Carry on? on one of her many jaunts to the north of her queendom, Queen Victoria christened Glen Ogle ‘Scotland’s Khyber Pass‘, and after cycling up (us not her!), then back down through the glen. Who am I to disagree? A bit more peaceful I reckon.
The Roddy fella suggested an ‘oot’ but this time, I wasn’t told the venue, start or finish. I did remember one or two of his suggestions so it was off to find where I’ve stored his ‘ideas’ (and mine). I narrowed it down to three, Loch Katrine, Callander/Killin or Drymen/Aberfoyle.
I did get a hint the night before when I asked the food situation, I’d asked ‘carry’ or ‘dine out’. Callander it was. A supermarket ‘Express’ store is located at the start, the same shop mentioned a few days earlier by Lora . You can’t fool the Mhor. Touche, Mr Rod.
The bike was ready to go at the designated time but in true fashion, he was late.
The bikes fitted to the back of the yellow Land Rover and we were off northwards on a crisp, frosty morning.
Getting dressed for this trip in a cold, ice patched car park next to a river is not recommended, this before heading north out of the village. NCN 7 to Killin, into the unknown (for both of us). I’d only briefly read a little of this section, I wish I’d read some more. The climbing legs would be needed on two sections. The grass edges were showing white frost rime as we travelled along a flat slightly uneven surface before hitting some icy stretches travelling through the Pass of Leny, the nearby Garbh Uisge was in good flow, I’d came upon a couple of patches just before the Ben Ledi car park and with flashbacks of a recent spill in mind but no repeat. the car park was busy with walkers heading up to one of the Trossachs high points.
Soon we were riding along the west bank of Loch Lubnaig, heading out past holiday cabins, the track started rising higher above the loch before meeting a forest track before dropping down through the village of Strathyre. We left Strathyre on a recently upgraded tarmac track before passing views opening down to Balquhidder, there is an alternative path which takes Balquhidder in but today, we carried on across the road and headed up past the old station area, the track at this point was mostly compressed whin dust. The track at this point is a cracking run, slight rises, falls with sweeping bends before running straight towards Creggan
but we had now left the original railbed which wound high above us but it was on to start heading up the ‘Zig Zags’, a rise of over 220ft in roughly half a mile, a constant climb up a tarmac track before meeting the original track bed, a welcome water break. As you rise excellent views of Loch Earn start showing to your right, soon we crossed the bridge to start the constant rise up through Glen Ogle, I was surprised to learn later that it was a Cat 3 climb, mind you, it was a good free run back down on the return journey. The green glen and road are a bit below the old railway track but the jewel of this track is the short run across the spectacular Glen Ogle stone viaduct,
this must have been an achievement to build this in so isolated a place, trains must have laboured up this route at such a gradient. Nothing stopped the Victorian railway pioneers. You could almost imagine the conditions the navvies must have worked and lived in. Their camps, conditions and winter working must have been tough. No ‘Health and Safety’ in those bygone days.
The sun was shining on the opposite side of the glen which made for keep a brisk pace up the chilly open hillside, The viaduct was soon passed after a quick look at its structure.
Its popularity as a walk was soon clear as we met many family parties heading in both directions. A ‘ting ting’ and a ‘good morning’ passed
Finally, Glen Ogle conquered and it was across the main road to ride alongside before through a gate and a three-mile descent to Killin, down first a steep tarmac track, a run through a rough grassy, edged forestry track riding along one of the two-wheel ‘grooves’ before heading down a wide roughish forest track to the village of Killin. Ice still showing in puddles as the thought of the climb back up to Ogle was playing on my mind.
The track now joined the main road with a stop to have a quick look at the Falls of Dochart then it was off to find a chippy, no joy so we headed back the way we had come but stopped at a picnic bench to stock up on carbs and liquid. It was chilly in the shade but after a quick coffee and sarnies, it was back to the busy track.
Fish and chips aren’t the healthiest of food but I don’t care, I’ve been watching the calories but I needed carbs for the haul up from Killin.
The run back up was a steady climb with the steepest part at the head of the glen but after crossing the road it was almost a 5 mile downhill run, the legs being pleased about that. It was now mid afternoon and we would be fighting the light to get back to the start. A short stop to look at the views above Lochearnhead before sweeping down through the ‘zig zags’, easier than the climb, then along the bends with their switchbacks, up and downs was fun. Climbing up through Strathyre, the light was fading fast. My thoughts of icy patches at the path between the car park and the Pass were at the back of my mind. The forest lodge resort was alive with people out for a pre-dinner stroll and as we left the Ledi car park, a couple stopped us to say ice was forming on sections of the path. Roddy proposed I led as my light was brighter, aye, right, you go first old yin and I’ll know its icy when you fall on your erse. I shrugged my shoulders but the return trip into Callander was incident free. One twitch of a back wheel on a wooden slatted bridge at the edge of the village was all, thankfully.
It was pitch dark now but we were safely back.
An excellent day, good company and one I’d gladly do again.
My thanks as always to Wikipedia and all I have linked to.
The video is a (2x) descent from the top of Glen Ogle down NCN 7 to Killin, this gives you an idea of the various surfaces the track throws at you. I have other sections on film which I may add to this post in the near future. A big thanks go to Sustrans and its volunteers who do such an admirable job on their network country-wide.
I mentioned navvies and work, camp conditions earlier. I’d recommend Patrick McGill’s ‘Children of the Dead End’ which gives some insights, part of the book has local connections as he worked on the Greenock-Ayrshire railway line which now is part of NCN 75. A track I use daily. The book is available online HERE, hard copies available from the usual places.