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Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Rob Roy Way - The Long Route


Postby Gordie12 » Sat May 16, 2015 1:31 pm

Route description: Rob Roy Way

Date walked: 09/05/2015

Time taken: 4 days

Distance: 157.4 km

Ascent: 3630m

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Over the winter I had been looking for a good 4 day walk that would get the legs and feet warmed up for the Pennine Way which I'm due to do next month and this seemed to fit the bill. I decided to include the Amulree leg as this would increase the mileage to around 98 miles and this seemed to fit nicely in to 4 days of fairly varied walking.

Day 1 - Drymen - Callander
21.9 miles
2123 ft of ascent
06:25 moving time
00:25 stopped time
3.4 moving average
3.2 overall average.

We arrived in Drymen at 9.30am and the place was heaving, very difficult to get parked and everyone seemed to be putting on walking boots or heading off in groups towards the West Highland Way (either that or The Rob Roy Way would be a lot busier than I had anticipated).

I was ready to start walking by 9.40am as Andrea headed home after giving me a lift to my starting point. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning as I started the gentle ascent up the road, past Drymen primary school and on up the narrow road towards Garadhban Forest.

1-1.jpg
Leaving Drymen behind


It seemed most folk were heading back to where they left the WHW the previous night rather than heading up the same road as me so there were only a couple of us on this road. Once I was past the point where the WHW crosses the road I assumed things would get a bit quieter and that proved to be the case. Once out of the woods the incline eased and the views opened up in all directions. It was a really easy walk down to the Old Drymen Road car park about a mile beyond Muir Park reservoir with only the odd car on the road.

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Approaching car park


The RRW turns left at the car park and heads directly towards Ben Lomond in the distance. I was assuming the tarmac would end at the car park but it continued for another couple of miles. I noticed when switching to a track that I had been walking for an hour and forty five minutes so a fair amount of tarmac at the start (around 7 miles).

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Approaching Corrie


After setting off the dogs at Corrie I now had the pipeline taking water from Loch Katrine to Glasgow for company.

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There is a diversion in Loch Ard Forest, I couldn't hear any sound at all and considered ignoring the diversion but in the end I followed the signs as it didn't seem to add much to the journey. The diversion is actually really well signed and only adds on about half a mile.

Arriving in Aberfoyle was a shock to the system, having only seen a couple of people all morning I'm suddenly in tourist territory.

I left Aberfoyle behind and headed through the Dounans Centre and on to a forestry track that climbed past Aberfoyle Golf Club. Eventually the track ends and there is then a narrow muddy enclosed path through the dark forest - a bit of a grind but short lived thankfully. I left the wood behind and there was then a grassy track through open moorland which lasted for about a mile before it was then back in to the woods. The final approx. 400 yards down to Lochan Allt A' Chip Dhuibh is quite simply a pain in the backside. Really muddy, a lot of standing water and slow going trying to keep the feet as dry as possible. I was glad when the narrow path linked up with another forestry track that headed away from the lochan.

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Approaching Lochan Allt a' Chip Dhuibh


This left the best part of the day for me. As the trees thinned and the views opened up Loch Venachar and Ben Ledi came in to view - simply stunning.

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Ben Ledi


The track gradually dropped down and linked up with the road on the south side of Loch Venachar and from there it was a short walk along the road before a final short climb through woods and a drop down in to Callander.

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I was feeling really good at the end of day 1, good weather, great scenery and I had set a decent pace so a good start but I knew the forecast for the next day was a complete contrast and it would be a much tougher day.

Day 2 - Callander - Killin
21.8 miles
1414 ft of ascent
06:00 moving time
00:12 stopped time
3.6 moving average
3.5 overall average.

The rain started in the early hours of the morning and only let up for a brief hour all day. As a rule, I don't wear waterproofs on the basis that after the rain the sun will come out and I can dry off but I knew that wouldn't be the case today so it was waterproofs on from the start and I took the bottoms off my trousers so I had shorts on under the waterproof trousers to help me keep cool.

I had previously cycled from Callander to Strathyre so knew what the track was like (pretty flat and easy walking). It was a day for sticking the head down, engaging a fairly fast gear and getting it done so off I went.

2-1.jpg
A mile out of Callander


I had always planned to include Ben Ledi as part of this walk as the route of the RRW goes through the hill car park and the temptation would just be too much, but not today. There were a couple of hardy souls leaving the car park and heading up the path ahead of me but I didn't see the point in joining them as it was misty in the car park never mind higher up the hill. As I walked through the cabins at the south end of Loch Lubnaig I could see people looking out their windows and watching me, no doubt thinking only idiots would be out in days like this (none invited me in for breakfast :( ).

This part of the RRW follows cycle route 7 and there are a few cyclists around but nobody else is walking.

2-2.jpg
Loch Lubnaig through the gloom - approaching Strathyre


I by-passed Strathyre and headed on for Lochearnhead. This part of the walk is pretty close to the A84 and is tarmac until about a mile short of Lochearnhead. Very easy walking, more tarmac but no problem for the feet except for the fact that they are very wet.

2-3.jpg
Approaching Lochearnhead


Finally as I left Lochearnhead the rain eased, still very low cloud but at least the conditions had improved a little bit. The walk up Glen Ogle was brilliant even if the views were very limited. The surface of the disused railway line is great for walking on and the incline is as you would expect, gentle.

2-4.jpg
Glen Ogle


2-5.jpg
Viaduct


At Lochearnhead I remembered about the hut at the lay by at the top of Glen Ogle where I could buy some food to keep me going to Killin. With nothing in my head other than thoughts of food I did the entire climb of Glen Ogle trying to decide what I would have. As I crossed over the A85 and approached the hut I had decided it would be a burger and a can of coke. Decision taken I could almost smell the food as I approached the hut only to find that it was shut :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH.

2-6.jpg
I'm a broken man


Just to rub salt on the wound the rain is now back on for the last few miles down to Killin - really, really miserable finish to the day.

I was surprised to see my walking average for this day but there is really very little in the way of climbing although I thought the waterproofs would have slowed me down more than they did. In decent weather this would be a really easy day.

Day 3 Killin - Amulree
29.4 miles
5750 ft of ascent
09:12 moving time
00:56 stopped time (at least 30 mins must have been for waterproof changes)
3.2 moving average
2.9 overall average.

At the planning stage this day always looked like being the toughest with a high mileage and a lot of ascent. I was familiar with both the climbs away from Loch Tay but the finish after Auchnafree would be new to me.

I headed down in to Killin around 7.30am (to stock up on grub), the sun was out, short sleeves were on, today would be a good day.

Had to stop for the mandatory shot of the Falls of Dochart with the river level high after 24 hours of rainfall.

3-1.jpg
Falls of Dochart - Killin


The walk out of Killin on the south road starts off with a gentle climb until reaching the road that heads up to Lochan Breaclaich and Creag Gharbh (which was the reason I had been here previously). This is the 1st climb of the day and it is tough, I was glad when the gate came in to view as I knew I would be through the worst of it and on to open ground.

3-2.jpg
Heading towards Lochan Breaclaich


As I approached Lochan Breaclaich the weather suddenly changed, the sun was gone, dark clouds rapidly took their place and the wind really picked up. The walk to the dam, round the loch and up to the weather station was as miserable as miserable gets. Driving rain and hailstones pinging off my face at 40mph and it was slowing me down so the climb took longer than it normally would. Once I was past the hut and on the other side of the hill I was sheltered from the wind but not from the rain.

3-3.jpg
Lochan Breaclaich


I knew from the WH notes I needed to stay on the track until I reached a pipeline then when it turned 90 degrees to the right I would be heading left.

3-4.jpg
I think I've found the pipeline


The next stage down to Braentrian was just a bogfest. There are posts every few hundred yards so although the path disappears quite often there is always a post to head for. Once I was beyond the two areas of forestry there is an obvious track down to the farm in the distance but today the track was a burn. There is a ford down this track but the bridge just off to the left was needed as the burn had turned in to a river overnight.

Passing the outdoor centre the sun came out again and spirits were raised.

3-5.jpg


3-6.jpg


Back on the south Loch Tay road I forgot how lumpy it is so I didn't get the break I had been hoping for. Having walked from Ardeonaig to Ardtalnaig it was time for the second climb of the day away from Loch Tay. Before starting the climb the waterproofs came off as this was going to be warm work as the initial few hundred yards is pretty steep.

The gradient eased and I passed the farm at Claggan and followed the track between Sron a Chaoineidh and the Shee of Ardtalnaig. The waterproofs were back on, the rain was hammering down and the wind was so strong it knocked me sideways twice as it funnelled between the two hills and down the glen. Another of my daily milestones is reached, I can see Ben Chonzie so Glen Almond isn't far away.

At Dunan I change direction to head down Glen Almond and I'm no longer battling the strong wind, it was also at this point I saw the only other walker who was out here today.

3-7.jpg
Dunan


Before reaching the weir on the river Almond I had to negotiate a tricky burn that meant I had to climb 150 yards up a hill before the jump would be safe. The speed of the water shooting down the hill was amazing and not to be messed with. At the weir I stopped for a quick sandwich before heading down the glen with my next milestone of Auchnafree still a long way away.

3-9.jpg


I had forgotten how long Glen Almond was, or the legs were starting to tire. Either way it felt like it took ages to get to Auchnafree, not helped by the on off of the waterproofs with the now frequent heavy showers that are passing overhead.

The last section of the day from Auchnafree would be new to me as I had never walked through Glen Lochan. After Auchnafree there is a bit of a climb to get in to the glen initially on a wide track then on a stalkers path. The glen is very enclosed but it is beautiful and completely different from any other part of the RRW. Once through the narrowest section and heading for Lochan a Mhuilinn the path got really boggy and I bailed out on to higher ground and a wide track that would take me to the far end of the lochan. From here it was a steady drop down to the Loch Freuchie - Amulree road and a last couple of miles on tarmac. The last 2 hours from Auchnafree were great, the wind died down and the sun came out (and stayed out) all the way to Amulree although the dark clouds were again gathering as I met Andrea who had come over to pick me up.

A tough day, an enjoyable day (at times), a long day and another day of wet feet so they look like they have been soaking in the bath for a couple of hours. My only concern is that the nail on the little toe of my left foot looks like it is starting to make a break for freedom but hopefully will be OK for the last day.

Day 4 Amulree - Pitlochry

24.7 miles
2622 ft of ascent
07:15 moving time
00:27 stopped time
3.4 moving average
3.2 overall average.

The forecast for today is for a good clear morning but deteriorating as the day goes on so after a night at home I'm back in Amulree and walking by 5.45am. I have a couple of blister pads on my little toe to keep the nail in position so hopefully things will be OK.

I chose to head back along the road rather than the track on the north side of the loch as the sun was out on the road but the track was in shade and it was freezing cold after an overnight frost.

The first few miles were easy going although I knew there was a tough climb to follow as the road headed out of the glen and over towards Kenmore.

A combination of the cold and the tarmac meant my pace was good as I crossed the bridge at Garrow and started the climb. My previous experience of this climb was in an old car that struggled up the hill and I had also cycled up it many moons ago. It was just as I remembered it but possibly over the mists of time it had become steeper in my head than it actually proved to be (that said it is till a fair old climb).

4-2.jpg
Climbing away from Garrow


On the high point of the road the views over to Ben Lawers and pals, the Glen Lyon horseshoe and Schiehallion were terrific but they were rudely interrupted by a grouse that jumped out of the heather on to the road just ahead of me. My thoughts drifted back a couple of years to a "fight" I had with a pheasant who didn't want me to continue on a track near Kirkton of Glenisla and I wondered if I had found myself in the same situation. As I walked towards the grouse he made a couple of noises which didn't sound overly friendly then when he started to head straight towards me I knew I had a problem. I had heather to my left and a high bank to my right so I could either leave the road to my left or keep walking straight on down the road. I chose to head to my left and he blocked me off, OK, I tried to walk down the road but again he blocked my way. I was now fairly certain I knew what would happen next and sure enough he took off from 6 feet away and tried to peck me in the stomach as I batted him off with my arm. I started to walk faster down the road and for the next 100 yards he continued to go for my stomach and ankles as I tried to keep him at bay. As with the pheasant, industrial language just seemed to make him even grumpier so it was a great relief when he had "escorted" me out of his territory and he headed off back up the road to mum and the kids. I could now relax but I had another 5 miles of grouse moor to negotiate and each grouse I met was watched closely but none of them were aggressive.

At the lochan I left the Kenmore road and picked up a good track that took me down to the woods at the Birks of Aberfeldy. Before the birks there is no access through Urlar Farm but there is a clearly signed diversion for walkers. Down at the birks I saw 6 red squirrels - great to see them thriving in this area.

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Falls at Birks of Aberfeldy


4-4.jpg
Mr R Burns


In Aberfeldy the smell coming from the bakers was just too much for me so I had a sausage roll and a can of coke to keep me going. The walk from Aberfeldy to Grandtully along the bank of the River Tay was great (initially on a narrow track with open fields to my right then utilising the old railway line approaching Grandtully) with good views and easy walking.

4-5.jpg
River Tay looking towards Aberfeldy


I crossed the bridge over the River Tay at Grandtully then through Strathtay and on through the golf course as the path climbed first through woods and then open ground. What followed was a couple of fairly drab miles, the track was narrow and muddy and enclosed by either broom or gorse - I was glad to reach Fonab forest and the forestry track.

All that was left now was a short flat section and then a drop down through the woods to reach the A9. By the time I arrived in the middle of Pitlochry at the memorial garden the first spots of rain had started so it was a well timed finish.

I really enjoyed The Rob Roy Way, probably more tarmac than I would like but as some of the route is along cycle route 7 it's not that much of a surprise. Taking in Amulree brings the mileage up to 97.8 miles and with 3630m of ascent (albeit a lot of this is covered on day 3) it's a good test for the legs.
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Gordie12
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Re: Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Postby Scotsman2012 » Sun May 17, 2015 7:10 pm

Enjoyed reading that as I'll be doing the RRW in July but taking 6 days over the shorter route.

What did you do for accommodation in Callander & Killin? And any recommendations for eating out in either of those places?
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Re: Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Postby andrewl7642 » Mon May 18, 2015 8:44 pm

Can't believe you bumped into Rabbie Burns :shock:
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Re: Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Postby Gordie12 » Tue May 19, 2015 8:38 pm

Scotsman2012 wrote:Enjoyed reading that as I'll be doing the RRW in July but taking 6 days over the shorter route.

What did you do for accommodation in Callander & Killin? And any recommendations for eating out in either of those places?


Hi

Fingers crossed for July - hope you get decent weather.

In Callander I spent the night at The Old Rectory Inn. It's on the main road at the west end of town which is a perfect location for the RRW. The room was a good size, the food was good (evening meal and breakfast) and the owners friendly. In the morning I crossed the road and was basically back on the RRW again.

In Killin I was at The Old Smiddy. The room was a bit smaller than Callander but I've been in rooms half the size so no problem. Evening meal and breakfast were also good, the evening meal was a bit more expensive and no lager on draught so £3.95 for a bottle ( :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: ). The Old Smiddy is 30 yards over the bridge for the Falls of Dochart so again is perfectly situated for the RRW as it is just a case of crossing the bridge and picking up the South Loch Tay road.

Preferred Callander but I'd recommend both places.
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Re: Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Postby Gordie12 » Tue May 19, 2015 8:40 pm

andrewl7642 wrote:Can't believe you bumped into Rabbie Burns :shock:


He didn't have much to say for himself, seemed to be a bit engrossed in a book so left him to it.

Got your long distance walks planned for this year??
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Re: Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Postby Silverhill » Tue May 19, 2015 11:17 pm

That’s some mileage you clocked up each day! It sounds like a bit too much tarmac for me, but judging from the pictures still a nice area to walk. :D Good luck with the Pennine Way!
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Re: Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Postby andrewl7642 » Wed May 20, 2015 1:15 am

Yes Gordie I have, thanks for asking.

Just completed the Dava Way last week, got Cowal Way coming up this weekend, then doing the West Highland Way and Great Glen again end of the month. I have "Cateran Trail" and "The Trail of 7 Lochs" planned for June, Affrick Kintail Way planned for July or August. Going to be busy. Got to burn off the calories I put on over winter somehow. :lol:
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Re: Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Postby Gordie12 » Wed May 20, 2015 8:21 pm

Silverhill wrote:That’s some mileage you clocked up each day! It sounds like a bit too much tarmac for me, but judging from the pictures still a nice area to walk. :D Good luck with the Pennine Way!


Hi Silverhill

Must admit, more tarmac than I had anticipated but still good fun.

I think I may need some good luck with the Pennine Way, I'm starting to get a bit nervous about it.
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Re: Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Postby Gordie12 » Wed May 20, 2015 8:23 pm

andrewl7642 wrote:Yes Gordie I have, thanks for asking.

Just completed the Dava Way last week, got Cowal Way coming up this weekend, then doing the West Highland Way and Great Glen again end of the month. I have "Cateran Trail" and "The Trail of 7 Lochs" planned for June, Affrick Kintail Way planned for July or August. Going to be busy. Got to burn off the calories I put on over winter somehow. :lol:


Wow, that's a serious amount of mileage - you thinking about writing a guide book once you've done all these???
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Re: Rob Roy Way - The Long Route

Postby andrewl7642 » Wed May 20, 2015 9:29 pm

I hadn't thought about that Gordie, but maybe I should!
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