Duke’s Pass, Stirling, Scotland
We’re up north this month in one our favourite countries: Scotland. We’re in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, driving the Duke’s Pass.
Strictly speaking, it connects the tourist stop-off of Aberfoyle with Kilmahog, 16 miles away towards Callender, but the section we’re focusing on is the first six and a half miles from Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine.
The route’s origins stem from the Duke of Menteith wanting to get around his estate easier, leading to him building a pass in the 19th century. In the Twenties, local roads were reclassified.
The A81 was decided as the main route from Callendar to Aberfoyle, and the A821 the quieter back road. Shortly after this, the Forestry Comission acquired the land, and it was opened to the general public after beefing it up to cope with the tourist traffic created after Walter Scott’s ‘Lady of the Lake’ opus about Loch Katrine.
In terms of character, it basically is the antithesis to a motorway. Pick a direction, bend angle and altitude, and the Duke’s pass pretty much has it. Starting from Aberfoyle, it passes the large Forest Visitor Centre in a series of rapid, rising sweeping bends.
After this, the altitude climb lessens – a little – and sight lines open out as we arc through bracken-lined hillsides. On the right, there’s a turnoff for the picturesque Three Lochs Forest Drive; a six-mile-long route through the forest and the promised Lochs.
We press on, and through fantastic, close by scenery we eventually appear lochside to Loch Achray. Follow the signs off the A821 to Lock Katrine, and gently tootle to see what Walter Scott was on about.
Locals probably know every inch, and where to push past tourists or vomiting travel-sick passengers, but as a route to enjoy a 911, this is fabulous. There’s so much to work the vehicle against, you really will get a good workout, arcing one way then the other, repeating and repeating. Due to the road surface and all those bends, you’ll be at legal and sensible speeds too.
Get the Lady of the Lake boat to Loch Katrine and ride a bike 13 miles back down to the pier you started from – if you can leave that 911!