Cycling Scotland – Lochearnhead and Glen Ogle…

Between Strathyre and Killin and to the north of Callander lies a bike trail that despite lochearn from the glen ogle cycle pathbeing short, ranks among the best rides I’ve done. A walk along here a few years ago actually prompted me to take up cycling again after a ten year absence due to busy roads though it was only recently that I finally got to ride it. As well as being a section of the Rob Roy Way, this trail is part of a much longer National Cycle Network route linking Glasgow and Inverness with this ride being from Strathyre up over the viaducts to the Glen Ogle car park on the forested ridge just south of Killin. As with my West Highland Way outing I had to do this in both directions but I’m not complaining there.

The rain was just about holding off as I left Strathyre; just after the bridge a bike track led northwards beside the river…

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Lake District Walks – an Exciting Route from Wasdale Head

Here’s a route I did recently for the first time that turned out to be one of the best walks I’ve done from Wasdale…

Pillar has always been one of my favorite mountains of the Lake District but for some reason I had never walked the so called High Level Route until a week or so ago which was walks from wasdalea shame as it turned out to be one of the best walks in the area. The trail leaves Black Sail Pass; the col that links Wasdale Head with Ennerdale, and initially follows the usual route to Pillar along the first part of the ridge. After Looking Stead which is worth a visit in itself as a viewpoint, a cairn is seen a short way up the path to Pillar. Here a path leads off to the right and follows an exciting route across the rugged mountainsides overlooking the wild upper reaches of Ennerdale and leading to the summit above the great bastion of Pillar Rock…

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The Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse – Biking the West Highland Way

As promised here’s the second installment of my recent trip to the Highlands. On this outing the hiking boots were left at home – well in the tent – and I took to two wheels for a mountain bike trip along the West Highland Way between the Bridge of Orchy and Kingshouse…mountain biking in the highlands

The West Highland Way is an iconic trail leading almost 100 miles from Milngavie near Glasgow to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis through some of the finest scenery in Scotland. The route is a long distance hiking trail not a cycle path and I have read reports of people having to carry bikes for long distances over part of the route along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. This section though was all rideable by mountain bike if pretty rough in places.

The section I chose to ride here is possibly the wildest and remotest part of the whole route, crossing the wilderness of Rannoch Moor between Bridge of Orchy and Kingshouse in Glen Etive. It’s worth noting that there is no shelter and in bad weather it’s probably a good idea to think twice before setting out on foot or on a bike…

>>> Here’s the full trip in photos  >>>

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Beyond Ben Nevis…

Ben Nevis at 4409ft or 1344m is the highest mountain in Scotland and the UK. As a consequence of this the normal tourist route to the summit is busy throughout the nevis range munrossummer but there is more to these mountains than the endless trail of stones leading from the car park near Fort William to the usually mist shrouded summit.

Head instead to the Nevis Range ski area a few miles north of Fort William on the road to Spean Bridge – gondola and mountain bike trails in summer – and two more Scottish “four thousanders” are easily accessible without following any crowds. I saw only a dozen or so people once I’d left the gondola station behind. These summits – both Munros – are Aonach Mor (1221m/4006ft) which rises directly above the ski area and the more remote Aonach Beag (1234m/4049ft) that overlooks the upper reaches of Glen Nevis and the normally unseen side of the Ben…

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Two more posts to come soon from this trip

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How About a Soundtrack to the Story?

It’s said that a picture paints a thousand words but what about a song? Certainly more than the number of words in the verses and chorus of the lyrics but can you have a soundtrack to a book that hasn’t yet been made into a film or published as an audiobook? Maybe the people at Kindle, Kobo and Smashwords will find a way – if they haven’t already – for the reader to hear a tune described in the pages of an e-book but if that same reader is familiar with the song, it’s mere mention will hopefully enhance the atmosphere of the story regardless. So – here’s the as yet unheard but hopefully imagined soundtrack to Yuri Medev’s The Colonel of Krasnoyarsk…

Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty is playing on the jukebox as Yuri leaves the bar on his first night in New York City: The mood of the song reflects his own thoughts as his usual positive professionalism is replaced by weariness as our hero – not for the first time – contemplates leaving his adventurous but sometimes lonely lifestyle behind and moving back to be closer to the family he misses.

Surfin’ USA by The Beach Boys is playing on the stereo in Jim Bergman’s car as he and Agent Urquhart speed north through Vermont: FBI Agent Jim Bergman hails from Los Angeles and while he’s pretty much made NYC a second home, the remote backwoods bring back certain insecurities that are held at bay by a song that is universally associated with his West Coast home.

Sunday Morning by the Velvet Underground is playing on the radio in Yuri’s stolen pickup truck as he prepares to set out north and evade his pursuers: After a narrow escape the relaxed atmosphere of the tune and the DJ’s comments relieve the tension he’s been feeling since crash landing the sea plane into the lake south of Middleton VT.

Someone Like You by Adele is the song Juliana Regan is dancing her solo to in Dance Society’s rehearsal at the studio just off Broadway: Yuri has come back to find her because he feels she’s one of the few people he can trust and the emotive lyrics of the song perhaps sum up what he is beginning to feel for her at that moment.

The Eagle by Abba is played by Juliana Regan at Yuri’s request when he stays at her Manhattan apartment on his return to the City. Her statement that the Abba CD is “her mom’s” accentuates the age gap between the two of them but despite his somewhat dated taste in music, the theme of the eagle returns during a subsequent rescue attempt high above those same City blocks later in the story…

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A Short Hike in the Highlands – Bridge of Orchy to Beinn Dorain

During moments of clear weather as one heads north along the A82 from Tyndrum towards Rannoch Moor and Glencoe, a vast pyramid shaped mountain makes its presence felt ahead towering above the small hamlet of Bridge of Orchy. More often than not all you will see is mist and rain but the peak is called Beinn Dorain and is a Munro of over 3500 feet in height. Along with Ben More above nearby Crianlarich, I’d had a mind to climb the mountain for some time having driven past it many times so one fine day in summer I stopped at Bridge of Orchy instead of driving past…

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bridge of orchy to beinn dorain highlands

Approaching the summit of Beinn Dorain

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An Adventure in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado…

Part 1 – Maroon Lake and Quandary Peak

maroon bells near aspen colorado

A few years ago I spent some time wandering around the Rocky Mountains of Colorado generally exploring and climbing a few peaks. The picture shows the Maroon Bells from Maroon Lake near Aspen which was the start point of one of the hikes I did. The photos were taken on a cheap camera so while the views were awesome, the quality wasn’t but the highlights of the trip are all there to read about…

There is something rather surreal about sitting at breakfast and watching people dressed in breathing masks and carrying cylinders of oxygen as they butter their slices of toast and pour their coffee as though they are about to set out for Everest. My hotel by Colorado’s Lake Dillon though is at 9100 feet above sea level which is twice the height of Ben Nevis or about level with Eigerwand Station on the Jungfrau and a fair height to arrive at by car without the benefit of any exercise on the way up. After these men in masks came the raiders – those who had already had breakfast but had returned with doggie bags to fill with more food for the day ahead. If it’s free why not I thought – and picked up a banana and a couple of apples for later.

That day – which had dawned fine – I was bound for Glenwood Canyon which I’d been told was well worth seeing and much nearer than the Grand Canyon which would have taken a full day just to get to. Distances in America are in a different league to those back home with a hundred mile trip being “just down the road” and I knew that if I set off down Interstate70 I wasn’t going to be sat in traffic jams for half the distance. I also planned – if time permitted to see the Maroon Bells – two spectacular mountains of just over 14000 feet which are close to the ski resort of Aspen some distance to the West of here…

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