Trossachs Trail Run
5th April 2008
Eight and a half enthusiasts gathered at the car park near Brig
O'Turk for the Trossachs Trail run - six runners, two cyclists
and a dog. The forecast was for blizzard conditions in the afternoon,
but we went anyway. A few wisps of snow fell as we left the car
park. A delightful new gravel path led us on a long traverse,
up the side of Cnoc nan Sitheag, through the woods and out onto
the road above Glen Finglas Reservoir. By this time the weather
had turned to a beautifully sunny day. We ran on past the reservoir
and after we passed a few farm buildings the road turned into
a landrover track. Further on, as we reached the junction of two
glens, Keith and Eric caught up with us on their bikes.
We took the right hand fork into Glen nan Meann and ran for miles
along the gently-climbing track to the head of the glen. We passed
the path, signposted to Balquhidder, and turned westwards. The
tops of Ben More and Stob Binnean, plastered with snow, peeped
above the horizon for a short while. The track became more undulating
and had some very steep climbs. The cyclists were no longer so
far ahead of us now. Below Creagan nan Sgiath we reached a large
cairn at the side of the track, which marked the highest point.
There was a cold north wind blowing so we dropped down the bank
beside the track to get out of the wind for a lunch stop. It was
very comfortable as the bank was stepped with a number of seat-like
ledges. As we ate, we could see for miles across Ben Vane to the
tops of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin.
Suitably refreshed, we started the long run down into the head of
Glen Finglas. At the bottom we passed many gnarled old trees which
were part of an old hunting forest. There was also a very picturesque
view down most of the Glen Finglas reservoir. We retraced our
steps past the reservoir and down the hillside. Shortly before
we finished the run, the sky darkened ominously to the north.
It started to snow heavily just as we reached the car park - perfect
timing! Succumbing to temptation, we drove up the road to Brig
O'Turk and finished off the day with afternoon tea and scones
in the Tearoom.
Report by Eric
For the benefit of the uninitiated, ‘trail runs’ were
formerly known as journey runs. I imagine the name was changed
so that people familiar with ‘the journey experience’ as
provided in this country by British Airways and their counterparts
in the rail industry would not be unduly put off. I had only one
previous experience of a journey run with Nigel. I remember that
it was in the Ochils. The only other thing I can remember about
it was that it seemed to go on forever.
That was a few years ago.
In the meantime I had retired from hill running, if not entirely
So when the notice
was posted about a 15 mile trail run in the Trossachs, I enquired
if it was suitable for bikes. Nigel said that if I had a bike
with good suspension, or buttocks of steel, I should get round
fine. I have neither. But I was not to be put off that easily.
My bike may have no suspension but I have taken it just about
everywhere. It is 20 years old but, like its owner, is still
in one piece.
The forecast was not good. Winter had returned.
I anticipated that there could be a foot of snow on the higher
parts of the
route at some 600 metres. Keith and I set off some 10 minutes
behind the runners. As we climbed up the tarmac stretch above
Brig o’Turk in bright sunshine and in the shelter of the
forest, I thought that I was perhaps a bit over dressed in walking
boots and trousers. Off came the jacket, not to be replaced
until we reached the highest part of the route, half-way round
at 7.5 miles. We soon caught up with the runners, and were able
to maintain our lead as the track made its way along the valley.
However, after a few miles it started to climb.
Nigel had said that there were some very steep climbs and that
I would probably have to get off and push ‘in one or two
places’. This was perhaps an understatement. Keith, with
his bionic legs, toe-clips and a lighter load was able to pedal
for much of the time. I was forced to get off and push on every
incline including the 2 mile climb. However, going uphill I
could push as fast as Keith could cycle, so the two of us were
evenly matched. As we got further into the climb, the runners
were catching us up and it became, if not a race, at least a
challenge to see whether the cyclists or the runners would reach
the top first. In the event it was the cyclists, but not by
a large margin.
I certainly appreciated the warmer
clothing when we stopped for a quick lunch. There was a cold northerly
wind and it was not
a place to hang about for too long. The views, however, were
well worth the effort it had taken to get there.
On the way down the bikes really came into their own as we went
flying past the runners. The main
thing on the bike was to try
and not lose control. In that event it would have been impossible
to attempt to stop with any degree of confidence and there were
no run outs on the bends or at the side of the track. I was
braking so hard on the steeper parts that I thought my brake
cables might snap. We got down to the bottom of the slope and
waited on a grassy bank for the runners to catch up. After that,
it was, for the cyclists at least, an easy run back to the start.
Just as we got into the cars, it started to rain and snow. The
timing was spot on. Tea with soup, scones and shortbread at
the Brig o’Turk tea room marked the perfect end to a perfect