Change of Plan for Dad's Birthday

Last year, dad and I started a new tradition- hiking a mountain on his birthday.  My dad is very outdoorsy- into hiking and sailing and newly into bouldering too! Unfortunately the weather heartily laughed at our little foundling tradition- on Sunday it was raining, the cloud level was right down, and there seemed little point in walking up into it. So instead we went a cycle round Loch Katrine.

Cheerful weather
The Loch Katrine pier to pier path is 'undulating'. Which, as everyone knows, is Auld Scots for, 'bloody hilly'. Its largely road but with the odd off-road section. Its very far to cycle the entire way around the Loch, but you can do an out-and-back route to the Pier Cafe. 

The route is immediately rather hilly - almost constantly going up or down. The gears doing the same! It does make the route a lot more interesting but I've got to admit there are bits of cycling hills that I don't much like. I really don't like the bit where you almost come to a stop and it takes a huge amount of sheer effort to get the legs moving round again. I was also on a rather elderly bike, which was complaining about the many shifts from 1st to 3rd and back. 

But beautiful scenery
It quickly became apparent that the route was Further than Advertised. We were under some impression that it was 10 miles each way, but its actually closer to 13.5. When we found this out, at 9 miles in, there were definitely some dark thoughts going around. At this stage we also passed some fantastic whooshing long downhills. However, then the thought entered our minds- 'out and back'. Those Multiple. Long. Fast. Downhills. Hmmm
Lovely murky colours
MacGregor Graveyard- you can walk down to this

On the way to the end of the Loch you pass the stunning MacGregor Graveyard. Although the clan head was never buried there, many of his family were. It really is a gorgeous and wild final resting place. At the head of the Loch you are at about 10 miles, so there are a further 3 down the other side to pass before you get to the Pier Cafe. Very much worth it for some coffee and cake. The cakes seem homemade, are very tasty, and make excellent fuel. We also saw some great-looking soup and sandwiches but didn't try any. They even had gluten free brownies, which is always a plus.I also hear that cake is a cycling trip essential, so we had to get some.

Rain again!
When we went to leave it was absolutely chucking it down. We considered the ferry, which was arriving soon, but when we learned it would be 12 quid a person we bucked up our ideas, sat for a further 15 minutes, then headed back out on the bikes... and we got really lucky! The weather that had just closed in, rapidly opened up again. We found ourselves in really rather nice cycling weather with a lot of clean air. 

The way back seemed a lot easier; maybe because of the cake, maybe because we now knew we could use all the energy we had. We only had to walk one of the hills that we were nervously anticipating, the rest all just took a little slog and elbow grease! I tried out dad's new hybrid for 15 minutes to see what the difference was. Wow, what a difference a 10 years younger bike makes! Everything was so, so much easier and even in freewheeling the hybrid was a lot faster. I therefore amused myself for that 15 minutes by racing ahead then stopping to take photos of them riding. 

Much of the route is similar classic Scottish scenery- red brush, green ferns, and purple heather. Oh, and midgies. Classic. On the way back we stopped to have our sandwiches and were immediately set upon. I offered half my hummus sandwich up as a sacrifice to stop the little buggers going for us. Not sure it worked, but jetting off at speed did. We therefore ate the vast majority of our packed 'lunch' at 4pm in the car. 

Cheerful smiles nonetheless

With me back on the oldie (but goodie) bike we hit 11 miles and I put all my energy into zooming away down to the finish line- the car park by the pier. Isn't the pier beautiful? We had taken off and put on our waterproofs about 16 times but only been significantly showered on once. We had cycled 27 miles, and had a great time. Spot on!

The pier

Dad coming into the home stretch

And mum- both have the brightest cycling jackets ever

Do you cycle at all? In all weather or in fair weather?

Side note- this is August? Appalling chat, Scotland

PS: If anyone is curious, this is the data for the out route:


  1. I have a photo of myself on those very railings with our bikes taken on a horribly wet weekend to the Trossachs. Must have been the other side of the millennium as we were still smokers and had trouble getting the roll-ups to light due to the heavy rain. When the weather is good Scotland is one of the best places, but far too often the weather can be a complete killjoy. Sounds like you still had fun though! x

    1. Wow I love this! How old were you here? It looks wet in that photo too! x

    2. 35~38 y/o maybe
      Mary and I used to do quite a bit cycling/camping but eventually stopped after a terrible fortnight tour round Scotland when it rained for most of the second week.

  2. I used to cycle round Loch Katrine when I was a wee girl on family holidays. We also used to cycle round Loch Lubnaig :)

    1. I think I've been before when I was wee too! Didn't remember all those hills though...

  3. Beautiful pictures! It's a lovely tradition you have with your Dad there. I don't cycle but my Dad does parkrun so I run with him when he comes along. It's nice to do something together even if it's just be jabberng away at him whilst he huffs and puffs ;-)

    1. Thanks Lou! Its cool your dad does parkrun. We are going to try and get that hike in soon- the weather just wasn't playing ball!