all the way up to the top reservoir at Lochan Breachiach. A real grind of an ascent with limited views across to the mountains to the north, Ben Lawers being the biggest at 3984ft. I passed a look out post, not sure of what it was looking out for, and an SSE van passed me – too fast to stick out the thumb for a lift. There were one or two nice burns to look at, but I noticed when I stopped that the midges were beginning to gather, so I didn’t wait around too long. After climbing for just over a mile I reached some deer gates and nipped through them, out of the forest at last. There wasn’t a lot of wildlife around today, just the birdlife to keep me company and the cuckoo. Although I was now out on open ground the views down to Loch Tay were restricted to my left by trees that aren’t going to get smaller anytime soon. But I contented myself with the occasional glimpse across Loch Tay and views back to Ben More, all 3851ft of him. A mile of steady ascent followed, tiptoeing along on the verges – the roads and tracks are hard on my soles – good job there wasn’t two of us otherwise ‘our’ might have been used. The straight line of the dam could be seen ahead and the path went up by the left side of the reservoir – Lochan Breaclaich. I was surprised at how low the water level was as this water powers three power stations by hydro-electricity. After the dam wall, the damn Tarmac disappears (for a while at least) and the path turned to graded stone and a little easier on the feet. The views back from the top were superb looking down Glen Dochart and over Loch Tay. From a distance the dam wall looked like a bunch of solar panels. There were plenty more hills and mountains to look at but I don’t know any of their names – yet. The top of the route today was at a second telecoms mast just below Creag Gharbh and from this point down to Ardeonaig it’s all downhill. This was my favourite part of the day as it was much more open countryside and I got to walk on some actual grass – I’ve missed it this week! The turn off point was at the end of a big Hydro water pipe with newly installed Rob Roy Way marker posts showing the general way down the hillside. A path is now being seen on the ground and will become more defined as people use it more often, a little soggy in places but OK In general, and my boots have never been so clean. There is a little higher ground to walk down above the wet, with many remnants of old shielings and farm buildings. It was really pleasant looking ahead down on Loch Tay, with Big Ben Lawers in the background – easy walking on a grassy track, and a treat for my feet. It didn’t last too long though, maybe a mile before I was back onto rough track followed by Tarmac for the last 4 miles or so. Down towards the Brae Farm, the Newton Burn has cut deeply into the land and many of the riverbanks are suffering erosion and collapse. The fields are full of mixed stock and I managed a good shot of a black long horned highland cow – I think they all used to be this colour in Rob Roy McGregors day. Maybe he dyed them red when he rustled them? I’m so used to seeing the red ones that the black ones are quite a surprise – don’t know which is the best colour though. A short walk through the farms led me lower down the road to an outdoor centre. It looked well kept and there was a succession of vans arriving as I walked downhill, followed much later by a procession of young girls carrying paddles and life jackets – they didn’t look best pleased at the long walk back up to the centre.
I was soon down at Ardeonaig and resisted the temptation to pop in for a pint – I might not have escaped so easily and I still had 3 miles to go. I phoned the B&B to inform Liza that I would be at Ardtalnaig by 16:00 – an easy Lochside stroll thinks me. Wrong – uphill for what seemed like miles and I was starting to hurt. I was overtaken by a mini and then I caught it up – to be fair it was blocked in by a lorry (so that's a car and some cyclists that i've caught up with this week). The walk along the Loch was ok, again the views were intermittent, but that didn’t take anything away from another enjoyable day on the Rob Roy Way. I arrived at Ardtalnaig as my lift did and I was ferried to the B&B at Acharn. One shower later and I had a lift to Kenmore, sitting by the river for some well earned nosh and a couple of glasses of red, watching the world go by – another great setting – I’m doing very well so far.
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Last edited by ramblingpete on Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
ramblingpete
Walker
 
Posts: 61
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ramblingpete » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:16 pm

Day Five: 8th June
Weather: Sunshine just for a change, glorious weather
Route: Ardtalnaig to Amulree – 17.8 miles with 1563ft of ascent

What can I say but a glorious day in all aspects of walking. It started out at the B&B at Acharn with the lovely Liza and her Jack Russell, breakfast laid before me in the kitchen and she sat down for a chat as I ate. What a fantastic view down Loch Tay from her kitchen sink. Pack ready and boots on, she gave me my sandwiches and ferried me back to Ardtalnaig where I stopped walking last night. As I left the car I was faced with a long 1 1/2 mile ascent, steeply at first before easing off, and I paused often as I worked up a good sweat, with the views back over Loch Tay to Ben Lawers and his chums. It was tarmac road again for the first mile to Claggan farm (some lovely old barns in the farmyard), then through a gate and onto the farm track up to Dunan. The ascent eases right off at the old buildings of Tullichglas, with the last views across the loch as the route turns to the SE. I’ve been in some peaceful places and this one is right up there - hard to believe that the loudest thing in the valley was me breathing, and the haunting cries of the Curlews whenever I strayed too near to their nest sites. This quiet lasts for about 3 miles as the path runs alongside Gleann a’ Chilleine, between the hills of Creagan na Beinne to the east and the Shee of Ardtalnaig to the west. There were two things to delight my head today – one was the many glacial features on display in this landscape, and two was the abundance of birdlife with many ground nesting birds seen – Oyster Catchers, Curlew, Lapwing, Sandpiper, Skylark, Pheasant and Partridge – and I didn’t squash any of their nests thankfully. The odd Buzzard or two was seen quartering the valley, and these were chased away by all manner of birds if they got too close to their clutches. Other things to see along this remote-ish valley were the old shielings, newly planted Scots Pine clumps protected from the deer by large box enclosures, and plenty of evidence of newly planted forest by the FCS all surrounded by glorious sunshine – what a day to relax (although I did have a bit of a time schedule as I was picked up at Amulree due to no facilities there).
The shooters lodge and old sheep pens mark the turning in the route and a short section off the old tracks – good to be on grass once more. The pens were grass topped and perfect for nesting with the Oyster Catchers – one pretended to have a broken wing to lure me away from the path. The route now swung gradually around to the east as I walked on into Glen Almond, descending gradually into another peaceful valley. The track reappears as the hydro works appear by the River Almond, but they are not on any grand scale and don’t really intrude on the landscape. At Lechrea an old farm stands deserted, but I noticed that the windows were boarded up to provide slots for the brave shooters of game bird, and at Dalriech a shooters lodge looks in good condition ready for the inglorious 10th or whenever it is that the season begins. Further down the valley stands a small cairn monument to WW1 soldiers at the site of the old Stuck Chapel, a former farming community thought to have been here since medieval time – a small highland township. The landscape here is superb several different levels of lateral moraines, deposited as the last ice age glaciers receded. After walking 4 miles down the Glenn, including a stop for lunch, it was time to turn north at Auchnafree.
So relaxed was I at this stage of the walk that my uphill plod past the new works for the hydro or power company turned into an extra mile all uphill into Glen Shervie. The alarm bells didn’t start to ring until the track dropped away to my left. Realising I was temporarily misplaced, I pegged it back downhill in record time, cursing my lack of thought all the way. My 16mile walk now turned into an 18 mile walk and my knees were non too pleased about it. The new works had obliterated the start of the path into Glen Lochan – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. The path climbed steadily, very thin on the ground above a dry burn, through banks of heather and elder. Flies were buzzing and it was very warm in the still air – thank heavens for the factor 50 suncream and my ‘Water Tap’ which saved the day by being able to top up and drink from the burns. It was a long haul down Glen Lochan, with some boggy spots to pass by, but most of the small Lochans had some water in them. After Lochan Uaine I nipped up the hillside to a shooters track I spotted and that saved me some rough walking across reed beds, and tussocky grass. This track led me down all the way to Croft Mill and the road. There is a lot of work being done by SSE up here, and I guess the new tracks will eventually grass over and blend in with the landscape – no doubt all the shooters will be happy with even more access to the high moors and game estates. To the north it was peeing down on Pitlochry, and how I laughed in the face of the dark clouds ahead as my sunshine followed me down the hill.
At Croft Mill there is a ‘Beaters Hut’ and the door was open, so I popped in and topped up with some fresh water. In the fridge was a case of beer and believe me I was very tempted to ‘borrow’ one and leave some money – but I didn’t. Then it was just turn to the east and follow the road back to Amulree for a couple of miles – more tarmac and unforgiving for tired legs and feet.
Another grand day on the Rob Roy Way, and probably the best section as you miss out the road walking from Ardtalnaig (or Ardeonaig if you stop there) all the way to Acharn. More about that when I sum it all up at the end.
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Last edited by ramblingpete on Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ramblingpete » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:17 pm

Day Six: 9th June
Weather: overcast
Route: Amulree to Aberfeldy – 15.25 miles with 1080ft of ascent

Shock horror – cloudio. Back to the bumbag today and updated my gear to include a lightweight windproof Montane Gillet, which I needed today on and off. It was overcast all day long with the higher tops covered in mist, so no long views to distant hills – but I won’t complain because it was dry again. It was quite humid, although too cold for the midges with the temperature some 12 deg cooler than yesterday. A mix of surfaces again including the inevitable tarmac section, but an enjoyable walk only marred by a twist to the knee which will make the last day quite painful.
I started out at the old Amulree Hotel, closed for business as are many hotels in plenty of small hamlets in Scotland. There is a tea room close by, but when I turned up at around 17:30 yesterday they didn’t want my business – I suspect they won’t be around too long either. Crossing over the River Braan I turned up a well established stone track and plodded along the northern side of Loch Freuchie, with views to my route yesterday down Glen Lochan, but all the tops were obscured. Again it was very peaceful with nobody out and about except a few cattle and their young – these were quite placid really and showed no interest in me as I wandered by. A feature of the northern side of the loch are the many abandoned old farmsteads and shiels – I suspect that SSE owns a vast tract of this land now for updating it’s power lines. One thing you can say about the SSE pylons is that the landscape will suffer again – such a shame they cannot run the lines underground. The track became rougher as the more SSE pylon sites were passed by, and it gently undulates up and down through woodland all the way to the end of Loch Freuchie where it meets a deer fence. The styal here must be 6ft high, so I used the gate alongside walking down towards Turrerich Farm. The Rob Roy Way here takes a turn back to the road as the ground between Turrerich Farm and Easter Shian appears to be boggy on the map. It didn’t look too bad to me so I thought I would save a mile by cutting out some tarmac. I crossed under some pylons and surveyed the way ahead picking out a line to follow close to the fence. It turned out OK because it has been dry for a while, and there was plenty of tussock leaping and reed walking over several small drainage channels. The odd sheep trod helped me out now and again, and I would definitely choose this route again unless it was pouring down, as there are plenty of gates to walk through and no fences to climb over, apart from the one near the start. As with the previous day the nesting birds were keeping me company today, piping and wailing if I came too close to the nests. I came out at the cemetery at Easter Shian and rejoined an old farm track which was so much nicer than the updated power / shooter tracks – well worn like old slippers, with a nice grassy section between the vehicle tracks. Along the river in Glen Quaich it was really pleasant passing a couple of old residences before arriving at the bridge at Garrow where I rejoined the single track road - then it was up, up, up. I could have filled a scrapbook today with squashed animals, all sorts of roadkill – so no wonder I hadn’t seen much wildlife around lately, definitely watershipdown country. Up the minor road with a few hairpin bends took me about 30 minutes, with stops to admire the misty views back down Glen Quaich to Loch Freuchie, with the road topping out on moorland. Here I should have had great views to Ben Lawers in the west and Schiehallion to the north, but not today folks. Up on the top the road wanders down through the managed moorland, which has plenty of shooters tracks here and there, reaching a small lochan to the right of the road, and once more onto a stone track which was very rough in places. There was a little hut to the north side of the lochan and it would make a great location for photography – it was the only time I’d wished I had the big camera with me all week apart from when the Pine Martens sped past. As I progressed along the track to the NE yet more work by SSE is evident with the wind farm of Calliachar prominent on the near horizon – but to be honest from this aspect it didn’t impact that much on the landscape. The track turned to meet the Urlar Burn – which flows down to the Birks of Aberfeldy – cut into a deep valley in the glacial till – probably an outwash channel from the ice-age. I followed the track down and twisted my knee on a rough part – ouch and much cursing ensued, so it was a bit slower walking to reach the Birks of Aberfeldy. The path diverts around the farm at Urlar and returns to a single track road for 1/2 a mile before turning into the woods to see the Falls of Moness. There are paths down both sides of the gorge, so I passed over the bridge above the falls and made my way down the east side. The falls were not too spectacular due to lack of rainfall and surprisingly restricted views – it really needs a lumberjack to get stuck in around the birks and clear out some of the undergrowth. Many steps later I passed by the Robbie Burns seat complete with gent who was trying to mimic the statue – crossed legs etc. Soon enough I was down in Aberfeldy enjoying some apple crumble cake at ‘The Watermill’ cafe, thus ending another fine day on the Rob Roy Way – shame about the cloud and the knee. All today’s pictures are suitably drab.
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Last edited by ramblingpete on Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ramblingpete » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:18 pm

Day Seven: 10th June
Weather: Overcast but dry
Route: Aberfeldy to Pitlochry – 12.2 miles with 1050ft of ascent

final day of The Rob Roy Way and time to reflect on my journey in a few days to let you know my thoughts. A final dry day as well – how often do you get 7 dry days up in the highlands of Scotland? No midges again and not a whole lot of wildlife apart from the usual suspects of the bird world, bunnies and hares. I woke early to pack away all my excess gear in the car for the long drive home to Manchester later on in the day, and replaced the body warmer with a thin merino top as it continued to be a tad chill. Not much wind to speak of as I’ve not had much veg or beans this week. A quick peek out of the window and confirmation that the cloud levels were the same as yesterday so I knew it would stay dry but dull – which makes all the pictures a little flat.
Setting out from Aberfeldy I took a picture of the fine bridge over the River Tay, and took a long walk along the high street out of town on the main road. About 3/4 of a mile along ‘Thomas The Tank Engine was stuck at the Dewars ‘World of Whisky’, with a load of white barrels parked behind it. Passing another cemetery the route took me off road and onto the start of a footpath that runs alongside the Tay, following the banks of the river but has limited views apart from the occasional break. But the abundant bird-life kept me amused before a small rise up to the old railway track – not my favourite walking and again limited views, just a glimpse to tease now and again. It didn’t help that my knees were on their last legs and it was a little uncomfortable to make fast progress along here. The trackbed of the railway runs all the way into Grandtully for about 2 miles, and to be honest I could have done with my headphones for this bit to tune out of the long tedious straight bits – still, mustn’t grumble as it was dry. Into the small village of Grandtully I swerved away from the ‘Home of Chocolate’ and crossed over to the metal bridge over the Tay. This part of the river is over some small falls and the water is festooned with rope and canoe slalom gates, which would be quite exciting to watch if the river was flowing high. Over the bridge and it was the start of the uphill section and an enjoyable part of the day. A great joy just to be walking on a path again, even if it was all uphill. A small path leads out past some houses and then over the golf course – a brilliant looking golf hole with a really tight area to drive down. There’s a small house to the right of the hole which must be peppered with golf balls at times, but I suppose that’s a small price to pay for the views they have. After the golf course it was up an old lane with bluebells in profusion, it would have been lovely on a summers day with dappled light from the big beech trees – today it still looked good. This vista took the sting out of the uphill section and once through various gates it was out onto sheep grazed pasture. An old stone cross lies alongside the route, simply carved and I’ve no idea how old it is, but it sits well in the landscape. Unfortunately the distant views were limited due to the low cloud, but I could just make out Aberfeldy in the distance and already it looked a fair way away. As the ascent eased it was out onto open moorland which is dominated by the yellow blooms of gorse and broom. I expected to see two fine Scots pines once I was up on the top of the moors, but one of them has been uprooted by storms – so that will be another edition update for the ‘Rucksac Reader’ of the Rob Roy Way.
The open ground didn’t last long and once into the forestry commission plantation at Fonab Forest – no more open views until Pitlochry. I was soon upon the site of a 3000 yr old stone ‘circle’ – only three stones standing and in my eyes probably not a circle, more of a square. This bit taken from the ‘Megalithic Portal’ website -
‘When the Clachan an Diridh stone circle was built, it would have had fantastic views to the NE across the River Tummel to Ben Vrackie and the Grampians beyond, and to the SW down the River Tay and Ben Lawers. It was these views that prompted the antiquarian Daniel Wilson to write in the mid-nineteenth century: “Amid this wild Highland landscape the huge standing stones, grey with the moss of ages, produce a grand and imposing effect; and from the idea of lofty height the distant mountains suggest, they convey a stronger impression of gigantic proportions than is produced even by the first sight of the giant monoliths of Salisbury Plain.’
A strong opinion probably formed on a suitably sunny stunning day before all these pines were planted as now you can’t see the wood for the trees. A short distance on the forest ride gave way to a nice grassy trod through the pines which led to the start of the downward spiral to Pitlochry. Again not many views but eventually I walked out onto a farm track to look down over Pitlochry below. A quick dash across the very busy A9 led me to the wobbly suspension bridge over the River Tummel. To my left the big dam could be seen, but I kept straight ahead up to the town, under a rail bridge and into the war memorial site to mark the end of my week.
I think Rob Roy McGregor would have enjoyed this walk, especially if he had ‘borrowed’ a few prime cattle to sell at market.
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ramblingpete
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby Gordie12 » Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:41 pm

hi ramblingpete

Sorry it's taken me a few days to reply to your report, it took me longer to read it than it did to walk my last long distance walk :lol: :lol:

Great report and photos. :clap: :clap:

I was aware of the RRW and have walked/cycled small bits of it but never really considered it as a long distance option. Have to say I would think about it now as it looks really good but as with all the long distance routes weather plays such a big part on how you reflect on it in the months and years that follow.
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ramblingpete » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:25 pm

Sorry about that Gordie, but being lazy I lifted it from my blog verbatim.
Glad you enjoyed the story. You're right about the weather being the major factor on this walk. Without the views I wouldn't have enjoyed the road walking.

To be honest a few years hence and all those trees will be obscuring the views unless there is wholesale harvesting.

I enjoyed it though.
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby Gordie12 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:44 pm

ramblingpete wrote:Sorry about that Gordie, but being lazy I lifted it from my blog verbatim.
Glad you enjoyed the story. You're right about the weather being the major factor on this walk. Without the views I wouldn't have enjoyed the road walking.

To be honest a few years hence and all those trees will be obscuring the views unless there is wholesale harvesting.

I enjoyed it though.


I'd better get the finger out and do it soon then!!
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ArnoldBlack » Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:57 am

ramblingpete wrote:Day Four: 7th June
Weather: Fine once more. Sunny all day
Route: Killin to Ardtalnaig – 12.7 miles with 1710ft of ascent

The middle day of seven dawned bright and sunny again. I had around 12 miles to do today with a fair bit of ascent. I faffed around having a lazy breakfast – lots of tea, and got my backpack from the car as I have to lug my own gear today before being picked up tomorrow. I wondered about the factor 50 today as both my legs look like milk bottles, but you can’t see them under troos anyway, so I slapped it all on again.
I was pretty slow again faced with some incline, but I’m in no rush anyway and didn’t want to arrive too early for my B&B lift. I lugged my bag up on my shoulders and ambled out into the bright sunshine – I must have been good boy lately as karma was on my side. Crossing over the bridge above the Falls of Dochart, past the pub, and then it was uphill all the way for the next 4 miles or so, Tarmac for three of them, not my favourite surface. I walked on the grass verge when it was available which wasn’t very often, and it was a mile up the road, passing by freshly harvested timber and stay out signs before I reached the turn off. then up another access road that runs all the way up to the top reservoir at Lochan Breachiach. A real grind of an ascent with limited views across to the mountains to the north, Ben Lawers being the biggest at 3984ft. I passed a look out post, not sure of what it was looking out for, and an SSE van passed me – too fast to stick out the thumb for a lift. There were one or two nice burns to look at, but I noticed when I stopped that the midges were beginning to gather, so I didn’t wait around too long. After climbing for just over a mile I reached some deer gates and nipped through them, out of the forest at last. There wasn’t a lot of wildlife around today, just the birdlife to keep me company and the cuckoo. Although I was now out on open ground the views down to Loch Tay were restricted to my left by trees that aren’t going to get smaller anytime soon. But I contented myself with the occasional glimpse across Loch Tay and views back to Ben More, all 3851ft of him. A mile of steady ascent followed, tiptoeing along on the verges – the roads and tracks are hard on my soles – good job there wasn’t two of us otherwise ‘our’ might have been used. The straight line of the dam could be seen ahead and the path went up by the left side of the reservoir – Lochan Breaclaich. I was surprised at how low the water level was as this water powers three power stations by hydro-electricity. After the dam wall, the damn Tarmac disappears (for a while at least) and the path turned to graded stone and a little easier on the feet. The views back from the top were superb looking down Glen Dochart and over Loch Tay. From a distance the dam wall looked like a bunch of solar panels. There were plenty more hills and mountains to look at but I don’t know any of their names – yet. The top of the route today was at a second telecoms mast just below Creag Gharbh and from this point down to Ardeonaig it’s all downhill. This was my favourite part of the day as it was much more open countryside and I got to walk on some actual grass – I’ve missed it this week! The turn off point was at the end of a big Hydro water pipe with newly installed Rob Roy Way marker posts showing the general way down the hillside. A path is now being seen on the ground and will become more defined as people use it more often, a little soggy in places but OK In general, and my boots have never been so clean. There is a little higher ground to walk down above the wet, with many remnants of old shielings and farm buildings. It was really pleasant looking ahead down on Loch Tay, with Big Ben Lawers in the background – easy walking on a grassy track, and a treat for my feet. It didn’t last too long though, maybe a mile before I was back onto rough track followed by Tarmac for the last 4 miles or so. Down towards the Brae Farm, the Newton Burn has cut deeply into the land and many of the riverbanks are suffering erosion and collapse. The fields are full of mixed stock and I managed a good shot of a black long horned highland cow – I think they all used to be this colour in Rob Roy McGregors day. Maybe he dyed them red when he rustled them? I’m so used to seeing the red ones that the black ones are quite a surprise – don’t know which is the best colour though. A short walk through the farms led me lower down the road to an outdoor centre. It looked well kept and there was a succession of vans arriving as I walked downhill, followed much later by a procession of young girls carrying paddles and life jackets – they didn’t look best pleased at the long walk back up to the centre.
I was soon down at Ardeonaig and resisted the temptation to pop in for a pint – I might not have escaped so easily and I still had 3 miles to go. I phoned the B&B to inform Liza that I would be at Ardtalnaig by 16:00 – an easy Lochside stroll thinks me. Wrong – uphill for what seemed like miles and I was starting to hurt. I was overtaken by a mini and then I caught it up – to be fair it was blocked in by a lorry (so that's a car and some cyclists that i've caught up with this week). The walk along the Loch was ok, again the views were intermittent, but that didn’t take anything away from another enjoyable day on the Rob Roy Way. I arrived at Ardtalnaig as my lift did and I was ferried to the B&B at Acharn. One shower later and I had a lift to Kenmore, sitting by the river for some well earned nosh and a couple of glasses of red, watching the world go by – another great setting – I’m doing very well so far.
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Just awesome post.. Thanks for sharing such useful information along with lovely pics.. Glad to find the post
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby daveq » Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:06 pm

Nicely balanced reporting, a pleasure to read (unlike many blogs). Having just done a half day with the wife from Àcharn village up to the falls, eastwards along the way, then down to Kenmore and back along the shore, your posts have encouraged me to do the whole thing. Just have to see whether the wife wants to walk or drive!
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ArnoldBlack » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:17 pm

ArnoldBlack wrote:
ramblingpete wrote:Day Four: 7th June
Weather: Fine once more. Sunny all day
Route: Killin to Ardtalnaig – 12.7 miles with 1710ft of ascent

The middle day of seven dawned bright and sunny again. I had around 12 miles to do today with a fair bit of ascent. I faffed around having a lazy breakfast – lots of tea, and got my backpack from the car as I have to lug my own gear today before being picked up tomorrow. I wondered about the factor 50 today as both my legs look like milk bottles, but you can’t see them under troos anyway, so I slapped it all on again.
I was pretty slow again faced with some incline, but I’m in no rush anyway and didn’t want to arrive too early for my B&B lift. I lugged my bag up on my shoulders and ambled out into the bright sunshine – I must have been good boy lately as karma was on my side. Crossing over the bridge above the Falls of Dochart, past the pub, and then it was uphill all the way for the next 4 miles or so, Tarmac for three of them, not my favourite surface. I walked on the grass verge when it was available which wasn’t very often, and it was a mile up the road, passing by freshly harvested timber and stay out signs before I reached the turn off. then up another access road that runs all the way up to the top reservoir at Lochan Breachiach. A real grind of an ascent with limited views across to the mountains to the north, Ben Lawers being the biggest at 3984ft. I passed a look out post, not sure of what it was looking out for, and an SSE van passed me – too fast to stick out the thumb for a lift. There were one or two nice burns to look at, but I noticed when I stopped that the midges were beginning to gather, so I didn’t wait around too long. After climbing for just over a mile I reached some deer gates and nipped through them, out of the forest at last. There wasn’t a lot of wildlife around today, just the birdlife to keep me company and the cuckoo. Although I was now out on open ground the views down to Loch Tay were restricted to my left by trees that aren’t going to get smaller anytime soon. But I contented myself with the occasional glimpse across Loch Tay and views back to Ben More, all 3851ft of him. A mile of steady ascent followed, tiptoeing along on the verges – the roads and tracks are hard on my soles – good job there wasn’t two of us otherwise ‘our’ might have been used. The straight line of the dam could be seen ahead and the path went up by the left side of the reservoir – Lochan Breaclaich. I was surprised at how low the water level was as this water powers three power stations by hydro-electricity. After the dam wall, the damn Tarmac disappears (for a while at least) and the path turned to graded stone and a little easier on the feet. The views back from the top were superb looking down Glen Dochart and over Loch Tay. From a distance the dam wall looked like a bunch of solar panel. There were plenty more hills and mountains to look at but I don’t know any of their names – yet. The top of the route today was at a second telecoms mast just below Creag Gharbh and from this point down to Ardeonaig it’s all downhill. This was my favourite part of the day as it was much more open countryside and I got to walk on some actual grass – I’ve missed it this week! The turn off point was at the end of a big Hydro water pipe with newly installed Rob Roy Way marker posts showing the general way down the hillside. A path is now being seen on the ground and will become more defined as people use it more often, a little soggy in places but OK In general, and my boots have never been so clean. There is a little higher ground to walk down above the wet, with many remnants of old shielings and farm buildings. It was really pleasant looking ahead down on Loch Tay, with Big Ben Lawers in the background – easy walking on a grassy track, and a treat for my feet. It didn’t last too long though, maybe a mile before I was back onto rough track followed by Tarmac for the last 4 miles or so. Down towards the Brae Farm, the Newton Burn has cut deeply into the land and many of the riverbanks are suffering erosion and collapse. The fields are full of mixed stock and I managed a good shot of a black long horned highland cow – I think they all used to be this colour in Rob Roy McGregors day. Maybe he dyed them red when he rustled them? I’m so used to seeing the red ones that the black ones are quite a surprise – don’t know which is the best colour though. A short walk through the farms led me lower down the road to an outdoor centre. It looked well kept and there was a succession of vans arriving as I walked downhill, followed much later by a procession of young girls carrying paddles and life jackets – they didn’t look best pleased at the long walk back up to the centre.
I was soon down at Ardeonaig and resisted the temptation to pop in for a pint – I might not have escaped so easily and I still had 3 miles to go. I phoned the B&B to inform Liza that I would be at Ardtalnaig by 16:00 – an easy Lochside stroll thinks me. Wrong – uphill for what seemed like miles and I was starting to hurt. I was overtaken by a mini and then I caught it up – to be fair it was blocked in by a lorry (so that's a car and some cyclists that i've caught up with this week). The walk along the Loch was ok, again the views were intermittent, but that didn’t take anything away from another enjoyable day on the Rob Roy Way. I arrived at Ardtalnaig as my lift did and I was ferried to the B&B at Acharn. One shower later and I had a lift to Kenmore, sitting by the river for some well earned nosh and a couple of glasses of red, watching the world go by – another great setting – I’m doing very well so far.

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Just awesome post.. Thanks for sharing such useful information along with lovely pics.. Glad to find the post
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Re: The Rob Roy Way

Postby ramblingpete » Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:36 am

daveq wrote:Nicely balanced reporting, a pleasure to read (unlike many blogs). Having just done a half day with the wife from Àcharn village up to the falls, eastwards along the way, then down to Kenmore and back along the shore, your posts have encouraged me to do the whole thing. Just have to see whether the wife wants to walk or drive!


Thanks very much Dave - hope you've got good boots for the hard roads :wink:

I missed the falls at Acharn as I went up to the Amulree route. Had a nice nosh in Kenmore though, sat on the balcony looking over the river. Lovely little village.
ramblingpete
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