A walk by Loch Drunkie

There are 22 major lochs and numerous smaller lochs and lochans in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Among the smaller freshwater lochs is Loch Drunkie which lies to the south of Loch Venachar and is accessible from the Three Lochs Forest Drive off the Duke’s Pass between Aberfoyle and Loch Achray. The loch is the starting point for three walks.

Loch Drunkie is visible below from the Duke’s Pass

The loch’s name is a curious one and its origins are obscure. Drunkie is an anglicised version of the loch’s Gaelic name, Drongaidh. The name dates from at least the 15th century and may simply refer to the physical characteristics of the loch which lies in a hollow or depression in the landscape.

The first glimpse of Loch Drunkie in the distance from the Forest Drive
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Up close & personal with a pine marten

Pine martens are native to Scotland but are an uncommon sight. About the same size as an average cat, the pine marten is now a protected species with only an estimated 3,700 adults in Scotland.

Pine marten in the wild.
Pine marten photographed in the Scottish Highlands.
Image credit: BROTY1 on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

Numbers declined dramatically in the 19th century when they were frequently killed by gamekeepers on sporting estates to stop them eating the young pheasants being reared for shooting. But they are again appearing in areas where they were once common and the native woodlands around Tigh a’ Mhaide are a perfect environment for them. They are beautiful creatures with their dark brown fur, long bushy tails and creamy yellow bibs.

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Local peak among top views in Scotland

Visit Scotland has ranked the view from the top of local peak Ben A’an at number five on its list of top 12 iconic Scottish views.

Ben A'an from Loch Achray

Ben A’an is a popular walk with visitors to The Trossachs. At 1491 feet (454m), it’s not the highest hill in the area but is a favourite with visitors because of its accessibility and stunning view. Its distinctive triangular peak towers above the Trossachs Kirk on the shores of Loch Achray and from the top, there’s a panoramic view over almost the entire length of Loch Katrine with Ben Lomond beyond to the west. Ben Venue is directly opposite to the south and to the east are Lochs Achray and Venachar.

The view from Ben A'an

Seen from the peak of Ben A’an, Loch Katrine stretches away into the distance. Image credit: J S Cox

You can see the full list of 12 iconic Scottish views on the Visit Scotland website here and there’s a detailed description of the Ben A’an walk on the excellent Walk Highlands website here.

Trossachs beer festival 2019

The 2019 Trossachs Beer Festival kicks off next Friday (August 23) at The Lade Inn, Kilmahog. A traditional beer festival with live folk music on Friday and Saturday nights throughout, the event is a chance to sample from a collection of 160 Scottish real ales. Running for two weeks until Sunday September 8, the festival music will be provided by Sannock, Pure Malt and Baran. For more information, contact The Lade Inn on 01877 330152 or email info@theladeinn.com.

Cycle tour of Scotland creates a stir

The first Women’s Cycle Tour of Scotland arrived in Brig o’ Turk today, and just as quickly left again, as around 90 cyclists tackled stage 2 of this new 350km road race. The day’s route covered almost 140km from Glasgow to Perth.

An international field of top-class competitors sped through the village shortly after tackling a gruelling climb over the Duke’s Pass. Arriving in Perth less than 3.5 hours after setting off from Glasgow, the stage winner was Alison Jackson of the US team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank.

The race moves on to its 3rd and final stage on Sunday August 11 with a route of almost 120km from Edinburgh to the Borders and back. Find out more about the race at https://womenstourofscotland.com/.

Highland Games: What’s the story?

This is Highland Games season in Scotland with games taking place the length and breadth of the country between May and September. Competitive tests of strength, speed and endurance are the centrepiece of Highland Games with some contests unique to such events. Where else do competitors toss the caber by attempting to hurl telegraph-pole lengths of timber end-over-end, or try to consume a pound of haggis in less than a minute? Music and dance also feature strongly at Highland Games with piping, fiddling and Highland dancing as important a part of the event as displays of physical prowess.

Highland Games now take place all over the world. From New Zealand to Norway and California to Japan, Games are staged wherever emigrant Scots have settled. Explanations of the origins Highland Games vary. According to some stories, in 1064 Malcolm III (Malcolm Canmore) staged a foot race to the summit of Creag Choinnich, near Braemar, intending to make the winner his personal courier. An annual Creag Choinnich hill race still takes place at mid-summer. In another story, also involving Malcolm III, the King used contests of strength as a way of identifying the strongest and most able men for his fighting forces.

An even earlier story has it that Highland Games originated in Ireland in 2000 BCE and were brought to the ancient kingdom of Dalriada (modern day Argyll) by the Scotti imigrants from Ireland in the 4th and 5th centuries. It’s perhaps fitting then that the Cowal Highland Gathering, which takes place each year in the Argyll town of Dunoon, lays claim to being the biggest Highland Games in Scotland today (https://www.cowalgathering.com/).

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