Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers - Hooked on Freedom

Rambles 2009

April

Falkirk Wheel to Bonnybridge on the Forth & Clyde Canal

Around 30-35 members and volunteers set off from the Falkirk Wheel, crossing the swing bridge to access the canal towpath to Bonnybridge. The weather was rather overcast. On approaching Bonnybridge there was a wonderful splash of colour.

Several local residents obviously take a pride in their gardening and one resident had cultivated the ground adjacent to the towpath with a variety of plants, which produced the colour. The group stopped for lunch on the towpath at Bonnybridge. On the return the sun broke through briefly, and the water was so calm that there were beautiful reflections of the trees and bushes. The conversation focussed on two large modern houses with two identical pieces of wrought iron artwork on the hillside not far from the canal. Objects of curiosity! Could that refer to the objects and the observers at the same time?

On arriving back at the Wheel it was in motion; a far better experience to observe than being on one of the boats which are carried on the Wheel. It is a remarkable piece of engineering, which looks so simple yet you wonder why nobody had thought of the idea before!

The cafe facilities at the Wheel are ideal as a starting and finishing point. Remarkably, the weather was dry for the duration of the ramble. In the morning it had been wet shortly before arriving and it began to rain on the way back to the car park. Hopefully the season will continue in a similar fashion.


May

Loch Leven

Levenmouth Plantation
Levenmouth Plantation
Breaking for lunch
Breaking for lunch
Almost done
Almost done
Smell the soup!
Smell the soup!

The season's second ramble was a sponsored walk around Loch Leven from Findatie Car Park to Loch Leven 's Larder. It was organised by Lighter Life counsellor Laureen Kenny. Thirty seven members and volunteers turned out for the walk along with a number of Lighter Life clients.

Two of the group's volunteers, Bruce and Jan, along with A2B Van Hire owner Clarence and A1 Minibus driver, Harry, are at various stages of the Lighter Life programme and have lost a combined total of over eighteen stones in the past year.

The walkers undertook a 10k, whilst the disabled ramblers did 7.5k, raising valuable funds for Forth & Tay in the process. Although there was a cold wind, the sun shone towards the end of the walk. Laureen had organised soup, sandwiches and coffee at the end for all participants, which everyone enjoyed in the sunshine on the terrace at the Larder.

Our thanks to Laureen for a wonderful spread and a most memorable day, and to everyone who raised funds for the group as well as to Loch Leven 's Larder for the magnificent food - and to our magnificent volunteers who make it all possible.


June

Glen Doll

Good forest track
Good forest track
Starting to climb
Starting to climb
Taking a break
Taking a break
Noreen's first ramble
Noreen's first ramble

The latest outing found FTDR rambling in Glen Doll in the Angus Glens. It was the group's first visit to the area but, judging by the positive feedback from all who took part, it will not be the last.
In ideal weather conditions the 30 strong group accessed the route, which is surrounded by beautiful scenery. Glen Doll provides a wonderful range of trees with the stunning backdrop of high and rugged cliffs. The route taken, mostly on forestry tracks, ended near 'Jock's Road', which leads over the hills to Braemar.

Glen Ogle to Kingshouse, Balquhidder.

Crossing the Viaduct
Crossing the Viaduct
Negotiating the gate
Negotiating the gate
View of Loch Earn
View of Loch Earn

The number of participants in this ramble had to be restricted due to lack of car parking space at the top of the glen and the difficulties involved in trying to get a large number of scooters across the A85 if we used the larger car park beside the venison burger van. In spite of that 34 people took part including a large turn out of our faithful volunteers. The ramble will be repeated next year for those who were not lucky enough to get a place.
The route started at the top of Glen Ogle six miles north of Lochearnhead and proceeded down the old railway track, crossing a spectacular railway viaduct, which is visible from the road. Because the path is elevated it enabled the group to take in the stunning scenery of the mountains and Loch Earn. The views of Ben Vorlich (985m) and Stuc a' Chroin (975m) were magnificent in the lovely weather conditions. Many agreed that this was one of the best rambles the group had experienced.

July

Torryburn Local Nature Reserve.

Ash mountains
Ash mountains
Heading for Preston Island
Heading for Preston Island

The small car park in Low Valleyfield was just large enough to cope with the three A2B Van Hire vans and numerous cars on the latest FTDR ramble. After unloading the fleet of scooters, the volunteer drivers had to move the vans to the car park in Culross to make room for the cars which had been parked on the roadside.
This is one of the most popular walks in the area, and offers spectacular views across the River Forth to Bo'ness and all the way along to the Forth Bridges.
The Torry Bay Local Nature Reserve (LNR) route to Preston Island , from Low Valleyfield, is a circular one. The LNR, established in 1996, stretches from Longannet Power Station to beyond Comrie Point. There are various flat and wide, easily-accessible routes along and through the reserve to suit everyone, including wheelchair users.
The mud flats provide an abundance of food for the birds, such as shelduck, wigeon, curlew, redshank and dunlin that overwinter at Torry Bay . The ash lagoons are reclaimed land, created from the coal burning operations at Longannet. The ash is mixed with water and pumped along pipes to the artificial lagoons - now a haven for wildlife, thanks to extensive tree planting.
Preston Island , although no longer surrounded by water, features several well-maintained ruins of early 19th century industrial use. A coal mine, established by Sir Robert Preston, was shut following an explosion, but the buildings were later to accommodate an illicit distillery.



August

Broughty Ferry

Harry 'the Bus'
Harry 'the Bus'
Rained off again
Rained off again

The group set out on mobility scooters along the shore road from Broughty Ferry to Monifeith and back. Last year they took the same route and from beginning to end they were drenched with rain through and through even with 'waterproof' covering. However there was a great bonus at the end of that first 'dreich' outing. Before the members boarded the minibus and cars the rain stopped and they were wonderfully entertained by a school of porpoises in the Tay estuary.
With this in mind a return visit was arranged this summer in the hope of having a repeat performance by the porpoises. Sadly that did not happen. However the weather did offer a repeat performance. Everyone was soaked to the skin for a second time! Because of the inclement weather, the ramble was cut short and most of the ramblers adjourned to the popular 'Glass Pavilion' on the waterfront at Broughty Ferry for a very welcome cup of tea and coffee. Third time lucky? We think not! It would be difficult to persuade anyone to give it a third go. Fortunately FTDR have enjoyed rain-free outings most of the other rambles this session.



Fife Outdoor Access Festival

Stenton Pond & Falkland Estate

There were two rambles under the banner of Fife Outdoor Access Festival this year. The first was a short 'scoot' from Woodside to Stenton Pond. Forth & Tay members were joined by several members of the public. Stenton Pond is in the Finglassie precinct of Glenrothes at the side of Foxton Drive. It is secluded from view by a tree-lined verge along the roadside. It is home to numerous species of wild birds. The second festival ramble was to Falkland Estate, an old FTDR favourite



September

Lady Mary's Walk

Lady Mary's Walk
Lady Mary's Walk
Volunteers on the lunch break
Volunteers on the lunch break

FTDR visited Lady Mary's Walk in Crieff for the third time on a blustery September day. The group had previously accessed this route in 2004 and again in 2005. On that fateful outing in 2005 a tree had been brought down by high winds the previous day, blocking the path near the end of the route. However, due to the prompt action of our quick-thinking volunteers, a Perth and Kinross Ranger was contacted, a saw was produced and the tree was cut and removed enabling the ramblers to complete the circuit.
The visit on this occasion was equally as enjoyable and although less eventful there was a surprise in store for two of the participants. Alex McLeod Kenneth, one of the members, engaged in conversation with one of the volunteers. He soon discovered that they had been pupils at Thornton Junior Secondary School in Fife. Alex happened to ask 'Did you know Joe Seath?' and was overwhelmed with the answer 'I am Joe Seath'. What a wonderful reunion after a gap of 56 years! (Showing your age, boys!)



Silverburn

Lundin Links from Silverburn
Lundin Links from Silverburn
Scoonie Golf Course
Scoonie Golf Course
Lunch in the gardens at Silverburn
Lunch in the gardens at Silverburn

The first September ramble was to Silverburn Estate, Leven. The route starts at the promenade in Leven and passes along the front of Leven Golfing Society and Leven Thistle Golf Clubs before heading out through the houses in East Links. There is a short, new section of path at the foot of the car park at Scoonie Golf Club. The group then headed for the gardens at Silverburn, where they stopped for lunch. On the way back local resident, June Ramsay, repeated last year's kind gesture and presented the group with a batch of freshly baked scones, which were enjoyed by all.



October

Strathblane Railway Walk

Dunglass
Dunglass
Lunch at the Kirkhouse Inn
Lunch at the Kirkhouse Inn

For the last ramble of the year FTDR travelled to Strathblane, a village lying north-west of Glasgow. Strathblane Parish Church very kindly allowed us to use the church hall facilities before we set off. The route taken was a section of old railway line running from Strathblane to Lennoxtown, which continues for several miles beyond. This was formerly part of the Blane Valley Railway which was founded in the 1860s. It is so encouraging to see that railway walks are on the increase throughout the country, especially as they tend to be flat and suitable for our needs. The path is tarmac for the majority of the way.
The route provided wonderful views of the Campsie Fells. Fortunately the ramblers were able to appreciate the scenery in bright and crisp weather conditions.
Afterwards members made their way to the Kirkhouse Inn at Strathblane for a late lunch. The ramblers plan to return to the area next year to visit Mugdock Country Park which is only a few miles from Strathblane