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Aim For the Impossible - Part Seven

Sunday 1 May 2022

After my failed attempt to cycle to Crianlarich in episode six, this last few days have been spent checking tyres and ensuring that all dead innertubes were discarded.
Of course, just as Mr M predicated as he picked me up from Glen Ogle, this week I planned to redo my route to Crianlarich Station. My cycling day was to be Sunday, which gave the added bonus that the train from Crianlarich wouldn’t be leaving until 17.30 rather than 16.00 so my cycling day would not be quite so time tight.
As I was following exactly the same route as last week, rather than simply repeating the sights and roads from episode six, I thought I’d just pick up my route from above Lochearnhead.

Once up the ridiculously steep twisting cycle path from Lochearnhead, I was soon on the old railway line making the gentle ascent up to Glen Ogle. I had plenty time to allow me to take it easy and still catch the train. My bike of course, was already booked on the train.

Although I didn’t have the worry of time this week, in my mind I believed I’d picked up last week’s puncture somewhere along this slightly rough cycle tack heading up to Glen Ogle, so the three miles up this gentle incline were very slow this week as I tried to avoid every single thorn, sharp stone or anything that might once again cause my tyre to deflate.

Glen Ogle Viaduct

“Get a grip Debra,” I told myself on several occasions, reminding myself that I’ve cycled up this track many times before without mishap and really the chances of me picking up another puncture in the same place as last week were unlikely (but not impossible!).
With every bump, thud or crunch I was expecting the dreaded puncture but with a sigh of relief I reached the top of Glen Ogle viaduct beside the pretty Lochan Lairig Cheile.

I’ve never really taken time to look at this loch but today I gave myself a little break and enjoyed the tranquillity. Scotland has some amazing places just waiting to be found. The loch was so still and surrounded on all sides by wonderful trees of different varieties and colours.
I imagined the joy and excitement my son, Benjamin, would feel at finding this loch as a new place to try some wild swimming and did what any caring mother would do. I sent him a little video (event though he is miles away in Halifax). His reply confirmed that he was indeed seriously impressed with my find.
Hopefully one day I’ll do some more cycling with Ben in Scotland and I think this route 7 is just perfect for that, with so many secret wild swimming opportunities.
From Glen Ogle, the cycle route sweeps down to the village of Killin and beyond so from here I would be cycling on the main A84 to Crianlarich. It’s just about twelve miles with the road for most of the way wide enough for cars to see you and easily pass you without any difficulty. The speed limit on this road has now been reduced to 50 mph most of the way, which I’m glad of, even when travelling by car.

Cycle path joining the main road with blue sign

When I first came up to Scotland many, many years ago to climb Ben Nevis I was absolutely blown away by the scenery. I remember how, along with my two friends Sally and Julie, over every hill as we drove up from Halifax, we speculated which of the many mountains we could see was Ben Nevis.
The road from Glen Ogle to Crianlarich provides view after view. The Lawers range is behind you, with the twin peaks of Ben More and Stob Binnein taking centre stage.
The road was quite easy cycling today as I had a great tail wind helping me along. There are no major hills, just a few rises but plenty of flat stretches. Of course, with the views of mountain after mountain, the miles were soon falling away.
Mind you, I was mightily relieved when I finally saw the 30mph sign indicating I was at last reaching my final destination of Crianlarich. I did the obligatory photo shoot of the impressive Crianlarich sign before heading through the tiny village and up to the station. There was no way I’d be missing the train this week!

Debra next to sign for Crianlarich

Crianlarich is a small but important village. It’s bit of a link between central and North-western Scotland. It’s at this station where the West Highland railway splits, with one branch heading out to the west and Oban with the other branch continuing on to Fort Willian and Mallaig. There is always the worry when you get on the train at Glasgow Queen Street station that you might be in the wrong carriage and find yourself heading out to the wrong destination when the train splits at Crianlarich. I remember one occasion when the train announcement in the carriage informed all the passengers which train we needed to be in, only to find that once we reached Crianlarich the guard told us that there’d been a mistake and we all had to quickly change carriages! The sleepy station of Crianlarich was a site of mass panic that day I can tell you!
Once settled at the station I had a quite a wait but took the time to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of this tiny station surrounded by mountains. Of course, Mr M had made an extra butty for me for the long day. Flask of tea, butty, Charlotte’s Fab Slice (my go to treat for an energy boost) and the time drifted by.
Crianlarich is now my favourite station. I will be back!
With absolute precision, which is quite amazing given the train had travelled all the way from Mallaig, the train trundled into the station.
It used to be that there’d be a carriage where you had to hang your bike up by the front wheel, which is tricky when carrying paniers and water bottles! But times have changed and now there’s a whole carriage where you simply slot your bike in the rack with it standing up and then find yourself a seat and relax.
I’d like to describe to you the scenic train journey and tell you the joys of traveling in comfort alongside Loch Lomond, but almost as soon as the train had left Crianlarich, The Sandman caught up with me and I had a little well earned snooze, waking up to find I’d been slavering down my chin (and had probably been snoring) and the train was now approaching Dumbarton.  It had been a long day!
Oh, just in case anyone’s not familiar with The Sandman. He’s a mythical character who puts people to sleep and inspires beautiful dreams by sprinkling magical sand into their eyes. And that’s why people rub their eyes when they’re tired.
Before too long, Glasgow Queen Street station was reached and I had a leisurely change of trains and waited for the next train to Lenzie.
After the short train ride and then the last 3.5 miles of cycling, I was soon back home, showered and in clean pyjamas.
It was by now quite late and being quite exhausted I didn’t really want any tea so Mr M, for the second time today, served up freshly cooked porridge.
I’ve said it before, spoiled, but I know I am.
Sixty miles cycled and I’m feeling very proud of how my miles are increasing and my fitness has improved.
My plan to cycle to Halifax is now starting to seem less of an impossible task. Not next week or the week after, but definitely by the end of Summer 2023.

If you've missed previous episodes, here are the links for a couple of the latest ones.  You can of course see them all on the blog page.

I'm busy recording all my Aim for the Impossible blogs and turning them into podcasts for you to listen to.  Bear with me as I get my head all around this recording stuff.


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