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Faskally Loch from the hydro electric dam
Faskally Loch from the hydro electric dam

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Route No 160 - Saturday 8 October to Saturday 15 October 2005
A week in Blair Atholl near Pitlochry
Perthshire, Scotland

Maps: OS Explorer 386 Pitlochry & Loch Tummel at 1:25000
and OS Explorer 379 Dunkeld, Aberfeldy & Glen Almond at 1:25000

| Sunday | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday |

River Blaan at The Hermitage, Dunkeld
River Blaan at The Hermitage, Dunkeld

We had booked a holiday cottage in the River Tilt holiday park at Blair Atholl and drove up from our home near York on Saturday. As we arrived things looked quite promising. The autumn colours in the trees along the River Tummel valley were wonderful and our cottage was in a row of four next door to the heated indoor swimming pool with jacuzzi and sauna. The village shop was quite handy too to collect my morning paper and top up our supplies. Perthshire is now marketed as "Big tree country" and I have a thing about big trees so we were looking forward to a week of gentle walks and amazing scenery and possibly a bottle of wine or two. Our little walks are all taken from a leaflet called "Pitlochry Walks" published by the Countryside Ranger Service and Scottish Natural Heritage. except for the walk at the Hermitage near Dunkeld.

The tallest tree in Britain - a Douglas Fir over 64m high
The tallest tree in Britain - a Douglas Fir over 64m high

As we stood looking across the pool a solitary salmon made a huge leap at the falls that enter the pool and a few moments later a goosander flew upstream to land in the pool. It clearly did not like the look of us and at once took off again and returned the way it had come. From the pool we followed the way-marked trail upstream to Rumbling Bridge at map ref. NN 996411. There was already a large group of walkers on the bridge having their lunch so we had a good look at the falls and then continued on the route through the woods to the A822 at map ref. NN999412.

Sunday 9 October 2005.
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast we drove to The Hermitage near Dunkeld, a Scottish National Trust property, and parked just off the A9 at map ref. NO 012422. The weather was rather showery but the scenery was still stunning and we set off along one of the way-marked trails though the wooded valley beside the river Blaan. After about 650m we came to a large pool at a bend in the river. On the crown of the bend on the opposite side of the river is Britain's tallest tree, a Douglas Fir that stands over 64m high and was planted in the 1860's.

The falls at Rumble Bidge
The falls at Rumble Bridge

The falls at Rumble Bidge
The falls at Rumble Bridge

Looking across the river Blaan valley from map ref. NO 006411
Looking across the river Blaan valley from map ref. NO 006411

We crossed the road and followed a stoney track up the hill for a few hundred metres to map ref. NO 003407. Here we turned left following the waymarks across the fields and then through the woods to emerge back on the A822 at map ref. NO 016418. We followed the signs down the bank, across a minor road, and through the woodland back to the river Blaan. The path brought us back to the pool with the tallest tree and from there we retraced our steps to the car park. The walk had been about 7.5km and had taken us almost 3 hours to walk including numerous stops to admire the scenery. We drove back to Pitlochry and had a very pleasant late lunch before returning to our cottage, with the prospect of a swim and Jacuzzi later.

Below: The woodland walk back to the river Blaan from the A822

Below:
This is one of the tallest trees in Britain. It's a Douglas Fir and is over 64m, growing from the edge of a pool on a bend in the river where we saw a salmon leaping to make its way upstream.

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The river Blaan at the Hermitage near Dunkeld
The river Blaan at the Hermitage near Dunkeld

(Route Map) On Monday , morning we decided to walk around Loch Faskally from Pitlochry. The weather was much the same showery stuff as yesterday but the black clouds and the patches of bright sunlight produced some lovely effects. We drove into Pitlochry and walked down to the fish ladder that allows the salmon to leap up a series of tanks to by-pass the dam at the hydro electric power station.

Autumn fungus in the woods
Autumn fungus in the woods
There are good way-marked paths around the loch. The official route includes some road walking, but west of the A9 we followed an unofficial path along the edge of the loch for almost a kilometre. The going was getting more difficult and at last my wife rebelled and we scrambled up the steep bank back on to the road. The steep scramble brought on a severe cramp in my calf and I had a very painful hour's walking until it eventually wore off. It was held to be my own fault for taking us through such rough terrain! Our return to Pitlochry brought us to the boat hire depot and cafe on Loch Faskally, where we stopped for a very nice home made scone and cup of tea before returning to our cottage and a relaxing swim and pamper session in the Jacuzzi. The whole walk had been about 14km and had taken us almost 5 hours to walk including several refreshment stops. Then back to the cottage for a swim in the local pool and a spell in the Jacuzzi before our evening meal.
Faskally Loch just before we scrambled up the bank back to the road
Faskally Loch just before we scrambled up the bank back to the road
Monumental entrance arch to the hydro electric power station on Faskally Loch
Monumental entrance arch to the hydro electric power station on Faskally Loch
Falls on the river Tummel
Pedestrian suspension bridge over the river Tummel at map ref. NN 903601
Pedestrian suspension bridge over the river Tummel at map ref. NN 903601

Above & below: Falls on the river Tummel

Falls on the river Tummel

Path above the river Garry
Path above the river Garry
River Garry from the B8019 bridge
River Garry from the B8019 bridge
A9 bridge over Loch Faskally
A9 bridge over Loch Faskally
A9 bridge over Loch Faskally
A9 bridge over Loch Faskally
The southern part of Loch Faskally
The southern part of Loch Faskally
 

Tuesday. This morning the weather was quite bad with heavy rain so we decided to have a tourist drive around the river Tummel area. We also found a cosy cafe in Aberfeldy which cheered the morning up no end, and in Tummel Bridge we found the Post Office had diversified into a Post Office and Cafe, called "Post Taste", where we had our lunch. A pleasant and quite interesting experience. We visited the ancient yew in the church yard at Fortingall and then on to Queen's View before returning to our cottage for a swim in the local pool and a spell in the Jacuzzi before our evening meal

The remains of an ancient Yew tree reputed to have been the oldest and largest diameter of any tree in Britain
The remains of an ancient Yew tree in the church yard at Fortingall, map ref. NN 742470,
reputed to have been the oldest (over 3000 years) and largest girth (17m) of any tree in Britain.
The short wooden stakes in the background show the outline of the original trunk but only the opposite edges remain alive.

Above and left: The Queen's View still quite impressive even though the rain.

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Falls on a tributary of the Moness Burn near Aberfeldy
Falls on a tributary of the Moness Burn near Aberfeldy

Wednesday am- This morning we drove to Aberfeldy and parked in the town centre. Our plan was to walk up through the birch woods ("The Birks of Aberfeldy" - details of the route) alongside the Moness Burn to the Moness Falls at map ref. NN 852472. The Rob Roy Way long distance walk passes through this valley. The Birks of Aberfeldy were made famous by the verses of Robert Burns written in 1787. The whole valley was beautiful with amazing autumn colours and the falls in spectacular form after the recent rain. We spent a couple of hours walking up to the falls and back down the other side of the valley and then drove back to our cottage for some lunch.
The Falls of Moness near Aberfeldy
The Falls of Moness near Aberfeldy
The Moness Burn near Aberfeldy
The Moness Burn near Aberfeldy

Autumn colours in the woods above the Moness Burn
Autumn colours in the woods above the Moness Burn

Autumn colours in the woods above the Moness Burn
Autumn colours in the woods above the Moness Burn

Wednesday pm - After our lunch we walked from our cottage to Diana's Grove (map ref. NN 865664) at Blair Castle, simply to see the huge trees there, all around 160 years old. I just like to see big trees - the wild forests of Britain must have been just as impressive as the modern rain forests before progress in Britain saw all our ancient forests cut down.

Then we walked back to the cottage for a swim in the local pool and a spell in the Jacuzzi before our evening meal

Blair Atholl Castle
Blair Atholl Castle

Church yard above Diana's Grove where the Earls of Atholl are buried
Church yard above Diana's Grove where the Earls of Atholl are buried

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Part of Diana's Grove at Blair Atholl
Part of Diana's Grove at Blair Atholl

(Route Map) Thursday am - This morning we drove in to Pitlochry and parked in a tiny car park for walkers on the edge of the golf course at map ref. NN 937593. We planned to do the "Craigower Walk", about 9km. We followed the track across the golf course to the edge of the woodland at map ref. NN 932595 and then followed the waymarked path through the woods and up the hill to the view points on Craigower. We sat at the view point looking west over Loch Tummel and Schiehallion to Glen Coe in the far misty distance. As we sat looking at the view another walker came up the path and went to sit at the other viewpoint looking out over Pitlochry. After a few minutes we decide to move to the other viewpoint too as we strolled along the path my wife squeezed my arm and whispered "He's got no clothes on!" and sure enough when I looked at the seat ahead the walker was sitting soaking up the autumn sunshine so we quietly diverted to another point on the edge of the little plateau and looked at the view over Pitlochry before setting off down the northern side of the Craigower hill and round to the east to follow a forest track down to rejoin the path at map ref. NN 928599 and retrace out steps to the golf course. We sat on a seat on the edge of the golf course with a lovely view across the valley to have our packed lunch, before returning to the car.

Looking over Pitlochry from the golf course
Looking over Pitlochry from the golf course

Looking over Pitlochry from the golf course
Looking over Pitlochry from the golf course
Starting the climb through the woods to Craigower
Starting the climb through the woods to Craigower
Fly Agaric in the heather on Craigower
Fly Agaric in the heather on Craigower
View from Craigower looking west
View from Craigower looking west
View from Craigower looking south over Pitlochry
View from Craigower looking south over Pitlochry
View from Craigower looking west
View from Craigower looking west
Red squirrel at Clunie House gardens
Red squirrel at Clunie House gardens

Thursday PM - After lunch we visited Clunie House gardens near Aberfeldy (map ref. NN 879513) to see the giant redwood trees and the red squirrels. Then back to the cottage for a swim and a spell in the Jacuzzi before our evening meal

Red squirrel at Clunie House gardens
Red squirrel in a feed box at Clunie House gardens

Giant redwood tree at Clunie House gardens

Giant redwood tree at Clunie House gardens

Above:
Left: Giant redwood trees (sequoia) at Clunie House gardens
Below:

Giant redwood tree at Clunie House gardens

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(Route Map) Friday am - This morning we drove in to Pitlochry and parked in the town centre to do a walk of about 11km called the "Clunie Walk". We made our way from the main street down to the river and crossed via the pedestrian suspension bridge at map ref. NN 940576.

Pedestrian suspension bridge over the river Tummel at Pitlochry
Pedestrian suspension bridge over the river Tummel at Pitlochry

Track beside the woods at map ref. NN 935566
Track beside the woods at map ref. NN 935566

We followed a narrow lane up to the A9 Pitlochry bypass and crossed the A9 dodging the very fast traffic. We followed the lane on the other side of the main road to the edge of the forest at map ref. NN 935566. Here we climbed up the hillside on a footpath for about 1km to map ref. NN 926558 where we turned right on a forest track to the edge of the forest at map ref. NN 921564 beside a transmitter mast. We continued across the open moor for about another kilometer to map ref. NN 914569 where we climbed a few metres up a steep slope to our right to sit on the rocks for our packed lunch with a lovely view.

View from our lunch stop on the rocks
View from our lunch stop on the rocks
Heading back towards Pitlochry after lunch

Above & Left: Heading back towards Pitlochry after lunch

After lunch we continued on the same path which bent round to our right and took us down across the moor to the edge of the forest at map ref. NN 918575. In the forest the path followed the route of a power line for a few hundred metres before joining a forest track at map ref. NN 925568. We walked along the track for about a kilometre to map ref. NN 931560 where we rejoined our outward route and retraced our steps back into Pitlochry.

Moorland track heading back tothe forest to return to Pitlochry
Moorland track heading back to the forest to return to Pitlochry (Ben Vrackie in the cloud across the valley)

Friday PM - This afternoon we planned to walk to the Bruar Falls near Blair Atholl. It's only about 6km from our cottage in Blair Atholl. There was a large sign when we got there and to my amazement we found ourselves in the car park to a large out-of-town shopping mall !!!! My wife claimed to be as surprised as I was, but I have my doubts. We had a brief look at a couple of shops. It was all very tastefully done like Harrods, with prices to match, so we didn't buy much. The walk to the falls was lovely and the falls themselves were well worth a visit. (Map ref. NN 819669) The falls are about 1km from the road. Near the upper falls we passed a couple with a very expensive looking camera, and a few hundred metres further on I spotted a lens filter just lying on the path.

The Falls of Bruar - Upper Falls
The Falls of Bruar - Upper Falls

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The Falls of Bruar - Lower Falls
The Falls of Bruar - Lower Falls

The couple were too far away to chase after, but it's a circular route and they were going the opposite way round to us, so I just waited until we met them again lower down the valley. They were very relieved to get their precious filter back. We returned to our cottage for our final swim and Jacuzzi at the local pool before a very nice if a bit expensive meal in a restaurant next to our cottage (easy walk of about 100m so no worries about a glass of wine)