Thursday, 16 July 2009

Glen Lyon to Balqhuidder

We got up before the midges (ha! fooled 'em) and set off across the pass to Glen Lochay. No ecstatic drivelling about beautiful views here: the fog was so thick we could only see a few yards. To keep the ponies' spirits up I sang them old show tunes: they were pretty unimpressed but at least it cleared the sheep out of our way.

The fog lifted to make way for - pelting rain. We stopped for breakfast and a brew once we'd crossed the pass which seemed to cheer the troops up rather more than my a capella verion of 'Summertime'. There we met a couple of German hikers who seemed to have great difficulty in understanding what we were doing up there...(probably a language thing.)

The day started to brighten up as we made our way down Glen Lochay which meant only one thing - clegs! So moved on briskly, bumping into a botanist we'd previously met at the Fearnan bunkhouse. The briefest of chats but no lingering - still many miles to cover!

Glen Lochay comes out at Killin. Perfect timing (not) - as we were making our way up the main street to pick up the track on the other side (no alternative), who should we meet marching the other way but the local pipe band, eek. Ponies remarkably unfazed by skirling pipes and swirling kilts , although Doogs did have an involuntary evacuation of his bowels (startle reflex) over someone's posh parked Audi. We're so very sorry - hope it washed off ok.

Getting through Killin with its pipeband, tourist buses and milling crowds (funny, hadn't looked like this in February) was less than an ordeal than it might have been as we chanced to meet Heather, the 'Frilly Ghillie', who cheerfully grabbed a pony and steered us determinedly through the throngs. Thanks Heather! We got through alive (and without vandalising any more posh motors...)

From Killin we followed the path of the old railway (now Cycle Route 7). Wonderful riding with a good surface underfoot - the best part was riding over the viaducts high above Lochearnhead. Progress a bit slow due to the abundance of wild strawberries - pity to let them go to waste, we thought.

I was interested to see how few people were using these tracks - I only saw a handful all day. Perhaps there is some truth in the oft-quoted staistic that 90% of the population never go more than 400m from their

It had been a long long day by the time we finally staggered into Balquhidder Braes Caravan and Camping Park, to a wonderful reception from hosts Alice and Richard and a collection of local riders, come to support us (or possibly gaze in disbelief). A super evening with much talk of horses (of course) and too much to drink (of course). Doogs and Ladybird had a fine paddock in front of the house and were much pampered by Alice (so was I) - a step up from the bogs of the night before, that's for sure! Doogs liked it so much that he pretended to be dead in the morning.

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