Up Country and Over the Border - Callander
As we head north for the border a couple of song lines came into my mind....
"Meanwhile the Carlisle turn-off the M6 Motorway,"
and this one.....
"We're only ten miles to Gretna, they're three hundred behind."
Thanks Leo, we're on exactly the same road but no one is chasing us! Our destination is Callander in Stirlingshire, Scotland, just inside the "Loch Lomand and The Trossachs National Park".
We had plenty of time on our hands so we decided to make an unscheduled diversion and spend an hour or two checking out Glasgow, from where my McLaughlin ancestors departed in 1841 as assisted immigrants, an early version of £10 poms! Off the motorway, into a Park and Ride, onto the SPT subway and five minutes later we're in Buchanan (Another name from my ancestry) Street station in central Glasgow. Given that we only had a few hours in the city it was hard to get a sense of the place. It was a mish-mash of styles with old butting up against new. There was plenty going on and the mood was quite friendly. I asked a cleaner for directions at the Park and Ride and he went out of his way to show us where we needed to be. Eventually, between the three of us, we worked out what he had said as we thanked him, "Ask anyone in Glasgow for directions and they'll point the way to the nearest pub!" One thing I noticed about Glasgow's style was the number of arches in the older buildings.
We concluded our day's journey to Callander and settled into our next home grateful that we hadn't ridden our skins off to get here.
Up and at it to another RSPB site near Loch Lomand. Wowsers!!! Birds in our faces very boldy feeding away at a bird feeder just outside the "Hub" set up by the RSPB. We saw Siskins, Goldfinches, Great and Blue Tits, just to mention a few. The Great Spotted Woodpeckers were a little more shy but we did manage a glimpse or two.
More song lyrics.... "You take the high road.....", you can finish it off, and that's where we went, to the bonny, bonny banks. So did a lot of other people but we did find a small spot of sand on Duck Beach to ponder the wondrous and poetic waters.
Coming back from Loch Lomand we called into The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre at Aberfoyle, a packet of Trossachs land managed by the Scottish Forestry Commission, with the promise of Red Squirrels. After a short(ish) walk to the wildlife hide we were rewarded with lots of Red Squirrel and bird action, Coal Tits putting in an appearance. Very exciting.
A self-guided tour (Tracy style) about Callander showed us little bits of the town's story. Saint Kessog is an old town celebrity, I think his brother invented cornflakes. His church can be seen right outside our window and I can be seen standing on his hill attempting to invoke a little of his magic. Nothing happened so I went for a hot-filled roll (it's a thing here in Scotland). Mine was filled with haggis goodness, my first sampling of this well-known local delicacy. I'll be back for more.
We found a stack of DVDs in our flat. Luckily we watched one called, "Railway Walks". It is a BBC series about walking along abandoned railway lines, stay with me, good things come from this! Of the six episodes available to us we chose the one titled, "Callander". Lucky us. It was all about a walk along a line that we can see from our kitchen window. Not far from us, a few clicks up the A84 and on to the A85 is Glenogle viaduct!!!! Like moths to a flame we had to go. On Google Streetview it looked like a short walk across a field to get to it from a small turn-in off the road. The other option was to walk all the way along the track we could see. It was easy enough to find the turn-in and the viaduct beckoned. Not across a field but down the glen, (or dale, or valley) and up the other side. Sandra, the newest Viaduct Adventurer, and I decided to give it a go. Tracy opted to mind the car - that's code for, "Maybe not!" Down wasn't too bad! Up the other side? Mmmmmm, we did need a couple of rests. But we made it! Tracy kept a lookout and even acted as a tour guide to a few other punters who pulled in for a look. One trio even opted to emulate our achievement.
The town of Killin also got a mention on the DVD, just a few miles on from Glenogle. Killin is known for the Falls of Dochart, a rather pleasant horizontal waterfall. On our return journey we pulled up to appreciate a small group of Highland cattle. Good times.
Our final full day in Scotland meant cruising Loch Katrine, the site of many of the tales of Rob Roy MacGregor, regardless of the weather. It was a most scenic, rainy, sunny, breezy and entertaining journey there and back again - from Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar on the mighty steamer, The Sir Walter Scott, launched in 1900 and still going strong. Walter Scott penned the tale of Rob Roy and is credited with kicking off the tourism boom in the area.
It's Sunday, take me to lunch! The Crown in Callander provided me with Haggis, Neeps and Tatties in Whisky Cream Sauce - I approve.
Post lunch our final excursion was to Bracklinn Falls, just outside of town, which provided scenic views across the town, the glens and, of course, the waterfall - oh, and there was a bridge.
Back across the border tomorrow, and back to an old favourite - Northumberland.