NOTE This cycle ride is in a remote and exposed location and climbs to about 2100 feet. The weather is frequently bad (it is not unknown for there to be deep snow on the top in May) and can change very quickly even in summer.
Although the circuit is not strictly cross country the 'track' is meant for rough terrain vehicles and is usually in poor condition and at the beginning of the spring you are likely to find parts of it have been washed away where streams have cut across it. There are many very fast downhill sections (or if you are coming from the opposite direction incredible uphill hikes!) - it doesn't matter whether you go clockwise or anticlockwise both are equally difficult - so it is essential that you wear a helmet and are prepared to have to slow/stop suddenly on the loose surface. Where streams have cut across the trail you often find a 2-3 foot deep gully only a couple of feet wide. Do take care and go equipped for a day in the mountains. This route is also popular with hill walkers.
OS SHEET No:- LandRanger Sheet 57
DISTANCE COVERED ON CIRCUIT:- 17 MILES
1. 535 066 show Brig O'Turk
2. 535 073 show
Glen Finglass dam
3. 524 105 show sign Balquhidder 8 miles
4. 527 107 show
5. 525 124 show
6. 519 140 show
7. 513 148 show Lag a Phuill
8. 497 140 show
FACILITIES:- At Brig O'Turk there is a caf' and a very good restaurant (The Byre). The nearest accommodation is nearby at Tigh Mhor (a Holiday Property Bond Resort which is not open to the general public) and there are numerous B&B's as this is part of the scenic Trossachs area about 25 miles north of Glasgow (for those old enough to remember this is Dr Findlay's Casebook area). The nearest 'town' is Callander (Tannoch Brae in the above TV Series) which is located on one of the main through routes to the Highlands and has loads of pubs, hotels, B&B's, 2 campsites, a Forestry Commission campsite and lodges, 2 cycle shops (one of which - Wheels - has superb facilities and a bunkhouse. They are agents for Gary Fisher, GT and stock every imaginable spare part) and various shops.
The whole area is popular with the walking, cycling, sailing and mountaineering groups. The only service it lacks is an operational railway link! (The old lines where ripped up in the
1960's and now form part of Route 7 of the SUSTRANS network so there are even gentle rides for those not into off trail routes). The whole area is riddled with Forestry Roads (about 150 kms of them). There is even a steamer service on nearby Loch Katrine - which is a reservoir for storing water for the north of Glasgow. This is great for kids as you can cycle almost right round the loch on metalled roads with no traffic on them, as they are privately owned by the local Water company. You can cycle half way round the loch then take the steamer back to your car!
THE START: The circuit starts at the car park for the Glen Finglas dam (NN535073). On entering the village of Brig O'Turk look for the signs for the school and tearoom. Turn off the A821 onto a single track lane that provides access to the dam and the Water Board road. There is a sign that indicates the car park. Do not proceed any further as you cannot turn round and will have to reverse back to the car park! At the car park there is a sign that indicates to the dam and for the route to
Balquhidder. you want the latter which starts off as a tarred track for the first mile or so and then becomes a
'LandRover'/ tractor track. The first 3/4mile is up a very steep (1 in 3 even with the hairpins) gradient but you can look forward to a great fast downhill at the end of your ride if you're doing the circuit.
THE CIRCUIT: The picture (top left) is taken almost at the end of the tarred section. Beyond this point the only habitation is two modern cottages used in the summer by the local farmer for the shepherds. It is rare to meet other cyclists and I have only ever encountered 4 or 5 walkers whenever I have done this route. Just behind the spur on the right the route splits in OS posn NN524105 - there is a finger board labeled Footpath - Balquhidder 8 miles. It is not important which way round you do the circuit but if you prefer a long straight and steep downhill run on the way back then go round in an anti-clockwise direction - turn right at the sign post and follow the trail up the right side of Alt Gleann nam Meann (don't you just love those short snappy Gallic names!) This part of the circuit is shown on the OS map as a track and in Feb 2001 I found that considerable 'up
grading' / repairs had been carried out since I had last done the route in summer 2000 when much of the track was washed away after particularly heavy rains. It still is pretty well only compacted soil and large stones though (nothing sissy like fly ash or chippings)
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