Monday, 18 May 2009

Get your kicks on route 6

‘Should you ever plan to motor west’ well north actually, but I was staying at Wester Lix, just off the A85, before you get into Killin (Perthshire) and it was route 6 not 66, and I was on a bike, but hey, when you’re on holiday your allowed a bit of poetic licence.


Not long ago we had a few days in a cottage to dream of, one that comes complete with sauna, deer in the garden and red squirrels looking cute in the larches, but best of all it has almost immediate access to the Sustrans National Cycle Network, the bit that goes from Killin to Callander. That’s nearly thirty miles of traffic free cycling, mainly on old railway tracks across the highlands.

Now I’m a bit of a fair weather cyclist. I’ve got all the kit, the bike with myriad gears, cycling tights, jaunty red cycling helmet. All I’m lacking are the big strong calves and lungs like a pair of organ bellows, and you can’t buy them in Halfords, but whether you’re a rush at it, macho, keen mountain biker or a more sedate pedal plodder like me, the Sustrans Cyclway is brilliant. (The whole route goes from Inverness to Glasgow, but give a woman a break, I’m not quite up to that level yet.)



From the Wester Lix/Killin end we started off downhill into a chilly east wind; within a few miles we were whizzing through a beautiful fern draped railway cutting and then on to the most romantic old viaduct with spectacular views over Glen Ogle. On the return journey, that same breeze was to prove very helpful. Not having the time (or the legs) to go the whole way to Callander, a round trip of nearly sixty miles, I’d intended in doing about twelve miles before returning. Being downhill for most of the way to begin with is a bit disconcerting, and the faster you go downhill, the more alarming is the thought of the long haul back. Maybe it was an illusion but apart from the very steep bit coming into Lochearnhead, where on the return journey even the ‘Keen mountain biker’ I’m married to, was heard to gasp, “It’s bl**dy steep!’ it seemed to be downhill on the way there and almost as easy on the way back, but maybe my calves were getting used to the pain by then.


Fortunately there’s a convenient refueling stop at the Old Library Tea Room, in Balquhidder, so I made time for a huge slice of poppy seed cake and an Earl Grey tea by the open fire, before making a short detour to pay my respects at the grave of that old reprobate Rob Roy MacGregor, before an unhurried cycle back to our cottage. I know if I was a hard core cyclist I’d have gone all the way, but doing the ride in little bits does leave the remaining twelve or so miles as an excuse for another visit to the lovely holiday cottage, as if I needed one.

(We stayed in one of the lovely Wester Lix Cottages http://www.westerlix.co.uk/)

15 comments:

Blossomcottage said...

Oh LBW it brings back lovely memories of the most relaxing time ( except when Head of House stood on the wall of the bridge and I realised that the drop down the other side was rather long!! but I grabbed her just in time) It really is the most lovely part of the world and I do hope I can go back again soon.
Blossom x

Calico Kate said...

I know it well Lampie and you're right it is fabulous. SO glad you enjoyed you holiday and your cycle ride.
CKx

Wizzard said...

sorry to spoil your theme, but it is route 7 not 6 ;-((

it was lovely to meet you and Mr Lampie.

Wx

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Gawd can't cope with all these fit people . . . HS and I just stand around looking knowing and fit and drop our walks and cycle rides into the conversation as though we are out everyday . . . slinks off . . . slinks back . . . but so glad you enjoyed your holiday . . .runs away . .

LittleBrownDog said...

I know what you mean about the perils of being married to a keen cyclist - still, it sounds as though you bore up better than I would have done (I'm sure that poppy-seed cake must have helped). Westerlix sounds gorgeous. Would love to discover it for myself some day, although perhaps I'll leave the cycling to someone else and stay home helping WW out with the cake ;-).

mountainear said...

I'm very impressed with your ventures - what a super way to see the countryside.

...Last time I cycled I thought I was going to die and had to get off and sit in a ditch.

Milla said...

I am extremely impressed by all that cycling, Lampie. Am far more with ME I'm afraid plus am scared of gears. Beautiful photos, esp the one of the tunnelly road and the bridge.

Pondside said...

Wow! I am very impressed/envious/awestruck! You may say that you don't have the lungs and calves, but you must have something Lampie, because a hill is a hill in any country. It looks like a wonderful way to spend a holiday. Did you train at all before you went? How many gears did you use?
Oh, wouldn't I love to pedal after you to that library tea room!

lampworkbeader said...

Well the bikes got 21 gears but I only use the easy ones. I have no shame, if it's very steep I walk and enjoy the view.

seashell cosmos said...

Ditto to especially what Pond said-great choice of words! Am completely green w/envy, but must thank you for posting this because, well, it looks so out of this world wonderful. ahhhh.... a bit relaxed reading it. Someday I keep telling myself, someday I'll come visit these beautiful countries you all live in. Thanks again Lampie!!! xxx seashell

Faith said...

Mmm yes it is a beautiful place, but after your blog and Presili Mags running one I'm exhausted and just want to pop into that delightful blue tea room!

elizabethm said...

I'm stunned by all this cycling. I am hopeless. I would be in the ditch with mountainear, hiding until everyone had gone. Fabulous place and great photos, especially the tearooms!

Twiglet said...

Just followed link from Snailbeach shepherdess. Great blog - good luck with the new machine - we sew down here so if you need any handy tips contact us.

KittyB said...

I feel another visit coming on... this time with bikes. Poppy seed cake? Might be tomorrow's project, do you think it works as birthday cake? Mr Kitty really wants chocolate but I think poppy seed sounds far healthier!

Fennie said...

I have just visited by car and I'm not really a cycling person but I presume you can walk along. Great descriptions, Lampie.