Monday, 23 July 2012

Lochearnhead Highland Games & Balquhidder mountain walk.

We were up at the crack of dawn on the Saturday morning, to allow us a nice & easy drive to Lochearnhead.   We passed through the village of Falkland, just awakening in preparation for the Big Tent festival, but it seems we will be missing out on The Proclaimers this year.
The good part about starting off so early, is we had little traffic all the way as far as Crieff, and even then, very little after that.

We arrived in the village at of Lochearnhead around 9, giving us time for coffee & breakfast...then it was out with the kilt in prep for the games. Cathy was working in the Post Office, so wouldn't make it along until later in the day.

Explaining the rules to Blaze about NOT chasing the caber..

Unusualy for the event & festivities, it wasn't raining, and even the midgies didn't seem to have appeared as of yet...but that was to be rectified come dusk.  Due to the original field being flooded out from previous days, the event was to be held in another, so the street parade had been cancelled, therefore we headed off to catch the clan chiefs entrance walk.

Bring on the band...

The games were very well attended, and we picked up lots of foreign languages, French, Italian, German, Canadian & Dundonian......
Sooner than expected, honest...... we visited the beer tent, which was to become a regular pit-stop whilst circling the field...and this continued until very late in the evening, when we joined a group that had the guitars & fiddles out, and we even joined in with a few songs on the guitar ourselves.. Possibly this was not the best of ideas considering we had a hill walk planned for the next day, and the forecast predicted heavy rain arriving from the North West.  Still, come 11 at night, with squadrons of midgies was decided to end off the evening.

Next morning, we helped feed Cathys horses, then packed the rucksacks, having decided to do the mountain pass walk from Balquhidder to Lix Toll near Killin. We drove to the far end of the walk, dropped off one car, then all piled into the other to return to the start of the walk, which was to be at the church where the grave (????) of Rob Roy McGregor was.

We're not going in...are we???

2 minutes into the walk, we were forced to return to the car park due to both the dogs deciding the churchyard, which is a major visitor attraction, was the perfect spot to have their first poo of the day, which was duly 'bagged up' & taken off to the bins back at the car.

Then it was a photo session at the graveside of Rob Roy.

The start of the walk was a steep climb through forest...just right for a hangover cure on a Sunday morning, and the forecasted rain did indeed prove to be true. After an hour or so, we broke clear of the trees, and it was a gradual climb to our 1st sandwich stop of the day, by the waterfall so the dogs could have a swim & play.

Almost at the top of the pass through the mountains.

After was certainly time to move on as the dreaded midgies had found us and we continued the climb upwards to the lochan. There we met 3 shorts & flip flops on their way down...soaked to the skin...Ah well...I suppose you can only get so wet...

By this time, we had also decided to put on full waterproofs, so whilst dry from the outside...we were still soaking inside from the sweat.. Sometimes it's a lose - lose situation.

We reached the lochan in good time at the summit of the pass...and then the wind hit us, so we decide not to hang around too long and go seek shelter a bit further along the way.  We had spied a large rock?? a mile ahead, so set a course for that.   As it turned out, we think due to being inaccessible to the deer, this rock had it's very own little eco system of trees and heather growing on it. Due to the weather, we decided it would be a bad idea to climb up for a better look.

From here onwards, it turned into a bit of a slog over bog marsh...and pretty soon, the first of my boots breached water, so it was a soggy left foot for a mile, until the 2nd also decided to leak in sympathy. There was lots of drenched sheep all around, so I was keeping my eyes peeled for a spare skull, due to wanting to have a go at horn bending to make a walking crook, but all the available options were still firmly attached to live that was a let down.

Heads bent against the rains, we eventually reached a shearing pen, and stopped for the last coffee of the walk, huddled as close to the leeward side of the wall as possible...and it was still scant protection against the downpour. We took a bearing...and set off again to intercept the old Killin railway station, which for some unknown reason, is about 3 miles from Killin. I bet past travelers were not amused about that....

Soon, we hit the old line..and followed that to Lix Toll, where we had left the car..glad to see it & get out of the soaked gear.   It was decided, that as we were so close, a visit to Killin village was in order where we could stock up on raspberries, and I could get some photos of the Falls of Dochart.

Not surprisingly, due to the weather, there were very few tourists around, and those that were had sensibly taken refuge in the local pubs.  It would have been fun to join them, but as we had to still return to the start of the walk..this was deemed a bad idea.

Upon reaching Balquhidder...disaster...I couldn't find my car keys, so it was 'empty the rucksack contents onto the ground' time...nothing.  Check pockets...nothing....... Eventually, check ignition inside the car...Bingo, there they were.  Luckily for me, no-one had went into the car & valeted it for me during our absence...

So, that's it for another week, and looking forward to next weekend when we have the sheep dog trials and if the weather is good, maybe go climb a mountain...or 2.

No comments: