I thought I would share one of my favourite walks with you. My wee pal Bruno and I set off from the car park in Balloch Country Park around 1pm today. The path winds through some very lovely parkland to the first uphill stretch where there is on occasion a steep drop away from the path that would require extra care if you were there with young children. The path leads across a small road into an area of managed woodland. The path in this area often runs adjacent to farmland where sheep are grazing. Dogs must be kept under control here, particularly during lambing season. The broom is gorgeous right now, with the yellow bursting out all across the landscape.
Seeing this marks out the beginning of summer for me, and elicits fond childhood memories of holidays in the spring and early summer. The bitter sweet song 'The Yellow's on the Broom' is brought to mind. It tells how travelling folk in Scotland saw these yellow blooms as a signal to once more take to the road.
A quite steep wee section follows where Bruno had me laughing out loud when he accidentally flushed out a cock pheasant. The bird flew off unharmed and Bruno was understandably, extremely pleased with himself.
Pushing on I noticed some fine specimens of 'bracket' fungi that I thought would add to the 'collection' on this thread.
The path levels off then goes downhill for a while, and this is a very muddy stretch. The path soon improves however and you quickly find yourself arriving at a 'T' junction with a forest track. It really does not matter whether you do right or left here as the next section is a 'horseshoe' that takes you up hill and back down again. I took a right turn, and made my way along the track, through a gate then on uphill. I soon came across evidence that birds of prey are thriving in the area, with numerous pellets scattered around on the path. These are formed from the indigestible parts of prey such as bones, fur or feathers.
I walked a little further up the hill and soon entered the most lovely forest path. The growth wass new, lush, vibrant. There were so many shades of green, sometimes contrasting and sometimes blending together, that the place seemed to shimmer with greenness. As I walked further up this path I knew what to expect, but my reaction as the Loch came in to view was uncontrollable, visceral. My camera cannot do justice to the landscape.
Uplifted by the whole experience I continued walking, and followed the path downhill again through the woodland. I stopped in the wood and simply listened. Even my untrained ear could pick out at least four different species of birdcall. I felt marvellous. Recharged.
As I walked downhill I looked across and could see a family walking up the way I had just came. I felt a pang of regret that my family was not with me together with joy that others could experience this place.
Just before going through the gate leading back to the track, the path goes through a small bog. Looking more closely in to the water it soon became clear that the area is hoaching with life. This photograph shows some kind of 'water strider' insect on the surface and a tadpole swimming nearby.
This is a Woodlands Trust path, and there is a considerable amount of information about it on their web site
. For those of you within easy striking distance of Balloch, Loch Lomond I would recommend this as a most relaxing and delightful way to spend a few hours. Boots are pretty much a must at any time of year, and with some quite steep uphill pulls I would describe it as of moderate difficulty.