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Sing a song of sixpence

Sing a song of sixpence

Postby Tazman » Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:20 pm

Route description: Rob Roy Way

Date walked: 23/09/2013

Time taken: 4 days

Distance: 128 km

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From our previous experience doing the WHW, 4 days should be enough, considering blisters and all.
Planning for this walk had started 6 months earlier to ensure suitable accommodation was available at each stop, in particular the section between Killin and Aberfeldy but also Pitlochry was filling up fast due to the Ryder Cup.
So, the plans are complete; Callander, Killin, Acharn and Pitlochry; days off work approved and accommodation confirmed. Then, just a couple of weeks before the event, I read some negative reports on a generic website on our Killin stay but a couple of quick e-mail enquiries and we have a suitable Killin alternative arranged and the initial booking cancelled.
The big day finally arrives. A last minute check on a favourable weather forecast, my smaller toes encased in toe tubes held in place with zinc oxide tape, a family member picking us up at 6am and we are in Drymen and walking by 07:20 on day 1.
Nothing new about this section since we were along here the previous September doing the WHW except the weather with a very light fog but at least the sun was obscured protecting the bald parts.
Looking down on an early morning Drymen

Pretty hard going on the feet as the ground is all blacktop or compact tracks then a logging detour in Loch Ard Forest adds another couple of unexpected scenic miles to the distance but sadly, by the time we reach Aberfoyle, my better half is starting to suffer with her feet. :problem: Unusual as she managed six days to Kinlochleven on the WHW before her feet gave concern. The tables have turned this time. Anyway, during a brief lunch where I venture to obtain fresh drinks to minimize her walking distance, we continue round the back of the golf course and at the start of the second forest section, stop for a wee refreshment from our flasks.
Refuel stop

Eventually, Loch Venachar is in sight which I haven’t seen for many years with Callander not far off, or so my GPS told me with distance to go until I noticed it hadn’t downloaded all the via points as it must have reached its limit. Morale sinking, we continue another few miles, cross the bridge and after 9 hours 50, arrive at our accommodation for the night, shower, change and enjoy a lovely, welcome meal. A small blister appears on the inside of my big toe that wasn’t bothering me but some tape will take care of that. My better half not in such good shape though.
The next morning, we are fed and on the way by 9:30 where several joggers take advantage of the well surfaced cycle track. We make good progress considering the aches on the easy track and stop for a short rest and foot inspection at a small bridge before reaching the Strathyre Log Cabins park then a longer break in the small picnic area in Strathyre next to the village shop for some scoobies and a small sip from those flasks again. Across the road, we ascend into the forest section but by the time we reach Mhor 84, she is really suffering with her feet so we stop for another break and another check on the feet. No visible damage so must just be the constant pounding they are getting from the hard surface. Joining National Cycle Route 7 again, we trek through the trees and up the zig zag track to reach the old dismantled railway route above Lochearnhead for some lovely views along the loch.

Progress has slowed even more by now and a change of footwear into soft shoes she had brought for the nights didn’t help and this track seems never-ending. Eventually, we reach the pedestrian crossing at Glen Ogle where we have driven many times going north on holiday though never seen anybody doing this walk. Darker clouds are forming and time is advancing faster than our progress then a light drizzle starts as we are in the forest section with a couple of miles to our destination for the night but thankfully, it doesn’t last long. Soon, we are seeing people out walking their dogs so Killin can’t be far away now and before we know it, just before dusk descends, there are the Falls of Dochart with our accommodation just over the bridge. Finally!!! A long blast from a powerful, hot shower and I’m refreshed but wifey is not so fortunate. Heels are really painful at this point and during our meal upstairs in the Capercallie restaurant discuss our options when she tells me that to take her mind off the pain, she was singing ‘sing a song of sixpence’ and ‘ten green bottles’ to herself all along the disused railway track from Lochearnhead to Killin. :lol: :lol: :lol: Personally, I would have found something better to sing such as a good Eagles song but hey ho, whatever works.
Both of us had built ourselves up for this walk all year and wanted to continue. Now some might consider this selfish but the decision was made that to continue slowly on very painful feet to Acharn where there are limited transport options was not a good idea so in the morning if feet were no better, I would continue alone and my better half would get the bus back to Callander then a connecting bus to hometown to avoid any more damage to her feet, then meet me in Pitlochry.
After a hearty breakfast, a packed lunch for one kindly made by the owners, we bid each other a fond farewell and go our separate ways with my better half really annoyed at herself that she couldn’t continue. No worries as we can always do it again. With new bottles of water, I commence the long climb to the dam and reservoir before stopping for a first break and some amazing scenery looking over to the Ben Lawers range we had climbed many years before and the mountains to the west and south.
Lawers range.png
Lawers range

From here, it’s a gradual descent through open countryside with some tall, yellow-capped marker posts every couple of hundred metres guiding the way across the grassy, trackless sections from the above-ground pipeline all the way down to the farm. The track passes the Outdoor Centre busy with teens and on to the Ardeonaig Hotel, where as suspected, it hadn’t opened for the day, hence the packed lunch from Killin. Sitting on the wall of the bridge for lunch, a couple of cars arrive and depart finding the Hotel closed though there were staff inside preparing for a later opening possibly. Strange that in September and still tourist season they are prepared to lose custom. Their choice. Packed lunch finished, it’s a long, tedious eight miles walk along a single track road to Acharn with only the occasional sighting of wildlife to keep me company with my better half already recovering in the comforts of home at this point.

(Sorry if you were planning on sneaking home without anybody knowing but I had already sent an SMS to a few saying you were on your way home as you had ran out of Glayva). :lol: So 1.5 hours ahead of planned arrival, I reach Acharn and our (my) B&B destination for the night explaining why there was only one of us when it was booked for two. :oops:
The next morning, a breakfast and another packed lunch later, I’m on my way again up another climb for a quick stop at the Falls of Acharn
Falls of Acharn

then to a gated field. Once through the gate, a sharp right turn sees me facing a cow standing just to the left of the track, a cow lying on the grass just to the right of the track and a calf standing beside it so I take a few more steps closer then realize that the beast on the right wasn’t a cow just resting its legs, it was a monster taking the weight off its manhood. :wtf: What to do? Continue? Take a sharp exit left over the mound? I decide to continue with eyes fixed on the ground ahead, no sudden movements and ears at 100% listening for any movement. Phew! I get beyond them with no trouble. I hope any readers weren’t expecting photographs of this stage as getting as far away from the bull as possible was my primary thought. If you’ve seen the pedigree bulls on the Isle of Tiree, you would do the same. Not to be messed with. I’ll leave that for the Rodeo guys.
Tiree Pedigree.png
Tiree Pedigree Bulls

Keeping in mind that sometimes, the best views are behind you, I get a few more pics of Loch Tay in the open sections
Looking back to Loch Tay and Taymouth Castle

before reaching the heights above Aberfeldy and the stepped descent down the side of the Birks o’ Aberfeldy. After the packed lunch and another check on the feet at a bench in the parking area, I cross the road and take the waymarked track through the trees following a burn to reach a stone archway and the town centre where I replenish my water in the supermarket.
Passing the caravan site on the left and the Distillery on the right (where unfortunately I have no time to visit (for now)), the route once again heads into the trees and along the banks of the silvery Tay where it eventually merges with a dismantled railway line and good progress is made again where I spot a Red Squirrel trying its best to avoid being photographed. However, before reaching Little Ballinluig, a short detour due to track repairs takes you through a field, under the disused rail bridge and onto the A827 before reaching Grandtully where there is a well-placed bench at the bus stop straight across from the chocolate shop to rest my tired and weary legs and feet. If only my sweetheart was here to visit it but then that would burden us with more weight.

Crossing over the bridge and looking down where canoe slalom poles are suspended above the falls, it’s a short distance to grassy tracks once again with another never-ending climb through gorse and other shrub sometimes impeding progress with morale and energy at an all-time low but eventually, I’m clear and back on flattish ground heading for Ballechin Wood with the thought of Cranachan after my meal in the Rosemount on my mind to help me along. With sun shining on my back and a Buff to protect my neck, I’m out of the trees with my first views of Pitlochry in the foreground
First view pitlochry.png
The end is nigh

and onto the A9 where I have to wait a few minutes for a break in the traffic. Crossing the foot bridge over the Tummel with a couple of pictures upstream of the Dam with fish ladder to the left of it...
Pitlochry hydro, dam and fish ladder

I finally find a burst of energy from somewhere (maybe the thought of that Cranachan) and increase speed through the streets passing several tourists on the way to the finish at the war memorial and gardens.
The end

A left turn up the main street and I meet my wife who had just arrived on the train.
A few hundred metres later and we are at the Rosemount where a lovely meal awaits finished by that long-desired Cranachan specially made as they had recently removed it from the menu for Autumn. M m m m m. Deserves another visit.
Still annoyed at not finishing, she is eager to complete it another time. Killin is easy for us to reach using public transport so no big issue. However, if it was me, I would do it from the start again rather than completing it in 2 separate stages, but that’s just me. Whatever she is happy doing to complete it is her choice. Watch this space.
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Joined: Aug 26, 2011
Location: Central Jockland

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