Full Circle

Down from the Highlands

It was a tingle of culture-shock descending from the Highlands to the flatter and much more populous area south of the Highland Boundary Fault that’s known as the Central Belt (Glasgow to Edinburgh and north to Stirling). The Highlands makes up a over a third of the area of Scotland, but is home to less than 5% of the population. That’s about the same ratio of population to area of country as Montana’s population is to the area of the US, so maybe that’s why I feel a kinship.

We have a lovely stay in Bonnie Bridge – a bit out in the boondocks on a windy dirt road, but very nice and spacious. We cooked a full dinner and spent some cozy time by the “fake fire” – and then organizing and preparing for returning to the bicycle life. It was the same old song… ‘times are tuff, we have too much stuff’. In the morning we stopped at the post office and sent a box home to lighten our load.   

After the hassles at the post office we thought it would be a no-brainer to hop on the Forth and Clyde Canal Trail…but apparently it required more brain that we had.  After a few false starts we found a trail beside a flowing stream… both the trail and the stream ran merrily through a dank tunnel… maybe under the RR Track we thought?  Ummm.. no.  when we got to the far side of the soggy tunnel and got reception back we realized we had actually gone UNDER the canal.  Duh…  so back down under to the other side. Then we rode a ways along the road until we found a very push-up steep trail up to the Canal trail. From there it was a delightful ride to the Falkirk Wheel. And from there UP UP UP to where the Wheel raises boats 80 feet up to the Union Canal and then over the top of the Union Canal tunnel and then up into the mountain bike trails of the huge park/estate/woods/mountain bike trail system called Callander Estate with a lovely pub/café at the top called Canada Wood.  The trail was a bit steep and rough but the deep-wooded scenery was worth it. The mountain bike trails cross the John Muir Way that goes sea to sea across Scotland.  We were able to do a good loop ride on the John Muir staying on the north side of the Forth and Clyde Canal through a lot of tunnels and finally back to our stay in time to throw together another “another finish up the stores” dinner. 

Doune Castler – Leoch and Winterfell

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