Showing posts from 2017

Ski: Lecht 2090

With a dozen lifts clinging to both sides of the roller-coaster Lecht Pass between Donside and Tomintoul, Lecht 2090 has some of the best beginner areas of any of Scotland's ski centres: gentle, sheltered from the wind and close to the excellent Day Lodge and café. The steeper slopes on the right of the piste map are also worthwhile, so in good conditions all abilities can find enough to do. Lift-served vertical is short and a top height of under 780 metres makes the runs vulnerable to thaws, but the grassy terrain doesn't need deep cover and historically The Lecht has been a good bet for early-season turns.

Scroll down for a more in depth guide.

Name: Lecht 2090★★★☆☆
Location: Summit of the A939 Lecht Pass, G.R.: NJ 247129 ///fond.depending.sofa
Day lift pass (2017/18): £30 (adults), £15 (children)
Equipment hire (2017/18): £22 (adults), £12.50 (children); discount for booking equipment and lift pass together.
Average season (snowsports): December to March, conditions permitting


Lecht Pass (A939)

The Lecht Pass can probably lay claim to being the snowiest main road in Scotland. At 780 metres above sea level, the surrounding hills are low by Highland standards, but the 650 metre-high pass almost reaches the very top of them: an ambitious place to build a road, there's no doubting that. The tarmac rises as abruptly as a roller-coaster out of Cock Bridge on the southern, Aberdeenshire side with a 20% gradient and sharp bends (we're usually too terrified to take photos of this bit). The road then barrels across heather moorland at a high level with great views, before dropping slightly into the glen holding the Lecht 2090 ski centre. Pop into the day lodge here for some amazing pictures of the pass at its bleakest: walls of snow several metres high on the sides of the road. The descent into Moray on the north side of the pass is equally steep, but with an absence of sharp bends it doesn't feel so intimidating. Thinking about adding it to your itinerary? Consider it as…

The Bicycle Tree

Are you sitting comfortably? Once upon a time, a young man from Brig o' Turk left his bicycle leant against a sycamore tree before going to fight in the First World War. Whether he returned is unknown, but the bike was left abandoned and, over the decades, the tree swallowed up the frame and carried it up into the air inside the trunk. At the same time, the tree consumed iron parts from an adjacent blacksmith's spoil heap, apparently including an anchor and a horse's bridle. Now we're a bit sceptical about taking the whole story as gospel, but there must be some truth in the tale. Parts of the bike still clearly protrude from the trunk alongside other metal implements: a strange sight indeed, and one that was awarded protected status in 2015. The tree is not signposted, but you can find directions below. Of course, if you come by bike, be careful where you leave it!

Name: The Bicycle Tree ★★☆☆☆
Location: By minor road to Glen Finglas, just north of Brig o' Turk, G.R…

Walk: Ben A'an - mountain in miniature

Is there a more perfect Scottish "mountain in miniature" than Ben A'an? Overlooking the romantic waters of Loch Katrine, this rocky peak must be one of the most climbed in central Scotland, and for good reason: an excellent path, short distance and 5-star views from the diminutive summit. The main route up has recently reopened after a few years of closure due to deforestation, and the landscape during the ascent looks a little bare while the trees regenerate. But at least that allows better views across the glen towards Ben Venue.

Name: Walk: Ben A'an - mountain in miniature ★★★★☆
Length: 4 km / 2 miles
Ascent: 340 metres
Main summits: Ben A'an (454 metres)
Start / finish: Car park (with charge) on A821 2 miles west of Brig o' Turk, G.R.: NN 509070 ///cute.crumple.decency

Route: Car park - Ben A'an - return by outward route
Terrain: Excellent path throughout, often steep.
Wildlife today: Tame robins in the car park (and on the car!) looking for food.
Weather tod…

Duke's Pass (A821)

Duke's Pass takes you from Aberfoyle on the edge of the National Park into the very heart of the Trossachs. For many it's the means to an end - a route to the steamship on Loch Katrine, or to walks up Ben A'an or Ben Venue. However, the views north into the Highlands and south to the Lowlands make the drive worthwhile in its own right. Fortunately there are plenty of small laybys to stop in, as constant sharp bends will keep your eyes occupied when moving. If you're looking for something even more leisurely, the Three Lochs Forest Drive starts from near the summit.

Name: Duke's Pass (A821) ★★★☆☆
Location (summit): A821 between Aberfoyle and Loch Achray, G.R.: NN 519038 ///joys.bonnet.couple
Start (south): Aberfoyle, G.R.: NN 521010 ///
Finish (north): Head of Loch Achray, G.R.: NN 507071 ///classic.caravans.resolves

Distance: 9 km / 6 miles
Height gain: 220 metres
Type of road: Surfaced A-road, suitable for most vehicles
Open: Almost always: snow ma…

Walk: Crieff to Muthill - fishy business by the River Earn

Anyone up for a riverside ramble with an excellent restaurant at the end? We definitely were, and the Barley Bree's lunch menu didn't disappoint, dishing up elegant portions of local game and animals you're likely to see on this one-way jaunt through farmland by the River Earn. Starting in the busy market town of Crieff and finishing at Muthill village (pronounced MOOTH-ill... probably), navigation isn't just a case of following the water course (take a map). The route is also far from direct, taking 10 km to achieve what the road manages in 5. But there's plenty to see, both beside the river and in it: the Earn is a well-known fishing destination, and we enjoyed watching a heron engaged in an almighty battle with a huge fish. The heron eventually won, but not before dropping the fish and nearly losing it in the process. Later on, we were tempted away from the main trail onto a side path which follows the river bank more closely, but a tricky tributary needs to be…