Nestled into Dumgoyne Hill, Glengoyne distillery is a mere 25km from Glasgow, and yet it had something of a charm about it. I could see why the hidden waterfall and its miniature glen shouted out to George Connell, back in 1820, as the ideal location to distil in secret, under the name Glenguin of Burnfoot. He eventually gained a license in 1833 and distilled officially; the name not changing to Glengoyne until 1907. We were still in the Lowlands at this point, but we could see the Highlands lurking on the horizon, rising from Loch Lomond’s waters. We’d be crossing the Highland Boundary Fault Line around Aberfoyle which is when our surroundings would start to really change, thanks to collisions between ancient continents 400 million years ago. This was when both the mountains in much of the Highlands rose and the Central Lowlands sank, creating not only the most important geological division in Scotland but its greatest cultural boundary too – the route we planned was largely created by the military, drovers, and travellers to access the Highlands and travel to/from the more populated Lowlands.
By the time we were propping the bikes against the distillery’s sherry casks to head in for a brief tour and tasting in Warehouse No.1, it was early evening. The “Unhurried since 1833” strapline that adorned their bottles rang true with us, and we ended up chatting with the guys behind the bar (till) and warehouse manager for a while – turns out, back in 1899, the distillery manager had drowned in the on-site loch after a few too many drams. His ghost is still around today, apparently. Anyway, before we had one too many, they sent us on our way with a selection of miniatures – bottles of 10, 15, 18 Year Old – to carry up to Fort William for a tasting session to toast the end of our journey. Loaded up, we rode a bit further north that evening to find somewhere to bed down before the light went; this first night was more of a utility camp so we just set up in a small forest beyond Killearn. For this trip, we had decided on a lightweight shelter setup to stay nimble – we were expecting the odd section of rough terrain and a bike-hike. I took a bivvy bag and tarp, whilst Jordan and Glyn split a two-man Hubba Hubba tent between them. When riding drop bars, frame bags make the ideal place to stick tent and tarp poles, their length tends to nestle nicely underneath the top tube – frame size and geometry dependant, obviously.