Once again it was a dreich morning as 22 members of the Mearns 50+ Group gathered in the car-park at Forfar Leisure Centre.
A group of six did the shorter walk, round Forfar Loch, while the main group set off to climb to Balmashanner Tower.
This tower is, in essence, a war memorial, so it was particularly poignant that we went there on November 11, and yes, we did observe two minutes’ silence at 11 am.
Our route took us up through Reid Park, a large, grassy area gifted to the town by local businessman, Peter Reid in the 1890s. He also built the Reid Hall and was said to have been so generous to others that he died a poor man. In the park there is a small statue of this benefactor.
As we left the park, we saw, through a gap in a hedge, a roe deer outlined against the sky. It was sufficiently far away not to be disturbed by our presence.
From this point on, it was a steady but not too arduous climb to the top. Some of us needed several stops to admire the view On a clear day I’m sure the outlook would be worthwhile, but on that day we could see as far as the dual carriageway and not much further.
At the top, turn right to reach the tower itself. It was erected in memory of the 溺men of Forfar and District who fell in the Great War 1914 -18 and stands 55 ft high. Floodlighting was provided in October 2006. There are several routes down from the tower; the way we went was a continuation of the road to it, and we followed this level track until a right turn started us on the downward journey. We then arrived on the outskirts of Forfar, on Dundee Road, from where we passed through residential areas then a business area to get back to Forfar Loch.
Our circuit of the loch was really rather interesting. First, we saw a tree which looked as if it had been gnawed by beavers. Once home, a quick search of the internet confirmed that there is beaver activity around the loch.
Next we were amazed by the number of swans at one end of the loch. One of the group tried to count them and estimated over 50. I had never seen so many swans in one place! (*Also see Footnote) Further round, we came to a little memorial area with an engraved stone: at the top, the Forfar Witches; further down, 笛just people.
At three points round the loch, there are fitness areas with some equipment and instructions on how to use it. By that time, none of us really felt like giving it a go! In all, we covered about six miles, but it would be easy to divide this into two shorter walks: (a) the tower or (b) the loch circuit. Both are worth doing and can be found in the Forfar Path Network leaflet.
The next walk will be on Tuesday, November 25, Lunan Bay to Ethie Haven. Starting point will be the car-park at Lunan Bay. As usual, the minibus will leave the Burgh Buildings in Laurencekirk at 10am.
Footnote: The day after the walk, I was travelling south by train. Somewhere between Perth and Dunblane, I saw at least 50 swans together in a water-logged field.