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Day 1 - Crieff to Comrie



Summary

Distance

16km (10 miles)

Total ascent

350m (1150ft)

Time

5-6 hours

Download PDF of Route

Crieff, a gateway to the Highlands, is a natural and accessible start point for the Clan Ring, which explores the high ground to the west. The town was granted its Charter in 1218 and for centuries was an important centre for cattle trading. Drovers herded cattle from all over the Highlands & Islands to Crieff for the October Tryst, a market where they were bought by Lowland and English traders. At its peak in 1723, over 30,000 beasts were sold at the Tryst. Rob Roy MacGregor visited several times to sell cattle and Bonnie Prince Charlie held a war council in the Drummond Arms on James Square in 1746.

The route to Comrie and beyond is across lands of Clan Drummond and now largely part of Drummond Estate. The start point, James Square, was laid out by James Drummond, the 3rd Duke of Perth, in 1731. This section of the walk is moderately demanding, gradually climbing above the south side of Strathearn for some superb views to the mountains.

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Highlights

  • Knock Mary was the site of a clan battle between the around 1500 AD, between the Drummonds, from Drummond Castle just to the south, and the Murrays of Ochtertyre, across the River Earn to the north, who had stolen cattle from them.
  • Drummond Castle, visible to the south of the route, is a late 15th century tower house with and adjacent 17th-century mansion. It is famed for its formal gardens, which are open to the public at Easter and from May to October (1pm–6pm).
  • Torlum, or Turleum as it was traditionally spelt, was renowned for being the highest hill in Scotland wooded to the top (393m/1290ft). A destructive gale in November 1893 blew down most of the pine trees around the summit. In more recent years introduced conifers have been planted on its slopes. The route traverses its north flank.
  • Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre is a popular attraction for families and its Pine Lodge Coffee Shop overlooks Strathearn. The route runs through the middle of the park and down the drive.
  • The Roman Stone is a prehistoric standing stone with a smaller cup-marked rock beside it. Situated on a Roman Camp built here in the 1st century AD, it was probably erected a millennia or more before they arrived.
  • The Water of Ruchill is a very dynamic river that rises on the southern slopes of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’ Chroin and runs through Glen Artney, draining a large upland area. It can rise very quickly after heavy rain and flooded Comrie twice in 2012. The river is constantly eroding its banks, washing away trees and depositing new gravel islands.
  • Comrie lies at the confluence of the Water of Ruchill and River Lednock with the River Earn, it’s Gaelic name meaning ‘flowing together’. It is situated just to the north of the Highland Boundary Fault, which is crossed on this route as you descend past some linear knolls to the flat strath around the village.

Essential Info

Section no.

1

Section name

Crieff to Comrie

Start

Crieff, James Square: NN863216

Finish

Comrie, Melville Square: NN773220

Grade

Moderate: mainly good paths and tracks with relatively gentle climbs.

Distance

16km (10 miles)

Total ascent

350m (1150ft)

Highest point

280m (920ft)

Time

5-6 hours

Terrain

Paths and tracks along wooded hills with wide panoramas. Descending across open pasture with a dramatic view of Comrie then a riverside path into the village.

Variations

The walk can be started at Crieff Visitor Centre: from there walk south down the road a short distance then turn right onto the River Earn path and follow it to the end of Alichmore Lane.

The walk can be finished at Auchingarrich Wildlife Park, a stop on the Ring of Breadalbane Explorer (see below).

Driving to the start

Crieff is on the A85, 18 miles west of Perth. For the King Street car park (pay and display) turn left after the pelican crossing at James Square then first right into the car park. Alternatively join the route at Crieff Visitor Centre on the south edge of Crieff on the A822 road to Muthill.

Public transport

Crieff is on bus service 15, which starts in Perth and continues to Comrie, and bus service 47, which starts in Stirling.

The Ring of Breadalbane Explorer bus stops in Crieff, Comrie and at Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre from 1st June to 19th October on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.

Refreshments

The town of Crieff has a large selection of shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels. The village of Comrie also has a range of shops, cafes, restaurants, including two hotels. Crieff Visitor Centre restaurant is close to the route where it leaves Crieff. Three-quarters of the way along the route, you pass through Auchingarrich Wildlife Park, which has a cafe with a view over Strathearn.

1st Leg

Start at: NN863216

From James Square walk down West High Street and keep ahead when the A85 takes a right turn. Go straight over the crossroads at Burrell Square and keep on down Drummawhandie Street. At a T-junction, continue ahead on a path, signposted ‘River Earn path’, which you now follow out of the town.

Descend a flight of steps then keep ahead to a road junction. Turn right and before the road crosses a disused railway bridge take the path straight ahead. The path curves downhill, runs past playing fields and crosses a lane. Beyond a cemetery, turn right along Earnbank Road. At a T-junction with the A822, turn right and cross Crieff Bridge over the River Earn. Take the second turn on the right, Alichmore Lane, and follow it to the end.

2nd Leg

Start at: NN854207

Go through a double metal gate and straight up the field, which usually contains sheep. Admire the vista over Crieff before going over a stile into woodland and following a path to a second stile. The path now runs through a narrow woodland strip along the crest of a hill with views to either side. You may encounter horse riders on the path.

Meet a track that crosses the woodland strip and continue on it along the right side of the trees, with views north to Glen Turret and Ben Chonzie. Out of sight down the slope is Rottenreoch, where tradition says the dead from the Battle of Knock Mary were buried, although the mound is a much older Neolithic long cairn.

Go through a metal gate and walk to the left then fork right for a short, stiff climb beside a telecoms mast to the summit of Knock Mary, where a clan battle was fought between the Murrays and Drummonds in 1490.

Walk over the top and downhill through a pine and larch wood, then cross a felled and replanted area, protected by deer fences. Loch of Balloch and Drummond Castle lie to the left. The track continues through dense spruce then mature oak woodland to a minor road.

3rd Leg

Start at: NN828196

Turn right downhill, gaining a magnificent panorama over Strathearn and Sir David Baird’s Monument (passed on Day 6). Soon turn left onto a major track signed for Auchingarrich.

After going through two gates, follow the track bends around a stream valley and climb steadily towards a mast. Mature oaks and conifers grow on open slopes below, while wooded hills and knobbly mountains form a succession of horizons.

Bend left below the mast then keep ahead to a multi-user gate into the forest (not left). Keep right at one junction then fork left at the next. The track weaves uphill onto Barr Dubh.

Beyond a small pond, turn right onto a narrow, heathery path that soon angles downhill through young conifers. It bends right at a post, crosses a little stream and contours along the slope. Look out for the curled black scats of pine marten.

Go through a kissing gate and reach a field corner where there is a splendid view of Strathearn over Auchingarrich. Follow the path downhill to the left though open oak woodland. Go more steeply down beside an old stone wall before bending right beside Auchingarrich Burn. Beyond two kissing gates, go over a bridge across the burn then pass a shed, a bushcraft base for Do It Outdoors.

Continue through a deer gate and walk straight ahead, above fishing ponds and cross over track to a gateway into the wildlife park. Walk ahead past the animal pens, going second right then left by a standing stone to reach the Auchingarrich Wildlife Park car park (and their cafe). Continue through the car park and down the drive.

4th Leg

Start at: NN780196

At the bottom of Auchingarrich’s drive, turn right to a road junction and enter the field ahead by a footpath sign for Comrie. Follow a track across grassy pastures where red kite and buzzard often soar. As you start to descend, the view suddenly opens up over Comrie.

Leave the track, which bends to the left, and go through the gate below on the right. Follow a path down the edge of a field then over go a stile onto a fenced path and follow it to the start of a road.

Where you meet the tarmac, turn immediately left through a metal kissing gate onto a path along the bottom edge of a field. Continue through a gateway and ahead between two more fields.

Beside the Roman Stone, cross straight over the B827 and continue ahead on a hard-surface lane. Go around a bend to the right and keep on until there is an open field ahead. Here take the second track on the left and walk between a house and the field. Beyond a barn fork right to join a riverside path beside a footpath sign for Dalginross Bridge.

Turn right beside the Water of Ruchill, immediately passing new flood defences. In places, the path divides either side of woodland and it is easier to stay right along field edges as the path along the riverbank is constantly being undermined away by the river.

At the end of the last strip of field, turn right up metal steps over a flood wall. Follow a road through the Field of Refuge (now built on with houses). Turn left at a T-junction and cross Dalginross Bridge over the River Earn, just below the confluence of the Ruchill and Earn. Melville Square lies ahead, across the busy road junction with the A85.

Profile

15.7 km, n/a

The map below is intended for guidance only. You will need a compass and OS Explorer 368 or OS Landrangers 51, 57 and 58. You can zoom in and move the map around to see the route in more detail.
Click here to see a full screen Ordnance Survey map of the route


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