Callander Weekend March 2020

Margaret heading up Sgiath a’ Chaise

As it turned out this weekend was the last opportunity we had to travel and meet as a group. 10 of us stayed at the hostel in the centre of Callander, which was in a state of repair, so not on our list of preferred hostels at the moment.
Due to the weather forecast (especially for the Saturday) a few decided to head off early on the Friday to get some exercise in by venturing up a small hill near Callander (no great shakes).
On the Saturday the main group travelled by car for 45 minutes to Loch Katerine, only to find the Graham we intended doing was not accessible from Stronachlachar Pier due to landslides around the shore road. After some discussion we decided on walking on the old military road to Inversnaid. This was easily the best suggestion as it was a relatively easy flat walk with changeable scenery, and involved a coffee break at the Inversnaid Hotel and lunch on our return to the Stronachlachar Pier tea room, which served excellent food. The weather was dreich but the rain was light and we did get views across Loch Lomond. A self isolation group of 2 ventured up Sgiath a’ Chaise, and it seems that they definitely had the better of the weather.
On the Sunday as it was pouring down people went their separate ways, a small group of 3 climbed Ben Venue and were rewarded with good views. That’s Scottish weather for you, very changeable.

Fochabers to Lossiemouth February Walk

February saw us take a trip to the seaside to do a walk which was possibly unique in two respects in the annals of club history. The first respect was that we were walking 22 km but only ascending 80 metres (not very impressive for a hillwalking club). The second respect was that we were combining two waymarked trails in the Speyside Way and Moray Coastal Trail.
Prior to the walk we had discovered that the bridge connecting Lossiemouth town to the East Beach was closed due to being declared unsafe in 2019. It is possible to still get across the River Lossie onto the beach but only if you have a wetsuit. This meant we had to change our intended end point from Lossiemouth to Arthur’s Bridge, which is a couple of miles south of the town.
Seven of us started the walk from Fochabers, heading north along the Speyside Way towards Spey Bay. It was a dull day which threatened rain but the River Spey was high and fast flowing carrying snow melt from the highish temperatures of the previous days. We decided to detour to Spey Bay in the hope that the visitor centre coffee shop would be open (it wasn’t). Instead we had our lunch on the beach gazing over a very placid Moray Firth to the hills of Caithness, with Morven being clearly visible.
We then headed to Garmouth over the very impressive ex railway bridge which spans the Spey. The bridge took three years to build and is 947 feet long. It operated from 1885 until the Beeching cuts of 1963 when the line was closed.
As the drizzle started we chanced upon the Speyside Coffee Roasting Co. in Garmouth who provided us with an excellent brew and biscuits. Suitably refreshed, we made our way to Kingston and then along the coast. We were slightly disappointed that although we were right next to the sea, we couldn’t see it for much of the way because a shingle bar blocks the view. However, we were able to see all manner of fortifications left over from the Second World War. There must have been a real concern here 80 years ago that the forces of fascism would invade and strike on to threaten Lhanbryde or Mosstodloch.
We finished with a pleasant walk through the forest back to the cars. Although the weather had not been great, all agreed it had been good to get out and stretch the legs.