Saturday, 11 January 2014

Winter Conditions at last

Loch Ard reflections
The last couple of months have been smothered with cloudy, wet, windy and comparatively warm days for mid winter. At last we seem to be heading for more interesting weather. In London yesterday I ran round the parks, dodging dogs, toddlers, new year resolutionists padding along in box bright trainers and a rolling assembly of new age babies in hi tech prams. Today I was home so I would be devoid of company in the vast expanse of the forest. First light brought icy winter conditions with a thick fog at daybreak. I figured that it would probably clear so took my camera and headed for a run round the three nearest lochs. The pavements were lethal with black ice and the roads not much better; the gritter passed me spraying an austerity scatter of salted grit, a pea shooter would probably have been just as effective and a lot greener. I was glad to get off the public roads and onto the forest tracks which gave a good footing. There was a short spell of sunshine as I ran along Loch Ard and the vistas opened up to give stunning reflections in the mirrored surface of the loch.

I headed out on my favourite shoreline loop past Rob Roy's cave and was relieved that the footpath had been cleared of the fallen trees from the December gales. A rainbow appeared and arced its spectra into the Glassert grounds at the other side of the loch. I completed the loop as it started sleeting and then snowing. The trails had deteriorated into linear peat bogs. I reached the junction from where there is a steady climb to the top track which shusses down to Loch Ghleannain and then found an easy rhythm on the long descent to Milton. I was surprised to discover a Land Rover following behind me which raised my pace a little more.

I decided to return by crossing the Duchray Water by the new wooden bridge and to take the trail round Lochan Spling. It was bleak in the flat grey light that had now settled over the forest. I had met no-one despite running for an hour until I reached the junction to the Covenanters. Three large transit vans were parked and had disgorged their teams of barking huskies for their morning run. This is quite a common occurrence on winter weekends and I have had to dive into the ditches on several occasions as they race past, they didn't today.

Reaching Manse Road I was confronted with more black ice, a lone dog was treading ice with some trepidation and people were walking gingerly on the grass bank to avoid the ice and cursing me for the lack of gritting. As I reached the village emergency vehicles sirened their way through on the way to a crash on the icy roads. The sun finally arrived and Ben Lomond looked ready to shed its cap of cloud. The morning run had provided exercise, an adventure, a soaking and chance to take photos as the winter had at last  displayed its full repertoire of conditions. Altogether far more interesting than those wet and windy days that had regaled us for the past couple of months.

Foggy icy start
Near Rob Roy's cave
Pot of Gold
Loch Ard inlet
Lochan Ghleannain

Duchray Water
Rusty dragonfly
Lochan Spling in bleak mid winter
Ben Lomond finally appears

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