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Day 2 - Comrie to St Fillans



Summary

Distance

16.4km (10.2 miles)

Total ascent

600m (1970ft)

Time

5-6 hours

Download Route PDF

The area traversed by this walk is steeped in legend and history, going back thousands of years. Prehistoric people built the now demolished stone circle at Drum Na Cille (‘ridge of the church’) and an artificial island in Loch Earn. The island, just offshore from St Fillans, became the stronghold of the Neish clan in the 16th and 17th centuries. In Glen Boltachan, the Neishes were almost wiped out by the McNabs from Loch Tay in an inter-clan battle in 1522 then suffered an even worse fate in 1612 (see Day 5 of the route).

This section is one of the more challenging parts of the Ring of Breadalbane long distance walk, as it involves a gradual but considerable height gain and crosses an area of pathless moorland where a remote loch is cradled between the hills. Loch Earn and the Munro Ben Vorlich come into view for the first time from the high point before the steep descent to St Fillans, where you enter Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

Tell us about your Rings of Breadalbane.

Highlights

  • Deil’s Cauldron, a high waterfall cascading into a deep rock pool, where a mischievous sprite was supposed to lure men to their deaths.
  • Wee Cauldron, a smaller, pretty waterfall, also with a viewing platform.
  • Lord Melville’s monument, a tall obelisk on Dun More overlooking Comrie that commemorates the life of Henry Dundas (1742–1811), 1st Viscount Melville and Baron of Dunira. A notable lawyer and politician, he was made first lord of the Admiralty by William Pitt.
  • At Druim na Cille, ‘ridge of the church’, there are remains of a stone circle and cup marked stones.
  • Glen Boltachan was the site of a clan battle in 1522 between the MacNabs, from Loch Tay, and Neishes, from Loch Earn, The red lichens that spot the grey rocks are said to be the encrusted blood of the Neish chief.
  • Loch Boltachan is a natural hill loch, lying in a bowl between the hills. Toads congregate to breed in April, their calls creating an eerie atmosphere.
  • Neish Island, a manmade island (crannog), had a small castle that was the residence of Clan Neish from about 1250. From this apparently secure location, they mounted raids on their neighbours.
  • St Fillans is an attractive village at the east end of Loch Earn, which was called Little Port or Port of Lochearn until 1817 when it was renamed after the Irish missionary who converted the local Picts to Christianity.

Essential Info

Section no.

2

Section name

Comrie to St Fillans

Start

Comrie, Melville Square: NN773220

Finish

St Fillans, road junction on west side of Four Seasons Hotel: NN690244

Grade

Fairly hard: significant climb involved and hill navigation skills needed

Distance

16.4km (10.25 miles)

Total ascent

600m (1970ft)

Highest point

500m (1640 ft)

Time

5-6 hours

Terrain

Waymarked paths then forest track to high moorland, where there is 2.5km of pathless walking past a loch and over a col, before descending steeply on a good track.

Variations

A shorter circuit from Comrie can be made by turning left where tracks merge by a footpath sign in the 3rd leg.

Driving to the start

Comrie is on the A85 7 miles west of Crieff. For School Road car park bend right past the White Church then turn first right.

Public transport

Comrie is on bus service 15 from Perth via Crieff. Beyond Comrie the bus becomes the 15A to St Fillans, which runs less frequently.


The Ring of Breadalbane Explorer Bus stops in Comrie and St Fillans from 1st June to 19th October on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.

Refreshments

Good range of shops, cafes, restaurants, including two hotels in Comrie; one shop and three hotels in St Fillans.

1st Leg

Start at: NN773220

Walk up the lane at the back of Melville Square, past the Royal Hotel bar. At the end continue ahead on a path then go left past Comrie Primary School and School Road car park. Meet the A85 again at a T-junction and turn right along the nearside pavement.

Where the road bends left, by the Deil’s Cauldron restaurant, keep straight ahead up Monument Road. Beyond the end of speed limit signs, turn right by stone pillars and a small parking area onto the signed Deil’s Cauldron path.

Follow the path along the edge of trees, soon bending left and gradually climbing into the steep wooded valley of the River Lednock where the rushing water can be heard, and occasionally seen, below. For a detour to the Wee Cauldron, turn right down a rocky path with railings to a viewing platform then continue uphill on it to rejoin the main path higher up.

Further on the path converges with the road. Here keep right, below the road, on a path that contours along the slope, becoming a railed boardwalk as the ground becomes more precipitous. At steps, go downhill to the right to the viewing platform for the Deil’s Cauldron.

2nd Leg

Start at: NN767235

Return up the steps and keep right to climb up to the road. Turn right up Glen Lednock and soon pass a path leading directly uphill to Melville’s Monument (a very steep shortcut). For a less vigorous climb, continue along the road. After leaving the wood, the lush glen opens up with a view to the Munro Ben Chonzie ahead on the right.

Come to a signpost where a track runs ahead and keep left along the road a short distance then cross a stile over the fence on the left. Follow a grassy path uphill. Go straight across the bend in a hard-surfaced track (or follow the track to the right past the Kinkhoast Well, whose water is reputed to have healing properties). Higher up the path rejoins the track and passes through a gap in a stone wall to the crest of the Maam Road, the pass between Glen Lednock and Dunira.

At the high point of the Maam Road, turn left at a footpath sign onto a small track that leads gently uphill through woods. Near the top of Dun More (after the shortcut path joins from the left) it becomes a path and zigzags uphill to Melville’s Monument and a viewpoint indicator. Take care near the edge, as the hill falls away in a cliff to the south.

The view stretches from Fife in the east to Loch Earn in the west. Most of the previous day’s walk from Crieff can be traced along the flank of Torlum Hill to Comrie, and much of the rest of today’s section is visible, running up forested Glen Boltachan into the hills. Return down the path from the obelisk and go along the narrow track back to the Maam Road. Turn left along the track, soon leaving the woods through a gap in a stone wall.

3rd Leg

Start at: NN763237

At a major junction, keep left downhill with a view across Strathearn to whitewashed Aberuchill Castle (Day 6 goes through its parkland).

On the long descent, pass a large, many-limbed oak tree and ignore lesser tracks to the right. Cross a stream then merge with another track from the left (a possible return route to Comrie for a shorter circular walk). Continue down through a regenerating alder wood to a crossroads of tracks.

Turn right and walk uphill beside the Allt Sgairnich Mhoir, a rushing stream, confined within a stone-faced channel, on a track that climbs above Dunira. After going through a gap in a stone wall, keep left at a junction and continue up to Druim na Cille.

Shortly before the white cottage at Druim na Cille, a little track on the left runs to a mobile phone mast disguised as a strange tree. To the right of this track is the circular platform of a stone circle and to the left some stones, moved from the site, one of which has cup-marks.

4th Leg

Start at: NN736243

Continue on the track past the cottage, entering a larch wood. The track steadily climbs, with a zigzag taking it up steeper ground below crags. Where it bends right into Glen Boltachan, there is a brief view to the south and west. Then it levels off and is confined within darker spruce forest.

At a fork, go right and continue to an octagonal shooting bothy. Here turn sharp right and zigzag up to a higher level. When the track ends, continue ahead on a path churned up by quad bike use, where you have walk on the heather to bypass boggy bits. Soon you reach the forest edge.

Go through a gate in the deer fence (or over the ladder stile) and continue straight ahead across heather moorland towards Loch Boltachan, which is out of sight until the last minute. There is only a vague, intermittent path, so keep about 50-100m to the right of Boltachan Burn and follow it up to the loch.

When you reach the shore, look for your onward route up a little U-shaped valley on the opposite side of the loch. Walk to the right around the loch, crossing a boulder-strewn stream flowing into it when you are nearly round. Continue to the far right corner of the loch.

5th Leg

Start at: NN697261

Leave the loch shore and head up the little valley, picking up a quad bike track that provides easier walking. As you walk over the col there is a splendid view up Loch Earn.

Continue over the top and straight downhill, keeping to the left of a developing stream. The quad bike track, which tends to be wet and slippery, leads down to a hard-surfaced track, where you turn left.

Follow the track southwards, passing a large cup-marked rock just before reaching a forest. Go through a pedestrian gate in the deer fence and continue diagonally downhill. Ignore all gated tracks to the left and follow the main forest track, which zigzags downhill.

Near the bottom, go through a metal pedestrian gate and cross a bridge over the disused railway. Then turn left at a T-junction and descend past houses and St Fillans hydroelectric power station to a junction with the A85. The Four Seasons hotel is on the left and the bus stop on the right.

Profile

16.3 km, n/a

The map below is intended for guidance only. You will need a compass and OS Explorer 368 or OS Landranger 51. 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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