Callander is a small town in Scotland and is a popular tourist destination as well as a picturesque stop to and from the Highlands. We have been to Callander many times but this time would be different as we intended to stay overnight in our campervan, Dora. We just didn’t know where exactly. Once again, we turned to the Facebook groups we are members of and it wasn’t long before we were given a suggested spot. Just outside of town, at Kilmahog, a nice quiet forest carpark but close to a pub and just over a miles walk back into Callander. So that’s where we decided to head for. The journey took us through Callander and passed an old graveyard that caught our eye and we decided to investigate this further but that would need to be later as our main priority was to find the parking spot in the forest. We soon reached Kilmahog and turned left at the pub that was mentioned in the recommendation, so we knew we were close. After a bit of rubbernecking and nearly driving down into someone’s driveway, we reached our spot for the night. It was perfect and we had it to ourselves. Hidden out the way and surrounded by trees.
Now for the walk back into Callander, along the Callander to Killin cycle path. It only took us about 20 minutes and soon we arrived at the riverside recreation area, leading to Tom-Na-Kessaig (Hill of St Kessog) which gives a nice panoramic view, in particular, it overlooks the old graveyard that we had seen on the drive into Callander. It includes a watchtower to look out for grave robbers such as Burke & Hare, notorious villains from Edinburgh.
This would be a fleeting visit, to stretch our legs and enjoy a few miles walking before heading back to Dora for the night. So, after a short walk around the town centre, we decided to walk back along the A84 towards Kilmahog, in search of the pub. The walk back, in itself, was interesting with large old houses sitting well away from the road, sheltered by huge gardens and the majestic snowcapped Ben Ledi in full view, straight in front of us. Callander has a lovely highland feel to it.
The Lade Inn pub at Kilmahog was a welcome sight and as they are dog-friendly in the bar, we found a couple of seats opposite a roaring log fire and sat back with a glass of red wine. There is a friendly atmosphere that lends itself to a conversation or two with your fellow patrons. Soon, we were on our way back to Dora. Parked up no more than five minutes walk away from the pub but just time for one more visit to an old graveyard! Kilmahog cemetery is also ancient in appearance and full of various sizes of headstones and tombs dating back centuries. I noticed that a good few headstones were showing the person’s age at death as being in their 80’s, which was unusual for that time period. Must have been the highland air and porridge.
Finally, back to Dora for cold meat, chips & beans washed down with more wine. Aaah the high life! Dora is heated by a diesel heater, which had been temperamental but appeared to have sorted itself out, so we looked forward to a cozy night as the temperature outside was meant to drop to below 0 degrees centigrade. Unfortunately, the heater had other ideas. I am sure that this description will be familiar to all you campers. It goes something like this – Fast asleep. Slightly restless with a vague feeling of discomfort. Awake and trying to work out why your nose is ice cold. Then you become aware of the air temperature, a feeling of rawness that forces you to find comfort under the duvet. The heat from your breath helps to heat up your nose and you drift off to sleep again before the whole cycle of restlessness and frozen nose, which once again became exposed to the air, starts again. At no point during the night did we consider tinkering about with the heater settings, preferring to have a terrible sleep. Only in the morning, after a cup of warm coffee, did we look at the thermostat. We switched it off, then on again and hey presto our trusty heater sprung into life! Now that we had thawed out and had had a hearty breakfast, we decided to take advantage of our location regards going for a good walk. We didn’t have to drive anywhere, just opened the door and set off in the direction of Brig O Turk. The path we were on is part of the Callander to Killin cycle path. but we diverted off for a short but very steep climb to take a closer look at Samson’s Stone. Sitting precariously on Bochastle hill. Local legend has it that the stone came to be there as a result of a putting competition between a family of giants. The winner of the competition was Samson who lived on Ben Ledi.
Then it was back down to the main path, saying hello to the cows on the hill, and looking out for somewhere to sit for a cup of tea out our well-traveled flask. With no bench to be found within our walking zone, we choose to sit and dangle our feet over a small wooden footbridge. For some reason, it feels more tranquil dangling your feet over a bridge, rather than sitting on a bench and we would recommend it.
Soon, it was time to head back to Dora for our drive back home. Yes it was only one overnight and yes we didn’t do that much but as Aristotle said: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” and Callander played its part beautifully.