Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
19th & 20th June 2010
A sunny weekend spent around the shores of Loch Katrine in the Trossachs.
After the straight forward drive down to the Dunblane turning on the A9 we headed out through Doune to Aberfoyle and then into Queen Elizabeth forest park before taking the single track roads to Stronachlachar. Our preferred starting point was at Corriearklet but our plans were scuppered after checking with the farmer to see if it was OK to park beside his access road. We moved the van down near to the dam on loch Arklet and found parking beside the road under the shade of some trees. A little way back up the road we found a rusty iron gate that allowed access to the hillside. After wading through tall grasses a couple of wooden posts marked a break in the fence line and allowed continuation of our journey up toward Meal Odhar and the ridgeline.
Loch Arklet and the Arrochar Alps
It was pretty rough going over tussock grass and the occasional bank of ferns but things eased a little as we gained height. Glen Arklet and its loch now stretched out below us and the top of Ben Lomond could now be seen above Beinn Uamha.
Loch Arklet and Ben Lomond in the distance
The ridge was damp and spongy but never very wet, cotton grass swayed and bobbed exposed to the stiff breeze. Tormentil provided bright splashes of yellow to further illuminate the lush green grasses that covered the hills.
Beinn a' Choin from Stob an Fhainne
From the top Stob an Fhainne a pathway of flattened grasses kept to the higher ground as it lead us over to Bealach a' Mheimm.
Stob an Fhainne from Bealach a' Mheimm
After weaving around and over rocky outcrops we soon neared the level summit area of Beinn a' Choin, hill of the dog, with its couple of small Lochan. The weather had remained fine and we enjoyed fine views all around especially to the north were the hills surrounding Crianlarich stood tall.
Crianlarich hills from Beinn a' Choin
A carpet of moss and grass a little below the summit provided a pleasant spot to enjoy a long lunch and a bit of a siesta. Our return route saw us drop back down to Bealach a' Mheimm before tackling the undulating ridge of Maol Mor.
The Corriearklet horsehoe, Stob an Fhainne & Maol Mor
After negotiating a number of hidden dips we arrived at the trig point with its fine views down to Loch Katrine.
Me with Crianlarich hills in the background
Loch Katrine from Maol Mor
Loch Katrine from Maol Mor
Leaving the ridge a little further down, we headed down beside a deep gorge in the hillside. Following a deer track we cut through the ferns to cross the ravine shortly after its steepest section. A fence lower down kept us next to the burn but allowed us to turn before crossing Allt Arklet as it ran down from Corrie Arklet. Another section of fence barred direct passage to the road but after following it for a short way a gate allowed access down to a farm shed near Corriearklet. It was now just a short section of road walking to get back to the van to complete our round of the Corriearklet horseshoe. Loch Arklet was looking very inviting and proved very refreshing as we enjoyed a fine swim and cooling finale to what had been quite a warm day. After drying off and changing we headed down to the small pier at Stronachlachar, our intended base for the night. The public convenience marked on the map was attached to the cafe and was unfortunately locked. The stiff breeze of the day had now died away allowing the midges to come out and become a bit of a nuisance. Leaving the shelter of the ferry point we headed back up the road and parked at the entrance to a farm field where we were exposed to a small breeze. It was time for something to eat and we managed to enjoy our food with just occasional midge intrusion during occasional drops in the wind. We returned to the pier to bed down for the night, the first few minutes inside the van spent trying to get rid of invading midges. The morning broke bright and clear and fortunately relatively insect free. A set of steps provided easy access to the cool waters of Loch Katrine as I took an early morning reviving swim. It was very enjoyable soaking up the early morning sun while seated on the water front having breakfast. A short way from the pier lies Factors Isle; this was used by Rob Roy Macgregor to imprison a rent collector of the Duke of Montrose in reprisal for the eviction of his family. The island is now surrounded by ornamental wall which forms a protective barrier against the increased water levels in the Loch.
Factors Isle on Loch Katrine
Some tourist coaches now started to appear, disrupting the tranquil atmosphere so we decided it was time to head on our way. About 500m east of Kinlochard there is a track that leads up to Leadard farm, this would be our starting point for a walk up Ben Venue. The parking area opposite was full but we found a smaller spot a little further east near a bench over looking Loch Ard. The path bypasses the farm as it meanders pleasantly upward through wooded hillside following the line of the Ledard burn. After a while a wooden post directed us left to climb higher above the burn but still under tree cover. Beinn Bhreac appeared above us as we gained more open grassy hillside and crossed the burn before a style. Eventually reaching a bealach we got our first views of Ben Venue, the path continued on a long traverse before appearing to rise steadily to the summit.
The final incline however hid a few dips and turns as the path snaked across the undulating terrain and around some rocky knolls. Instead of continuing along to the trig' point we branched left to climb up to the more westerly top and the summit. There were grand views now down to the shores of Loch Katrine were we watched the passage of the ferry boats.
Loch Katrine from Ben Venue
Stephan must have thought it was his birthday as he was allowed a second siesta in as many days; there had been mutterings in the camp more recently about the lack of opportunities to linger at the summits. A stiffening breeze made us stir from our comfortable lunch spot and get ready for our return.
Loch Venachar from Ben Venue
After negotiating the occasional slippery surface on the more gravely slopes around the top we continued down along the same route of approach. It was a nice steady descent and we progressed easily and we soon found ourselves back down at the farm.
Ledard Burn running down to Loch Ard
After the short walk along the road we arrived back at the van before stripping off to go for a swim. Refreshed after our dip we enjoyed a mug of tea and some biscuits before loading up and heading for home.
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