The Chunky Cycle - Glencoe to Stirling in a day. PART 1
This was a big adventure.
I was thinking about where to cycle next after the Outer Hebrides trip – and came up with the idea to cycle from Edinburgh to Glencoe! I love that place. One of my favourite spots in the world. So I asked my great friend Jenny, who finished the Hebbers with me if she was keen. AND SHE WAS!
While planning this trip we eventually decided to skip the chunk from Edinburgh to Stirling - and went for the Stirling to Glencoe option. A cheeky 82 miles. Originally to be done over the weekend … we thought why not do it in one day? Jenny had to be back in Glasgow on the Saturday, and after the chunks we have done before we thought we can bloody do this!
The plan was to stay in a hostel in Stirling on the Thursday evening to set off early in the dark of early morning – to then arrive in Glencoe on the Friday late afternoon and avoid the darkening autumn skies with the aim to stay at the hostel in Glencoe – and eat A LOT. Then Jenny was to head off Saturday late morning – with me staying up to cycle onwards through the glen on the Saturday and then eventually up to Fort William to catch the train home on the Sunday.
We stayed in the lovely and cosy Willy Wallace Hostel in Stirling – located very close to the train station. Bikes inside I headed up to the room – with Jenny to arrive a bit later. I love a hostel – such a different mix of people from all over the place, usually willing to have a good natter too. We met a friendly chap called Seth from Canada who was over touring around Scotland – the North Coast 500 ticked off his list – it got us thinking … maybe one day we will give that a go on our bikes!
The cosy Willy Wallace hostel
It was time to get a good sleep – sadly a cheeky wee wasp was keen on my bunk so I spent a bit of time trying to get rid of him – to no avail. Lucky guy. We both got a restless sleep – both just excited I think for the trip ahead! Comfy beds though and the facilities were amazing – even free ear plugs!
Early Friday morning - 5.30am
No word of a lie – it wasn’t hard to get up – as early as that may be to me! We were too rearing to go I think. After a nice hot pot of Stoats oats (sponsor us?) and a chug a lug, it was time to buckle up.
Big early morning smiles
With our panniers as light as they could be (well I saw a cheeky big bottle of Aveeno moisturiser in Jenny’s .. but no judgement here) – lights charged to the max and PLENTY of snacks we scooted off! Initially taking the wrong turn and headed towards Stirling Castle … swiftly corrected ….WE WERE OFFICIALLY OFF! (After a wee video ..a nice way to document wee trips I feel).
It was very dark and very cold on our faces – but we were prepared. Layered up like onions we were cosy – we should have nabbed some sponsorship from Sealskinz actually come to think of it … great twinning on the cycle glove front.
Cycling onward on the route 765 out of Stirling and on our way to Bridge of Allan – even though it was dark we could still make out the Wallace Monument! Looking behind us we thought we saw the warm light of the sun … it was just one of those huuuuge gas burners – a huge bunsen burner. We cycled through Bridge of Allan – the roads to ourselves We then turned off to follow the cycle path just before the bridge on the right. We met a lovely steep hill – but it was welcome to warm us up in the cold! Some stunning houses up there – hadn’t seen this part before!
We then came to the trail that winds through the forest – at that time in the morning it was still pitch black so a wee bit creepy – but our lights were bright! Was kind of like a scene from Beauty and the Beast .. you know the bit with the wolves? But without the wolves.
We arrived at Doune – quicker than we thought! Lighter now and the roads a bit more alive we sped through – now on the main road . What a beautiful town! The pedestrian bridge over the river was stunning – past beautiful old buildings and churches. The cars were a wee bit fast – but got used to them quickly and had a laugh along the way at any silly drivers. The colours of the trees were so beautiful. Passing Highland cows and sheep we were starting to feel well on our way – and definitely a lot warmer by now. Our sights were on our next stop – Callander! Where we were to stop for a big ol breakfast and a hot cup of coffee. Food was most definitely on the mind at this point.
Callander! We arrived to the welcoming bustle of the town and flew down the high street to arrive at the yumm Deli Ecosse! A favourite spot – it’s tucked away next to the large church on the main street. It’s inside a converted old church house and is beautiful and cosy! I wish we had a small trailer fixed to our bikes … all the yummy local produce I wanted to take away with us … BUT NO. I had a wee fry up with a very nice latte – and after much conversation concerning the egg yolk … Jenny had a 2 egg roll! WHEY HEY! After our food we were asked our plans by the lovely staff – they were in disbelief of our venture we were taking on – but we got a fair few well wishes from the locals which spurred us on.
Out of the cosy and back into the cool air we shot off from Callander and now back onto the cycle route 7! There were plenty horses on this route ….. we stopped for one. The restraint shown by myself was incredible – we had to keep cycling. I will go back….
Horse dentist ...
Up past Loch Lubnaig we flew with a few cheeky hairpin heavy inclines mixed in there – but we conquered them. The air was amazing when cycling through the pine forests – where we bumped into one of the locals from Callander hanging up Halloween bunting etc for a kids halloween hunt! A wee motivational catch up with him and we sped on. Then we reached a lovely flat path, which used to be an old railway line – Funnily enough this flat section was where our legs felt the heaviest. Thundering rivers and the sight of the snowy tops of the mountains were so motivating and it stayed dry!
A few tiny showers now and then – but nothing could stop us! We crossed over the beautiful Glen Ogle viaduct too – it was so colourful in the browns and oranges of autumn. Crossing over the viaduct was a treat and it was also a nice sight to see the steep incline we had managed to avoid on the main road across the way. All in all, flying down and sometimes flying up the hills this was a beautiful chunk of the cycle.
On we went – waving hello to the cheery walkers! This is what it’s all about. Sounds so cheesy I know – but getting outdoors, even in such a vast space like the Highlands – you are never alone. These little morale boosters from locals and hikers really make an adventure I think. We even spotted TWO eagles! Swooping and circling. What a TREAT!
NEXT TIME ...
Will Jenny and I make it to Glencoe? and most importantly .... will there be enough food?
Check in soon for blog post 2 of this adventure.
Til next time,