The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 2 May 2011

Day 36 - S of Loch Lednock to Killin

Monday 2 May (0740-1330)
Distance: 13 miles (Tot: 629)
Weather: Increasing cloud (some low level, but still only a tiny amount of cloud overall) still failed to obscure the sun, but much cooler than yesterday

Our pitch last night may have looked good, but I had a very disturbed night. We were pitched just below a track and every 20-30 minutes either a Landrover or a quad bike went by. That went on until gone 2am, such that each time I had just dropped off I got woken again. Perhaps vehicles alone wouldn't have disturbed me, but we were pitched by a gate on the track so it was engine, headlights, stop, clang of gate, rev, stop, clang of gate, rev.

It was sometime in the middle of the night (whilst Mick, annoyingly, was fast asleep, oblivious to the movements outside) that, pondering why estate workers would be to-ing and fro-ing so much in the middle of a Sunday night, it struck me that it may have something to do with all the smoke we had seen earlier.

Finally, just after 2am I did get properly to sleep, but to add insult to sleeplessness, I was then woken at 0545 by a sodding cuckoo.

An hour through this morning, after we had made our way over to Loch Lednock, we saw the site of the fire. It looked huge, but we couldn't comprehend quite how big until we walked through it (glad we weren't a day earlier - today there was just a bit of smouldering, yesterday we would have been bidding a hasty retreat). The width of the burnt area was over a mile and a half, and it went from the loch side right up to the top of the hill. It may well have continued the other side. Lots of square miles of burntness. The smell of burning was on the wind for the rest of the day. (I've since read that parts of the UK are now at level 5 on the five point fire risk scale.)

Beyond the burnt area, reaching the end of the track a yomp was on the cards to pick up another track a mile or so distant, in the next valley. By appearances, on another day that could have been a soggy yomp indeed, but for us today it was merely a bit squelchy (for which I was glad; my sock had only just dried out from a small 'misjudging a stream' incident earlier on).

Once over the pass the view subtley changed again. The hills ahead were noticeably bigger with small patches of snow still remaining. The hills, plus superb views down to a large loch, were once again set off nicely under the clear skies (all of the clouds were gathering behind us at that point).

Another climb (during which we encountered a backpacker, within ten minutes of Mick commenting that we haven't seen a single backpacker on this trip and very few day walkers either) seemed unduly long, but that was because every time we got to one of the sharp bends we thought we had reached the high point, only to have to climb again. Eventually I did look at the map and realise that we were going to top out at just over 570m.

Down, down, down we then went on a tarmacked track past a lacking-in-water reservoir then alongside and through forestry, before the road brought us into Killin where we were surprised to find people galore. When we passed through here in mid-June 2008 (our LEJOG was common with the current route for the length of Killin high street) the place was deserted.

Short work was made of finding ourselves a B&B for the night. I now sit in the TV lounge hoping to catch a weather forecast, but all I seem to be able to find out just now is that Bin Laden is dead. It seems that there is no other news today, and no weather either.

(Martin: it was indeed a good pitch. Just a shame about the traffic!
Mike: hearing a cuckoo in isolation is fine, but last year we went for days on end when barely a minute passed (day or night) when we couldn't hear one. I find that the call gets quite tiresome after you've heard it more than 100 times in a day!
Louise: absolutely stunning scenery, which I expect to persist till the end now (which, per the schedule, is only 7 days hence).)

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. Looks like you had better weather than when I walked that stretch. The climb up to the beallach was boggyness personified (and I was mostly bog as well by the time I finished).

    Hope you enjoy the next stretch - it gets even better. (and I hope that the weather, if not the fires, hold).

  2. Tell me tell me can Goretex socks withstand a small stream?? Also do you not end up with Cheddar feet wearing them?? Excuse my ignorance I just never even knew there were suck socks until you mentioned them in an earlier blog and from what you are saying in this one you do not always have dry feet? Maike

  3. I've heard of a 'shining cuckoo,' we've got them in NZ but I've never heard of a 'sodding cuckoo' before.

    Are they only found in the area around Loch Lednoch? :)

  4. Ah Killin, brings back happy memories. My husband and I visited there about 4 years ago and did some walking while there, we did Sron a' Chlachain which while not up to your standards we impressed ourselves!!!!

  5. Anonymous,
    Goretex socks are great for wearing with trail shoes without a membrane built in.
    They cope easily with wet grass,dew, bog, streams etc as long as nothing is deeper than the top of the sock, obviously.
    They don’t cause skin problems as they do breath even when the outer surface is wet. If i have worn them all day i give my feet a treat with some foot powder or gel or something of that nature.
    Mine are from Rutland cycling and they are called Gore Alaska 2.
    Hope that helps.
    Just thought i would comment here incase M and G signal finding takes a while and i will also conserve the battery.