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 bolshy, 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 wintry beauty. It’s safe to say I’ve never witnessed a scene quite as breathtaking. 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 just 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? You may wonder what made him think that. Simple, 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 matters further with my exotic and 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 before us. It was so beautiful it looked unreal, like a picture from a book of fairy tales – a magical, frozen land. We snapped away like a pair possessed.
Not long into our walk we passed a couple of photographers setting up tripods and camera equipment. One laughed patronisingly that I’d probably get better photos from the iPhone I was using. I replied that I had all the kit at home, but having lugged it up a steep hill the day before and not used it, I’d decided to leave it at home. They squirmed and lost interest in any further chat about photography. Probably worried I might want to talk cameras and fearing I’d trump their kit. I should have mentioned that I’d been featured online by Canon recently but decided not to waste time on photography snobs.
The Lady of the Lake
As the loch side road looked so pretty in the snow we decided just to follow it and forget the Primrose Hill route.
A while later we reached a gorgeous viewpoint which looked onto a small tree covered island on the loch. Eilean Molach or Ellen’s Isle. For centuries it was a popular place for fugitives to hide. 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 that 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 started to play. The music sounded magical, wafting over the still loch. It gave me goosebumps as I stood there enjoying the spectacular scene before me. The snow-covered mountain Ben Venue loomed over the icy loch with its craggy, tree covered islands. It felt surreal and at that moment I decided that this was the most beautiful day of my life. An absolute 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 scenery before me, 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 headed back to the car we took dozens more photos of all of the scenes we’d snapped only an hour or so earlier. I soaked it all up as I knew this was a special day and one that would be difficult to top. Living and travelling in a spectacular country like Scotland I’m lucky enough 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 that it was. As our walk drew to an end I found the spot where the Urisks live. What’s an Urisk you may ask, so I’ll tell you. Urisks are small pixie like creatures that live under large rocks. They’re usually friendly but are easily upset, so tread carefully if you ever 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 wonderful homemade chocolates!
Until next time ………..