After last weekends adventure with Glasglow Girls Club, Jen decided she couldn’t get enough of me and invited me along on another trip with Excelsior Adventures. This time to Bracklinn Falls. Having seen pictures of the stunning waterfalls, I jumped at the chance to finally go and see them.
Bracklinn Falls is a great, easy walk just north of Callander, in Scotland. Crossing through varied woodland to the Bracklinn bridge with views of the falls and gorge below, it is absolutely breath taking. The wonder of this gorge is that the stones are continually on the move.
Nicely propelled by caffeine and some T-Swift we headed off from our meeting point at George Square, Glasgow. Kudos to Jen who makes driving a mini-bus through narrow country lanes look completely effortless.
Be sure to get there nice and early as it’s a popular tourist spot and was already super busy when we got there around 11 am.
Crossing over the bridge, turn left to continue the 5.25 km circuit. Following the path upwards through a bit of steep climb (but not too difficult) will lead you out to stunning views of Ben Ledi, Stuc a’ Chroin and Ben Vorlich.
We had the circuit all to ourselves on Saturday morning so Theo got the run of the place whilst we all enjoyed a good girlie catch up.
Further along the path, we came to the Scout Pool just below a second bridge which passes over the Keltie Water.
A little further along, we passed the sweetest wishing well and of course stopped to make a wish. The circuit took us around 2 hours to complete, with plenty of breaks along the way. The Bracklinn Falls circuit is perfect for all ages with stunning views at every turn, it’s great to enjoy the luxury of being able to fully switch off and enjoy the world’s natural beauty.
And what better way to enjoy the sunshine than a Saturday morning adventure with Glasglow Girls Club. I was invited along to their second hill walk with Excelsior Adventures, where we would be climbing The Whangie and then heading down to explore The Devils Pulpit.
In case you haven’t heard, Glasglow Girls Club is a growing members’ network for women in Glasgow and the surrounding area. It provides a forum for Glasgow women to come together and share recommendations and advice, promote their own businesses and help each other to grow, both professionally and personally.
At the heart of it all is Laura Maginess. During our sweaty climb, I managed to grab her for a quick chat on why she started GGC Hillwalking.
“When I was in Sri Lanka earlier this year, I was doing a lot of walking in this beautiful country and I thought to myself, I really want to start a walking club in Glasgow, and encourage more women to get out in Scotland and appreciate what we have to offer. Scotland is stunning!”
The most “morning person” person I have ever met, Jen created Excelsior Adventures after discovering how hiking and being out in nature rapidly improved her mental health after leaving an abusive relationship and suffering from depression.
“I am now at a place where I want to use my experiences to help other people.”
Jen describes Excelsior as a ‘forward-thinking company with the potential to support individuals all over Scotland by creating a vision that emphasises excelling at outdoor activities which strengthen your mind, soul and body.‘ And what better place than Scotland?
Girl gang assembled, we headed off around 9:30 am from Glasgow Quay. First stop, The Whangie. Located in the Kilpatrick hills, it’s a bizarre rock-feature with wonderful views towards Loch Lomond, the Highlands and the Campsies. The walk is just under 5K, and took us around 2 hours up and down, with plenty of water and selfie breaks along the way, it was the perfect balance between feeling challenged and still being able to enjoy the hike.
Full of knowledge, Jen filled us in on some fun facts about The Whangie.
The Whangie is a stone corridor, allegedly created by the devil flicking his tail with the oncoming excitement of visiting Stockie Muir (the scientific community might disagree).
The Whangie’s name is derived from the old Scots word for slice (as in whang o’ cheese).
Next up on our adventure was The Devils Pulpit. I get pretty enthusiastic about most things, but I cannot emphasise how incredibly fun it was to visit this magical location. Known both as Finnich Glen and the Devil’s Pulpit, it is well hidden along the A809.
There are two main locations where it is safe to park – either on the A809 next to the footpath just south of where the A809 crosses the glen itself, or a little further north at the junction with the B834.
Jen led us alongside the gorge through the forest. It’s pretty easy to follow, but do be careful as there’s no fence and the drop down to the gorge is quite far. After around a 5 minute walk, you will come to the stone steps of “Jacob’s Ladder”.
Not for the faint hearted, you will feel like you are climbing down to hell. Jacob’s Ladder is an ancient stone staircase which runs down to the gorge below. It’s really steep and in very poor condition, but is pretty much the only way to get down to the gorge. However, totally worth it!
You’ll definitely want to bring your swimsuit or wetsuit with you in the summer to explore the water.
If you’re thinking of getting into hill walking or just looking for a fun girly day out then I would highly recommend GGC Hillwalking. Laura and Jen have thought of everything from tasty snacks to boogie tunes for the journey, Jen made sure everyone enjoyed themselves and that we all felt safe and stayed together throughout the day.
The next GGC Hillwalk is 25th May at Conic Hill. Buy your tickets here.
Thanks so much to Laura for inviting me and Jen for organising such an amazing day.
Also, special thanks to Amanda Hill Photography, who got some fab snaps of us and managed to carry her camera (and dignity up and down that gorge). Check out her page.
Last weekend, my dad and I headed up to Loch Lomond to blow away some of the summer cobwebs, we planned to do a bit of kayaking on the Saturday and take a jolly up Ben Donich on the Sunday morning. However, either being optimists or idiots, neither of us checked the weather forecast…
We had the loch all to ourselves on Saturday and so paddled up to Tarbet and then over to explore some of the hidden beaches underneath Ben Lomond.
We had perfect conditions for kayaking minus the eerie mist that was hovering. The route back was slightly trickier with the weather being borderline stormy and the mist making it difficult to see, however, we hugged the nearby shore line, avoiding the worst of the weather, back home to some warm hot choccy!
Waking up on Sunday to dry, cloudy weather, we grabbed our backpacks and headed up to the Rest and Be Thankful taking the B828 towards Lochgoilhead.
The munro is pretty well signposted and there’s a decent sized car parking area, free of charge. Follow the signs for ‘Glen Mhor, Ben Donich Hill Access’.
The path is pretty well maintained the whole way up, although, there are some boggy areas over some grassy slopes nearer the summit. The walk provides fantastic views down to Gleann Mor as well as back over the Rest and Be Thankful to Loch Restil, with Beinn an Lochain towering above it.
We were only about ten minutes in to our climb when we got caught in some lovely Scottish weather and got completely soaked, the fog started to lift about half way up but we didn’t manage to see much from the summit.
My dad is a pro at hill-walking and of far higher ability than me when it comes to climbing tougher munros. He’s always up at the crack of dawn every weekend doing hill sprints, climbing, the lot – but it’s always fun to do a nicer, easier one together.
Although our views were a bit restricted nearer the summit, I thought this was a fab little climb and great for easing back into hill-walking if you’ve not been out in a while, guilty!
I woke up on Sunday hangover free and full of good intentions, Scotland’s weather forecast, however, did not…
The plan was to climb a Munro, just past Arrochar, but driving up there, realised the Scottish weather was going to get the better of me, it was blowing a hooley with low clouds and drizzly rain so instead opted for a ‘short walk with a view point‘.
Honeymoon Bridge has become a well known spot for it’s car parking facilities, lunch spot, remote picturesque views but more famously a car crash in the 1950’s.
Starting off at the rear of the car park, heading up through some forestry, along a beaten road you soon emerge to see views over looking the loch, and over to Ben Lomond.
It was a fairly busy route with lots of families and puppers to ‘aww‘ and play with. After taking in the view, you’re back through some more eerie forestry. There are quite a few path options along the way, I followed the route up and off path which became pretty steep and boggy after a while.
Having not been hiking in a while, this one definitely loosened the hips. It reminded me a lot of Dun Na Cuaiche – perfect for beginners. Once you’re up and out, the views are gorgeous! You have the option to continue climbing up but I’d had enough of being mauled by ticks.
I think this is a great little route for a Sunday stroll, especially that you’re protected in amoung the trees when the weathers rubbish, luckily by the time I reached the top the rain had gone off for a little bit – perfect photo opp.
Plus, there’s plenty of great restaurants near-by for some hot food and a drink when you’re finished!
This was, hands down, the hardest hill I’ve ever climbed. Ben Vane, is described as only just reaching munro status at 915 metres. So, if like naïve, little me, you think this will be a nice, easy stroll – you are very much mistaken.
Ben Vane is one of the Arrochar Alps, standing slightly separate from the other mountains. Located on the A82, near Inveruglas, approximately an hour outside of Glasgow. It’s described as a ‘steep, rocky, little mountain’. That word ‘steep’ should be in CAPS, bold and underlined!
I read it takes around 4-6 hours up and down (it took me just over 5) so headed off around 9:30 am and reached the Inveruglas Visitor Centre where I was able to park. There’s also a small café, restroom facilities and gorgeous views over-looking the loch if you just fancy a day trip. When I got there, it was super busy with tourists, I got chatting to a family who had traveled over from India and said that they were just over-whelmed at Scotland’s beauty. T’awww!
I struggled to find the starting point for Ben Vane and first, ended up along the path of ‘An Ceann Mòr’ where this beautiful structure was created, part of the Scottish Scenic Routes pilot project – it reveals the panoramic views over the banks of Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps.
I soon came across a group of girls who looked like they were going hiking as well – I asked them if they knew where the starting point was and they also, were confused. We soon realised that there were also about another 10 people trying to find it, all of us using the same website. Walk Highlands sort your directions out, eventually someone was able to steer us in the right direction and we headed off. For the record, you want to cross the road from the car park over to the Scottish Hydro Power station and walk past it.
Keeping to the right – you will soon come across some blue arrows, after about a kilometre, turn right onto a gated tarmac road leading under the railway.
You will soon come across a large electric substation on your left, where the slopes of Ben Vorlich should come into view on the right and Ben Vane ahead. (I didn’t know this until later…)
Already the views behind me were stunning! It was such a gorgeous day in Scotland with 19 degrees of glorious sunshine! Amazing – guess who ended up getting burnt?!
Had any of us been paying attention, we would have known that we were supposed to turn left at this bridge with the sign saying ‘Glen Loin’ but to be fair it should have also had a sign labelled ‘BEN VANE‘ seeing as that. was. it. right. there! … Instead we walked a good 20 minutes past this and wondered why we had lost the other 10 people following us.
We then came across this bridge and realised we had made a mistake somewhere, thankfully, a Scottish Power van drove past us and offered us a lift back to Ben Vane, we found out that we were on our way to Ben Vorlich. Massive shout out to Scottish Power haha!
After finally getting to the right hill, it didn’t take long before the steep climb began. Basically, straight away.
The initial path is a little unclear and boggy but it soon turns into a clear, stone path the rest of the way up. I think the hardest bit about Ben Vane (besides how steep it is) is the amount of false summits. I counted about 5 – it was horrible haha.
After the first few false summits, I started to realise how big this munro actually was.
The top bit you can see there isn’t even the top. A few of the girls I started off with had decided to stop and call it a day while the rest of them went on, with me. I was actually so glad that they were there as there were some tricky climbing and scrambling parts.
The views were totally worth the steep climb in the end ha-ha and it did make me think about what that family had said earlier, we really do take these views for granted.
You’re best to re-trace your steps back down the path, and as always I would recommend a good pair of walking boots, especially with a good grip for this one.
It was so lovely to have a few days off from my busy work schedule to go and explore some more of Scotland. I started off the weekend climbing Conic Hill up in Balmaha and then climbed Ben A’an the following day. Finishing off with a road trip up to Glen Etive – it was so much fun!
Prepare yourselves for all the spam but the views were truly breath taking and we met the friendliest wild deer.
Glen Etive is just slightly past Glen Coe, situated in the Highlands. Popular with visitors seeking out the famous James Bond’s Skyfall and Braveheart film location, you can follow the route along the river Etive which then leads into a sea loch, Loch Etive.
It’s roughly a 2-and-a-half-hour drive from Glasgow so stock up on snacks and sort your road trip playlist out! I recommend ‘Disney’s Greatest Hits’. If like me, you’re super dis-organised for these long trips, there are plenty of shops and restaurants on the way to stop in at. We chose to pop in to the Green Welly Stop for some much-needed coffee and sugar. They have a cosy little café where you can get just about anything from soup and a sandwich to burgers and pasta along with a little gift-shop and outdoor shop if you find that you’ve forgotten some of your hill-walking stuff…. Guiltyyy!
We had planned to climb Ben Starav, which sits on the south side of Loch Etive, however, we struggled to find it and decided to follow a few of the trails along the river. Only to later discover the path to it was DIRECTLY across from where we had parked… Haha, I need supervised.
The drive up was incredible. It’s hard to believe these views are just 2 hours from Glasgow. I was desperate to get some pictures of the Skyfall film location and feed the deer, who are so tame and friendly (as long as you have some food – we brought carrots).
One of the best things about the day is how much there is to see but also how quiet it is. Whilst we passed a few cars on the road, feeding the deer, the trails and walks were completely empty. Meaning we could take as many guilt free selfies as we wanted haha!
We stopped into Helensburgh on the way home, just as the snow was coming down… in April… I know! We headed into La Barca, a tapas restaurant, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I would highly recommend it and can’t wait to go back. Just what we were needing and the staff couldn’t have been nicer! I had the stuffed pepper with paella rice, vegetarian paella and the calamari. Soooo good!
I have to give instagram.com/aaronspencee credit for the slightly more ‘professional’ looking photos haha. Every gal needs a pro with a camera on these trips.
Soooo I was super productive last Sunday and managed to fit in a quick hill walk before my mum was up looking for her Mother’s Day presents.
I also realised this would have been a good walk for any active mums before going for a nice Mother’s Day lunch but as usual I was so disorganised haha. Anyway, it’s a really easy, picturesque walk if you ever want a nice hike but nothing too strenuous – perfect for a Sunday!
It’s the Arrochar trail between Arrochar and Inveruglas. I didn’t actually make it the whole way as I was conscious of time and wanted to be back for my mum getting up so only went around half way. The walk usually takes around 4 hours there, and back. Head up towards Tarbert Railway Station where you can leave the car and head under the bridge adjacent to you.
After climbing up through some forestry, you’ll see this sign, turn left. You can see the walk that will take you to the right here.
Once you emerge from the forest, you will reach a cross roads – continue straight up past the yellow things into more forestry…
Although you are climbing up and down a few hills throughout the forest, there isn’t anything particularly difficult about this walk. And Spring was well and truly in bloom, there was so many tadpoles and frogs eggs along the rivers beside the path.
Eventually, you will emerge from the forest and begin to see some gorgeous views over Loch Long and Arrochar. Most of the hills were covered by the morning fog though.
These views continue as you go further along the path where you will then reach the sign below, you can continue further which will take you across to Inveruglas or you can turn left and head down into Arrochar village.
I carried on about another 40 minutes or so where the sun finally started to come (a tiny bit) with the help of an Instagram filter…
I am keen to do the entire trail one day, however, a couple of my friends that have done it, recommended starting at Inveruglas as there’s more places to grab a bite to eat in Arrochar before heading back, another option if you have the luxury of 2 cars was to leave one at either end. It’s also an ideal cycle route for all ages.
It’s not often I get to say this, but the weather was amazing in Scotland over the weekend. It was still FREEEZING (obvs) but the sun was out, and everyone was absolutely buzzin’.
And what better way to enjoy the weather than with a hill walk and a trip to the pub?!
After spending the morning walking from Inveruglas to Arrochar, we stopped in at Ben Arthur’s Bothy.
This little gem of a pub offers the most beautiful views over Loch Long and onto The Cobbler. With a 4 star rating on Trip Advisor and raving reviews from the locals – I was keen to see what they had in store.
From the outside, it doesn’t look like much but as soon as you step inside, you are hit with some spectacular views. They also have the option to sit outside and enjoy a pint or bite to eat. I was told they sell the best soup but was disappointed to discover it was pea and ham – my friends got stuck in though and it did smell AMAZING! It’s your typical pub grub menu, they did have a few vegetarian options but not loads, so I opted for the vege burger. Which I have to say, is one of the best vege burgers I have ever had! The portions were massive as well, just what you’re looking for after a long walk.
I would highly recommend Ben Arthur’s Bothy to anyone passing through Arrochar. The staff are so welcoming and friendly, the prices were more than reasonable, and the food is insane! They also cater to private functions, have live entertainment on throughout March to September and have a pool table and plenty of TV’s for anyone wanting to watch the football.
The first hill climb of 2018 started off well… NAAAT!
Thinking that it’d be a great idea to travel up to Loch Lomand to climb Cruach Tairbert in the middle of all the snow that we have in Scotland right now was not one of my brighter ideas.
Me and my friend headed off around 10:30 am up towards Tarbet, a small village in Argyll and Bute, located within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. It is a straight road from Glasgow city centre and so scenic once you’re off the motorway. We noticed that the snow was pretty deep past Helensburgh and, so we opted to do the waymarked circuit that climbs through the forest plantations on the lower slopes of Cruach Tairbert above the village.
The walk begins just behind ‘The Slanj’ which is a cosy restaurant to stop in for some food or a coffee, and if you ask nicely, don’t mind you using their carpark. Head up behind the restaurant towards Tarbet Railway station and pass under it to reach an information board detailing the route, which is marked in red. The other way will take you along to Arrochar – so turn right here.
I felt like I was entering Narnia, the forest was covered in so much snow, it was gorgeous! The path then approaches a burn climbing left alongside it, ignore the waymarked branch to the right (it’s the return route), the path then climbs steeply up by the burn and then swings along to the right. You’ll pass a bench which was once apparently an amazing viewpoint but is now blocked by conifer trees. I think I spent more time on the ground than actually climbing ha-ha it was sooo icy!
This is supposedly one of the easiest routes to do (minus a few steep bits) but we somehow managed to get lost here, so lost! …and I’m pretty sure at one point were trying to climb up a frozen stream disguised with heaps of snow.
Continue along the path to eventually descend to cross a footbridge (You’ll see a small picnic table just above you). By this point, the snow was coming down pretty heavy – we could barely see 2 feet in front of us and had heard from home that the roads were getting pretty bad also so quickly followed the descending path through the trees and along a second footbridge before passing a gap in the wall. You should be able to see the stunning views towards Loch Lomand over the Tarbet Hotel here. When the path approaches a burn don’t cut across but follow the loop slightly uphill to re-join the outward path. Turn left to retrace your steps back to the path junction above the station, turning left again to return to the start.
A walk that was supposed to only take us an hour and a half max. turned into a 3-hour long trek! We did however get some really cute pictures which is really the only reason we went. I am keen to do this one again though and hopefully not get lost next time. I don’t think this walk is a particularly popular one, mainly because the views have all now been blocked by the growing forestry which is why I thought it’d be a good one to do in the winter, if all I’m going to be looking at is trees, they might as well be Instagram worthy.
This Sunday was spent longer in the car than actually walking, with disaster upon disaster but we definitely had a good laugh. Me and my friend headed up towards Loch Lomand, backpacks fully loaded and kitted up; we had planned to climb Ben Vane so were psyching ourselves up for this massive climb, we were also hung-over so I feel like we deserve extra points. Anyway after about 2 hours in the car, we discovered we were lost and on our way to Fort William instead.
U-TURN! … Thanks Laura
As we were heading back we realised we weren’t going to have enough time to climb Ben Vane whilst it was still light plus it had started pouring down and our hangovers were kicking in HARD… so we headed for The Falls of Falloch which is a waterfall along the A82, 5 km from the village of Crianlarich. I don’t even think you can call it a walk; there is a small car park and to the left is a small, short path that leads you to the bottom of the falls. It is absolutely gorgeous, it full of pesky tourists as well so be prepared to fight for your instagram worthy picture.
We headed up to the newly built ‘Woven Sound’ platform which allows you to see the falls from a different viewpoint. It was constructed by John Kennedy from steel rods, it features an entry from Dorothy Wordsworth’s diary that recalls the thoughts of those who visited the falls during the days of the Grand Tour.
We weren’t quite ready to get back in the car yet so we headed down through a small path at the front of the car park to explore some more. The path follows the river Falloch through a small forest, we only got a few kilometres and the path cut off so we headed back. Although it was short visit, I would definitely recommend it, the drive was relaxing as well (once we were on the right road, obviously). It is sign posted as well so you really can’t miss it.
Deciding that we still had time to fit in something else, we headed up towards Inverary (which actually passes Ben Vane so I’ll be in charge of directing us next time haha) to do my favourite Dun Na Cuaiche walk and by this time the sun had come out so we snap chatted our way up and stuffed our faces at the top. It took us around half an hour up and about the same back down so totally do-able for everyone although it is steep so walking boots are recommended. You can also see the castle this time, save this walk for a clear day – the views are breathtaking.
For any newbie hill walkers like myself, this is a great, short, steep walk up to an 18th-century watchtower above Loch Fyne, overlooking Inveraray; the views are incredible, at 700 ft. this is an easier hill and suitable for little ones.
The drive up is just as beautiful; a straight road from Glasgow, over the Erskine Bridge, following onto the A898, past Dumbarton and Helensburgh, following the road through Arrochar where it will lead you straight into Inverary town centre. There is paid parking available in the town or you can park at the castle for £3.00; which is where the walk starts. There is also a regular bus service which will stop a short walk from the start.
This well marked route, following blue arrows, starts in the shadow of Inveraray. After turning away from the castle and crossing an ornamental bridge over the River Aray, into a steep climb up to a clearing, but the effort is worth it for the amazing view at the top of Dun na Cuaiche, over-looking Loch Fyne and across Argyll. To the east you can also see the Arrochar Alps and from the watchtower you also get a bird’s-eye view back down to the castle.
The walk took just under one hour up and just over back down. The weather was pretty rubbish so the watch tower was a great place to take shelter in and enjoy some lunch.
On the way back down, you can either retrace your steps or, for an alternative descent, follow the zigzag section back to the open ground below the top, then go right on a muddy path, through reeds and grass. The path drops steeply through increasingly mixed woodland, past a marker post with the number 15 on it. Go right at a clearing, down a track, and after only about 100 yards, go left along a small grass path that almost doubles back, then goes down through thinning woodland to a track and a way marker with the number 18 on it. You should go right here.
As Inverary is tourist central, you can expect to make some friends on the way up as it is a popular walk. There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops a short walk from the castle to relax in.