Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers - Hooked on Freedom

Rambles 2007

April

Fifth anniversary

Setting off
"Setting off"
En route round the loch
"En route round the loch"
Stopping for a rest
"Stopping for a rest"
The 'birthday' cake
"The 'birthday' cake"

It is five years since Forth & Tay held its first ramble - to Quarrymill near Perth. The first ramble of the 2007 season took place at Lochore Meadows. Afterwards members hosted a celebratory reception for invited guests, volunteers, family and friends in the Visitor Centre.


May

Flying Scholarships for the Disabled

Getting on took a bit of doing!
"Getting on took a bit of doing! "
We're down
"We're down "
Golf November, Polly's Piper Cherokee Dakota G-FRGN
"Golf November, Polly's Piper Cherokee Dakota G-FRGN"

Forth & Tay members, Kitty Walker and Jan McDonald, flew from Dundee Airport to Fife Airport , Glenrothes in a four-seater Piper Cherokee with Polly Vacher, a well-known female pilot. Polly, who specialises in long-distance solo flights and has flown around the world twice, is attempting to land at all 206 recognised airfields, which appear in the Jeppensen VFR Manual. The aim of her trip is to raise awareness for the charity, Flying Scholarships for the Disabled (FSD). FSD provides scholarships to enable disabled people to rebuild their confidence and self-esteem by learning to pilot a light aircraft. You can follow the challenge, which runs until the end of July at Wings around the world.




Balbirnie with Glenrothes Ramblers

A Family Affair
"A Family Affair "
Pep talk from Dave Kerr
"Pep talk from Dave Kerr"

Glenrothes Ramblers hosted a ramble around Balbirnie Park followed by supper in the Golf Club. In spite of constant rain all day, it stayed fair for the walk.



Atholl Woods, Dunkeld

Big Tree Country
"Big Tree Country"
Stunning view
"Stunning view"
Through woodland
"Through woodland"

Forty members, volunteers, family and friends (plus five canines) from Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers travelled to Atholl Woods, north of Dunkeld for the third ramble of the season. The May ramble is dedicated to the memory of Mr Chris Davie, who died in May 2005. He was one of the first scooter ramblers in Fife and was out daily in all weathers on his green Rascal scooter around the streets of Kirkcaldy - and often beyond! The walk is on Atholl Estates and starts at Cally Car Park, just north of Dunkeld. The route rises through woodland to more open views before passing several small lochs. The group stopped at Mill Dam for lunch where estate ranger, Liz Miller, gave a talk on the area before continuing on to Rotmell Loch and then back via the same route. The next ramble is to Loch Katrine on June 5th.



Aviemore Walking Festival

Ornithologists_at_work_above_Loch_Morlich
"Ornithologists at work above Loch Morlich"
Ready for the off at Boat of Garten
"Ready for the off at Boat of Garten"
Riverside walk Nethy Bridge
"Riverside walk Nethy Bridge"

Several members of the group travelled to Aviemore for the annual Aviemore Walking Festival. There were three walks on offer, which were accessible to people using mobility scooters - the first around Nethy Bridge, the second from Boat of Garten to Aviemore and the third above and around Loch Morlich.



Tay Bridge to Tayport ramble

Near the start with Tay Bridge in the background
"Near the start with Tay Bridge in the background"
Resting from the wind
"Resting from the wind"

There was a large turnout of Forth & Tay members for the Tay Bridge to Tayport ramble, which follows the Fife Coastal Path route. Members of Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and St Andrews Ramblers joined in the four mile round trip. A few brief showers and a hail storm, along with blustery winds made the return journey quite challenging although the sun shone most of the time!


June

Tulloch holiday.

The accommodation
Station Lodge Independent Hostel, Tulloch, is a converted railway station building, sitting on the famous West Highland Railway Line. It dates from 1894 and has some interesting architectural features, including the Swiss-style roof and interior wooden wall linings.

A group of 18 members and volunteers travelled up to Tulloch, staying at the hostel for four days. There is bunkhouse-style accommodation for individuals or groups of all ages at the hostel. There are four rooms, which are furnished with sturdy double bunks and wardrobes.

One member of the party is a powered wheelchair user. As well as ladies' and gents' toilets and showers, there is a spacious disabled toilet in the building but there is no wheelchair-accessible showering facility. The lower bunks proved more than suitable for members' needs as the ladder provided something to pull on and made getting out of bed fairly easy. The top bunks were more challenging for our volunteers, especially after a few drams.


Volunteers off duty
"'Volunteers off duty'"

As it is possible to book breakfast (cooked or light), evening meals (up to 3 courses) and packed lunches all catering needs were taken care of including the washing-up. This made it a most enjoyable and relaxing stay. Our thanks go to hosts Alan and Belinda for their generous hospitality and superb cooking.

Loch Ossian ramble.
Corrour is an area of outstanding scenic beauty, which is well off the beaten track and not accessible to the general public by car. However, the group had permission to take in 2 vans with scooters to Corrour Station to meet the party arriving on the train.


Boarding the 8.10am train
"'Boarding the 8.10am train'"

The train left at 8.10 a.m. from Tulloch, which made it an early start for the first ramble. Members rose to the occasion and everyone was assembled on the platform in plenty of time. The train travels along the famous West Highland line, which runs from Glasgow to Mallaig. The short journey to Corrour passes along the length of Loch Treig and the scenery is stunning.


Corrour Station Restaurant
"'Corrour Station Restaurant'"

Breakfast, consisting of egg and bacon rolls, awaited us on our arrival at Corrour courtesy of Beth Campbell, the owner.


Breakfast at Corrour
"'Breakfast at Corrour'"

The group then rambled along the side of Loch Ossian, which is surrounded by Munros including Beinn na Lap, Sgor Gaibhre, Carn Dearg, Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain.


On the way down to Loch Ossian
"'On the way down to Loch Ossian'"

Within view is the Mamore range and Ben Nevis was also visible as it was such a clear, sunny day.


A view of Ben Nevis
"'A view of Ben Nevis"

Loch Ossian is one of the largest, high-altitude lochs in Scotland, at 1300 feet above sea level.


Walkers, cyclists and scooter users
"'Walkers, cyclists and scooter users'"

A short stop was made on the return leg at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel, which is down by the water's edge.


At Loch Ossian Youth Hostel
"'At Loch Ossian Youth Hostel'"

After the ramble, the party returned to Corrour Restaurant for a late lunch. The train back to Tulloch at 3.30 rounded off a superb day's rambling. After dinner Kitty's quiz in the lounge in front of a roaring coal fire kept members entertained till bedtime.


Quiz time with Kitty
"'Quiz time with Kitty'"

Glenfinnan ramble.
Breakfast on the second morning was at Tulloch. A later start was much appreciated. The party drove through Ft William to the car park at the start of the track leading up to the Glenfinnan viaduct.


Rambling under the Glenfinan Viaduct
"'Rambling under the Glenfinnan Viaduct'"

There is a rough surface to the track that starts up the glen from the car park, just over the bridge from the NTS visitor centre. After a few metres it becomes tarmac. Cars are not allowed up the glen. The track passes some estate cottages just before it goes through one of the enormous arches of the railway viaduct.

The viaduct, one of the largest structures on the railway line, was built by Sir Robert McAlpine in the years up to 1901. The viaduct is curved, leading the track round the head of the River Finnan valley. It is made of concrete, a material that does not look at its best when viewed at a short distance. However, from afar it is an impressive sight.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct was used as a location in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in which a substantial sequence revolves around the Hogwarts Express crossing the viaduct. Its then appeared in two subsequent Harry Potter films; The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire. MThis has made it well-known to Potter fans. The arrival of the daily summer steam special from Fort William brings the tourists out in droves (along with volunteers Arthur and Bill).



"'Steam train on the viaduct'"

The track runs all the way up to the 'Lodge' on the hillside above Corryhully. Below the house is an estate-run bothy with electricity, but a stream in spate due to recent rain prevented access on scooters.

There are a few steep gradients towards the end of the path but the tarmac surface meant that there were no difficulties for members using scooters. Dinner back at Station Lodge, followed by another quiz from Kitty, rounded off a superb four-day trip.

Loch Katrine ramble

a leisurely stroll
"A leisurely stroll"
on the road along Loch Katrine
"On the road along Loch Katrine"
Sir Walter Scott steamship
"Sir Walter Scott steamship"
stopping for a picnic
"Stopping for a picnic"

There was a good turnout as usual for the June ramble to Loch Katrine, which is situated in the Trossachs National Park www.lochkatrine.com. Members gathered in the car park at Trossachs Pier, where there is a cafe, gift shop and the steam boat, Sir Walter Scott. There is also a four-seater golf buggy for hire at the Pier. The lochside road is reasonably flat and is perfect for scooter/ wheelchair users. The views across the loch are magnificent from the picnic spot, where the group stopped for lunch before returning to the Pier.



July

Forfar Loch Country Park

Enjoying a chat
"Enjoying a chat"
FTDR members with some of Dundee Ramblers
"FTDR members with some of Dundee Ramblers"

Dundee Ramblers hosted a 'wheelchair walk' at Forfar Loch Country Park on Saturday 28th July. Members of Forth & Tay, along with family, friends and a couple of volunteers took part.

The loch is situated only a few minutes walk from the centre of the town, The park caters for all visitors and many of the facilities are accessible for wheelchair users, including the visitor centre, viewing platforms and park trails. The Country Park is home to a rich variety of wildlife. A large number of wildfowl are resident on the loch throughout the year and numbers swell in autumn and winter with the arrival of migrants from the Arctic. Varoius mammals are found around the park including fox, otter and stoat. The park is also host to a wide variety of wildflower and fungi.

Following the walk lunch was booked at the Kookaburra Restaurant. The group plans to host another ramble in 2008, which will be open to scooter and wheelchair users.



Holl to Harperleas Reservoirs, Lomond Hills Regional Park

Thirty members and family/ carers plus volunteers attended the outing into the Lomond Hills Regional Park to ramble from the Holl Reservoir car park to Harperleas Reservoir. Harperleas is one of a series of reservoirs created in the hollows to the south of the hills. These reservoirs were created during the 19th and 20th Centuries to supply the needs of a growing population and developing industry.

Access is gained to the Park Reservoirs from the A911 Auchmuir Bridge to Leslie road. 'The Hazels' gives access to the car park adjacent to Holl Reservoir, where the ramble started. The journey further into the Park was made along the Scottish Water access roads. The route took the group past Drumain and Ballo Reservoirs to Harperleas Reservoir. After crossing the dam at Harperleas, the group stopped for a short break for lunch. The view across the reservoir from this point at the north-east end shore was excellent. After the lunch break, the group returned across the dam before continuing on the ramble further up the track to the head of Glen Vale. The group retraced their route to the car park observing the glorious views en-route, looking across the reservoirs and down to the River Forth. Our thanks are extended to Scottish Water for access through the many gates for our 'buggies'



Ratho ramble and Seagull Trust barge trip - Union Canal

Family launching canoe
"Family launching canoe"
Multi user path
"Multi user path"
Returning to Bridge Inn
"Returning to Bridge Inn"
Sailing on the Mackay Seagull
"Sailing on the Mackay Seagull"

There was another large turnout for the first July ramble along the Union Canal at Ratho. Participants gathered in the Canal Car Park, before setting off along the Union Canal towpath. The towpath is open to scooter users, but can be narrow (only 1 metre wide in places) and with an uneven and potholed surface. It can be wet and muddy in areas, so extra care is needed. It is a walkway, which is also available for cycling so again care is needed when passing walkers and cyclists.

The group turned back just after Wilkie's Basin as there was another treat in store - a barge trip on the 2 Seagull Trust boats, which are moored at Ratho. After a picnic lunch the minibus took members across to the Seagull Trust headquarters where they boarded the boats. The barges sailed down the Canal towards Falkirk, turned at Wilkie's Basin then returned to the Seagull Trust mooring. A most enjoyable day was had by all and many thanks go to the numerous volunteers who turned out to assist and to everyone at the Seagull Trust, especially the two barge crews.



August

Templeton Woods and Clatto Reservoir

Around Clatto
"Around Clatto"
At the barbecue
"At the barbecue"
At the Visitor Centre
"At the Visitor Centre"
Chocolate fudge cake
"Chocolate fudge cake"

Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers most recent outing was to Templeton Woods near DundeeMembers enjoyed a ramble through the woods and down to Clatto Reservoir, where there is a rich variety of bird life to be viewed. During a brief stop for coffee down at the reservoir, Kitty Walker entertained members with the usual Sunday Post quiz.

The woods, which are adjacent to Camperdown Country Park consist of mature woodland and provide an excellent habitat for roe deer, red squirrels and tawny owls. The Visitor Centre is open daily and has a disabled-accessible toilet. There is a network of paths in the wood, many of which are ideal for wheelchair, scooter and power chair users.

After the ramble the group joined in the Volunteer Day barbecue, which was arranged by Dundee Ranger Service.



Fife Coast and Countryside Trust

Anything is possible
"Anything is possible"
Checking out the old flax pond
"Checking out the old flax pond"

Three members of the FTDR management committee joined staff from the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust at Silverburn to look at path proposals, which will create an accessible circular route from Leven prom.



Silverburn Estate

Along the path
"Along the path"
Beside Scoonie Golf course
"Beside Scoonie Golf course"
Leven promenade
"Leven promenade"

The first of two outings in August took Forth & Tay members to Leven for a ramble to Silverburn Estate. The walk starts on the prom in Leven, which offers fine views across the Forth to the Lothians and the Bass Rock and along the coast to Lundin Links and Largo Law. Torrential rain on the morning of the ramble cast doubts on whether the event would take place. However, the sun broke through just in time and the weather turned out warm and sunny. The route passes in front of Leven Golfing Society and Leven Thistle clubhouses then on through East Links to Scoonie Golf Clubhouse. Members stopped for lunch in the beautiful gardens at Silverburn. There is an accessible toilet at the end of the buildings opposite the gardens. On the return journey local resident, June Ramsay, handed the group several platefuls of home-made scones and jam. The ramble finished with members sitting in the sunshine in the memorial gardens beside the Beach Nursing Home enjoying a rare treat.

September

Loch Leven to Burleigh Sands

Bring me sunshine
"Bring me sunshine"
Singing in the rain!
"Singing in the rain!"

Sixteen hardy ramblers and eleven volunteers braved the elements to ramble at Loch Leven in the rain! Members met in the cafe at the pier, hoping that the sky would brighten. By 11.30 it was obvious that this was not to be so the group set off.

A link path from the pier cafe joins up with the Kirkgate, before winding round past Kinross House and along the loch side towards Burleigh Sands.

After a picnic lunch under the shelter of the trees at Burleigh Sands the group returned to the Pier Cafe to dry off. Members were imressed with the excellent new path and look forward to a revisit in 2008, hopefully on a sunny day.



October

Forth & Tay at the Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest Enchanted Forest
"Enchanted Forest"

Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers members were out in force for the last ramble of 2007. After an end-of-season meal at Drummond's Restaurant, Pitlochry, the group visited the Enchanted Forest in Faskally Wood. The event is based around Loch Dunmore, which is a fairly flat, short route with no access barriers.

The focus of this year's Enchanted Forest is 'Creation', with spectacular lighting effects being used to illustrate the earth's history from its early volcanic state, the Ice Age and the Jurassic era right through to modern times.

Forth & Tay would like to thank the organisers of the Enchanted Forest and in particular, Hamish Murray, Chairman of the Enchanted Forest Steering Group, for making it possible for members to experience the show. "I've never seen anything like that in my life" said one member afterwards. "It was wonderful".



November

Fieldfare Trust core path access audits in North East Fife

Open country around Pittenweem
"Open country around Pittenweem"
Overlooking Pittenweem Harbour
"Overlooking Pittenweem Harbour"

Members of Forth & Tay were out again recently with the Fieldfare Trust looking at Core Paths in North East Fife. The most recent audit started at West Braes, Pittenweem, moving out into open farmland north and east of Pittenweem, then forming a circular route round by the community woodland and back via the Arncroach to Pittenweem road.

Loch Leven - Vane Farm to Leven Woods

Path launch
"Path launch"
Loch Leven path
"Loch Leven path"

The new path from Vane Farm to Leven Woods was opened recently. The path runs from Vane Farm on the south side of the loch round to Leven Woods, crossing the River Leven via a new footbridge specially created as part of the latest phase of the project. Wheelchair and scooter users can access the path from Findatie Car Park on the main road between Ballingry and Vane Farm. They then have the option of going to Leven Woods and back or along to Vane Farm before returning to Findatie. Wheeled access is not yet possible from Vane Farm as the underpass is stepped