The most beautiful day of my life did not start well. The Wee White Dug and his Dad had a fall out after a lengthy wrestling session to get the wee dug into his smart, red hiking jacket for our day out. The wee dug snapped and his Dad took the huff.
There was a perception that a sufficient degree of remorse hadn’t been shown by the niggly wee dug. So we set off Trossachs bound, with the atmosphere in the car as frosty as the ice-cold air outside.
A wintry walk by Loch Katrine
I’d chosen us a scenic walk from the Walk Highlands website – the Primrose Hill circuit at Loch Katrine looked lovely. I didn’t think it could top our wonderful, snowy Strathyre hike from the day before but I was wrong.
As we drove past Loch Venachar and the tiny village of Brig O’Turk the scenery changed dramatically. We wound our way along single track road and through woodland – the trees completely encased in snow. It looked unbelievably pretty. As we skirted the fringes of Loch Achray I was blown away by the icy beauty. It’s safe to say I’ve never witnessed a scene quite as breathtaking on my travels. I was champing at the bit to reach Loch Katrine so we could get out of the car to explore.
When we arrived at the Trossachs Pier car park Mr G nipped off to buy a parking ticket. I laughed when he came back and told me he’d met an elderly gentleman struggling with the ticket machine, who’d mistaken him for a council worker. “Are you here from the council to fix the machine?” he asked. Why would he think Mr G worked for the council? Apparently, it was because Mr G was wearing a jacket with his name on it – Rab! His new Rab gilet, and favourite Christmas present had been mistaken for a council workers uniform. I’m glad I wasn’t there to confuse things further with my highly unusual name – Berghaus.
A picture perfect Loch Katrine
We headed along the private road that winds round the side of the loch, admiring the steamship Sir Walter Scott which was berthed at the pier. The loch around it looked like glass and was reflecting like a dream.
It was hard to make progress on our walk as we kept stopping to admire the spectacular scenery around us. It was so beautiful it looked unreal – like a picture from a book of fairy tales. A magical, frozen land. We snapped photos like we were possessed.
Not long into our walk we passed a couple of photographers setting up tripods and camera equipment. One commented (patronisingly) that I’d probably get better photos from the iPhone I was using. I replied that I had camera gear of my own at home, but having lugged it up a hill the day before and not used it, I’d decided to travel light. They lost interest in any further photography chat after that. Probably worried I’d want to talk cameras and fearing I’d trump their kit. I should have mentioned I’d been featured by Canon on a couple of occasions, but decided not to waste time on photography snobs.
The Lady of the Lake
As the snowy, loch side road looked so pretty we decided to follow it and forget the Primrose Hill route.
A while later we reached a viewpoint which looked onto a small tree covered island on the loch – it was Eilean Molach or Ellen’s Isle. For centuries it was a popular hiding place for fugitives. One of those fugitives was Ellen Stewart or Brave Ellen. It’s said she killed an English soldier whilst trying to defend her loved ones. So inspired was Sir Walter Scott by her story, he incorporated it into his poem Lady of the Lake. Ellen’s Prayer in the poem later inspired Schubert’s Ave Maria.
At the viewpoint there was an odd metal contraption with a wind up handle. I cranked it up and was rewarded for my efforts. Schubert’s hauntingly, beautiful Ave Maria began playing. The music sounded magical and surreal, wafting over the still loch. It gave me goosebumps as I stood there enjoying the scenery before me. The snow-covered mountain Ben Venue loomed over the icy loch, dotted with craggy, tree-covered islands. I was mesmerised by the beauty, and at that moment I decided that this was the most beautiful day of my life – a visual and sensory feast of a day.
Our route was exactly as we like them too – people free. It felt like we were the only two people and wee dug on the planet. It’s a feeling I experience often in Scotland, and I love it.
Brenachoille Point and mythical beasties
When we reached Brenachoille point I found another of the metal contraptions. This time I was rewarded with a poem. It waxed lyrical about the Loch Katrine scenery, and who could blame it.
It’s such a wonderful idea to use poetry and music inspired by the loch, to bring the place to life.
Later, as we were walking back to the car we took loads more photos of the scenes we’d snapped an hour or so earlier. I soaked it all up, as I knew this was a special day and one that would be hard to beat. Living and travelling in a spectacular country like Scotland I get to enjoy many beautiful days in a year, but this one was that wee bit special.
And if ever there was any doubt that this was a magical place, I found evidence confirming it was. As our walk drew to a close, I discovered the spot where the Urisks live. What’s an Urisk? – you may wonder. So, I’ll tell you. Urisks are pixie like creatures that live under large rocks. They’re usually friendly but are easily upset, so tread carefully if you meet one on your travels.
Once a year all of the Urisk’s in Scotland meet for a gathering near Loch Katrine at Coire an Uruisgean or Corrie of the Urisks. It’d be wise to avoid the region at this time, as you may remember what happened to poor Reverend Kirk from my earlier blog Away with the faeries. He lived nearby, and came to grief after meddling in the affairs of the faerie folk.
And like all good things our wonderful day out came to an end, but not before we enjoyed another tasty lunch at the Lade Inn. Lured back once more for hot coffee and the chef’s delicious homemade chocolates!
Until next time ………..