Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers - Hooked on Freedom

Rambles 2008

March

Holiday Recce

Airundle National Nature Reserve
"Airundle National Nature Reserve"
Neptune's Staircase, Ft William
"Neptune's Staircase, Ft William"

Our volunteers have been out to recce routes and accommodation for this year's holiday. It will be in the Ft William area from Monday 2nd to Thursday 5th June. Members can choose to stay in the bunk house at Corran Ferry, where the facilities are excellent - en-suite twin rooms, good facilities for wheelchair users etc. Alternatively, they can opt to stay in B&B and join the start of the rambles. After crossing to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula on the ferry at Corran the first ramble is from Strontian to Ariundle National Nature Reserve. The following day's ramble is from Gairlochy on the Caledonian Canal to Neptune's Staircase near Ft William.


April

Quarrymill, Perth

enjoying a blether
"Enjoying a blether"

The sun shone for Forth & Tay¢s first outing of the season to Quarrymill, Perth . Although the cafeteria does not open until later in the month, staff kindly opened the toilet facilities at the start.

Park ranger, Tam, accompanied the group and pointed out interesting features along the way. The ramble runs along the Annaty Burn through a lovely, wooded valley. There are way-marked walks, many natural attractions and a number of the facilities are accessible to wheelchair and scooter users. Two of the walks within the park have been specially laid out for wheelchair users and there are also viewing platforms and picnic areas.

new FTDR chair at Quarrymill
"New FTDR chair at Quarrymill"
Scone Parish Church
"Scone Parish Church"

New FTDR Chair, Aileen Davis, had arranged for the Scone Parish Church Hall to be open so that members could have lunch inside and use the facilities there. The church beadle also opened the church, where the organist was practicing. In the churchyard stands a monument to botanist David Douglas (1799 -1834). Douglas was born in Scone and became one of the greatest plant hunters and explorers of America ¢s northwest.

All in all it was voted a most enjoyable outing.



May

Falkland to Strathmiglo

Cycle path from Falkland to Strathmiglo
"Cycle path from Falkland to Strathmiglo"

The largest ever FTDR ramble took place between Falkland village and Strathmiglo on the new cycle path. Twenty eight scooter-users, several walkers and a large contingent of volunteers, family and friends turned out for the event.




June

Royal Bank of Scotland Caledonian Challenge

Laying glow sticks on the route
"Laying glow sticks on the route"

Eight FTDR volunteers travelled to Bridge of Orchy to work as marshals at the annual RBS Caledonian Challenge. The Challenge is 54-mile 24-hour sponsored event along the West Highland Way and is a major fundraiser for the Scottish Community Foundation (www.caledonianchallenge.com/). The group split into 3 teams, two laying glow sticks between Inveroran and Ardlui to mark the path on the night sections. The third team worked with a paramedic to sweep the first section of the route between Ft William and Kinlochleven for lost or injured walkers, picking up litter en route. Our thanks to our 8 hardy volunteers who raised £1200 for group funds due to their efforts.


Holiday

View from high above North Ballachulish
"View from high above North Ballachulish"
Ariundle NNR
"Ariundle NNR"
Along the canal
"Along the canal"
Meeting Jean
"Meeting Jean"
Dinner at Corran Ferry Bunkhouse
"Dinner at Corran Ferry Bunkhouse"

FTDR's 2008 holiday rambles were in the Ft William area. The group stayed at Corran Ferry Bunkhouse, (www.corranbunkhouse.co.uk/), which has 2 fully disabled-accessible rooms, each with wet-floor showers. The facilities for people with disabilities at the bunkhouse were excellent and would shame many large hotels.

On the first evening, Jim Wyllie, one of the group's longest-serving volunteers, suggested a drive up onto a forest track high above North Ballachulish .. The track was rough but it was quite spectacular giving panoramic views across the surrounding area. Unfortunately, the midges were also in full flight so the stay was short!

The following day's ramble started in the village of Strontian on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula after crossing on the Corran ferry. From there members rambled on a single track road to the Ariundle National Nature Reserve, stopping off at the Ariundle Centre (www.ariundle.co.uk/) on the way back for coffee and home baking. In mid afternoon the convoy left Strontian and travelled on the A861 via Salen, Acharacle and Kinlochmoidart. The route passes a stone tablet and a line of trees in memory of the seven men of Moidart who sailed with Bonnie Prince Charlie. A stop at Glenfinnan to see the famous railway viaduct which features in a Harry Potter film finished off a perfect day.

On day three the ramblers started at Gairlochy Lock on the Caledonian Canal and rambled 7 miles along the towpath to Neptune 's Staircase. En route the group met a smartly attired walker by the name of Jean who was on her way from Lands End to John o' Groats - carrying all her own equipment! Our thanks to British Waterways for permission to park the vans at Gairlochy.


July

Broughty Ferry

Thank you Sport Relief for the new rain capes
" Thank you Sport Relief for the new rain capes"
Porpoise watching
" Porpoise watching "
We'll be back again next year
"We'll be back again next year"

Heavy rain threatened to stop play at the Broughty Ferry ramble but the new rain capes saved the day. The group was once again grateful to Sport Relief for providing funding for these. Members gathered in the Glass Pavilion for morning coffee but it was obvious that it was not going to fair up so a surprising number of hardy souls set off along the promenade towards Monifieth. Back at the car park at the end of an exhilarating run a school of porpoises kept everyone entertained whilst they ate a later-than-usual lunch.


Seagull Trust Barge trip - Bantaskine Boathouse to Falkirk Wheel

Relaxing on board
"Relaxing on board "
Entering the tunnel
"Entering the tunnel "
Going on the Falkirk Wheel
"Going on the Falkirk Wheel"

As part of this year's social programme a trip was organised with the Seagull Trust Falkirk Branch. Twenty-two members and carers enjoyed a relaxing cruise on the Trust's two barges along the Union Canal from the Bantaskine boathouse to the Falkirk Wheel. Thanks to the Seagull Trust volunteers who made it a most enjoyable day and kept members supplied with tea and coffee on board.


July Scoot

Along Boblingen Way
"Along Boblingen Way"
Multi User path
"Multi User path"

The second scoot around Glenrothes took members west from the scooter garage in Woodside along Boblingen Way to the B-listed Cabbagehall Railway Viaduct. The route once carried a branch line connecting Leslie to Markinch over the River Leven Valley . The group stopped for lunch just beyond the viaduct before turning back.

This path connects Glenrothes with Leslie on a well-surfaced cycle path running for several miles with no gradients or barriers. It is, however, necessary to cross a couple of roads, but one of these has pedestrian lights.


Vogrie Country Park

BBQ shelter area
"BBQ shelter area"
Vogrie House
"Vogrie House"
North path at Vogrie Country Park
"North path at Vogrie Country Park"
North path Woodland Walk
"North path Woodland Walk"

In spite of torrential rain in the early hours of the morning the July ramble went ahead to Vogrie Country Park near Dalkeith. On arrival members, friends and volunteers stopped for a coffee and home baking in the Cedar Tree Cafe before setting off round the North Path, which runs around the perimeter of the park. Mid-Lothian Ranger Jo Cooke gave members a very interesting talk on the history of the park and identified numerous types of trees en route.

Thankfully, the rain stayed off for the duration of the ramble - although members were well protected thanks to new rain capes, purchased earlier this year with funding from Sport Relief (a subsidiary of Comic Relief).

Vogrie is a Victorian parkland estate. The main drive leads down to the big baronial style Vogrie House. There are three ponds around the park, which were teeming with tiny frogs. As well as the natural aspects the park boasts a miniature railway, an adventure playground and kiddies' play park and a 9-hole golf course. There are also BBQ sites, which can be booked.

There is a disabled toilet inside Vogrie House and another beside the adventure playground. There is dedicated disabled parking down beside the big house and newly-created spaces in the upper car park at the entrance.

After completing the North Path the group moved on to the Rhododendron walk, stopping at the BBQ shelter area for a picnic and Kitty's Sunday Post quiz.

Although off the beaten track, Vogrie is well worth a visit.


August

Fife Outdoor Access Festival

Stenton Pond
"Stenton Pond "
Lunchat Stenton Pond
"Lunchat Stenton Pond "

Forth & Tay ran 3 walks at the recent Fife Outdoor Access Festival. The first was from Woodside to Stenton Pond local nature reserve. Members enjoyed a gloriously sunny day (unusual but true) stopping for lunch at the pond which is abundant with bird life. The second ramble was to Lochore Meadows using the new route round the loch. The final walk was from Ravenscraig Park, Kirkcaldy - in the rain down to Harbormaster's House, Dysart.


September

Loch Leven

Kirkgate Park
Kirkgate Park
Along the path
Along the path
Heading for Pow Burn
Heading for Pow Burn
Heading back to Kinross
Heading back to Kinross

Following last year's rain-soaked ramble around Loch Leven , FTDR returned to Kinross hoping for better weather. Fortunately it was kind and the sun even managed to shine briefly at several times throughout the day.

The trail begins at Kinross Pier, where there is a cafe/ bistro serving teas, coffees and food. There are disabled toilets in the cafe. It then passes through Kirkgate Park and on past the watchtower. Superb views of Loch Leven Castle are seen from here.

Off to the right of the path there is a wheelchair-accessible bird hide fairly near the start. The path then splits at Mary's Gate, with the 'Town Loop' to the left returning to Kinross and the main path continuing to the right along to Burleigh Sands. The trail passes through mature woodland then opens out to give excellent views across the Loch . The group stopped for lunch at Burleigh Sands before continuing on to Pow Burn. The new path link from Pow Burn to Levenmouth Woods then on to Vane Farm is now complete, although there is no wheelchair/ scooter access from the path directly into Vane Farm as there is an underpass with a number of steps.




East Dunbartonshire Walking Festival.

A sunny day
"A sunny day "
Here goes
"Here goes"
On the West Highland Way
"On the West Highland Way"

Several FTDR members travelled to Milngavie to take part in the Reservoirs and River Rove, which was part of the walking festival. Ranger Stewart led the group from Drumclog Car Park around the reservoirs and onto a short section of the West Highland Way . The group returned via the leafy suburbs of Milngavie to the Fraser Centre where a magnificent spread of home baking, fresh fruit and drinks were provided. It was a most enjoyable day and thanks to East Dunbartonshire Ranger Service for the excellent organisation and especially for the home-made ramp, secreted in the bushes, to enable wheelchair and scooter participants to access the road where there was no dropped kerb.




Strathyre

Heading down to the loch
" Heading down to the loch"
Lunch at Laggan Farm
"Lunch at Laggan Farm"
Rain capes save the day again
"Rain capes save the day again"

The first of two rambles in September was from Strathyre along National Cycle Route 7 towards Callander, finishing at the car park beyond the Forest Holidays site - six and a half miles in total.

It has been a wet and windy season but, in spite of recent wet weather, FTDR members were out in force.

Starting in the Forestry Commission Car Park at Strathyre the path crosses the River Balvag and offers splendid views along Loch Lubnaig... A stop at Laggan Farm for lunch was made possible thanks to the kind permission of local farmer, Mr Peter Brown.

The route follows Loch Lubnaig along its entire length then passes the Forest Holidays cabins, where staff kindly allowed us to use their facilities. Again the new rain capes made for pleasant rambling when the rain did blow through.

Our thanks are also due to our band of volunteers who had an extremely long day to make this trip possible.




October

The Enchanted Forest 2008

Alien invasion
Alien invasion
Bird's eye view
Bird's eye view
Enjoying the show
Enjoying the show
Spectacular
Spectacular!

The Enchanted Forest is billed as Scotland 's premier sound and light experience. It takes place at Faskally Wood, Pitlochry in October. The theme of year's show is 'A Journey through Space'.

Members of FTDR were able to enjoy the event on press night, the night before the show opens to the public. After an excellent high tea at Drummond's Restaurant, Pitlochry the group made their way to Faskally Wood. The tour started at 6.15, just as the light was beginning to fade. The natural backdrop of the autumn trees provided a spectacular picture of the loch.

The route is a fairly short, flattish one around Loch Dunmore with disabled toilets on-site. Shuttle buses transport members of the public from Pitlochry and back again but disabled visitors can park in the car park at Faskally Wood.

The visit would not have been possible without the assistance of our band of trusty volunteers, who drive the vans and accompany us on the walks. Many thanks to them all.

We are also extremely grateful to the team of stewards who accompanied us and Hamish Murray of the Forestry Commission and Tricia Fox of VOLPA for making our visit possible and most enjoyable.


November

Loch Leven Heritage Trail

SNH Chairman Andrew Thin cuts the ribbon
SNH Chairman Andrew Thin cuts the ribbon
With Mark Beaumont on the Pier
With Mark Beaumont on the Pier
The new board walk
The new board walk
Seating area overlooking St Serf's Island
Seating area overlooking St Serf's Island

On a spectacularly sunny day world record-holding cyclist Mark Beaumont helped open the new £1.8 million Loch Leven Heritage Trail around Loch Leven . It runs from the Pier at Kinross for 8.5 miles around to RSPB Vane Farm. The Loch Leven Heritage Trail project was managed by TRACKS (The Rural Access Committee of Kinross-shire). SNH chairman Andrew Thin performed the official ribbon-cutting to declare the path open to the public.

The trail is an off-road path which can be used by walkers, cyclists, wheelchair and scooter-users. There are no barriers to access and gradients are minimal. The surface is fairly smooth along the entire length. Refreshments are available at the Pier Bistro where there is a disabled toilet (open summer months only). Although it is possible to go all the way round to RSPB Vane Farm, the underpass across the main road is stepped so wheeled access is not possible.