Aberfoyle, a small village in the heart of The Trossachs, lies just one and a half hours north from my front door, and at this time of year the display of autumn colours is something to behold. But I haven't had a chance to get away recently to enjoy the spectacle anywhere. Last week Pauline returned from her holiday with a set of stunning photographs of autumn hues, which just made me envious.
Being freelance does have a number of downsides, but one big advantage is the flexibility of time. I had a couple of meetings scheduled for Tuesday last week, but with a little work, I rearranged and headed off for Aberfoyle, on a cloudless, blue-sky day, with hardly a breath of wind, and in less than two hours I was unloading my bicycle 3 miles beyond Aberfoyle village, on the shores of Loch Ard.
I then back-tracked toward Aberfoyle, before turning off into the forest that runs along the southern edge of Loch Ard. I've been here before with Pauline, and usually I just trundle along, ignoring any navigation. Needless to say, about half an hour in to the forest, I was lost. But it is a small loch and small circuit round it through this forest, so I knew if I kept heading roughly toward the mountain of Schiehallion, and kept the loch to my right, which I couldn't actually see, I would be fine.
It was a spectacular ride, through corridors of trees draped in rubys, gold and pale emeralds, with a constant shower of amber, carpeting the track. It was hard not to take a good photo. But I had not been paying attention very well, when I discovered that the track came to an end at a hidden and unexpected quarry.
I stuck to my plan and continued on, at one point having to push the bike up a very narrow and overgrown footpath. Eventually it popped out onto a more substantial forest road. I turned west toward the mountain in the distance, and then came face to face with an 8-foot high, wrought iron gate, with a deer fence either side. Luckily for me it was not padlocked, and once through I recognised the track that leads down to the village of Kinloch Ard.
It had only taken a brief amount of time to do the circuit, but it had been a complete joy.
I stopped on the edge of the village and heated up a pouch of food for lunch, washed down with coffee, as I enjoyed the peace interrupted only by a very vocal Robin in full song.
Back at the car there was still a few hours of daylight remaining, so I took a wander up a nearby natural wood, which is the start of the path that leads up to the mountain Ben Venue, which I had ascended earlier in the year, but back then it had been a misty and murky day, not so this day. Had I had more time I may well have continued on up to the summit. Inside the forest the sun filtered through the canopy, now with 50% of its leaf cover having fallen. But everywhere the forest looked healthy, with signs everywhere of low pollution.
With the light fading I returned to the car for the journey home. Altogether a thoroughly enjoyable day and autumn fix. Here's a few more pics from the day.