A challenging six day tramp for the tenacious wanderer, the Breadalbane Clan Ring walk won’t so much blow away the cobwebs, as completely refresh mind and spirit. This wild land boasts a rich and violent history to explore on the way, rewarding visitors with more natural beauty than you can stuff in a 32 megabyte memory card.
Although it’s conveniently sectioned into day-sized chunks, it does require some basic navigation skills, and a good bit of stamina to conquer. And, if the going gets too tough, there’s always the option of hopping on or off the Explorer bus or sneaking a cuppa in one of the local delis if your bunions begin to gripe.
What you need: Lots of drinking water, packed lunch, waterproofs (this is Scotland, not the Florida keys), a sturdy pair of well-broken walking boots, spare socks, sun cream, first aid kit, the relevant OS Landranger or Explorer map and a compass. Once high summer is over, you should also carry spare warm clothes and a torch.
What you might want: Walking poles to help with ascents and descents, power bars to snack on, a good-quality camera, blister relief cream, paracetamol and insect repellent.
Crosses large sections of the Drummond Estate from Crieff to Comrie, covering a distance of around 10 miles, and demanding nothing too physical beyond being able to cope with some short climbs. You can expect wooded pathways, a riverside trail and highlights which include a Roman Stone and the Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre. If you start early, you could arrive in Comrie in time for a late lunch and a pleasant afternoon’s exploration of the village.
Is more challenging, but with superb views as you gradually ascend to remote Loch Boltachan. Have a Kodak moment at the Deil’s Cauldron, a tumbling white waterfall steeped in legend, and the manmade Neish Island, a crannog that happens to be the site of a bloody clan massacre. All going well, you’ll end up in pretty St Fillans for the night.
It’s time to increase the distance to 12 miles for this leg. Have a Stand by Me moment walking along the disused railways tracks on the road to Balquhidder, and admire the beautiful banks of Loch Earn as you navigate this flat and fairly straightforward trail.
Rob Roy’s grave, just outside Balquhidder is the starting point, so at the very least do a bit of prep the night before by putting your feet up and watching the Liam Neeson flick. There won’t be any refreshments until you reach Killin, so you’ll need to carry plenty of food in case you get hungry. Handy hint: you will get hungry.
More history beckons on the high grounds between Loch Tay and Loch Earn, as well as a good deal of uninhabited moorland. More climbing and few diversions from the trail will make this one a good seven to eight hour hike to St Fillans. Before leaving Killin, make time to cross the ancient bridge to the Clan McNab Burial ground. It’s on a river island surrounded by rushing white waters, and rather beautiful.
Finishing off in the Clan Ring in style, this is the longest walk by far on the trip. Following a different route back through Strathearn, 15 miles of scenic but relatively gentle terrain will return you safely to Crieff. The good news is, there’s plenty to draw the eye, from pretty parkland of Aberuchill Castle to the Earthquake house outside Comrie. After dipping your toes in Balmenoch waterfall, recharge your batteries at Comrie Croft, where you will find a sympathetic ear to listen to your walking woes and throbbing toes amid the delightful surroundings of their Tea Garden.