September Two Day tour around the Trossachs – and if Rob Roy had a car it would have been an MG!
I was really looking forward to this tour as it takes in a few of my loves, the scenery of the mountains and Lochs of the Trossachs and MG’s. Always a delight to share these loves with like-minded people. I didn’t know that so much could be crammed into two days but Keith and team seemed to manage it.
Twenty-one cars met along with their 39 passengers for the 09:00 start at the Premier inn, Bowtrees for the welcome of a coffee and a bacon roll. It was nice to see a new member join us, Alasdair Beaton, so welcome aboard.
Quick peek at the weather forecast the previous night had not shown kindness over the next two days but so far although the weather was dreich, the rain was holding off.
A leisurely start as we all headed up and over the Clackmannan bridge. Entering Oor Jims birth place Forestmill, travelling on some tight roads with a few very large puddles, I’m so pleased I had my TF wax oiled before leaving Englandshire. Onward through!
At the start of one of the single track roads there was a sign stating “road, cyclists and walker friendly”. I had to chuckle, not when there are 21 cars travelling down it in convoy it’s not and a solo cyclist at the end of the road looking rather puzzled! I didn’t have the heart to open my window and advise her that there were possibly another 15 cars behind, so just waved a ” thank you “ and continued on my way.
There were a few of us travelling solo and although Tulip maps are quite easy to follow, its possibly not recommended to try and read while driving so we all followed another car with a navigator, easy! I now know David and Jackie’s MGTF 85th anniversary in Enigmatic Silver very well, or at least the back bumper.
We weaved our way through some stunning countryside until we saw or rather smelt the fumes coming from the Famous Grouse distillery at the base of Glen Turret. A quick hello to the famous statue of the Cat “Towser”. What a nice place for a lunch and there was even time to take in a tour after lunch for those that wished to. Shame we couldn’t have had a wee dram or two but not when in charge of an MG.
The weather up to now had been holding with light drizzle however it soon changed and stayed with us until we were to reach our destination at the Forrest Hills Hotel, which made some routes even more fun with puddles.
The afternoons run took us past Balquhidder Church, the resting place of Rob Roy Macgregor, infamous for “cattle lifting” and where the word “black mail” comes from.
The rain was still coming down, fine for those in the more modern cars, but not good for the drivers without side screens. Peter Long in his MGA by the time he was to arrive at the hotel needed almost baling out.
After a quick dash for some drivers to see Rob Roy’s grave it was back in the car and off again to the Bike Eating tree, yes this wasn’t a type O ..there is actually a bike eating tree at Brig o’ Turk, just behind the tea room.
The name comes from a story going back to just before the First World war when a villager left his bike leaning up against the tree and went off to fight for King and Country never to return. His bike was slowly eaten by the tree. I will have to go back and see this in better weather as my navigator, well David Reid in the car in front, didn’t stop due to the weather. It was a choice of stopping, getting wet, then trying to singularly read a tulip map while driving or just keep following. I chose the latter.
Shortly after this, we arrived at a rather grand hotel on the edge of the Loch that was almost breaching its stone wall barrier.
We were met by a concierge in highland dress called David, who was a very interesting chap. Having run up many mountains in his time I took a few tips for which ones to climb.
Although the hotel was very organised at the Reception end, with all the keys laid out ready for our collection and the rooms that were allocated seemed fine, some of our member’s were not so lucky. Lack of hot water or taps seemed to plague a few.
With us all rested, those that wanted to take advantage of the Vision health club on site could, or those that preferred the lubrication exercise went in to the bar.
The food at Dinner was tasty although some of the servings you needed a magnifying glass to find the food on your plate due to the portion size. However, the company and conversation made up for the lacking on the plates ten-fold.
Back to the weather, a quick stroll to the loch shore and along the road to check the roads were passable and that the Loch hadn’t burst its banks in the night. All’s well with the weather a lot better and quite pleasant.
All packed and off we went again after breakfast to our first stop for lunch at Drymen. But first there were some brilliant views of Loch Ard/Loch Arklet along another single track road to the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond at the Inversnaid Hotel on the West Highland Way.
We watched a few walking rucksacks go by, next stop for them is Crianlarich. I know, I’ve walked it twice, although at first I didn’t recognize the car park having come from the road and not the WHW route.
The only way back was the same single track road past the hotel again, on to Drymen and lunch in one of the watering holes in the village. It was Douglas and Tilly’s local, Clachaig Inn and a nice wee bowl of Cullen Skink (which was more Cullen than skink) but it filled a hole until the cream tea at the finish in Stirling.
The next part of the tour amazed me as I didn’t realise that the top of the Campsie Fells was so scenic across the top on the Crow Road. I had stayed in Milton of Campsie in January for the Film night but with the snow didn’t venture up to the top. I wish I had.
The road took us along the Carron Bridge and the back way in to the Bannockburn Battlefield to our final stop at the King Robert Hotel, Stirling. Tea, scones and goodbyes then we all went our ways.
It was a very nice two days and seemed to feel longer. The weather although wet on the Saturday didn’t spoil it, well not for me anyway, but it could have been a little kinder for some who had brought their older cars.
I never cease to be amazed by the beauty around every hill, Munro or mountain in Scotland, exactly why I have now called it my home.