Stirling return over Campsie Fells
I did not have a camera back then, I am afraid. So no pictures from that tour (but one taken in July 2011). But click on the button below to open up Google Maps.
Enter "Dumbarton" in the search field & Google Earth for xtra pictures
I moved to Alexandria in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland in October 1996. I purchased the bike I have now the year after. I started to do some bikerides that same fall. I did not really start to do some serious bikerides before 1998 and 1999 though. This ride was high on my agenda after doing the Fintry tour a couple of weeks before
I set off from my flat an early morning for Balloch up past Jamestown. At the bus station, I turned to the right and up the steep Stirling Road towards the Drymen – Queen's View crossroad. The cycling was interesting with first a couple of steep hills and then a steep descent through Gartocharn and a flat, scenic road to the crossroad. At the crossroad, I took the road to Croftamie. I have recently learnt that there is now a cycle road bypassing Gartocharn (see the Tak-Me-Doon Rd tour) and the hills here. But back then, I had no proper maps and no clue
The road up to Croftamie and past it is pretty steep and I took it easy here. A new crossroad followed and I took the road down the hill and over a small bridge towards Killearn. I here reached the Glasgow to Callander main road in a roundabout. I continued up a very steep hill to Killearn. This is a very scenic village, but hard to get to by bike from all directions. And I have been up all the steep hills leading to Killearn. I continued towards Balfron and reached a crossroad where I took the road up the valley towards Fintry.
Looking back up the valley towards Fintry just outside this village
This valley road is not steep in the beginning. But there is a couple of really steep hillclimbs here just before Fintry. I cannot deny I really love this place. It is a peaceful place and an achievement on a bike.
I continued up the valley though up to the Stirling – Lennoxtown crossroad. The Crow Road over to Lennoxtown is a true beast of a bikeride and I was happy to take the much easier road up the valley towards Stirling. After a pretty scenic but still hard climb, I reached the Carron Valley Reservoir where I thougt I would find easier ground. I was wrong. The road alongside this big lake is pretty hilly too and I was relieved to reach the end of this lake. I now expected an easy ride down to Denny. The first part was pretty flat to Carron Bridge before the road descended down to Denny past a couple of villages before it reached Denny.
I continued on the small, but busy roads past Bannochburn to Stirling on an uneventful road I 12 years later cannot remember a thing from. The road is a bit hilly though and not easy. I reached Stirling and bypassed the city centre, where I already had been a couple of times, on a ringroad taking me directly to Stirling Castle. This road was a bit hilly too.
I had a break in a park just outside the castle before the return leg up the valley to Balloch again. The next 20 km is some of the most boring 20 km I have ever been on. The road is dead flat and with a lot of heavy lorry traffic. It was a challenge to stay awake past the village of Kippen (which the road bypassed). I was dead happy when I reached the first small hillclimb just before Bucklyvie.
Thankfully, the road now climbed up a hillside and then became pretty undulating with excellent views towards the Trossachs in the north. I also discovered that my rucksack were hanging on me in a small thread. Hence, I did not remove it for the rest of the tour (and was very careful with my upper body movements) and it was dumped in the dustbin when arriving home again.
I soon reached the big crossroad at Balfron Station and continued over Drymen to Balloch again. The climbs from Gartocharn was a bit heavy and I was glad I was home in Alexandria again after a long day on the bike.
A bikeride of two very contrasting out and return legs. The ride over Fintry and Carron Valley is really good. The ride back from Stirling is dead boring with a large flat part with heavy traffic and no fun whatsoever. Hence, I have problems recommending this tour and it remains a once-in-the-lifetime tour. I will though very probably do this tour from Milngavie over to Denny and then over Kilsyth and to Glasgow again sometimes later this year or next year. That tour seems a lot more interesting than this tour.