Freezing but enchanting Loch Leven

loch leven rspb2

The beauty of Loch Leven.  (pics courtesy of RSPB.)

It takes a lot to deter the “old git” from a plan. He had set his mind on tackling the new circular cycle path around Loch Leven near Kinross and nothing it seemed was going to get in the way,

Not even a heavy snowfall midweek which turned our home base of Auchterarder into a winter wonderland – so much so that the town featured on the national BBC reports as being the epi-centre of the snowstorm to hit Scotland.

Then as the snow thawed, a deep freeze hit. But the “old git” was keeping his eye firmly on the BBC weather website which promised lots of sunshine and temperatures (just) above freezing on Sunday.

Lets just say the “old gal” was more than a little sceptical and humoured the “old git” throughout the week – not for a moment thinking the weather would break.

But break it did and the sun was shining at 10am on Sunday! The “old git” was deliriously happy and the ski thermals were donned – with lots of other layers – before we all found ourselves bundled into Matilda Transporter for the short half hour run to Kinross pier.

The challenge was to complete the recently opened cycle route round the whole of Loch Leven – an easy 13 miles.

The trail has recently been opened at a cost of £3 million and is known as the Loch Leven Heritage Trail and it links 30 natural and cultural heritage sites. Cyclists should look out for the logo en route:

loch leven trail logoUntil the path was complete, cyclists could only go two-thirds of the way round the loch, before having to retrace their steps. But now you can go all the way round.

Take a look at the map of the whole of the Loch leven route here.

So with more than a little trepidation due to the icy conditions, we set off. The first half mile was a little treacherous given the frozen puddles, but the path soon improved and the dynamic duo settled down into a nice easy pace given the flat surface.

The “old git” had given his word to the “old gal” that if there was any dangers ahead that he would slow down or come to a stop – so they could walk a bit before getting back on. And he kept to his word.

He even stopped at the couple of right angle bends that there are in the first few miles of the route – as he has now (thankfully) learned that an “old lady” like me doesn’t bend in the middle and tight bends are therefore an extreme hazard!

Another less dangerous hazard was the number of walkers with dogs who were out for the day! The “old gal” came up with the idea that as they approached each group form behind, that the “old git” would give a friendly squeeze on my horn to warn them of our progress.

This was a success, and there was much friendly exchange of greetings as we cycled past.

I have to say, though, the “old gal” was getting a little annoyed at the number of times walkers said to us: “She’s not pedalling on the back” as we cycled past them. A quick retort of “Oh that’s the tenth time I have heard that today” seemed to do the trick!

It was a bit breezy in exposed stretches but cycling through the wooded area the wind dropped and it was truly very pleasant.

One of the key attractions is the RSPB Loch Leven Nature Reserve which is 7.5 miles round the circuit at Vane Farm so we headed for the RSPB visitor centre which has  a lovely appealing cafe.

The “old git” had one of his (rare) good ideas and suggested some warming soup – so the pair enjoyed a steaming bowl of homemade ginger and parsnip soup with crusty bread. That was washed down with a coffee and a slice of chocolate and chili brownie.

After buying some wild bird food in the shop, we headed off to complete the circuit. Oh it was cold starting off again – but they soon got going again and enjoyed the brand new section of the route.

Hats off to all those involved, because the cycle path is very smooth surface. And apart from a few large puddles which had frozen over, it really was a joy to cycle on.

And the sun continued to shine, although it wasn’t raising the temperature any and the last couple of miles seemed to be directly into a breeze which made breathing a tad on the difficult side.

But soon journeys end at Kinross pier was visible and with a last spurt we were all back in the car park.

I was quickly loaded into Matilda Transport and we were heading back to Matilda’s Rest for some much needed warmth and some more coffee.

But – for the record – despite the cold, it was a worthwhile exercise and the dynamic duo had rosy cheeks as a result of their (much needed) exercise.

loch leven rspb image

 Uninterrupted views across the countryside at Loch Leven.

And the scenery really was enchanting – so much so that we have all vowed to come back again … but when it was a bit warmer!

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Happy New Year for 2015!

Happy New Year to everyone who follows Matildas Musings!

Hope you enjoy the video (above) featuring the “old git” along with the “old gal” and of course me, the “old lady” tandem!

Oh and there is a celebratory (small) bottle of prosecco in the video as well as it was an outing on Saturday January 3rd to mark the start of 2015.

I have to say I was quite impressed that the dynamic duo ventured out at all as the thermometer had hardly moved off freezing. But the “old git” was determined and persuaded the “old gal” that a bit of pedalling would do them good!

So they got all wrapped up in their thermal ski under layers and off we headed on a short route up to Gleneagles Hotel.

Then a quick stop at the newly created “Golf club roundabout” which features giant size golf clubs as a  mark of the recent Ryder Cup event held here in October.

Before we all froze to the spot, there was just time to open a bottle of fizz and shoot the video. And it only took one take – even tho the “old git” can hardly remember his words!

Then it was a quick pedal back to Matilda’s Rest and back into the warmth.

And after a long hot shower the “old gal” was even heard to say that she felt exhilarated by the rapid exercise  … despite the zero temperature!

So Happy New Year to all and best wishes for 2015.

And yes, Matildas Musings will continue in the year ahead as the “old git” and the “old gal” have made one of their New Year Resolutions a return trip to France – to the vineyards and beaches of Bordeaux.

At least it is reported to be a bit flatter than Burgundy!