By Sharran Sangha
Cashel Forest is a hidden gem located in the picturesque Scottish landscapes of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. It ranges 3,000 acres across the eastern side of Loch Lomond, with deep enchanting areas of natural and planted woodland. Cashel boasts jaw dropping view-points which show the unique picturesque scenes of the islands found dotted around the loch.
On the second Sunday in August, we decided to get out our hiking boots for the first time after lockdown and explore this Scottish beauty. The day started bright and early, with the minibus leaving the streets of Glasgow at 7am, destined for the tranquillity of the Trossachs National Park. We drove out of the busy city, the roads getting quieter and increasingly more scenic the further North we ventured. The hour-long minibus journey allowed everyone to catch up and for those new to the group to get to know their fellow hikers.
Soon enough, Loch Lomond had opened up before us and the views of the glistening water and blue skies made the perfect backdrop to our early morning drive. Not a moment later, we had arrived at the Cashel Farm car park, dismounting from the minibus to be greeted by crisp morning air and sunlight on our skin. After a quick group briefing on what to expect and how to comply with social distancing measures, we took to our feet and off we set on our adventure!
Immersed inside and mesmerised by the beauty of the forest around us, we barely noticed the steepest section of the walk pass us by just moments after we set out. A 20 minute wander up through the trees on the well-trodden forest path, manageable even to the youngest kids and least physically able adventurers of our group.
The warming hike was worth every step, for the viewpoint at the peak of the path rewarded us with breath-taking views across the loch to the hills of Argyle and beyond, the bright open skies and dazzling sunlight making the views all the more incredible. With the blue skies bringing out an almost tropical quality to the islands, it was hard to believe we were still in Scotland!
After all that adventuring, we were grateful to stop for a lunch-break at the viewpoint and to take some group pictures.
Fuelled up by our packed-lunches and having caught our breath, we set off for the second half of the walk. After the excitement of the uphill first half of the hike, the now mostly flat and downhill terrain could not have been more welcome. We were once again surrounded by stunning views of our incredible Scottish scenery which accompanied us for the rest of the walk. The path now winding down through the forest amongst the majestic towering conifers and finally circling back to where the adventure began. Shortly after paddling our feet through a welcoming stream, we turned a corner to find the trusty minibus sitting patiently in the car park awaiting the return of the Boots and Beards team, ready for its next adventure.