Brig o’ Turk is the quintessence of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. An area of natural beauty taking in expansive lochs, hiking trails that take in stunning scenery, a quaint village and a sense of adventure as you explore its history and heritage. A short drive from Callander is the hamlet of Kilmahog, from where you can take a forested road along to Loch Katrine (popularised in the Walter Scott novel “Lady of the Lake”). As you travel down this road you can feel yourself being drawn into the beating heart of the National Park. The shimmering waters of Loch Venachar appear on your left. Stop at the Venachar Lochside café for exquisite food and an unparalleled view over the water. A little further along are the beginnings of some of the best walking routes in the area, forming part of the Great Trossachs Path. These include the munros Ben A’an and Ben Venue. Brig o’Turk is nestled among the mountains and forests of the National Park, a quiet retreat that is an excellent base for walkers and cyclists. Look out for the 1930’s tearoom (sadly no longer open) and the famous “Bicycle Tree”, this sycamore grew up beside the blacksmiths workshop in the village and has “swallowed” an old bicycle lent up against it, along with other pieces of metal. From the tearoom, head up the road towards the Glen Finglas Reservoir.
The path splits at the carpark, and there is a short stroll along to the bottom of the dam. This dam powers a hydroelectric scheme and is a great example of Scottish engineering. It is along this path that you will come across the John Ruskin viewpoint, looking out over a waterfall. Ruskin visited the area in 1853 with his wife Effie and his artist friend John Millais. Ruskin was a great lover of nature and believed that art should try to capture the beauty of the natural world. Millais painted Ruskin standing in front of the waterfall, capturing the rushing white waters and timeless rocks of the falls. During the trip love blossomed between Millais and Ruskin’s wife; Effie’s marriage was later annulled, and she wed Millais.
If you are prepared for a more challenging climb or cycle up the hill from the carpark you will be rewarded with a view of the stunning landscapes of the reservoir itself and the surrounding peaks. There are several trails for walkers and cyclists, either circular routes, or one-way trails leading from Brig o’ Turk to Balquhidder.
Continue along the road from Brig o’Turk and you will arrive at Loch Katrine. The steamship SS Sir Walter Scott is the perfect way to see the loch and there is also bike-hire and cycle routes around the shores. Also nearby is the popular Three Lochs Forest Drive that winds its way through the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, taking in Loch Achray, Loch Reoidhte and Loch Dunkie. (Read more about the Three Lochs Forest Drive on our blog.) For the more adventurous, the Go Ape Centre in the forest offers tree-top fun and the café a spot to sit and relax after your exertions.