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2014 Ramble Reports

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Kilmahog - Strathyre  ( Trossachs) 8 October 2014 Kilmahog - Strathyre ( Trossachs) 8 October 2014
Eva McCracken and David (Davy) Campbell Memorial Ramble

The coach carrying members and volunteers of the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers headed for Kilmahog ,approximately one mile northwest of Callendar , in the Trossachs.. This was to be the last of the 2014 season rambles and dedicated to the memories of Eva Mc Cracken and Davy Campbell .

The ramble began a short distance from the "Lade Inn" in Kilmahog and followed the pathway signposted Strathyre 6ml. and Balqquidder 8ml. The pathway / cycle route had a well compacted gravel surface, which suited the electric mobility scooters perfectly and followed the route of the former railway which was closed down in 1965.

The ramblers made their way along the scenic tree lined pathway, with the sounds of running water coming from the river down through the trees on the right hand side. The pathway started to climb gradually as it made its way up towards the Pass of Leny ,The trees on each side were tinted with all the various colours of autumn and straight ahead, Ben Ledi, the highest of the mountains in this area of the trossachs,with its surrounding heather covered slopes, dominating the skyline.

The ramblers were now aware that the noise from the river had increased in volume to more of a roar, due to the fast flowing volume of waters from the Falls of Leny gushing over the many boulders left in mid stream and creating stretches of "white waters" as it made its way downstream.

The river, known locally as the river Leny, has the gaelic name "Garbh Uisge" or when translated means "Rough Waters".

After venturing a bit further up the trail, the group came to an ideal viewpoint from where they could stop for lunch and look down on the river below. As the group chatted away, they were surprised by the sudden appearance of a local fisherman armed with his trusty rod and line, who bid them "gooday" before descending the steep banks and heading for his chosen spot from where to cast his line.He had certainly been here many times before and knew the river well.

As the ramblers stared at the fast flowing waters, their hypnotic effect gave the group time to reflect on the many happy times, shared on previous rambles, in the company of all club members past and present.

After lunch, the ramblers made their way back down through the pass, remembering as they went that this was once a great military road which provided relatively easy access to this area of the highlands and beyond.

The Pass of Leny was used by the armies of Picts,, Romans and later by famous historical figures such as .Rob Roy Mc Gregor long before the railway was established. .

As the group approached an open grassed area of woodland in the lower reaches of the pass, they were being closely watched by a gathering of " Hairy Highlanders ". Namely "Hamish", "Hector" and "Honey" young highland cattle along with their parents! .

They kindly agreed to pose for a photo shoot thus providing excellent material for the clubs web-site along with its other photographic records

The ramblers carried on until they met up with the main road ,where they turned left and headed carefully along it for a short distance, until arriving at a local hostelry where they completed a very memorable 2014 rambling season by toasting the fond memories of .Eva and Davy., followed by a very heart warming meal.
Birnie & Gaddon Lochs Nature Reserve 23 September 2014 Birnie & Gaddon Lochs Nature Reserve 23 September 2014
Members and volunteers from the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers Club gathered in the car park adjacent to Birnie Loch in North East Fife where they rendevouzed with the vans carrying their electric mobility scooters.

The morning was dry and mild as the group followed the ramble leader along the pathway leading to the edge of Birnie Loch with its swans and ducks keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings. A short distance further on, the leader took another pathway leading off to the right which led through a gateway and into the Gaddon Nature Reserve area. The nature reserve consists of the two lochs which were created from the original sand and gravel quarry workings on the site and the surrounding land restored to form grassland, woodland and marsh. This established natural habitats for all the resident wildlife.

The ramblers made their way along the level compacted gravel surfaced pathway, ideal for walkers, wheelchairs ,scooters and cyclists , as it wound its way through sparse woodland consisting of a few crab-apple trees intermingled with the shrubs and bushes. The pathway followed closely to the shore of Gaddon Loch, with an occasional minor pathway leading off to the various bird hides or viewpoints along the route.

The group members were appreciating the views over the water to the small islands which had been created, as well as the reed beds and the many varieties of shrubs along the way. The ramblers peace and quiet was suddenly shattered as a passenger train rattled its way along the main east coast rail line which runs parallel to the pathway at this point on the eastern boundary of the reserve. However the tranquility of the countryside was soon restored and the ramblers proceeded onwards until they reached one of the picnic areas at the end of Birnie loch. This was an ideal sunny spot to stop for lunch.

As the group were enjoying lunch, they were given another treat when a few of the nearby swans demonstrated their skills at "synchronised swimming" by diving headfirst into the loch and leaving only their plumed tails sticking vertically up into the air. They were greatly encouraged when given a perfect musical accompaniment by a few of the club members singing an aria from Swan Lake!! After lunch,the group continued their ramble along the pathway as it wound its way through more woodland near to the edge of Birnie Loch until eventually reaching the carpark.

Having enjoyed rambling round the two lochs , the group decided to explore another of the many routes around the reserve. The ramblers then proceeded along part of the main pathway around Gaddon Loch before turning off through a gateway and on to a minor grassy pathway leading upwards , eventually reaching a good viewpoint at the top of the mound. From this point, there were panoramic views of the lochs, surrounding countryside and the Lomond Hills. After a quick photo session, the ramblers continued downhill until the pathway joined up with the main route leading back to the car park and the end of another enjoyable ramble.

Once more ,a big "THANK YOU" must go to all the volunteers , for transporting the electric scooters to the venue and for their company and assistance during the ramble. One of the great benefits gained from belonging to an organisation, such as the disabled ramblers, is that it provides members the opportunity to make new friendships with an amazing cross-section of people from all walks of life.
Glen Doll  -  Angus Monday 8 September Glen Doll - Angus Monday 8 September

It was a very mild and calm late summer`s morning as the coach carrying members and volunteers from the Forth and Tay Disabled Ramblers club made its way out of Fife and headed towards Kirriemuir in Angus en route to a day`s rambling in Glen Doll.

Glen Doll sits at the south eastern corner of the Cairngorms National Park to the north of Glen Clova. The glens were formed 12000 years ago when huge glaciers on top of the Cairngorm Plateau started to melt and slowly began to move , gouging out vast crevices in the underlying rock and pushing the gravel and soil out at the same time. This left behind a landscape of craggy mountainsides ,moors ,rivers and burns.

The ramblers started out on their ramble from the Glen Doll Rangers Centre after they had been allocated electric mobility scooters and been given a briefing from the ramble leader.The group made their way uphill along the stoney forest track, while taking in views of the river flowing over the many boulders left behind by the glaciers, causing it to foam as it sped downhill. At this time of year the forest takes on a different appearance as the leaves change colours to many different autumn shades of red, brown and gold. The forest comprises of the native Scots pine with it`s reddy- orange trunk, Sitka spruce for providing timber, Larch and Silver Birch found mainly near the rivers and burns.

The group were enjoying every moment as they progressed slowly up the long winding trail through the glen with the surrounding mountainsides covered in blankets of purple heather. The dramatic landscape displayed some of the massive boulders along with mounds of soil and rubble that the moving glacier had carried for miles before depositing them as it melted. The ramblers eventually reached a clearing where the trail forked. The left fork takes the track on through Glen Doll Forest and into natures amphitheatre of "Corrie Fee" with its alpine landscape and many rare species of alpine flowers. Taking the right fork, the ramblers came upon an open area which provided an ideal spot to stop for lunch.

One of the forest rangers had made a prior arrangement to meet up with the group here to talk further about the National Park with its associated wildlife. He gave an interesting account of some of his responsibilities and also how the large forest areas are skilfully managed by Forestry Commission Scotland. He spoke about how he calculated roughly the size of the red squirrel population presently in the area and also of the sounds from the red deer as they looked for suitable mates up on the craigs. The craggy hills also provide homes and hunting grounds for golden eagles, peregrine falcons and buzzards.

After the refreshing break, the group reformed and started back down the glen. They stopped occasionally to admire the different types of plant life at the side of the trail and also some large species of red mushroom headed fungi spotted in the undergrowth.. The colours of the surrounding landscape kept changing as the rays from the late afternoon sun highlighted different features on the hillside as the ramblers made their way back to the ranger centre at the foot of the glen.

This created the perfect end to another successful and enjoyable ramble ,giving the club members plenty of fresh conversation and left them with a feeling of well-being. and fond memories of "Bonnie Scotland".
Union Canal  -  Falkirk Saturday 2nd August 2014 Union Canal - Falkirk Saturday 2nd August 2014
FTDR members take to the water.

Following last season`s successful and very popular cruise along the Union Canal, on board the "Seagull Trust`s" barges, from Ratho Basin , across the Almond Aqueduct and westwards towards Linlithgow,it was decided to arrange another "ramble on water" this year. The "Seagull Trust" is a charity founded in 1978 who offer cruises along Scotland`s canals using specially converted barges for people with special needs

The weather was in complete contrast to last year`s perfect hot summer`s day,with thundery rain clouds forming, as the ramblers joined up with the trust`s two splendid barges moored alongside the Bantaskine Boathouse** on the Union Canal at Falkirk. On arrival at the boathouse,the ramblers were given a warm welcome from the trust volunteers who would be operating the two very accessible barges. The ramblers using wheelchairs boarded safely by means of a level ramped access onto the main deck and then down to the cabin level via a hydraulic lift. After everyone was safely embarked , the barges slipped from their moorings and headed eastwards along the canal .

The rain was now falling steadily as the barges cruised along at a leisurely pace (up to a max of 4mph) following the canal with it`s tow path running alongside as it wound it`s way around each bend , following the contours of the surrounding countryside. The canal roughly follows the route of "Antonines Wall " for a short distance before reaching a deep cutting leading to the entrance of the dark " Falkirk Tunnel ". This 620m long tunnel had to be carved out of the solid rock of Prospect Hill around 1820 after objections from the owner of Callendar House to the canal passing close to his property. All the cabin windows were closed during the period when the barges were in the tunnel to prevent ingress of the "waterfalls" issuing from the roof. A few of the braver ramblers ventured out on to the foredeck to inspect some of the stalactites that had been formed over many years by the dripping waters. As the barges finally emerged from the darkness back in to the daylight , the ramblers were enjoying the refreshments provided by the trust volunteers. The weather had started to brighten up as the barges followed the canal eastwards and made their way under the "laughing greetin` " stone bridge carrying the roadway leading down to Glen Village. This bridge takes its name from the carved faces on the keystones. As legend goes, the sad face depicts the contractor who went bankrupt before finishing this section of the canal and the happy face, the other contractor who completed it and received payment .

The leisurely cruise continued with thick reed beds and woodland on one bank and a more open vista on the other with views of the many townships of the central lowlands. A medium sized cruiser pulled in ahead to allow the barges to pass and this was greatfully acknowedged with a friendly wave from the ramblers. The canal is also well known for all its resident wildlife and this was substantiated when the barges were navigating round another bend and came face to face with a family of swans and their cygnets. The swans ignored the intrusion of the barges and were more focussed on the breadcrumbs being thrown by walkers on the towpath. The barges carried onwards until reaching a wider stretch of the canal near Redding where they took the opportunity to turn round in preparation for the return journey , enabling the ramblers to meet up with their scheduled transport waiting back at the boathouse. Meanwhile a few ducks with their off-springs were showing keen interest in the proceedings !! (maybe just looking for tit-bits)

A faint cry of "Westward Hoe" was heard as the barges headed back along the canal towards the cutting leading up to the eastern entrance to the tunnel. The coloured lights used for controlling the tunnel traffic were in our favour, allowing the barges a clear passage. Rain clouds were gathering once more as the barges approached the boathouse moorings and by the time the ramblers had disembarked , the rain had turned into a steady downpour as they hurrriedly reached the shelter of the awaiting coach. The coach then made its way into Falkirk where the group stopped off for an early evening meal: making it a perfect finish to a very enjoyable day.

The Bantaskine Boathouse is located on the canal halfway between the Roughcastle Tunnel taking the canal westwards towards the Falkirk Wheel and the longer Falkirk Tunnel taking the canal eastwards towards Linlithgow - Ratho and eventually terminating at the Lochrin Basin Edinburgh. Many thanks must go to the volunteers from The Seagull Trust who devoted their time and skills to make this trip another day to remember.
Templeton  Woods  -  Dundee 11 July 2014 Templeton Woods - Dundee 11 July 2014
The coach carrying members and volunteers of the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers club made its way northwards out of Fife and across the Tay Road Bridge, heading for the starting point of their ramble through Templeton Woods located north of Dundee.

An unscheduled stop en-route proved to be very "fruitful" when group members purchased freshly picked strawberries to enjoy during the lunch-break!

The coach pulled in to the car park adjacent to the visitors centre and was shortly joined by the vans carrying the club`s electric mobility scooters. It was a very warm summer`s morning with the sun`s rays glinting off the scooters as the group headed out of the car park and into the woods along one of the many signed gravel surfaced accessible pathways.

The woods were originally planted in the 1800`s and formed part of the Earl of Camperdowns estate. Today they cover an area of 150 acres and are used by the local communities for many recreational activities. The woods are one of the rare locations in Scotland where a population of red squirrels are resident as well as providing a natural habitat for roe deer.

The ramblers proceeded along the wide track through the birch wood, hearing the sounds of the birds singing in the treetops and seeing the occasional buzzard soaring overhead.

The group followed the track signposted "Gallow Hill" uphill through the tall conifers ( locally this long gradient is known as "palpitation brae") until they eventually passed the large concrete structure of Gallow Hill Water Tower and then continued to the top of the hill at Clatto.

It was here that the ramble leader selected a large grassed area for the group to pull over and have lunch.

After lunch, the group reformed and joined the pathway leading out of the Templeton Plantation and down towards the entrance to the nearby Clatto Country Park. The ramblers followed the route from the park`s entrance, past the car park, then on to a pathway down an incline which eventually joined up with the trail running round the circumference of Clatto Reservoir .

The reservoir was established in 1874 as part of the City of Dundee`s water supply network but it is no longer connected and is mainly used for water sports as well as being the home for a wide variety of waterfowl, such as moorhens, swans, mallard and tufted ducks.

The ramblers continued following the well surfaced level pathway for about one mile round the perimeter of the reservoir, admiring a family of swans as they swam with their cygnets over to the sheltered inlets of the islands located offshore. They also watched the birds as they dived into the deep waters looking for fish. Having circumnavigated the reservoir,the ramblers stopped for a comfort break at the sports centre changing facilities before "scooting" back up the pathway leading to the park`s exit.

The group then followed the ramble leader along the pathway passing the relatively new plantation of Admiral Duncan`s Wood which serves to join Templeton Woods to the Clatto Country Park, thus providing a larger habitat for the red squirrels.

The pathway shortly re-entered the Templeton Woods where the ramblers took a detour a turned on to another route leading down through the large mature conifers towards the "ponds " area of the park .

The ramblers followed this trail as it wound it`s way through the woodland until eventually arriving back at the Visitors Centre. There are many different signed routes to explore in this area and more information can be obtained from the Countryside Rangers based at the centre.

Many Thanks must go to "The Barcapel Foundation " who kindly sponsored this ramble and also to all the volunteers whose assistance made this another glorious day to remember.
 Loch Leven Heritage Trail. Wednesday 18th June 2014 Loch Leven Heritage Trail. Wednesday 18th June 2014
It was promising to be a very warm summer`s day when members and volunteers from Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers club gathered in Findatie car park on the southern shore of Loch Leven. A press photographer met up with them to gather material for a forthcoming article to be published in one of the local papers, before they set off on the day`s ramble.

The group made their way out of the car park and along the well surfaced pathway leading passed the holiday lodges before winding it`s way down towards the shore , at the same time getting clear views over the loch to St.Serf`s Island with it`s priory. and beyond. This pathway joined up with the main pathway round the loch, a short distance from the sluices which let the water from the loch flow into the River Leven. The ramblers turned right at this point and followed the route as it led eastwards along the loch side, passing a sandy beach area at the edge of woodland, before running along beside "the cut" a straight man made section of the River Leven. A short distance later,the group came to a bridge crossing the river from where occasionally heron or otters can be seen along the banks.

The ramblers took a chance to stop ,take in the views and a few photographs, before they crossed the bridge and entered pine woods which provide a natural habitat for the red squirrels resident here. A minor path branched off to the left (unfortunately this is not accessible for wheelchairs), leading to a bird hide overlooking the "Levenmouth Ponds" where a wide variety of birds can be spotted.

The group carried on following the main trail through the woods , enjoying the peaceful surroundings, until the tranquility was suddenly interrupted by loud reports from a nearby "bird scarer" being used to keep birds away from the young crops in adjacent fields.

The Heritage Trail now ran parallel to the boundary fence of the Scottish Gliding Centre`s airfield at Portmoak where the ramblers were lucky enough to witness a "Tug" aircraft with a glider in tow ,climbing to reach a suitable altitude before releasing it and allowing it the freedom of soaring over the Bishop Hill and surrounding countryside.

The group continued along the trail as it emerged from the woodland and into the strong glare of the sun . The route now ran along the top of a raised bank near the loch side with a ditch running on the right hand side. This provides the drainage necessary to prevent flooding of the fields beyond. The soil in this area is of a sandy nature therefore providing ideal conditions for growing carrots and the special turfs used on the many golf courses in Fife.

It was now early afternoon and the temperature beginning to soar as the ramblers thankfully entered the relative shelter of the Black Woods. The trail now wound its way through the woodland consisting of birch, willow, alder and hazel trees. The ramblers continued through the woods, enjoying the various sounds and scents of nature until they reached a more open glade area where it was ideal to stop for lunch.

After having a refreshing break and exhausting of conversations, the group reformed and followed the ramble leader back along the outgoing route at a leisurely pace. This allowed everyone to see the scenery from a different perspective and also to take photographs of items missed previously.

The trail was getting busy with cyclists which led to the scooters pulling frequently into the side to allow them to pass safely. The ramblers eventually arrived back at the spot where the water from the loch discharges into the river via the sluices, in time to watch a heron on the far bank surveying the waters in expectation of catching something tasty for tea!!

The group then followed the minor pathway uphill, once more passing the holiday lodges overlooking the loch, before finally reaching the car park at Findatie after another most enjoyable (and scorching ! ) ramble.
Beecraigs Country Park - West Lothian 29 May 2014 Beecraigs Country Park - West Lothian 29 May 2014
The overnight rain had dispersed leaving a slight morning mist over the Bathgate Hills as the coach carrying members and volunteers of the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers arrived at Beecraigs Country Park where they rendevoused with the vans carrying the electric mobility scooters. The large country park is very popular with the local community as well as the many visitors for its visitor centre, restaurant, adventure playground, camp site and ranger service. There is of course , the attraction of the red deer and highland cattle. Once the rambling group ( eighteen on scooters and their volunteer companions) had been briefed about the day`s ramble, they set off from Balvormie car park and headed south along a hard core surfaced pathway towards the woodland. An area of meadowland was seen over to the west of the pathway for a short distance until the woods totally screened it from view. The woods consist of tall and relatively straight coniferous species of softwood trees such as the Douglas Fir , Spruce and Pine, intermingled with native shrubs.

The pathway continued through the woods, passing a grassed fenced off field area used for target archery. Large circular targets are used and can be placed at different distances depending on the skill, grades and ages of the archers. The standard range for olympic competition is 70mtrs. As the ramble progressed, the forest became denser , the forest bed damper and covered in a thick green moss carpet which provided the ideal conditions for the formation of a wide variety of fungi. The ramblers continued along the route , catching sight of the occasional buzzard or lapwing flying over the treetops as the forest route approached the southern boundary of the park. It was here at a clearing beside two foresters store sheds that the group decided to stop for a lunch break. The timing was perfect as the sun broke through the clouds for the first time since the ramble began!!

Due to severe storm conditions over the winter period, areas of the forest along with the associated pathways were presently out of commission until such times as the foresters had made them safe. This led to the planned route being changed to avoid these hazardous areas. After lunch the ramblers made their way along an alternative route through the forest with the ramble leader luckily being followed by a few of the larger and more powerful scooters. The surface of the alternative pathway gradually deteriorated into large deep muddy areas due to the recent overnight rainfall, which led to even the larger scooters starting to struggle. At this point the ramble leader called for everyone to retrace their steps and get back on to "terra firma". This was successfully achieved with considerable help from the volunteers who once more came to the "rescue"!!

Undeterred , the group reformed and chose another one of the many pathways through the forest. This one led in a more northerly direction, had a far better surface than the previous one and took the ramblers to the southern shore of Beecraig Loch. The loch is well used by local fishermen who can hire the boats moored at the fishing club`s jetty. The loch is well stocked with rainbow trout which are also very popular with the grey herons which are resident on the island. as well as the other wide variety of birds to be seen including gold crests,jays, blue and great tits. The ramblers continued along the southern bank, passing the jetty and clubhouse when they spotted one of the herons studying the surface of the water awaiting its chance to catch a trout before any of the fishermen .

After enjoying the peaceful surroundings of the loch side and taking a few photos for the album, the group headed back into the woodland and followed another well surfaced trail which eventually passed the children`s play area complete with a large climbing frame .before finally going down hill to arrive back at Balvormie car park.
Strathmiglo - Pillars of Hercules - 6th May 2013 Strathmiglo - Pillars of Hercules - 6th May 2013
It was a mild spring morning with a gentle southwesterly breeze when the members and volunteers of the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers club met up in the car park of Strathmiglo Village Hall, at the west end of the village, prior to setting off on another expedition into the surrounding countryside. The group,consisting of approximately 18 ramblers on electric mobility scooters accompanied by their volunteers, turned right out of the car park and headed up the minor road for a short distance until reaching the entrance of the footpath/cycleway to Falkland on the left. The route is very popular with walkers,cyclists and equestrians from the surrounding communities as well as visiting tourists.

The ramblers followed this well surfaced pathway as it wound its way uphill through an avenue of trees and also passing bushes with large displays of yellow broom in full bloom. As the pathway reached the top of the gradient, it levelled out and passed through more open countryside which gave the ramblers extensive views over the "Howe of Fife" to the east and stunning views of the Lomond Hills ahead. The road followed a fairly straight course for a while with fields and associated farm buildings seen scattered out on both sides, until it dipped , took a slight dog leg to the right and crossed a bridge spanning a small burn.

The ramblers were in their element ,enjoying every moment of being in the great outdoors, as the route continued southerly, passing fields of yellow rape and various other crops before entering the woodland of Barrington Muir Plantation. Quite a few of the trees along the way had been damaged and others blown over by recent gales. A short distance further on, the ramblers reached a crossroads where they took a left turn and followed the signed route to the "Pillars of Hercules" The minor road continued through woodland until it passed the poultry houses of "West Kilgour" where more open views of countryside could be seen to the left and the sun striking the East Lomond hill on the right. The ramblers carried on along the route until reaching Chancehill Wood and finally arriving at the Pillars of Hercules organic farm where they all stopped for lunch. The group gathered on the grassed area around the farm`s nursery beds to enjoy chatting in the sun and watching the farm workers busy cultivating the crops.

After a refreshing break for lunch, the ramblers re-grouped and headed back along the same route covered on the outgoing journey. The East Lomond hillside was now on their left with the sun picking out a distinctive copse of trees whose outline resembled the shape of a German pistol. The story goes that they were originally planted by a group of German prisoners of war who were out on work duties from their camp at Ladybank. Slightly further on and higher up the hillside , could be seen the pillar of the "Tyndal Bruce" monument erected in his memory for all the good works carried out to develop Falkland into the township it is today. He married heiress Margaret Hamilton Bruce and became the hereditary keeper of Falkland Palace in 1828.

The return journey gave the ramblers entirely different aspects of the countryside from that on the outgoing one, especially when going back downhill into Strathmiglo with its variety of houses and church tower. seen in the distance. This completed another interesting ramble, leaving all the ramblers with new topics and ideas for future discussion.

Once again, a big "Thank You" must go to all the volunteers who accompanied the ramble and made this enjoyable outing possible.
Lochore Meadows - Country Park - Mon 14th April 2014 Lochore Meadows - Country Park - Mon 14th April 2014
Monday 14th April heralded the start of the 2014 season for the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers. The venue was Lochore Meadows Country Park. The spring weather was very favourable, dry and sunny with a slight breeze, as the club members gathered in the car park outside the visitors centre . They mounted the electric mobility scooters ,recently cleaned by club volunteers and professionally serviced in preparation for the forthcoming rambles.

After a health & safety briefing by the ramble leader, the group of ramblers and volunteers made their way along the tarmac surfaced pathway, leading passed the children`s play area and beach, to finally join up with the trail which circumnavigates the loch. Numerous swans were seen parading around on the grassed picnic area adjacent to the beach ; some grooming themselves and others picking up scraps of food left by the many walkers,cyclists and general public out enjoying the spring weather.

A lone straggler from the group of swans stretched out his long neck and gave out loud "hiss" as if to say " don`t come any closer" when he spotted the ramblers approaching. This can be a bit intimidating when sitting on a scooter at eye level with Mr. Swan!!

The ramblers proceeded in an anti-clockwise direction around the loch, admiring the park`s stunning displays of daffodils, cherry blossoms in full bloom and clumps of bluebells among the trees surrounding the park. At various locations around the lochside, wooden jetties have been constructed to allow anglers of all abilities to fish the loch. It was at one of those jetties the ramblers stopped to watch a fisherman landing his catch of a large rainbow trout. His biggest surprise was when he received applause from the large group of ramblers standing behind him.

The group then proceeded along the pathway at a leisurely pace , passing Tod Point, with good views over the loch to Tod Island. In a short distance the pathway veered away from the lochside and after passing through a gateway, entered the woodland area of the Nature Reserve. Slightly further on, the ramble leader paused the group to listen to the distinctive sound of a woodpecker, drumming on a tree trunk nearby, using its long pointed beak to get to the grubs inside.

After lunch, the group reformed and made their way along the gravel surfaced pathway through the woodland at the west end of the loch until reaching the gateway at the perimeter of the Nature Reserve. The volunteers held the gate open to allow the scooters easier access to the trail as it started to ascend , passing Forresters Wood, through a further gateway and proceeding through some grassland before finally climbing to reach Cadger`s Wood. From this elevated viewpoint there are good clear views of the loch with it`s three islands ( "Whaup" - "Moss" - "Tod") and also of the surrounding countryside.

After lunch, the group reformed and made their way along the gravel surfaced pathway through the woodland at the west end of the loch until reaching the gateway at the perimeter of the Nature Reserve. The volunteers held the gate open to allow the scooters easier access to the trail as it started to ascend , passing Forresters Wood, through a further gateway and proceeding through some grassland before finally climbing to reach Cadger`s Wood. From this elevated viewpoint there are good clear views of the loch with it`s three islands ( "Whaup" - "Moss" - "Tod") and also of the surrounding countryside.

Continuing eastwards along the trail from the view point, the ramblers where enjoying every minute of "being in the great outdoors" ,watching the sailing activities on the loch and having brief exchanges of conversation with the various cyclists ,joggers and dog walkers also out enjoying the weather. After passing through another set of gates, the ramblers followed the trail as it ascended to "The Clune" , another high point along the route. From this point, the east end of the loch with the sailing club, education and visitors centres can be seen in the distance. Descending from "The Clune", the ramblers spotted a large flock of geese resting on the grassland area next to the shore. This presented the group another opportunity to capture the moment with their cameras.

After passing through a final gateway, the ramblers followed the roadway passing the education centre and finally finishing in the car park back at the visitor centre The combination of good weather with an interesting leisurely ramble ,got the FTDR 2014 season off to a good start ,leaving everyone with an appetite for the next one on 6th May.
 Scottish charity No. SC033022.  
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