scotland

Getting Loch-y: A Sunny Day Out In The Trossachs

Exciting news, everyone – our lockdown is ending TOMORROW!

It’s been a rough, rough, rough winter, having not been allowed to even leave Edinburgh since the beginning of November, almost a full six months ago. Full lockdown hit straight after Christmas, where we have been twiddling our thumbs and going increasingly insane ever since.

And then, last week, we had a surprise reopening! As of last Friday, we were suddenly allowed to go anywhere within Scotland as long as we don’t stay anywhere overnight. All pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels and self-catering accommodation are still shut. Only essential and semi-essential (whatever that means) shops are open; the semi-essential including things like homeware stores, garden centres and hairdressers which all opened on the 5th.

But as of tomorrow, we can go to pubs, stay overnight anywhere in the UK, and travel freely! One of the only things we can’t do for another few weeks is socialise indoors (so you can’t, for example, stay with family until mid-May). I honestly cannot tell you how excited I am!

We have a LOT planned for the next few weeks. And I mean, a lot. As in, between work and adventures, we now don’t have a single free day until the end of June. After six months of absolutely zero social interactions or long drives or doing much of anything at all, I am willing to bet we will be exhausted within a couple of weeks. However if the past couple of weekends are anything to go by, it will be WORTH IT.

Last weekend we made a beeline for Tim Hortons which has been minutes out of our grasp for months, before heading up to the Cairngorms national park in a last-minute change of plans to avoid the rain (typically it had been glorious on Saturday but we already had plans with friends from before the surprise announcement) and took a couple of really lovely walks to some lochs.

This weekend… we did much of the same in Scotland’s other national park, except the weather was much, much nicer. We had planned to hike to the viewpoint over Loch Earn in Perthshire last weekend, so that’s where we headed first – and then decided to explore the rest of the Trossachs, making for an absolutely phenomenal day! I said it’s the best day we’ve had in 2021, but in all fairness, it really doesn’t have much competition.

Here’s what we got up to in the glorious sunshine!

Ash & me at Loch Earn, Trossachs, Scotland

…oh.

Loch Earn

Our first stop (after an obligatory stop at Tim Hortons, of course) was St Fillans, a charming village just inside the Trossachs national park and set on one of the prettiest lochs in Scotland.

Unfortunately the weather forecast had lied (which as you can imagine NEVER happens in Scotland…) and despite arriving an hour after it was supposed to be full sunshine, by the time we got to the top it was still cloudy – but at least the clouds had lifted, so the views were still spectacular!

St Fillans walk over Loch Earn, Trossachs, Scotland

By the time we got back to the bottom, the sun was out in full force – naturally! We had even soaked in the view for a while with a couple of snacks, watching for gaps in the clouds which never came, and we had resigned ourselves to grey skies.

St Fillans walk, Trossachs, Scotland

This was a really, really easy walk though – it only took probably twenty minutes to get up to the viewpoint, so we will definitely be doing it again in better weather some time.

Even if we didn’t get the sunny views from above, Loch Earn is so scenic.

Me at Loch Earn, Trossachs, Scotland

FYI – you don’t want to know how long I spent quietly taking photos so as not to scare off that bird… which turned out NOT TO BE REAL.

However, with the sun now in full force, we decided to make the absolute most of it. After all:

And so we were off, deeper into the Trossachs national park!

Now, I have to admit something – Loch Lomond is truly wonderful, and there are edges of the Trossachs I’ve seen (usually on our way to Glencoe) that I really enjoy. The rest of it? I HAD NO IDEA.

Rob Roy's grave, Balquhidder, Scotland

Balquhidder & Rob Roy’s Grave

Before we found any lochs, we made a stop at Rob Roy’s grave in Balquhidder kirkyard.

We actually visited here very briefly on our last drive through the Trossachs last September, but it was raining hard and we didn’t even find Rob Roy’s grave (it is, in fact, in a very obvious position, given away even more by the railings around it).

This is one of the most gorgeous settings for a church, up there with Ballachulish church by Glencoe.

Rob Roy MacGregor was a Scottish outlaw who went on to become a folk hero. There are references to him everywhere in the Trossachs – a long-distance walk called the Rob Roy Way takes you from Drymen to Pitlochry, and lots of shorter walks and based on the legends of his life.

There’s actually speculation that he’s not buried here at all, but his grave is here nonetheless, along with his family and lots of tributes from visitors.

It’s such a gorgeous and peaceful location that we decided to sit on the grass with our lunch before moving on.

Loch Voil, Trossachs, Scotland

Loch Voil

Loch Voil is a beautiful stretch of water that runs for miles through the glen.

It’s also a bit of a nightmare road as it’s single track with lots of blind corners – which would be fine for us (I’m from Orkney, after all), except you see the thing with single track roads is there are these fantastic things called passing places, which in the event of a car coming towards you, you can pop in and allow the other car to pass. Genius invention, it really is.

Yeah, except yesterday, half of them were filled with parked cars.

We had some really hairy moments, including driving into a bush and scratching the car because we literally had no choice, as well as coming mere centimetres from reversing into the loch. See a layby marked “passing space”? DON’T PARK IN IT. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Seriously though, Loch Voil is really lovely but it would benefit from some actual parking facilities rather than an odd layby which may or may not be a vital passing place.

So unfortunately, we didn’t stop at all until we got to the end of Loch Voil where there’s a fun photo opportunity with a mirrored box (and parking spaces, thankfully).

You might remember our failed trip to Perthshire last year, which culminated in a drive through the Trossachs in the exact opposite of yesterday’s weather, meaning that the scenic mirrored box and neighbouring lochs were not only shrouded in torrential rain, but also –

Loch Voil look out flooded, Trossachs, Scotland
Our trip last September was slightly different weather

It was IN the loch.

This time… oh boy, THIS TIME. Some people had parked up RIGHT AGAINST IT and were having a huge barbeque… AROUND it. I couldn’t even go take a photo and crop it; it was unphotographable. The thing is, this is private farmland within a padlocked gate, and so I feel like the people there must have been the owners of the land. As annoying as it was, I really can’t think that it was a wholly irresponsible group of people blocking off this sight that frankly quite a few people had stopped to look at and were probably as irked as us.

So I’ve decided it’s just not written in my future to be allowed to photograph this damn box.

Instead, though, we headed to the neighbouring loch that we had accidentally stood in last time.

Loch Doine, Trossachs, Scotland

Loch Doine

So it turns out Loch Doine looks a bit different when it’s not flooding an entire field.

This is undoubtedly one of the prettiest lochs I have EVER seen in Scotland.

Loch Doine is absolutely stunning and I kind of wish we had dropped everything and spent the rest of the day lounging by the water.

Me at Loch Doine, Trossachs, Scotland

But we were off to find more lochs, back through the myriad of arseholes lining Loch Voil until we eventually got back to wider roads.

Loch Katrine, Trossachs, Scotland

Loch Katrine

Loch Katrine is probably the most visited loch in the Trossachs, which ironically is why I’d never visited – I just kind of assumed it was really touristy and actually not that scenic compared to other lochs in the area.

I am pleased to say I have been proven wrong.

I think it would get SUPER busy in the summer, and many people go to take a ride on the historic steam boat, which in fairness would be pretty cool. As of this weekend the boat still isn’t running, so we happily settled for a walk along the loch.

Loch Katrine, Trossachs, Scotland
Me at Loch Katrine, Trossachs, Scotland

I only found out recently that Loch Katrine has a path all along its length to another pier on the other end, so we’ve decided we need to take our bikes along!

From there, we could have carried on driving around the loop to Aberfoyle and up to three more lochs, but we thought that might be a bit much for one day! However we did manage to visit a whopping SEVEN lochs yesterday – the missing ones are Loch Achray, which we passed on the way to and from Loch Katrine, and Loch Lubnaig, which we’ve stopped at so many times before so we didn’t this time.

The final one was Loch Venachar, along the road from Loch Achray, and I did stop for a couple of photos.

Loch Venachar, Trossachs, Scotland

Instead, it was time for dinner, which meant heading back to a regular haunt of ours.

Callander, Scotland

Callander

Callander is one of my favourite towns in Scotland, and we stop there regularly to swap drivers, so it was fitting to be able to visit just before lockdown lifts again.

We grabbed fish & chips from Mhor Fish, which is highly rated but this was actually our first time there.

Scampi & chips in Callander, Scotland

Can confirm: it is gooood!

We sat by the church in the centre of town enjoying the last of the sunshine, so the fact we couldn’t actually eat out anywhere wasn’t a problem in the slightest.

Honestly, I was a bit taken aback by the Trossachs. At one point, I got a bit emotional that we were managing to experience such beautiful places again.

But most of all, I just really couldn’t believe the weather. It was PHENOMENAL.

We got so… wait for it… LOCH-Y.

On that note, I’m grabbing my coat and leaving, but not before sharing with you my lovely fail of a tweet earlier:

This was retweeted by the official Loch Lomond & The Trossachs account. Four pretty good photos, I hope you’ll agree. Unfortunately, Twitter doesn’t like vertical photos.

So my tweet shows you three good pictures along with a picture of a damn rock. Thanks Twitter.

Anyway, I’m excited as heck to get back out there again! Over the next few weeks, we have trips planned to Loch Lomond/Argyll, Assynt, Orkney, Skye, the Lake District… we’ll have friends and family visiting, and we’re having a small-scale Eurovision party. Honestly, with the vaccine roll out steaming ahead, I cannot WAIT for things to feel a bit more normal again.

It’s been a long time coming, hey?

22 thoughts on “Getting Loch-y: A Sunny Day Out In The Trossachs

  1. Congratulations on being lockdown-free! Isn’t it so liberating? Looks like you visited “lochs and lochs” of lochs (see what I did there?). 😉 Hope you continue to enjoy the Scottish sunshine whenever you can, and here’s to hopefully some travels down the line!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on emerging from the fog. Here’s hoping things continue to go in a positive direction for both the UK and the US. We’re trying to get over to England to visit family this summer and hope the US makes it onto the UK’s “green light” list.

    Beautiful lochs, by the way. What grand weather!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You and the husband are of the same skeptical mind. I was so excited to wake up this morning to the news that the EU would welcome vaccinated Americans this summer, but he’s much more skeptical and doubtful given the changing nature of the virus and its variants. Crossing fingers and toes, though.

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  3. WOOO-HOOO – FREEDOM!!! This sounds like an ace day though, we’re tentatively starting to think about a Scotland trip in September so bookmarking this for future reference!

    (And as for not finding Rob Roy’s grave – we couldn’t find Strawberry Fields in Central Park despite being just 10ft away from it 😂)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What spectacular views you had … and sunshine … what a bonus!! Not being allowed to leave Edinburgh for almost 6 months 👀👀 … must have been pretty hectic!!
    Well then, I suppose its absolutely appropriating to say … enjoy every moment 😊.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yeah it’s been tough – Scotland’s been in lockdown since Boxing Day, but before that we were in levels, and Edinburgh/Glasgow were in the highest levels for two months which meant we weren’t allowed to leave our areas. Really sucked. Glad to have had some nice weather these past two weekends! Fingers crossed for more of that. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a lot of lochs, and what a great day out. I am laughing that your first stop was Tim Horton’s, but I can imagine that’s been frustrating being so close yet so far away. I think as far as first days out of lockdown go, you really made it a good one

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  6. As a fellow “lockdown since November” victim in another country I’m incredibly jealous that Scottland seems to be reopening. Our lockdown is going to last at least until mid May, I fear even longer. I happy for you that you enjoyed your day in the Trossachs! It looks beautiful!

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  7. Congrats on emerging from the lockdown and for great weather! Your photos are stunning…so many beautiful lochs!

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  8. We laughed out loud while reading about your adventures in the Trossachs! Beautifully written post with such vivid imagery! Wish we were there! And congratulations on being able to explore once again!! Looking forward to reading more! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  9. Ohhh I’m so glad you get to be out and about again! And I’m very sorry about the damn box. I have a place like that, too. It’s the Goonies House in Oregon. It’s just jinxed for me! Can’t wait to read more of your adventures!

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  10. You’re making me really miss Scotland, though I’d have been shouting really loud swear words at those inconsiderate parkers and picnickers! I’m really happy you can get out and about again though.

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