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Day 6 - St Fillans to Crieff



Summary

Distance

24.8km (15.5miles) 

Total ascent

170m (555ft) 

Time

 7-9 hours 

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As this walk leaves St Fillans there are views to Dundurn, a rocky hill sticking up in the middle of the strath that was the site of a hill fort. It was in a strategic position on the frontier between the Picts and the Scots, before they were united in the kingdom of Scotland in the 9th century. Shaky Toon. The route follows the River Earn downstream, running through Comrie, which is nicknamed the ‘Shaky Toun’ because of its history of earthquakes, as described in detail at the Earthquake House.

The route is fairly easy with a moderate section of climbing to pass the Balmenoch Waterfall. There is one very muddy area near the start and some minor obstructions that need to be negotiated. It is hoped that funding will be raised in future to turn the disused railway into a multi-user route.

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Highlights

  • Dalchonzie Power Station, which is the last of three generating stations on the Loch Earn part of the Breadalbane Hydroelectric scheme.
  • The parkland of Aberuchill Castle, which was first built as a tower house in 1602 and has been much extended since then. In 1914 suffragettes set fire to the castle, destroying one wing.
  • The Earthquake House, a small stone building erected in 1874 to house an early seismometer and now home to modern earthquake recording equipment supplied by the Royal Geographical Society.
  • Balmenoch Waterfall, a pretty waterfall where the water fans out into several streams down a rock face.
  • Comrie Croft, a farmstead hostel and eco-camping site with mountain bike hire and trails, and (from Easter to the end of October) a Tea Garden.
  • Baird’s Monument stands on wooded Tom a Chasteal, on the site of the ancient castle of the Earls of Strathearn, and commemorates the achievements of General Sir David Baird (1757–1829), who fought many military campaigns.
  • Lady Mary’s Walk is a tree-lined riverside path gifted to the town of Crieff in 1815 by Sir Patrick Murray of Ochtertyre and named after his daughter who loved walking there.
  • Macrosty Park is a lovely public park with mature trees, a bandstand and, in the upper part, a cafe and a children’s play area. Gifted to Crieff in 1902, it includes adjacent Mungall and Taylor Parks.

Essential Info

Section no.

6

Section name

St Fillans to Crieff

Start

St Fillans, road junction on west side of Four Seasons Hotel: NN999999

Finish

Crieff, James Square: NN863216

Grade

Easy to moderate: the first half is flat and the second half involves some climbing; some minor obstructions need to be negotiated.

Distance

24.8km (15.5 miles)

Total ascent

170m (555ft)

Highest point

125m (410ft)

Time

7-9 hours

Terrain

Tracks, paths and some quiet back roads through woods and fields with wide views across Strathearn.

Variations

This is the longest but most accessible section of the route; it can be split in two at Comrie, or broken at Dalchonzie (request bus stop on A85) or Comrie Croft (scheduled bus stop).

Driving to the start

St Fillans is on the A85 6 miles west of Comrie. There is a large layby on the loch side of the road, just beyond the Four Seasons Hotel.

Public transport

St Fillans is on bus service 15A from Comrie, which originates in Perth and comes via Crieff as service 15.

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

Refreshments

One shop, three hotels and a golf club cafe in St Fillans; Comrie has a range of shops, cafes, restaurants, including two hotels. Crieff has a large selection of shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels. The route also passes the Tea Garden cafe at Comrie Croft (open from Easter to autumn).

1st Leg

Start at: NN690244 by Four Seasons

Facing Loch Earn, walk to the left along the pavement into St Fillans. Cross the road by the Loch Earn Brewery (previously the Drummond Arms) and go over a footbridge where the River Earn flows out of the loch. Turn left on a path downriver. Join the South Loch Earn road and go left along it, past Earn Weir, from where water is to Dalchonzie Power Station.

Continue on the road past the golf course then bend left over a stone bridge to the main A85 road. Walk to the right along the grassy verge facing the oncoming traffic (take care). Where the woodland garden on the left ends, cross the road to a field gate.

Go through the gate and cross to the top of a very boggy field trampled by cattle (keep near the left fence and tread on tussocks). Then walk to the right along the top edge of the field to where the fence is ruined and you can step through onto the disused railway embankment. Follow a track along the disused railway line, walking through a field that usually contains cattle with calves. It becomes deeply muddy around some feeders, but you can avoid the mud by detouring a few paces uphill on rough animal trods. Go through a gate under a bridge and into grassy sheep pasture. (The cattle field can be avoided entirely by continuing along the road for another 500m then going through a gate into the sheep field, but beware that the verge becomes narrower and the traffic faster beyond the speed limit signs).

Walk along the now grassy embankment, looking out on your left for the St Fillans dragon painted on a rock and to the right for Dundurn. Keep straight ahead and at the far end of the field step over a fence and an awkward ditch to enter an old railway cutting at Tynreoch. Walk along the cutting then go through a gate and a bridge under the A85.

Join a track coming from the right and keep ahead to cross the old rail bridge over the River Earn. Ignore a turn to the right and go through the first of several gates as you follow the track along the course of the railway. Sheep and cattle may be encountered, up until you go through a deer gate.

Beyond the deer gate the track runs through broadleaved woodland, going through several cuttings. Deer and wild goats frequent this area. Near the end the track crosses another bridge over the River Earn. By double gates in a wooden fence, go through the pedestrian gate on the left and keep a head to a minor road.

2nd Leg

Start at: NN740230 join Dalchonzie road

Turn right and follow the road back over the river. Dalchonzie Power Station is on the right in half a mile (800m) and it is worth pausing to read the information board. Continue along the road, over the outflow from the power station, which runs under a natural burn.

Pass the west drive to Aberuchill Castle and at the next drive turn right by a footpath sign for Craggish House. Go through a pedestrian gate and over a cattle grid. Walk through parkland and fork left where the drive swings towards the castle. Soon go left again to climb up to another track.

Turn left along this track, which runs between two woods then past some marshland. This is a good area for seeing red kites. Join a minor road by Craggish House and keep ahead (left) along it. Ignore the Sawdust Path signed to the left and continue past houses. At the next footpath sign (for Dalchonzie Road) a short detour left to a kissing gate gives access to the Earthquake House, perched on a rocky knoll beside a pine tree.

Retrace your steps and continue along the road past an information board about the Earthquake House. Follow the road to a junction and go right over the hump-backed Ross Bridge, constructed in 1792. Turn right onto the A85 road and follow the pavement into Comrie. It curves left, passes the Parish Church, then bends right (you can cut the corner by walking through the church grounds). After the next bend, pass the White Church community centre then cross the road to Melville Square, which is on the left at the road junction.

3rd Leg

Start at: NN773220 Melville Square

Walk up the lane at the back of Melville Square, past the Royal Hotel bar. At the end continue ahead through a gap then turn right on a path between a field and houses. Go across a lane leading to Comrie House and cross a footbridge over the River Lednock, beside the buttresses of the old rail bridge.

Keep ahead past Laggan Park to rejoin the A85 road. Cross over and walk to the left along the pavement. Continue to West Lodge caravan park, which is on the left in half a mile (800m). Walk a short distance further until the pavement runs out, then cross the road and go through a gap in the wall on the left by a footpath sign.

A short path takes you up onto the track behind West Lodge. Turn right onto the track and walk through an avenue of giant redwoods. At a blue footpath sign turn left on a lesser track that winds uphill through open mixed woodland. Follow it over a rise, down to a track junction and turn right.

At the next junction turn left on a track crossing over a wetland area, then immediately go right towards a house. Just beyond the house, turn left onto another track, go over a bridge and turn left again through a gateway. Follow a track uphill beside a rushing burn to Balmenoch waterfall.

Keep on past the waterfall and follow the track as it bends downhill to the right. Descend to a multi-user gate in a deer fence and follow the track across a field behind the grand 18th century Lawers House. The track bends right at the end and, before it goes through a gate, turn left through a multi-user gate. Walk beside a chicken run to a ruined wall. Go through the wall then turn right onto a path, following it downhill below a parallel mountain bike path to Comrie Croft.

Join a track (watching out for mountain bikes) and walk down it for a short distance and then turn left across a grassy camping area to the Tea Garden Cafe. Public toilets are available here by the reception and shop. Go down the path to the right of Comrie Croft’s hen enclosure then cross the car park and go through a wooden arch and follow the path around the left edge of the mountain bike skills area, passing behind a bird watching hide. Turn left down a strip of newly planted trees and continue to the bottom right corner. Go through a gap in a wall to the A85 road. Cross with care and go through a gate opposite.

4th Leg

Start at: NN801228 cross road

Turn right and walk just over 100m along the verge until you reach a distinct track heading down an avenue of trees away from the road and across the valley. Wooden-fenced fields with horses will be on your left. Keep straight on when the paddocks end and walk ahead to the wooded railway embankment. This last section has long vegetation in summer and there are nettles on the railway embankment, so full leg cover is recommended.

Step over a fence and clamber up an animal trod onto the disused railway line. Turn left and walk along a faint path between the trees growing on the line. Cross a fence and soon leave the trees to join a good track. The embankment curves through open fields with a view ahead to Baird’s Monument. Where it meets a road, turn right along the tarmac. By a cottage, pass a footpath sign (to Baird’s Monument) and keep along the road to the next sign.

Turn left at the footpath sign for Crieff and follow a track past Trowan Farm. The track narrows beside a wall and runs across fields with open views then goes downhill between hedgerows. Go through a small gate and continue beside woodland. After the path enters the wood, turn right by a footpath sign for Lady Mary’s Walk.

The attractive path runs along the bank of the River Earn, which is lined by many mature oak, pine, beech and sweet chestnut trees. Eventually the path runs through a beech avenue to a footpath sign.

Keep right, as signed for Turret Bridge, soon crossing a little beach. Continue along a much rougher path that has been eroded by the river. Where the Earn swings away to the right, the path climbs the bank then descends to the Turret Burn. Follow it upriver, passing the supports of an old railway viaduct.

Come to a road and turn right over Turret Bridge and past Macrosty Park. Stay on the road uphill to a hilly crossroads. Go straight across to another junction and turn right along the A85, which soon bends right. When safe, cross to the opposite pavement then turn left at a crossroads. Walk up West High Street to James Square in the centre of Crieff.

Profile

24.6 km, n/a

The map below is intended for guidance only. You will need a compass and OS Explorer 368 or OS Landrangers 51 & 52. 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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