October finally arrived and our trip to Scotland was about to begin. Nights were drawing in but the clocks hadn’t gone back so daylight was still on our side.
Pod was brought out and put on charge, the fridge was stocked for our week away and she was given a quick rinse to look presentable for her trip north.
Following morning we were up just after 6 and on the road for 7, the roads and motorway were extremely clear and the sun was out too. The journey couldn’t have been better.
We stopped at Tebay and Cairn Lodge services on the way and Pod got the usual stares, grins and the odd giggle on the roads as well as at the services. You definitely can’t be a Go-Pod owner and be a shrinking violet.
Just before 1pm we rolled up at Maragowan Caravan Park. The views were utterly breathtaking and from the car pulling into the drive to leaving Scotland don’t think we ever stopped being taken back by its beauty and certainly didn’t stop taking pictures. But rushing ahead here, the tale is yet to be told.
Drove round the site and found a pitch on the end of a row, we unhooked Pod and between the two of us positioned her on the pitch, then we took another look around and decided it wasn’t the one for us and chose another that ran along the river.
Pods that small and light we didn’t need to hook her up to the car again, we just pulled her the 15 metres to the chosen pitch and positioned her nose out. Took less than an hour to set Pod up and the kettle was on soon after.
We were joined by two ducks, who weren’t in anyway bashful, there were signs up not to feed them but their behaviour led to a different belief. We named them Mazie and Mick.
It was early afternoon, there was hardly a cloud in the sky so we walked the short distance into Killin and found the necessary Co-op. On the way we passed a piece of local artwork too, relevant considering the environment. Can you spot it ?
We crossed the stone bridge and below the Falls of Dochart were running fast, people were climbing over the rocks to get that elusive picture and the colourful autumnal trees lined the waters edge capturing the sound of the water, fixing it to that particular spot.
As the sun went down over the mountains plans were made for the next few days, Wednesday was going to be spent relaxing and exploring the area on foot, Thursday was our mountain walk, yet to be decided.
Off we went to test out the ‘facilities’, only one toilet/shower block as it’s a small site and it was perfectly serviceable, it was clean and tidy, could do with modernising but that’s like most sites. Much to LB’s delight the food prep/dish washing area was down at the male end of the block.
Woke Wednesday morning to a heavy dew, the temperature had dropped to a few degrees above zero during the night, but that hadn’t woken us in Pod. We slept deeply and soundly through the night.
After breakfast we left Pod on foot and took a path that runs along the back of the site, towards the loch Tay.
We hadn’t been on it long when we came across a ruin hidden amongst the trees. Closer inspection gave us a wooden sign and the information it was Finlarig Castle and bold warnings of possible danger, with the warnings on our minds we walked through the trees to an eerie, still area of land. No wind or birds to be heard, except the odd leaf falling, hitting branches on the way down.
We continued up the path and it brought us to the edge of the loch, saying it was peaceful was an understatement, the loch was like a mirror, reflecting the surrounding hills and clouds above to perfection. Only noise to be heard were a few ducks floating by and a dog playfully splashing somewhere further up the shore.
On a walk back we came across a local with whom we struck up conversation, we were full of praise for the area he lived and he was full of dismay as he stated for this time of year the loch was exceptionally still and due to the warmer weather the stags weren’t coming down from the hills, so the spectacular sight of them rutting would be missed.
Although we probably wouldn’t see any rutting stags, we were quite happy with the weather provided and continued our walk up the old railway line into Killin.
Today we’d planned on leisurely walking around Killin but on our way to the rock we saw a sign for Sron à Chlachain and its claim to be a 1 mile hill walk. A quick look on google seemed to confirm this so with only our bottled Coke and Iron Brew remaining from lunch we ventured on up the path. Couldn’t be that hard, could it ?
Quite steep to start with but we soon entered the wooded area and on the way up we looked back at the ever changing view of Killin. It remained steep all the way up, our leisurely walk had definitely gone out of the window but the autumnal colours were really starting to come out and made up for any tiredness our legs were feeling, besides, it was a warm up for tomorrow and we were so pleased to have chosen this time of year to visit the area.
After the obligatory photos, with MB, his Iron Brew and his own interpretation of a giant we made our way back down and headed off to hunt for more food.
Staff were nice and very helpful, portions were huge and even MB didn’t finish the meal, for anyone who knows him, this just doesn’t happen. Kullen skink and Haggis, neeps, tatties went down very well , after which we returned to Pod where maps were out and we planned a route for the next day.
There were many to pick from but we decided to tackle Ben Lawers the highest mountain in the southern part of the Highlands and the 10th highest mountain in Britain. Exciting stuff, an early night needed so off to bed we went.
Low cloud greeted us in the morning but this didn’t deter us. Breakfast eaten, rucksacks packed and off we went with fingers crossed for the clouds to lift.
Short drive on the A827 along the edge of the loch brought us to a left turn and a steep drive up through what had been a wooded area but was now only the home to the remains of felled trees. The clouds lingered and appeared to be getting thicker but we found the National Trust carpark and paid our £3.
We walked on up the hill, surrounded by purple heather and a stream running along side. The stillness of the glen was heightened by the closeness of the mist and clouds, giving yet again a sense of eeriness.
Once we could see the mountain ahead of us surrounded by blue sky we turned and couldn’t believe what we were seeing, it brought huge grins to our faces, our eyes nearly popped out and it took our breath away.
Below Killin was blanketed in a dense pure white cloud, made even brighter by the sun beating down from a bright blue sky. We felt you could have stepped out onto it and bounced from one side of the valley to the other.
This section of the trail took longer than expected, mainly because we just couldn’t stop ourselves from turning and taking in the spectacular sight below, secondly because of that glorious sun, we had stripped to T-shirts. It was awesome.
We stopped for lunch and looked ahead to the peak of Ben Lawers, we didn’t dally long and were soon back on our feet and on our way towards the summit.
On our way along the ridge MB gave a gasp and froze on the spot. In the distance, when the wind dropped we could here the stags in the distance bellowing. We then spent the rest of our journey upwards and downwards listening eagerly for any more and straining our eyes in a desperate attempt of seeing the stags rucking. We heard a few more but nothing to be seen, binoculars next time !
As we reached the top clouds were moving over, they weren’t hanging round so we still had a spectacular all round view, it just reminded us of how much of the lower Highlands we had yet to discover, never mind the other delights further north.
Now came the time to make our way down, we chose the route round the back of the mountain which would ultimately bring us out at the base of Bein Ghlas.
The clouds were either moving over or we were on our way back down below cloud level, couldn’t really tell which by the time we reached the car. The dense fog like low cloud had gone though.
All our gear was chucked in the back of the car and we drove back to Pod. We were still full of awe for what we had seen and we were so happy to have pictures which would hopefully explain what we felt hard to do justice with our own limited vocabulary.
Hot showers were welcomed followed by a hot chilli and rice and our last night at Maragowan Caravan Park in a very cozy, toasty bed in Pod.
Friday and time to pack up and say goodbye to Mick and Mazie, who had been joined by the rest of their family. We didn’t pack all the bedding away under the seats, once the bed was back as seats the bedding went on top of everything else, we left clothes and towels in the cupboards. Only thing taken out of Pod was food, didn’t fancy cleaning that up should any break or spill.
The great thing about Maragowan, if we hadn’t had another site to head off to we didn’t have to leave till 4pm, guess it was due to not many vans on site. Great if you don’t mind travelling late or live local.
So, off we set in the direction of Oban, the sun was out again and we were in t-shirts and sunglasses. Couldn’t believe it was October and couldn’t wait to reach North caravan park.