Inversnaid, on the east shore of Loch Lomond, is the site of a magnificent waterfall. Its Gaelic name is Inbhir Snàthaid. Inbhir means a confluence of rivers, estuary or the mouth of a water course and is common in place names. Inbhir Nis (Inverness), Inbhir Aora (Inveraray), Inbhir Uaraidh (Inverurie) and Inbhir Chluaidh (Inverclyde) are all well known examples.
The Snàthaid element of the name means ‘needle’ and it’s easy to see why Inversnaid was named as it was. The waterfall plunges from the narrow Arklet Water into Loch Lomond many feet below. It is spectacular, especially after a spell of wet weather which happens regularly. Seen from the loch, this torrent of falling water could certainly look like a needle.
The Duke’s Pass connects Aberfoyle with Loch Achray and gives access from the south to Loch Katrine and Brig o’ Turk. Now a public road forming part of the A821, The Duke’s Pass is a popular route for cyclists and is often considered to be one of the country’s most scenic drives. The road featured in the BBC’s series Britain’s Best Driveswith actor Richard Wilson.
The modern road follows one built in the 19th century by the landowner Douglas Graham, the 5th Duke of Montrose, to improve access around his estates and to the slate quarry above Aberfoyle. Originally little more than a track suitable for horses, the road in the pass between Ben Venue and the Menteith Hills was improved to accommodate the influx of carriages as Victorian visitors flocked to The Trossachs following the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s narrative poem The Lady of the Lake. In 1931, after the land was acquired by the Forestry Commission, construction of a public toll road began as part of a scheme to provide work for unemployed miners.
Passing below the aptly-named Creag Mhòr (big rock), the road winds up from Aberfoyle towards the Lodge Visitor Centre. The Lodge was originally named after David Marshall, Chairman of the Carnegie Trust and the prime mover behind the building of the Lodge in the 1950s. The Trust gifted the Lodge to the Forestry Commission in 1960. Beyond, the road passes within sight of the quarry which produced slates, including those on the roof at Stirling Castle, from the 17th century until its closure in 1954. The ridge above the quarry is said to be the site of a violent clash between cattle reivers (thieves) from Lochaber and their local pursuers. A dozen men are thought to have died in the fight.
Near the top of the pass and the entrance to the Three Lochs Forest Drive, is Creag Mhadaidh (Wolf Rock). Wolves were hunted to extinction with official records dating the killing of the last wolf to 1680. However, reported sightings of wolves continued for a further 200 years. Could the intriguing name mean that wolves were spotted at Creag Mhadaidh?
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new playhouse has arrived at Tigh a’ Mhaide. It’s intended for our younger guests but adults will be allowed too. The playhouse overlooks the croquet and putting course so is perfectly positioned for a summer’s afternoon of outdoor play.
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 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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
The leading group was closely followed by cameras and support.
The main group of cyclists sped through the village in a large group.
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/.
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/).