Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Loch Chon

At last, we got a bit of decent weather at the weekend so we headed into the deeper reaches of The Trossachs. Well, not really that deep but a little bit off of the main centres of Aberfoyle and Callander.

Loch Chon lies between Kinlochard and Inversnaid on the B829 Aberfoyle to Inversnaid road, which is single track for the length of the loch so take care if you're not used to driving on such narrow roads and please use the passing places to allow more experienced drivers to overtake. There are old tales of a dog-headed monster living in the loch that swallows unwary passers-by and it's a place I'd always fancied fishing as a boy but never got a chance to get to as public transport in the area was fairly limited back then.

Loch Dhu

There's plenty of car parking at the south end of the loch so we started from there and headed back along the road to the turn off for Loch Dhu House, which would take us round the little Loch Dhu and over to the other side of Loch Chon. From there we planned to walk up the west side of the loch and come back down on the road side.

It's a fairly straightforward walk along a forest track until you get to the top end of the loch. It has to be said that forestry workings along the side of the loch have left it a bit on the unattractive side and in some places we couldn't see the water for the trees as the forest plantation goes right down to the water's edge and was obscuring the view. However, when you do get a clear view of the loch it is quite spectacular - with a few little islands and set against a backdrop of beautiful hills.

Looking Up Loch Chon

Our almost 20 year old guide book mentioned an aqueduct on the west side and we thought it might be something of a scenic attraction but it turned out to be just a little sluice of water running down from the hillside. What's of more interest is the number of air shafts along the track. These serve the tunnel feeding water from Loch Katrine to Glasgow and we got the impression that a vast reservoir of fast-flowing water lay just beneath us. One entrance to the tunnel system even had a sign up prohibiting bathing! How likely it is that anyone would want go down there to swim in what must be absolute darkness is beyond me or am I just not taking account of that thrill seeking percentage of us that are just plain suicidal in pursuit of an adrenaline rush?

Once past the top of the loch, the track continues on past Frenich Farm and then curves round to rejoin the main road. Unfortunately, the return route follows the road back down to the car parks but there are a few places you can deviate off of it if you get fed up having to move out of the way of traffic. All in, the walk around the loch is about six miles long but it's fairly easy going mostly on forestry track or tarmac. We had lunch sitting on a fallen tree on the east side bank of the loch and watched some wildfowl careering about near the far bank on the flat calm water - very peaceful.

On the walk back to the car, we had to make way for no less than five tourist coaches and this is a single-track road. I can only assume they were heading for Inversnaid on Loch Lomond or an evening sailing from Stronachlacher on Loch Katrine but seriously, these little roads aren't built to take that volume of coach traffic and they're a hazard to walkers and small cars alike. I realize that the area would soon fall into ruin if the numbers of tourists fell but it doesn't mean I have to like how they get them there.

And no, we didn't see the monster! It was so cold there was a thin layer of ice at the edge of the water and we didn't even see a single fish rise all day. It's a bit early for trout anyway so I expect the cold had them huddling in the ever so slightly warmer depths.

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