The 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.

Nigel Rose.
Report by Eric Brown

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 from hill racing. 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 day.

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