Hidden behind the village of Rhu, cutting under the Highland Line, lies Aldownick Glen a deep ravine ¼ mile from the church.
From it's main spring, high on Tom na h-Airigh, the water runs over open grass and heather moorland before disappearing into a conifer plantation. On emerging from the trees the burn is captured to fill a series of three reservoirs, of which the highest sadly had its dam breached in 2015 so the water level sank.
After the reservoirs the water really gets to work, producing a natural wonder. For more than half a mile the burn has sliced a steep sided gorge through the ancient bedrock, exposing aeons of geology. Tall native trees add to the seclusion.
Faint outlines of old stonewalls hint of earlier activity. Wood there is aplenty – and soft peaty water ideal for the stillman's needs.
The name of the Whistlers Glen, so called probably from the fact that those on the outlook gave warning of the approach of a stranger by imitating the whistle of the curlew. When George IV. visited Scotland, he expressed a desire to taste real smuggled whisky. The Duke of Argyll procured a barrel from a still at the mouth of this glen for his consumption, though the bargain was a difficult one to make, the Duke having to meet the smugglers personally at the end of Rhu Point.
Many a pair of hands would have guddled trout out of a series of pools seemingly produced for this very purpose.
The Aldownick burn has yet one more trick, becoming a feature in several private gardens before reaching the sea.
This place is so secret that it only seems to be visited by the annual run of the sea trout returning to breed. Yet the tranquil place would have briefly been a hub of activity just before 1894 when the workmen building the first stretch of the West Highland Railway running from Craigendoran Upper to Fort William where busy creating two tunnels to feed the burn underneath the tall railway embankment. The tunnels build from brick and local stone quickly faded into their natural environment becoming ever more part of nature and less an industrial monument. Tranquillity returned to the secluded glen.
Whistler's Glen was however bombed by the Germans during the World War II, the craters remaining to the present day.
We do thank John Barrington, whose book 'Loch Lomond and The Trossachs' was a great help at researching the facts.
To find the cache solve a puzzle:
It is usually a good idea to use wellie boots
and it's dangerous during darkness.
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N 56° 01.412'
W 04° 46.988'
N 56° 01.379'
W 04° 46.636'