Here, it’s looking quite nice after all. Will we head out and grab a cuppa somewhere?
Aye, we won’t need any gear.
And with that we were on the road with no particular plan other than going a wee bit north. It was pleasant and with banter and tunes on we accidentally ended up in Tyndrum and the Green Welly.
Fed and watered with a spin round the shops it was looking like a wander back down the road might be the only option as it was getting late in the day. But we were feeling fresh and a wee quick walk somewhere close would be ideal.
Hmm, I think if we park at the station we can get that track that goes to Dalrigh and the lochan with the sword in it, mind from Weir’s Way.
We jumped in the motor and hopped across to the station where there is actually a few parking spaces which I did not know, never having been the last few meters up the road to the platform.
There’s a level crossing and forest tracks heading left and right across it which I was looking at over my shoulder as we went back down the road on foot, never been over there I was thinking… But a wooden signpost immediately distracted us, WHW and Cattle Creep Trail it said. Oh, let’s explore that.
As we discovered later it’s a short trail that branches off the WHW at Clifton at the west end of Tyndrum where local folks and kids have been doing some tree planting to encourage natural regeneration. It’s a wee corner that’s suffered over the centuries from the lead mining on the hillside above and still bears obvious scars as you can see from the road so some fresh greenery is maybe a good idea.
And as pleased as we all might be that the nearby gold mine seems to be working out, there’s a lesson to be learned here for their future. Let’s hope they get it right for the environment this time.
It’s a pleasant trail by the burn, up and down and left and right as it follows the north bank. The railway is very present in the view ahead and the cattle creep under it that the path leads to is obvious and oh so inviting. Before that though there’s an old ruined weir with a little wooden bridge crossing the outflow below it. I climbed up onto the broken concrete (because in my head I’m still five years old) to wave at Linda and nearly fell backwards off it into the deep pool behind.
What a view. I’ve never seen the Crianlarich hills framed quite so perfectly and with a dusting of overnight snow surviving the mild day to cap it off beautifully.
The paved cattle creep carried the burn one way and our feet the other. Once under the railway it was a different world altogether. We had only really seen the sun hitting the tops of hills so far, we had been in shadow since we got here, but through here it was darker still, and very quiet indeed.
Leafless and lichen covered trees, thick moss carpeting the ground and a path that wound curiously into the unknown. Magic.
The signs are there early on, the crumpled remains of an abutment over the burn for a passageway that went somewhere sometime, then dark moldering brick walls sinking into the moss and further still the modern touches of barbed wire and already fading warning signs, Danger, Mine Shaft.
You can see the remains of the Tyndrum lead mines very clearly from the road on both sides of the village but up close is so much more fun. Yet again we’d ended up somewhere I should have been years ago instead of driving by it on my way to an “important” mountain.
There’s a lot of remains here, buildings, metal and wooden remains sticking up everywhere and so much bare grey earth too, due to the soil being poisoned by the lead over so may years of mining works.
Around the edges it’s so green, the trees around here are lovely, but from the top of the mine area on the hill above to the railway is a strip of lifelessness. Not a blade of grass to be seen. It’s probably a cliche to say that it looks like a WW1 battlefield or a scifi movie set, but that’s what it is and it’s oddly attractive in its own way.
And silent. That was the strangest thing. The occasional car on the A85 across the river was light an aural searchlight through the blanket of darkness.
We explored the whole place, but the shafts high on the hillside will have to wait for next time. It was getting darker and we thought we’d better head back. We were slow to leave, this was fascinating stuff.
The walk back was quick enough and the sky was darkening with every step. It was also pulling out its crayons and doing some off the cuff colouring too.
It was obvious that the path that followed what looked like an old mine railway led to the station where I’d been wondering about the level crossing, so we followed that instead of cutting back through the cattle creep.
The sky was glorious and the air cooled quickly. We did have some gear, pockets full of test gloves for an upcoming TGO review and they quickly become handy as my fingertips numbed.
Ha. Do I leave that in or not?
We reached the level crossing. It was still kinda light and we still had energy and we dithered as the path ahead climbed invitingly into the trees.
We’d catch a glimpse of this sunset up there and round the corner, it’ll be lovely, won’t take us long.
Maybe round this corner we’ll see it, will I run ahead?
No, this is fine, it’s lovely.
Neither of us had a camera, we had no snacks or drinks and no headtorches. But still the ever changing colours in the rapidly darkening patch of sky above it pulled us on, we would find a gap soon.
I knew where we were and I knew roughly how far were were from the Cononish River. I hadn’t seen an tree felling in there, I wasn’t convinced there actually would be a gap to see the horizon, but we were having fun and, well this is a big easy track to follow back… isn’t it?
There’s Ben Lui! It slid into view through the gap in the trees like we’d opened a pair of heavy velvet curtains, still holding snow and looking epic. We were so close to the edge of the forest now, we padded out of the trees and onto the road to the gold mine in the darkness.
Water was rushing past us in the dark, the river was near but unseen, lights at the mine twinkled warmly just down the road. The sky had held onto some colour just for us as we chuckled away in the clear air of Cononish Glen. It was quite lovely.
The walk back was a jaunty affair, the pace was snappy and my eyes had some good use of their surprisingly good night vision powers until we finally gave in and used our phone torches on the last kilometre for additional trip avoidance. battery power was in abundance despite taking so many photies over the previous couple of hours.
Over the level crossing Linda’s new wee purple car (Alright!) had snacks and a bottle of juice for us to enjoy as we heated ourselves up and demisted the windscreen.
While not planning might sometimes get you into trouble, sometimes it’s gets you the best times too.
But maybe always just throw a Petzl e+LITE into my pocket. My kilt has big pockets, it’ll be fine.