Runs through lush farming country into Highland scenery
Balloch Castle Country Park.
The country park has 200 acres of woodland, parkland and ornamental gardens with paths going down to the shores of Loch Lomond. There are places for quiet picnics and the visitor centre has an exhibition on the plants and animals of the area. This is in Balloch Castle (rebuilt in 1808). The original castle was built in 1238 by the Earls of Lennox who later built a stronghold on Inchmurrin Island on the loch. Only a mound and a depression survive from the original castle. The park is attractive in the spring when the large numbers of rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom.
The Trossachs and Rob Roy
Rob Roy MacGregor was born at Glen Gyle on Loch Katrine near Aberfoyle in 1671. His father was a prominent Macgregor and his mother a Campbell. His upbringing taught him how to defend himself in the hills. Aged 18 he fought as a Stuart supporter at Killiecrankie in the first Jacobite battle. He also became active in ?ôprotection?ö schemes ?û the MacGregors exacting money for the safekeeping of Lowlanders' cattle. He married in 1693, becoming a Clan leader and acquired land at Loch Lomondside and Balquidder and prospered as a legitimate cattle dealer for a while. When his raiding activities resumed he was eventually captured and was forced to submit to General Wade in 1725. He was granted a Royal Pardon in 1727. Throughout all these exploits Rob Roy managed to hold his MacGregor Clan together. He died peacefully in his own bed at Balquidder in 1734. The cycle routes north of here pass through most of these places.
Aberfoyle was originally settled because it was situated on the drove road from the North to Falkirk market. This was the place where cattle could cross the River Forth by a ford to the west of where the village is today. The first tourists were attracted by the poem The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott in 1800 which described the beauty and charm of the area. Nowadays it has a choice of pubs, hotels, B&Bs and is a walking and mountain biking centre (see other routes in this website).
This is a continuation of the Glasgow to Loch Lomond cycle route connecting Glasgow to the cross-Scotland Mountain and Lochs Route. The route described here crosses the Highland Boundary Fault. It runs through lush farming country as far as Fintry - after that the hills get a bit more serious! Geologically speaking the Highlands begin here, even if Highland Council and Highlands Tourist Board would have you believe that they don't start until Speyside.
The Glasgow to Loch Lomond section ends opposite Balloch tourist office, just after crossing the A811. From here you are directed by a series of footpaths and cycle lanes to Balloch Castle Country Park. Anyone staying at Loch Lomond Youth Hostel (mile north of Balloch) should note that a cycle route leads there from Loch Lomond Shores Development - you don't need to cycle on the A82. Balloch Castle Country Park is a good spot for a picnic, the cycle route is signed, make a right turn near the castle car park to find the exit to the A811. You are only on the A811 for about 50 metres after which you turn right to a minor road - this is well signposted.
Between the A811 and Drymen the route follows a series of quiet back roads. the Campsie Fells are visible to the east. Here the route is a gentle climb through cattle farming country. It was cattle country also in 1671 the year Rob Roy was born. The cattle farmers suffered greatly from Highland cattle raiders who were outside the rule of the lowland authorities. Eventually Rob Roy became a legitimate cattle farmer himself along the way taking part in 'protection' schemes which were just a way of extracting money from Lowland farmers. Inexplicably he has a reputation for being Scotland's Robin Hood.
As you ride north-east you become aware of a disused railway line running near to the route. Shortly after the right turn for Croftamie the route runs along it. It's broken by the A809, take care crossing. The route is carried over Endrick Water by rather an unusual bridge which runs on top of a pipe line. After this you turn left at a minor road and two miles after that you'll be in Drymen.
Drymen has a choice of pubs and places to eat. There is also a good choice of B&Bs and hotels. The village is also a major stopping point for those doing the long distance walk, the West Highland Way. This runs up the east shore of Loch Lomond; you can go as far as Rowardennan on a bike but after that you'd have to carry it. You should leave Drymen on the minor road which passes by the side of the Clachan Inn. If in doubt look for the steepest hill around - that's the one you're cycling up!
The hill out of Drymen is pretty unrelenting, stopping on the way up not only gives you a rest but great views of Loch Lomond behind. The Fintry Hills are on the right and Loch Ard Forest on the left as you get to the top of the hill. It's possible to get to Aberfoyle by cycling on the forest mountain bike routes though this is not recommended if you have a lot of luggage (see mountain bike routes). The entry point to the forest routes is by a sign: Drymen Road, next to a forest car park. The Sustrans Route 7 takes you on minor roads through the village of Gartmore. Shortly after this another converted railway line avoids the A81 and takes you directly into the centre of Aberfoyle. There is a good choice of B&Bs, hotels, tea rooms etc in Aberfoyle.