We left behind the rolling hills and wooded valleys of East Lothian to drive into sharp-edged mountains and deep-cut glens. Autumn had arrived and Scotland’s heather, firs and bracken were turning a fiery russet.
It was the first day of November – and we were camping. But our Loch Tay geodome was not your average tent: we lit the wood-burner and sank into beanbags by the candlelight of a low table. I marvelled at the sense of space and comfort in the geodome.
By the dying embers of the fire, we snuggled under the duvet of the bed – no sleeping bags or cold air-mattresses here – and watched the light fade out behind the hills.
The next morning, we were up at first light to cycle the 35 miles around the loch.
Cloudless days in Scotland are as precious as gold-dust, and on this first day of November, the Highlands were a blazing gold and burnt-sienna, the shadows long and the air as sharp as splinters.
At the estate village of Kenmore, we crossed the bridge to the street of workers’ cottages, Scotland’s claimed oldest hotel, and the turreted gateway to Taymouth Castle.
The circular cycle now took us along a section of Sustrans Route 7 on the south bank – a quiet country lane of little traffic. A farmer on his quad bike stopped to encourage us up the hill, telling us we’re ‘just a field and a half away’ from the summit. I’d never heard distance measured in fields before and I chuckled to myself as I rode away, thinking every short distance in the countryside should be measured by woodland, meadow and hill.
Four hills away
Just two copses on
Three fields on your right
And as we turned a corner, the magnificent Ben Lawers came into view on the other side of the Loch. More steep ascents were followed by long freewheels until, at last, Killin by the Falls of Dochhart Falls came into sight.
Back at Loch Tay Vacations, we fired up the wood-burner and waited for the hot tub to warm up and revive our bones.
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