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.
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).
Not being one for heights, I had successfully managed to avoid visiting Go Ape until now…
Last weekend I was invited down to Go Ape’s Aberfoyle site for a Tree Top Adventure with a friend. With high speed zips, free-fall Tarzan swings and daring crossings, a Tree Top Adventure sounded like my worst nightmare. However, after doing a little research, I learned that over half of Brits are ‘very afraid‘ and ‘pretty nervous‘ around heights. Feeling slightly more at ease that I wasn’t alone – I decided to go for it.
Scotland is currently having one of the most beautiful Autumns I’ve ever seen, we got so lucky with the weather and had a dry, crisp day with the sun splitting through the trees. We were booked in for an 11 o’clock slot at the Aberfoyle site (about an hour outside of Glasgow) so were up and off early for a fun, girly day out.
What to Expect
On arrival, you are given some safety rules to read through, which is pretty important as you are responsible for your own safety on the course. Then you are given a safety briefing by a tribe member who ensures your harness is fitted correctly, shows you exactly how to clip on and off all the wires and that you are fully comfortable doing so.
Next, you’re off! A spectacular 426m zip line through the trees drops you at the first landing station where the route begins.
Pumped with adrenaline you make your way round five different aerial assault courses with various challenges on each. You’ll find plenty of tribe members wandering down below you, should you need some encouragement or a little reassurance before taking the step out onto a wobbly ledge.
There are some bits of the course that are optional, should you want to take an easier route – although everyone is encouraged to do the dreaded Tarzan swing! One of the most feared obstacles, solely for the reason that you’ve got to hurl yourself off a platform suspended 30 feet in the air and then clamber up a cargo net back onto the platform on the opposite side. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I have to admit, it was one of the best bits and so, so much fun.
And finally, after many Tarzan fails, hysterical laughing fits and a very muddy bum later, you are presented with a certificate of awesomeness.
I would highly recommend Go Ape and can’t wait to go back. If you’re like me and a bit of a wimp around heights, I would say to just go for it. I felt so safe and secure the whole time I was up there; the staff were brilliant and so re-assuring when you have a bit of a panic and just want to hug the nearest tree for a minute.
The groups were also spaced out really well, I didn’t feel like I was holding anyone up going at a granny pace over the obstacles or when we stopped to take a few (shakey) pictures. You also don’t need to be super fit to take part – we went for a fun day out and had a blast.
What to Wear
Closed toe shoes (Trainers are perfect)
Trousers/ leggings – that you don’t mind getting muddy
Jacket/ Jumper with pockets – you’re not allowed any bags on the course so if you want to bring your phone/ camera etc. they must be in a zipped pocket.
Waterproofs (if there’s rain forecast)
It’s also worth noting, if you want to go along but prefer your feet firmly on the ground, there’s lots more to do. You can go walking/ biking and even try segwaying. Plus, Ben A’an and Ben Venue are just next door if you fancy a slightly more challenging walk. And after all your adventures – cake at the on-site cafe!
This year, Go Ape is encouraging Scots to think twice about traditional stocking staples and consider the gift of an unforgettable experience this Christmas. They are offering the chance to gift an experience with bundles available in denominations of £30. Vouchers are delivered instantly, making it the perfect option for the last-minute shopper (guilty).
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!