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A Fyne Day Out

The sun is shining but it’s still below zero as I write this. Autumn has waved goodbye and winter is knocking loudly at the door. Not so long ago the trees were looking glorious in their shades of red, russet and gold. But they’re noticeably barer now. And, as the hours of daylight shorten and the hours of dark lengthen, we can only dream of those long spring and summer days out-ofdoors. But fortunately that doesn’t mean there aren’t still places we can visit and enjoy even in the shorter hours of daylight available.

It might seem unlikely, but there are some definite advantages to being out and about in Scotland ‘out of season’. Yes, the light fades earlier and the weather’s a bit chillier, but those familiar summer landscapes take on a whole new aspect. As the all-toopervasive bracken shrivels up and dies back, the lie of the land becomes clearer. And low winter light shows up the contours of hillsides very clearly. You see the countryside differently. And of course, the midges are gone!

From where I live, just north of Glasgow, Glen Fyne and the surrounding area is a good ‘short day’ destination. Travelling north alongside Loch Lomond, you cross the Highland Boundary Fault, where the Lowlands and the Highlands meet. The divide is clear to see – cultivated land to the south, mountains to the north. The loch itself reflects the divide: to the north the loch is narrow and deep, created when glaciers gouged a narrow channel through the hard rock. But the rock to the south of the Fault was softer leaving a shallower and wider loch set in a fertile plain. At Tarbet turn west across to Arrochar on Loch Long, only a mile and a half away. Go past the shared Arrochar and Tarbet Railway station which sits on the wonderfully scenic West Highland Line. Beyond Arrochar comes the long uphill stretch of the A83 which begins at Ardgarten and rises the length of Glen Croe. Here the road runs along the flanks of Ben Arthur (aka The Cobbler), just one of the many fine peaks of the Arrochar Alps. From the road you can look down and see the line of the Old Military Road as it snakes along closer to the floor of the glen, until it crests the rise of the steep hillside with some very noticeable hairpin bends, both roads meeting at Rest and Be Thankful.

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