Friday, 16 December 2016


It's been a wee while since Pauline and I have ventured out on an overnight bike trip, and with the weather forecast to be unseasonably mild and fine, we headed off on the train to Dunblane, just north of Stirling.

Within minutes of getting off the train late morning, we were out of Dunblane and onto quiet little backroads, heading north toward Comrie. At one point, as we pootled along on easy roads, I spotted this buzzard standing motionless, just metres from the edge of the road, patiently watching the ground in front of it for movement.

Our goal for the first day was to leave the main road before Comrie and tackle Glenartney, across the hills on a dirt track, to eventually bring us in from the north into Callander.

Within a few miles of setting off we passed through a small settlement called Braco, which prompted me to have an attempt at humour. I pronounced it "Baraco" and asked Pauline if Obama was from here, followed by wondering if anyone had ever said that before. If not, then I might have set a "precedent" (president, get it?!). 

There was a strong head wind all the way from Dunblane to the farm at the start of the hill track in Glenartney, and this put us behind. Given that there are less daylight hours just now, we had set ourselves a difficult time schedule. I was also feeling less than 100% due to lack of sleep caused by pretty bad toothache, and Pauline was still recovering from a seasonal bug. All things combined, put us at the top of Glenartney watershed by mid afternoon as the sun was on its downward approach.

Rounding a bend in the track at one point brought into view the mountains of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin, which was a bit of a wow moment for me I must admit.

The light was starting to go across the mountains, with the suns rays creating a beautiful sight on distance hills.

We pushed on, along track that became increasingly boggy in places, until we reached a small, disused reservoir in the shadow of Stuc a'Chroin at Arivurichardich.

It was a fast downhill for the few miles into Callander from this point, and by then it was time to dig out the lights. Had we been on schedule we may have stopped for coffee, but instead we pushed on to a small camp clearing on the edge of Loch Venachar for the night, pitching our tents in darkness.

Our goal for the trip was to complete a circuit around the area of Glen Finglas. When we woke in the morning the wind had dropped to near zero and it was still mild. We hid the majority of our gear and set off west toward the glen.

But quickly it was obvious my toothache was gathering strength, and it was all I could do to concentrate on the cycle for more than a few miles.

We stopped within site of our goal at compass markers on the ground made from granite stone, and made the decision that Glen Finglas would still be there another day when we were both feeling fitter.

Now Callander beckoned once again and a pharmacy for strong painkillers.

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