A day out, all together, and a promise of improving weather. But time was short, for Boy Urchin had a squeeze box session scheduled for late afternoon, and with his first public performance looming it couldn’t be missed.
So an early walk on the shores of Loch Katrine was intended as an appetiser, lunch safely packed in the car. But our return coincided with the arrival of the steamer, and of a fleet of coaches disgorging diesel fumes as the boat disgorged her passengers. Amazingly there are no picnic tables near the pier, perhaps because of the volumes of traffic. But that took us to the best part of the day, as we escaped, and headed along the road, down by Brig O’ Turk.
Lunch was taken in quiet woodland, Little Druim Wood, part of the much larger and hugely diverse Glen Finglas, and well worth a stop, short of Glasgow’s water and the hordes of walkers and cyclists. With the gingham cloth back in the back, the smoked salmon and home made oat & linseed rolls long gone, along with the polenta cake, brownies and a certain tray bake, we needed to walk it off. And that is where Druim comes into its own.
The Urchins found leaflets by a display board, maps and paths. Explore our Play Trail, hide in the secret den, hunt for quiz answers. And off we went, through the birch woods, dappled sunshine and rising temperatures. Eventually we found our way to the visitor centre, just along the road at Lendrick Hill, where there is more the kids, wi-fi for the sad, and maps and information setting out all that the Woodland Trust have achieved on the surrounding hills this past 20 years or so. Black grouse numbers are on the rise, and that is always good news, for those that used to graze the home policies have long been absent.
Lendrick Hill is haven for lentil lovers, with a centre for fire-walking, tree-hugging, and all sorts of crafty escapes or other routes to find yourself, or your aura. It is a peaceful retreat, especially in the sun.
The Druim woods are well worth a stop. The backdrop of high tops are turning slowly from brown as spring warms up. The lower slopes, on the road back towards Callander, glistened with whins displaying in the sun. Back in the birch woods the bluebells were beginning to carpet the floor, just short of their best; primroses clung to rocks and there are always brownie points when we come across herself’s favourite flowers.
But there is much more to see, and to hear. We wandered the woods as the cuckoo chattered away, drifting over on the still air. The rowans kept us safe from the witches, and the children ran and skipped up and down in search of badger tracks and pine marten prints. And when they are engaged, rather than doddling slowly round the lochside trying to avoid being run down by cyclists, we all have a better time. 4-0 in the score of the best walk of the day.
There’s always an (un)expected bonus heading back through Callander. Ice cream is in good dupply, but more importantly there was a free parking space right outside the second-hand bookshop, and we had a little time to spare. Duty it was. And H is for Hawk, which all the review had been nagging me to read since last year, for a miserable £4, meant I wouldn’t be putting it off much longer.