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.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit Bali… take it! I guarantee you’ll question why you didn’t go sooner.
I visited Bali last May and am planning to visit again soon. It sounds super cringe, but it was honestly the holiday of a lifetime. I stayed in Pan Pacific Nirwana, which was incredible! It has unfortunately now closed to make way for a Trump Golf Resort of all things! B******
I stayed in Seminyak, which is a quiet, peaceful part of Bali, if you’re looking for a slightly more livelier area then I would recommend Kuta or Legian. I had a couple of excursions that I booked through Expedia to break up the two weeks that I was there including visiting some of the sacred temples, monkey forests, scuba diving and where I had my first surf lesson, not a bad place to start, eh? But my favourite by far was the sunrise trek up Mount Batur.
Mount Batur is an active volcano located in Batur village, Kintamani District, Bali, Indonesia. According to Hindu belief, it is considered a sacred mountain, standing at 1717 m above sea level.
I was picked up around 1am from the hotel, it took us around an hour and a half to reach the village – the drive was by far the worst part of it all, the road is so rocky and winding. I can still feel the all new level of travel sickness I reached. We were guided only by the light of our torches as it was pitch black and a young Balinese Sherpa who told us he can do this hike 4-5 times a day. Gaaadsss!
At this point last year, I really hadn’t done much hillwalking, so this was bloody hard – we were straight into a steep climb through some forestry… in complete darkness! I’m not exaggerating when I say our young Sherpa saved my life countless times on that mountain, every trip or almost fall, he appeared out of no where and pulled me upright haha! And put up with my constant ‘Are we there yets?’
After around 3 hours climbing in the darkness, we reached a break point which is just under the summit, we were told this was just as good a place to stop and watch the sunrise over breakfast, but I didn’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t go all the way, so we pushed on, me still moaning every step. We finally made it just in time to see the first rays of light appearing from the clouds – it took us roughly around 4 hours. Breakfast is cooked from the steam of the volcano by the Sherpas whilst all the tourists fight for the perfect picture site.
It was probably one of the most romantic spots I’ve ever been to and sharing it with around 100 other tourists made it all the more special… LOL
The climb down was a lot more picturesque and waaay harder than the climb up – that poor Sherpa. He held my hand the whole way down again and took us through the craters around the volcano, I even met some more monkey friends.
Part of the Mount Batur expedition included lunch at a local Chinese buffet and then a trip to a hot springs spa called Toya Devasya ‘Natural Hot Springs’… the ultimate treat after that trek! I thought the spa at Pan Pacific was incredible but this one was on a whole different level and OMG the view!
This was by far my favourite holiday ever and climbing Mount Batur is something I’ll never forget. I would highly recommend this to everyone.
It’s only 17 days ‘til Christmas!!! Excited is an understatement for me – this is without a doubt my fav time of the year. Christmas songs on repeat all day, every day! Starbucks Ginger Bread lattes, cheesy Christmas jumpers, mince pies and mulled wine comin’ out my ears – Ahhh I cannot wait!
Having just started a new job and a little on the skint side, my Christmas list has almost doubled in size this year haha but I am in much need of some new outdoorsy things so have put together a list of fab gifts idea for me (or if you know of anyone who’s outdoorsy as well and stuck for ideas).
1. Climbing hills in Scotland means that you need to have a pretty decent jacket, I absolutely love the one I currently use – it’s from Superdry and it’s never let me down! It’s so warm and lightweight but being the fashionista that I am, thought it was time to mix things up so I found this supa cute jacket in Tiso from The North Face range.
It is virtually the same as my current one (in a different colour). Lil’ bit pricey but I think it’s worth investing in a good jacket and if it’s stylish also… Win! Win!
2. Next up, boots! This is a MUST – the amount of people I see climbing hills in trainers is insane. If you’re going to spend some money investing in this hobby, please let it be boots. I bought mines a few years ago from ‘Go Outdoors’ for doing The Duke of Edinburgh Award and they’ve lasted well but it’s time for an upgrade. I found these beauts on ‘Go Outdoors’ from ‘Mammut’ but they have sooo many nice boots in this year. These are perfect for me because they’re lightweight, the ones I’m currently using are too heavy and loose around my ankles.
These boots are the answers to my problems and will go perfectly with my usual all black attire. If you would rather walking shoes, they have a great range in also.
3. This is my favourite thing ever to shop for! The North Face is my go to brand, everything is so chic and flattering. There’s so many fab brands to choose from when it comes to backpacks, but The North Face will always be my fav!
I’m not surprised this ‘Women’s Borealis back pack’ is a best seller – I love the subtle hint of colour, giving it a slightly more feminine look. It’s small and lightweight enough to fit any extra layers and lunch in. It also has a padded sleeve to protect your laptop or tablet from bumps.
4. I’m not going to lie, I wear black, A LOT. Especially when it comes to sports wear and most of it comes from H&M or New Look, I have a few slightly more expensive pieces that were gifts – I used to think that spending hundreds of pounds on jumpers was a bit drastic but let’s be honest, we all would if we had the money. I don’t have the money. So, I’m just going to dream. I thought I would venture out of my comfort zone (seeing as it’s Christmas) and found this jumper from The North Face in Tiso.
It looks warm enough to wear as a jacket as well whilst adding a splash of colour to your outfit.
5. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love a bobble hat. New Look and Topshop have some gorgeous ones in this year! ‘Barts’ have some really cute ones in this year also…
They come in a range of colours and designs – the only part of my outfit I’m prepared to have some colour in. A nice tag of £20, wee stocking filler perhaps?!
If you’re still undecided what to get me or don’t want to spend a lot, Tiso, Go Outdoors and The North Face are doing a Christmas Gift Guide on their websites where you can set a price limit etc. and plenty of ideas for smaller gifts like water bottles, hand warmers, socks – there’s so many to choose from. On my best behaviour from now ’til Christmas!
Winter has always been my favourite time of the year, I love being all wrapped up and drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate (with mini marshmallows obv) and wearing a bobble hat… any excuse for a bobble hat! I’ve probably climbed more hills in the winter than any other time – the autumn/ snowy surroundings just make each view that bit more picturesque.
Seeing as it was Sunday and I was obviously hungover, I opted for a shorter walk and one that wasn’t too far away, que Meikle Bin. Located North end of Carron Valley Reservoir, in the Kilsyth Hills, along the B818, just 45 minutes from Glasgow, this is an ideal, super easy walk for a Sunday. Standing at 570m (1,870 ft) Meikle Bin is classified as a Marilyn.
The short drive alone was worth it, the views were gorgeous – overlooking the Carron Valley reservoir and onto Meikle Bin itself. There is a small car park on the left-hand side of the road with free parking – it does, however, get pretty busy throughout the day so as always, I’d recommend getting there early. For the first time in my life, I was there before 11 am! I was really hoping that it would be snowing on the hill as some of the pictures I’ve seen look incredible but instead, I got a sunny, dry, warm day (with warm being 8 degrees).
We parked up, and headed past the reservoir along the forestry track with the summit showing through the trees most of the way. The walk is so straightforward with a few twists and turns throughout but it is signposted the whole way making it pretty idiot proof to get lost.
Once you emerge from the forest, the track wraps round to the right of the hill and as you head up, the view opens out to show a glimpse of the mountains to the north. You will be able to see Ben Ledi and Ben Vorlich at this point with Ben Venue coming into view a little higher up.
The last bit up is the steepest and also has a little picnic bench for you to enjoy some lunch and the views North. Me and my friend were total rookies and forgot to bring any food OR water! Mainly because we didn’t pass an M&S or any other supermarket for that matter.
The views from the top were amazing, you are surrounded by the bigger mountains like Ben Lomand and from the right the unmistakable peaks of Arran are visible (Goatfell, Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail), looking South – you’ll be able to see Tinto hill as well.
Meikle Bin was where the Fairey Fireplane crashed in January 1950 and both crew members on board lost their lives. You can still see some of the wreckage on the upper and lower western slopes. I was waaay too busy thinking about food at this point though and completely forgot to visit the crash site.
It took us just over 2 hours up and down – mainly because we were so hungry and cold haha. In all honesty, not the most spectacular views but a really enjoyable walk anyway. The only thing missing? … a cosy café nearby for some hot food!
Ben Lomond has been on my list of munros to climb for so long but I wanted to wait until I knew it was going to be a clear day (which isn’t very often in Scotland) there was no way I was putting myself through that climb to then not be able to see anything at the top. No thaaaanks!
Ben Lomond is one of the most popular munros with an average of 30,000 climbers every year with the views overlooking Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Situated in Rowardennan, just past Balloch and Balmaha, along the B837, it sits at 974 metres and is also known as the ‘beacon mountain’ – I’ve never heard anyone say that it’s a particularly difficult climb but compared to some of the other ones I’ve climbed, I thought it was pretty tough especially nearer the top, with varying steepness the full way up.
The plan was to be on the road for half 9 but of course, that was never going to happen. It took around an hour and 15 minutes from just outside Glasgow, there is a car park at the foot of the hill, (parking is £3 all day) it is usually really busy, so I would advise getting there early. We got there around 12, with our wee M&S packed lunches – we’re classy like that, and hangover free for a change. The start is clearly marked, just behind the car park but there will be plenty of people to keep you right, you can’t see the summit from the car park but the start is pretty easy with a clear path all the way up through oak woods and lots of forestry.
Shortly into your forest climb, you will cross a small bridge and then through 2 gates. The nice thing about this walk is that if you look back behind you at any point, you have stunning views over the loch, looking over to Inverbeg and all the islands. The path then continues to climb at a steady gradient and you will pass through heards of sheep and cows who are very photogenic. This part took us around an hour – it is long and as you can’t yet see the peak, can be frustrating. However, the views are incredible all around and there’s usually plenty of puppers to pet!
Keep walking and you will now be able to see the final peak and the zig zagging path that leads you to the summit. Don’t freak out, it’s not as hard as it looks! We decided to stop for lunch here as we could feel it was getting colder and were beginning to come across some snow and ice. Que the posh sandwiches and Magic Stars!
Following the path as it sticks to the ridge of the mountain, there are some more stunning views over the loch where the path then climbs steeply on the final ascent to the summit ridge before curving round to the left. We finally made it to the top where it was FREEZING!!! We lasted all of 5 minutes but OMG the view! Breath taking doesn’t cut it. Totally worth my complaining the full way (sorry Laura) …. Got our Instagram worthy picture and started our retreat to the car. If you want to challenge yourself, there is a tough alternative route going back down but I’m going to assume you’re all sane and would just re-trace your steps back down.
This was by far my favourite munro, it wasn’t the hardest to climb and the views were incrediable the whole way up – WIN! WIN! I would recommend plenty of layers and walking boots 100%. The temperature, ground level was 6 degrees and -3 degrees at the top. When I did the cobbler a few weeks ago – I seen people passing us in FLIP FLOPS! … Insanity. Anyway, there is usually snow and ice the further up you go so wrap up kids!
Seeing as summer was almost over and I still hadn’t been away or done much surfing this year, I decided to book a week away to a surf camp in Portugal. After a bit of research, I found La Point! They have a great reputation among surfers and were super easy to book with.
La Point are ‘A travel company out of the Ordinary’ based in Norway and Sweden with camps in Portugal, Bali, Sri Lanka, Norway, California, Morocco and more, their goal is to share their love and passion for surfing with their guests in a relaxed and safe environment. They cater to a range of levels – from beginner to advance. I chose Portugal as it was close to Scotland and I’d heard it’s a great place to surf and ideal for people on a budget.
I traveled to Lisbon Airport where the La Point team had arranged for a shuttle to collect me (the camp was roughly half an hour from the airport) I stayed in camp garden, Moinshois in Ericeria, which could sleep 14 and shared a room with 4 people who were so, so lovely, a girl from Germany and then 2 guys from Austria. There was a mixed group – some travelling alone, others in couples or big groups and as the company are based in Norway, there were a lot of Norwegians who were really nice also. There was another camp up the hill from us which is where we had most of our meals and meetings and a bigger camp about a 15 minute drive away – which was the most up-dated and renovated.
The accommodation was nice although could have done with a few renovations but everything was clean and so well-organised. I was told towards the end of my trip that the company are currently building a bigger camp which will be able to hold 100 guests and should be ready for next year and that camp Garden and Hill will be closed at the end of this year’s season so stayed tuned…
The package included your stay, breakfast and lunch, 5 surf lessons (equipment included) and 2 yoga lessons. The surf lessons were roughly 2 hours long and could take place at any time of the day, depending on the swell, ours mainly took place around 9:00/9:30 am and an occasional sun-rise surf which was always a fun (cold) start to the morning ha-ha! Our instructor, Ricardo, was great with us; he took us through all the theory of surfing which I had been really keen to learn as well as the practical and made sure everyone felt safe.
I had initially been worried that I might be a bit bored during the day after surfing as I wasn’t sure what else there was to do in the small town of Ericeira but La Point had this covered! There were activities planned almost every day, some being a trip to Lisbon to visit the city and do some shopping, another day we visited a local vineyard which was extremely popular and absolutely stunning. We also had a volleyball match against the other camps; BBQ’s and dinners were all planned also so I wasn’t ever really stuck for something to do. I also ventured into the town where there loads of little shops and restaurants – I highly recommend ‘Brunch Me’ and a sushi restaurant, Hayaci, where you could get ‘all you can eat sushi’ for €11 and it was all made fresh in front of you… I ate my body weight in it that week! The great thing about Portugal is that there are no chains – no Starbucks, no Subway, nothing, it was so refreshing! Everything was really cheap and I didn’t really spend much over there, RESULT!
On our trip to Lisbon, I went with the girl I was sharing a bunk with and one of the social hosts, as soon as we got there, we headed straight for the food market called ‘Time Out’ – It’s like the equivalent to a food court here but so, so much better! It’s apparently the number one tourist attraction in Lisbon located in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre, you are truly spoiled for choice. In Portugal, people don’t eat until around 8/9 pm which was weird at first but so fun at night with lots of live music and sangria… lots of sangria! It felt like the weekend every night there…
We also found a few hidden gems – there is a car park situated in Calcada do Combro where the top story is a bar and has the most incredible views over the city and the best cocktails! We also visited a restaurant called ‘Lost in India’ which appears to be a clothing store but if you go around the back you will see stairs up to a restaurant and through the back of that is another hidden bar with beautiful views over the city also, they do the most amazing sangria! (Google Maps is also handy for these places). We also did some shopping with my new favourite store being ‘Brandy Melville’ where one size fits all!!!!! The clothes are gorgeous. It’s very Topshop meets H&M – I cannot believe we don’t have this in Scotland!
I had the most AMAZING time and met the most incredible people. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive travelling on my own but the staff there were fab and great at integrating the camps and introducing us all. The social hosts at each camp became our friends and made sure we were well looked after. I would highly recommend La Point to anyone looking to try out surfing.
I had initially been put off climbing The Cobbler as it seems like everyone and their granny climbs it but after doing it I can see why…
The Cobbler (also known as Ben Arthur) is found in Arrochar, just passed Tarbet, about an hour’s drive from Glasgow, with CityLink buses available also. It is famous for its unique outline and stunning views over Loch Long with a clear path all the way up which zig zags making the climb a bit more pleasant. The path explores both peaks of the mountain with two alternative ways to climb up and descend.
Me and my friend, Laura set off around 10 O’clock as we were told it takes around 4-6 hours, so with our backpacks loaded and hangovers in full swing we set off. The drive up passed Helensburgh and Luss is so scenic with plenty of cute places to stop for lunch or have a coffee. I’d recommend the Coach House Coffee Shop in Luss – they sell the most AMAZING cakes!
There are 2 car parks at the foot of the mountain (£1 parking) just to the west of Arrochar across from the start of the walk. The walk is vaguely way marked in red with there being 3 stages to climbing The Cobbler with the first being the most boring…
Once you begin, you are straight into a steep climb through a forest which eventually starts to zig- zag, making it a little easier, after around 20 minutes in, I started evaluating my life choices – it was hard and made with worse with a hangover, I never learn. Anyway, there are plenty of people to keep you right as it very popular but when you reach a bench, turn left on to a forestry track where you will then turn right and continue up. The views from this point are incredible, overlooking the loch and on a good day you can see the peaked summit of Ben Lomand. The first part took us around an hour and as you were just walking through a forest, it became very boring; we couldn’t see the foot or anything else for that matter except trees.
Once we emerged from the forest, we followed the path along a stream, passed a small dam and finally the three peaks were in sight!
This path was a lot more scenic but long. The path continues to climb more gently, crossing a number of side streams with large stepping stones where we eventually came to a cluster of boulders known as ‘The Narnain Boulders’, which had been previously and still today used as shelters by groups of climbers who did not have the resources for accommodation but also a good place to stop for food. By this point we had been walking for around 2 and a half hours and with the daunting climb ahead thought we’d stop for lunch.
After a quick bite to eat, we continued up the path where a fork is reached, keep right and continue up the valley (the lower route to the left is the return route). Be prepared for some actual rock climbing here, this was the fun part for us! We did however lose our balance on a few occasions so be careful. The path is less well made towards the top but still straightforward enough to follow.
Once you reach the top, you are between the North and Central peaks, on the right is the higher, central peak with panoramic views and the chance to climb out onto the rock pinnacle which marks the height of the summit – No thaaanks! …it gave me the fear so we nervously watched others risk their lives for their Instagram worthy photo.
The lower south peak is slightly harder and again a bit of rock climbing is involved (I thought the views were better here). The easiest route to the summit is to keep left when the path forks and go around the northern side but both routes are straightforward. This summit is equally dramatic, with a large overhang, and a view back to the central peak (I was brave enough for this one).
All in all, it took us just under 6 hours, the descent was much easier than I had anticipated. The photos don’t do the views enough justice but it is well worth doing. As it is a very popular climb there are plenty of people to chat to or for dog lovers like me, plenty of puppers to keep you entertained on the boring bits.
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 children.
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. It is hard going all the way 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. From the watchtower you also get a bird’s-eye view back down to the castle.
On reaching the edge of the woodland, pass through a kissing gate and across a field, then, through a gate on the other side and follow a track up into more woodland, bearing right at a blue arrow; follow the track into a steep uphill. You then swing round to the left as the track levels off, before going right after a patch of open ground to follow a path that zigzags up to the top of Dun na Cuaiche and its watchtower.
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.
And what did I want to do with my friends? Cocktails? A night in town? Oh no, I decided I wanted to do a hill walk, this is how I know my friends are keepers. They were willing to get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday so I could drag them up a hill and make them sing happy birthday to me at the top haha!
We drove up to the Trossachs to climb Ben A’an, it’s known as the miniature mountain… don’t let that fool you! It stands at 1. 941 ft. In between Loch Katrine and Loch Achray, We were told it takes around 2-4 hours, up and down. We managed it in around 2 and a half by time we had lunch and shared a bottle of MD at the top… my friends are the best influencers haha!
We drove up towards Stirling and then passed Calendar and into the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, after a few wrong turns we finally got there, an hour and a half later. There is a car park at the foot of the hill, which was fairly busy when we arrived so we had plenty of people to keep us right. You cross the road opposite to the car park to reach the foot of Ben A’an and you are straight into a steep climb… as a fairly newbie hill walker, it was pretty hard and I’m pretty sure my friends had started contemplating our friendship after around 10 minutes in. They all agreed the first part was the hardest, it then levels out and as you reach the summit there is a bit more climbing involved. The views at the top are so worth it and sharing it with my besties was amazing!
After a quick bite to eat and a few shots we started heading back down, the rain had been on and off all day so it was pretty slippery, it took us just under an hour to climb up and just over an hour back down, we finally reached the bottom to discover I had a flat tyre! And thank god one of us knew how to change it… the rest of us all just stood in total amazement. The beers were definitely on me after that one. It was such a fun day despite a few disasters.