Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
5th and 6th April 2008
The Braes and surrounds of Balquhidder starting at Rob Roys resting place.
Spring had sprung but winter was lurking in the shadows waiting to make a return and did so on a number of occasions over the weeekend. After passing south through Lochearnhead and Balquhidder Station I turned off the road at the Kingshouse hotel. Passing underneath the main road it was just a short distance to reach the small village of Balquhidder. This lovely location has been the resting place of Rob Roy Macgregor for nearly three hundred years. After parking and preparing my bag I followed the path up the right hand side of church into Kirkton wood.
Rob Roy MacGregors resting place, Balquhidder Church
The trees thinned out further up the glen but new growth was appearing amongst the many tree stumps after a previous clearing.
Kirkton Glen and Meall an Fhoidhain
The main vehicle track continued for about 3km before a sign indicating the way to Glen Dochart lead onto a smaller path. I then weaved my way up through some logs and young pine to reach a stile. Over the fence the hillside was grassy but well cropped by sheep. The path then steepened as it approached some crag's and Lochan an Eireannaich. This provided a good spot for some tea and biscuits.
Lochan an Eireannaich
Lochan an Eireannaic is at the head of the glen and the bealach here provided the first views of the Stob Binnien and Ben More out to the west.
Stob Binnein and Ben More
As expected as I rounded the crag's on their west side I was exposed to the strong cold northerly winds. I followed a line of old steel fence posts up onto the ridge above the crag's that had dominated the skyline up Kirkton Glen. The posts guided me along as I climbed over Meall an Fhiodhain. My final top of Meall an t-Seallaidh could now be seen in the distance.
The view east to Meall an t-Seallaidh
The views opened out over Glen Dochart to the north giving an early warning of approaching weather systems.
Snow showers blown on the wind
The skies at this point darkened all across the horizon so I stopped to pull on some protection against the impending blizzard. The snows came down heavily for over 20 minutes as I made my way across to the small Lochan at the foot of Cam Chreag. The skies quickly cleared as I continued on my way over to the summit of Meall an t-Seallaidh showing Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin over in the east. The rocky top gave good shelter from the wind and occasional snow shower so I had a leisurely lunch in relative comfort. I then strolled on south east for about 1.5km before turning south west down to the corner of a plantation and wood above Balquhidder. Loch Voil shone silver as flashes of sun broke through dark snow ladden clouds as they were swept across the sky.
Loch Voil as the skies darkened
After reaching the wood I followed the way marked trail back to the church at Balquhidder. I had passed a B&B on the way into the village so made this my first port of call when looking for a bed for the night. The owner said they were to be up early in the morning so weren't opening but suggested the Kingshouse Hotel. This is where I stayed enjoying a nice liver, bacon and sausage casserole in the adjoining Rob Roy bar. On Sunday morning I awoke to find a couple of inches snow covering the ground and an even stronger wind blowing than Saturday. The weather started to improve as I had breakfast looking out down the Braes of Balquhidder. I decided not to stray far and opted for a walk on the adjacent hill to the day before. Starting just up the road in Lochearnhead I made my way through the village and up onto the dismantled railway line. This has now become a walk and cycle way that leads up Glen Ogle. Instead of heading north up Glen Ogle I ventured the other way heading for Glen Kendrum.
Creag Mac Ranaich at the top of Glen Kendrum
A track followed the glen up to a Bealach between Meall an t-Seallaidh and my hill for the day, Creag Mac Ranaich. There were some impressive icicles to be admired dangling from peaty ridges at the side of the track and later from rocks on the hillside.
A steep ascent lead through some rocky out crops to bring me to the first of Creag Mac Ranaich's two tops. Fresh snow from the morning was laying in patches but a lot had been blown away on the wind. However the hills were still showing a lot whiter than thay had on Saturday. The second top was just another 300m north past a frozen lochan.
Stob Binnien & Ben More
After a brief visit to the summit cairn I dropped back down on the south side to escape the wind. It was that time again, tea time, on this occasion to be accompanied by probably the best bun loaf in the world, mum's. It was soon time to move off again now I had to contend with the strong icy wind. Fortunately I had remembered my balaclava and ski goggles which really helped. With nose and cheeks protected and the goggles preventing my eyes watering I made my way back up and past the cairn and then followed the north east ridge. On the way down I had to negotiate some rough heathery and boggy ground to gain the upper reaches of Glen Ogle.
Lochan Lairig Cheile at the head of Glen Ogle
After pausing at Lochan Lairig Cheile to finish the remains of my lunch and have a hot drink it would be downhill all the way for the last few K.
Part of the old railway line, Glen Ogle
Instead of following the tarmac path and cycle way I climbed over a stile onto the rather wet grassy path that winds down the glen. This at least brought me out of the shadows and afforded good views of the viaduct that once supported the now dismantled railway line.
Glen Ogle old railway line Viaduct
I was soon at the car park and after a quick cleanup and change of cloths I was on my way back to Aberdeen via Perth.
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