Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Saturday, 20 May 2017

TGO Challenge 2017 - Day 8 - NN 675 443 to beyond Kenmore (NN 802 431)

Date: Friday 19 May

Route: roughly as planned: descent E > Boreland > Fearnan > forest track above A827 > descend to Kenmore, lunch at the Court Yard > minor road ascending 400 metres to wild camp by small Lochan at NN 802 431

Distance: 19 km (Cum: 167)

Ascent: 600 metres (Cum: 6770)

Time taken: 5.5 hrs including 1 hr breaks

Weather: sunny periods through high cloud, flatter light than yesterday, calm and warm (t-shirt all day)

After a great night's sleep and a good lie in with Morse (book 2), I set off on the calm sunny morning past a large herd of deer and lots of birds including a curlew, to pick up a track at some shielings. This took me down past the bunkhouse at Boreland to Fearnan, beside Loch Tay.

The loch is long and narrow - around 14 miles long, and typically around 1 to 1½ miles wide. It is the sixth-largest loch in Scotland by area and over 150 metres deep at its deepest.

My plan to take a forest path a good couple of hundred metres above the Loch was thwarted by a 'Private No Admittance' sign, but less than ten minutes further on a more encouraging sign - 'Tay Forest Park - The Letterellan Gate' - indicated a more pleasing route through the forest above the main road.

The path was a grassy carpet laced with bugle and a neat yellow flower that may be yellow pimpernel. There was also lots of wood sorrel, greater stitchwort, violets, primroses and strawberry flowers. To my right, the woodland between the path and the road was a dark blue sea of bluebells.

After just over two km of pleasant strolling the path ended in a clearing. It's marked on the map as rejoining the road, and the overgrown remnants of that blocked route are still evident. So a 'forest excursion' was required over ground piled high with dead branches in order to regain the road.

A little further on, a path marked 'Short Walk to Kenmore' delivered what it promised. A delightful path through woodland, with broom, eyebright, garlic mustard and herb robert adding to an ever growing list.

There's a lower path that I'm told is equally attractive. Now who told me that? I entered Kenmore virtually outside the Court Yard restaurant. Di and Ngumo were sat at a picnic bench enjoying some lunch. I'd caught up with them for the third and probably last time. We had an enjoyable half hour before they hit the road to Aberfeldy. Lunch was good - chicken wings then a large cheese and pickle sandwich, and when I went to pay I found the bill had been settled. Thank you Di and Ngumo - I'll get you back in Montrose...

Before we leave the pretty village of Kenmore, here's a bit about it.

The village dates from the 16th century. It and the neighbouring Castle were originally known as Balloch (from Gaelic bealach, 'pass'). The original village was sited on the north side of the river approximately two miles from its present site and was known as Inchadney. In 1540 Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy started the construction of Balloch castle on the opposite bank of the river and the entire village was moved to a prominent headland by the shores of Loch Tay, hence the name Kenmore, which translates from Scots Gaelic to "big (or large) head". The village as it is seen today is a model village laid out by 3rd Earl of Breadalbane in 1760.

The Kenmore Hotel, commissioned in 1572 by the then laird Colin Campbell, has its origins in a tavern built around 70 years earlier offering accommodation and refreshments. It is reputed to be Scotland's oldest hotel. It looks quite posh.

Taymouth Castle, another Campbell creation, was built by John Campbell, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane, on the site of its late medieval predecessor, Balloch Castle (built 1550 by the Campbells of Glenorchy, ancestors of the Marquesses of Breadalbane, demolished 1805). This enormous mansion, in neo-Gothic style, was completed in time for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1842. No expense was spared on the interior, which was decorated with the utmost sumptuousness. Taymouth Castle is now privately owned and has a fine golf course in its grounds. Plans to restore the Castle to its mid-19th century glory and convert it into a luxury hotel are said to be currently ongoing.

Kenmore Bridge dates from 1774.

Around two miles northeast of the village by the side of the A827 road is a complex multi-phase stone circle known as Croft Moraig Stone Circle.

The Crannogs of Loch Tay, artificially created islands of which there are 18 in the Loch, are thought to have originated before 2000 BC, though they continued to be built and used as dwellings and refuges into the Middle Ages. The Crannogs not only afforded excellent protection against unruly neighbours but protected the ancient Celts from the wild animals (wolves, lynxes and bears) that once inhabited Scotland.

The Scottish Crannog Centre, with an accurate full-size reconstruction of an Iron Age crannog, based on the Oakbank Crannog site (off the north shore of the Loch), and a visitor centre displaying finds from the excavations, is open to visitors a little south of Kenmore village. I should have visited...

The biggest island in the Loch, known as the Isle of Loch Tay, or in Gaelic Eilean nam Ban-naomh, 'Isle of Holy Women', is just north of Kenmore. It was the site of a nunnery in the 12th century and was the burial place of Queen Sybilla (d. 1122), wife of Alexander I of Scotland (1107–24). A castle was built on the island in the later Middle Ages. Much larger in area than the other crannogs, it is unclear to what extent this island is natural, or has been 'improved' over the centuries.

So now you know all about Kenmore. A pretty spot that I walked through and left via a good chat with a lady from Johannesburg, up a steep minor road for 4 km to this position overlooking a small lochan with Schiehallion dominant on the skyline.

There's an unexpected variable signal here - maybe not enough to send this posting but enough to discover that Mike and Marian have, with only two good legs between them, had to drop out. That's a great shame.

Meanwhile Di continues to struggle on with her one and a half feet. I hope she made it to Aberfeldy.

Yesterday's pictures were self explanatory, the middle one showing the tricky descent from An Stuc.

Today's pictures: striking camp in calm weather below Meall Greigh summit, Loch Tay from the descent path, lunch with Ngumo and Di, today's camp site with Schiehallion. 

1 comment:

Sir Hugh said...

Goods progress - experience counts. But why do we all still fall for those arduous thrashes through felled forest terrain? A bit of nostalgia for me remembering a long day doing the traverse of the Ben Lawrrs ridge..