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HOME AT FIRST's

ADVENTURE

CENTRAL SCOTLAND

 

BIKING (OR WALKING) ALONG 27 Miles of mostly MAINTAINED, paved, dedicated cycleway
and some sections of tertiary one-lane rural roads and unpaved forest roads
Along a Remarkably scenic, low-grade route through Scotland's central highlands.

 

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN SPRING 2005.                       MOST RECENT UPDATE: 2014.

 

SECTION 4 - NATIONAL ROUTE 7: Lochearnhead—KILLIN

                             MAIN STREET, KILLIN:
                             END OF THE TRAIL.

8.5 MILES LONG; 525' of ALTITUDE GAIN FROM
EITHER SIDE ON THE LOW GRADE DEDICATED,
MOSTLY-PAVED CYCLEWAY ACROSS A SCENIC
MOUNTAIN PASS; APPROACHES ON EITHER
SIDE INCLUDE SOME TRAFFICKED ROADS.

A BIKE RIDE GOOD FOR FAMILIES
WITH CHILDREN 15 AND OLDER.

CLICK TO SEE MAP OF THE ROUTE

 

         One-third mile southwest of Lochearnhead village — reached from the busy A84 north-south trunk road — the Route 7 cycleway climbs a series of paved zigzags steeply up from the old Caledonian Railway’s lower branch (ex-Lochearnhead, St. Fillans and Comrie Railway) to reach its upper branch (ex-Callander and Oban Railway) well above the town near the old Lochearnhead Station. At this point the route is positioned for a steady but milder climb to the pass at the top of Glen Ogle, the ridge top watershed between Loch Earn and Loch Tay.
          Glen Ogle has been a key pass route in
CENTRAL SCOTLAND for many centuries. The British Army’s engineers built a road through the glen in 1749 to hold the Highlanders in check after Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rebellion of 1745-6. The current A85 main road follows the steep, winding line of the old military road east of the "River Ogle" through the glen and up and over the pass. This road is known for auto

Royal Air Force helicopters rescuing motorists stranded between slides along the A85 in Glen Ogle, August, 2004. On the opposite side of the valley, National Route 7 made it through the torrential downpours with minor damage. Photo from "The Villagers", September, 2004.
Royal Air Force helicopters rescuing
motorists stranded between slides
along the A85 in Glen Ogle, August,
2004. On the opposite side of the
valley, National Route 7 made it
through the deluge with minor damage.

Photo from "The Villagers", September, 2004.

accidents, traffic jams, and, as occurred in August,

 

 

2004, landslides. The 2004 slide cut the road

The many-arched, brick Glen Ogle Viaduct that now carries the Route 7 cycleway through Scotland's Central Highlands once carried Queen Victoria's train through this same sumptuous scenery. Photo © Home At First.
The many-arched, brick Glen Ogle Viaduct that now
carries the Route 7 cycleway through Scotland's
Central Highlands once carried Queen Victoria's
 train through this same sumptuous scenery.

Photo © Home At First

in at least two places, isolating a number of cars and trucks, trapping drivers and passengers. British military helicopters rushed to the rescue, pulling out many stranded motorists dangling from suspended lines, making the BBC national news in the UK the evening of August 18.
          Nearing the top of Glen Ogle Route 7 crosses the restored
Glen Ogle Viaduct, a grand brick edifice of several arches tied to the hillside like an outrigger. The views of Glen Ogle from this structure inspired Queen Victoria to call the scene Scotland’s Khyber Pass when she took the royal tour through Scotland by train well over 100 years ago. Well, maybe. That was when the railway supported steam

 

passenger trains instead of itinerant bicyclists

and hikers, and before the A85 invaded the

  

enormous grandeur of the place with snakes of long-distance articulated lorries and legions of summer vacationers in their stuffed-to-the-battens family motorcars.
          At the top of the pass you may still observe the little lake,
Lochan Larrig Cheile, the first water you will see draining north along the route. Not nearly so serene is the always-busy car park here at the hilltop with its mobile burger bar doing land office business on any mild day spring through autumn.
          Route 7 leaves the old railway bed and crosses the traffic-laden A85 just before the lochan and the parking lot. Then it parallels the trunk road north for about a mile before

One of the best picnic spots along Route 7 is along the shore of Lochan Larrig Cheile, a hidden jewel at the top of Glen Ogle. Photo © Home At First.
One of the best picnic spots along Route 7 is
along the shore of Lochan Larrig Cheile,
a hidden jewel at the top of Glen Ogle.

Photo © Home At First

the A85 diverges left and the cycleway plunges

 

 

on the unpaved track (may not be suitable for

The mobile burger bar atop Glen Ogle does brisk business to drivers, cyclists, and hikers crossing the pass. Photo © Home At First.
The mobile burger bar atop Glen Ogle does
brisk business to drivers, cyclists, and
hikers crossing the pass.

Photo © Home At First

touring tires) into the Acharn Forest. Occasional openings permit grand views into the eastern end of Glen Dochart and its sentinel mountains, Tarmachan Ridge and Ben Lawers. Below, unseen for the forest, lies Killin, at the foot of the Falls of Dochart and the head of Loch Tay.
           Deep into the valley near the base of the forest the track rejoins the old railway bed, this one the remnant of the
Killin Railway, a branch of the Caledonian Railway that connected the Callander and Oban Railway at Wester Lix with Loch Tay passenger steamboats at the Killin wharf. Now mostly paved, this segment provides a traffic-free access to the southwestern entry to Killin, at the Falls of

 

the River Dochart. Crossing the old stone-

arched bridge by the falls requires care and

 

patience — there is scant space for two mini-cars to pass, and not enough room for both a lorry and a bike.
          Once in Killin there are shops and several restaurants and a fair-sized grocery with excellent opening times. Importantly, there is also an
outdoor sports shop that rents bikes, and offers numerous maps and cycle route publications. Best of all, HOME AT FIRST has several cottage lodgings in Killin, meaning that, for some riders, arrival in Killin means arrival back home after an unforgettable day cycling in some of Central Scotland's best scenery.

An unpaved section of National Route 7 descends sharply through the Acharn Forest from Glen Ogle pass north into Glen Dochart and Killin. In the distance are the region's high peaks: Tarmachan Ridge and (hidden behind the trees) Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers. Photo © Home At First.
An unpaved section of National Route 7 descends
sharply through the Acharn Forest from Glen Ogle
pass north into Glen Dochart & Killin. In the distance
are the region's high peaks: Tarmachan Ridge and
(hidden behind the trees) Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers.

Photo © Home At First

 

 

 

TOTAL LENGTH CALLANDER-KILLIN (round-trip): 44.5 miles. 4.5-8 hours of gradual uphill cycling with a couple of short, steep sections. Most of route is traffic-free cycleway, much paved, good for accom-plished riders looking for a scenic, moderately challenging day's ride.

NOTES:

 

 

SECTION 1
CALLANDER - STRATHYRE

SECTION 2
STRATHYRE - BALQUHIDDER

SECTION 3
BALQUHIDDER - LOCHEARNHEAD

  

Learn how to plan your own journey of discovery to CENTRAL SCOTLAND

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