Saturday, 11 April 2015

Balloch to Drymen. Route 7 Loch Lomondside.Duncryne.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Spring has arrived once more in Scotland. Easily my favourite season by a mile. The only season.
First come Snowdrops, still in the grey depths of winter... the pure hearted first born children...
........................................................then Crocus Lawn...arrives........... then...
A Handful of Daffodils....
Then Marsh Marigolds....
Then Wood Anenomes....
..........Then Summer.........................................
So a bike ride was called for.... Balloch to Drymen via route 7 and Duncryne. This route appears as a dotted green line on modern OS Landranger maps Sheet 56 Loch Lomond and also covers the same area on Sheet 64 Glasgow. The Drymen section is on Sheet 57 Stirling and the Trossachs so its a tricky one as it requires two maps to see the full route. Sheet 56, 64 and sheet 57 will never go wrong anyway as they cover loads of other fine walks and open up years of outdoor discovery. This route can either be cycled or walked. Buses run from Glasgow to Drymen or bus or train to Balloch then bus back to Glasgow from Drymen at this end of walk. Around 16 kilometers one way but you could half that distance by getting off at Gartocharn for the walk up nearby Duncryne then walk back along quiet minor roads to Balloch.  Loch Lomond view above.
The minor roads network covering the south east banks of Loch Lomond between Balloch and Drymen then Balfron form a triangle of many opportunities and different routes with no major inclines. Flat or slightly rolling farm landscapes with great views make up for walking mainly on tarmac but cars are few and far between except on the busy A811 which you can easily avoid.
My companion again was Alan as Alex and any other friends only cycle to reach a faraway summit or get the head down to do major distances without stops whereas Alan is open to most suggestions and happy to stop for breaks at interesting viewpoints. This is a view of Ben Lomond which dominates the Route 7 view but changes shape as you travel.
Not much snow left on the hills now although we may yet get another dump before April ends. Just depends what direction the four way weather pattern over the UK comes from. Winds from Russia or the Arctic usually brings cold weather... West or south = warm conditions. I believe the fine Easter weather we enjoyed comes courtesy of the "Spanish Plume" with temperatures up to 22 degrees in early April.
Great for all the kids off school for the holiday break. " Suffer the little children" is not just a biblical quote but a grim reality for holidays in Scotland sometimes but this one was most welcome for families. We parked at the large car park in Balloch beside Balloch Country Park and lost no time in heading off through this to Balloch Castle.
View from Balloch Castle towards Loch Lomond and Cameron House.
The Maid of the Loch moored at Lomond Shores. Free admission to wander around this old static paddle steamer which has a cafe and gift shop inside during the tourist season. Easter to Sep/Oct usually. One of the reasons I can get away most weekends for adventures is the fact that I don't spend any money on trips. I,m not rich, far from it, so I watch my petrol, cut down severely on heating during the winter months as I have a good sleeping bag and rarely buy anything from the shops except food. There is nothing I need anyway when I have all this on the doorstep.
Loch Lomond and the Luss Hills.
The Cobbler and Loch Lomond's Islands. Many a trip out here by second hand kayak £30 and Aldi/ lidl cheap rubber boat (£20 if I remember correctly. Decades of fun to be had with either type of craft) as described in Autohighography.  Balloch can be an expensive honeypot for families but you can have fun for free...anywhere. The modern world seems all about parting you from your hard earned cash nowadays and many people buy into that illusion.
Geese over the Fintry Hills.
A few more geese this time over Duncryne.
We took the minor road leading down to Ross Priory for the views as it's a nice scenic horseshoe. More geese over Duncryne " The Dumpling" to locals. Gartocharn below, where the late Tom Weir and his wife Rhona lived happily for many years. 
The good lady herself is still going strong, has been a prominent hill walker/climber and outdoor lover since childhood and still campaigns for issues she believes in. Good link above.
We then cycled to the lay by under Duncryne, chained the bikes,then climbed to the modest summit in under 30 minutes. Although not high, 142 metres, this has amazing panoramic views over Loch Lomond, its many islands... The River Endrick (seen above in flood conditions.. swollen by rain and snowmelt)...and the surrounding mountains.
River Endrick again just where it flows into Loch Lomond.
The Islands. Inchcailloch. Clairinsh.
Even caught the sea plane coming in to land on Loch Lomond beside Cameron House/ Duck Bay.
A zoom of the sea plane.
Cracking day out. 4 to 6 hour day depending on speed. Total money spent. Around £5 for fuel costs or bus// train ticket from Glasgow.You could also do a circular walk, one of several around the network of lanes, beyond Balloch park.

Found this great video recently and a song I'd never heard before from Kate Bush. Best watched and enjoyed full screen in HD. This fan made video is one of a collection by the enterprising MrMARRS who blends appropriate images together to make stunning visual art. Even if you are not a fan of her music the video is warm and funny in turns. Spent my first long hot summer down in London and the Home Counties as a teenager and this brings it all back. Apples, pears and even grapes growing outdoors in the fields, gardens and orchards of Kent, giant pelicans swallowing pigeons down whole in the city parks, then drinking merrydown cider on the beaches at night in Ilfracombe, Lynton and Padstow with southern friends. A warmer, lush, slightly exotic, evergreen world compared to cold damp Scotland. Apples dangled above the tables from overhanging trees in semi tropical beer gardens and pushy peacocks paraded across the neatly trimmed lawns. I lived all summer in T shirts down there and rarely needed a coat. Some teenagers have gap years but I had a memorable "geas year" and found my own particular grail at the end of it. Enjoy.


Linda W. said...

Beautiful bike ride!

andamento said...

Not an area I've cycled in properly to explore. It's on the list now.
Hasn't the weather been gorgeous? A bit more "normal" today though, but still with sunny spells, which is good!
I'm with you on the finding things to do for free rather than paying - it seems to be a way of avoiding crowds too (not a fan of crowds).

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anne,
It's one of my favourite tours for variety and scenery with several options going out via Caldarvan Loch then Townhead of Aber, up Duncryne, out to Croftamie then Drymen returning via Auchencarroch. Can also do a nice bike run from Drymen over the back road past Drymen road cottage to Gartmore returning via Upper Balwill and Balfron using minor roads where possible.(short unavoidable section on main roads to make this one a circular route)

Neil said...

Now that's my type of country Bob. It's at its best just now and before the summer crowds arrive.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
Balloch was certainly mobbed over Easter but most of the places I go are quiet and I'm lucky if I see a handful of people all day. As Tom Weir once said... "The best thing about Balloch is that it's easy to get out of."

Carol said...

Lovely photos of the spring flowers - brought a smile to my face. As I'm having hill-walking threatening leg problems just now, that's was pretty much needed.

Your quote "you can have fun for free...anywhere" couldn't be truer but so few people do see that fact. I see people driving the couple of miles to the local 'ice-cream parlour' with their kids so they can stuff ice cream and play in a 'soft-play area' - so far from what we used to do totally free as kids around here. We spent all day across the moors or up the woods. No wonder people are short of money.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Yes, its a changed world where children spend a lot of their childhood indoors addicted to computer screens, their parents can sit in company yet get constantly distracted and spend more time looking at tablets or smart phones interacting with virtual "friends" instead of the real ones right beside them(that's happened to me in pubs and restaurants so I don't bother with those "friends" any more)and attention spans are much shorter as a result.
Although people seem to like looking at nature programmes and animals its maybe just as well they don't interact outdoors anymore, preferring a virtual existence as in 40 to 60 years time a lot of it will be extinct anyway.(If you think how much the world has changed in our lifetime and how small,fragile and depleted it has become instead of this vast and inexhaustible planet on school globes this is not such a wild statement.)
Don't know what your leg problems are but its worth remembering both Alex and I could hardly walk up tiny hills without our knees crunching and a lot of pain 15 years ago after 20 years of mountains and backpacking tours abroad. Had to rest for two years doing kayaking, cycling and staying away from large hills but they did recover and I enjoyed those two years. That's one of the reasons I don't do too many Munros these days and try to vary my sports as I know loads of folk who have completely burned out their joints on the mountains. There is hope though unless you keep damaging the same parts over and over until they are knackered.
Just enjoying the outdoors and having a good time is what counts at the end of the day.
Hope you make a full recovery, whatever it is. Best wishes.

Carol said...

I'm definitely seeing a lot of other hillwalkers with the same troubles. I hope I don't have to take 2 years off though. I really wanted to get my Munro Tops compleated this year and then I was going to give up the big stuff in Scotland and do easier things - like cycling long glens on the estate tracks and more bothying. I'm not sure bothying will really help my knee and hip though due to the heavy pack I'd have to carry.

If I don't carry on doing hills and stuff, I'll end up hugely fat as my main other hobby is eating! Especially cakies!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
If you have a network of quiet minor roads around you then cycling for fun without a hill at the end of it can be enjoyable, or going out in your boat to visit interesting islands in lochs(keep safe though) or even Geocaching for a few months if the doc says you need a complete break from pounding up big hills.
We didn't need to take two full years off I just found I really enjoyed doing other stuff but it did mean our knees repaired themselves fully before our return and we haven't had problems since. Depends what gives you pleasure though.

Lux G. said...

Those blooms are so pretty. Stunning photos as always. :)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Lux,
Thank you.

Carol said...

I have to say that none of our roads are really quiet - even the backroads - as here, everyone drives EVERYWHERE :-( They're all pretty hilly too which I'm not good at.

The Glebe Blog said...

Brilliant post as always Bob. I'm wondering how old the seaplane is and if it's the same one I photographed nine years ago. (It's on a disk somewhere)