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Cateran trail

Cateran trail


Postby bootsandpaddles » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:53 am

Route description: Cateran Trail

Date walked: 06/04/2012

Time taken: 3 days

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THE CATERAN TRAIL

Day 1 Good Friday Bridge of Cally to Spittal of Glen Shee

Yes, I know! The Cateran Trail starts in Blairgowrie but Katie had the brilliant idea of starting in Bridge of Cally to avoid having to walk in and out of Blairgowrie at the start and finish. We parked in a lay-by on the north side of Bridge of Cally. This may not have been the best idea – of which more later. We picked up the Trail just past the hotel.
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start at Bridge of Cally
The first section is on forest tracks but the views are fairly open to the west, across farm land to the hills in the distance with a smattering of snow on them.
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After a while the dense forestry gives way to scattered woodlands and there were plenty of opportunities to get all soppy over the newborn lambs.
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Towards Kirkmichael the going gets a bit boggy. Kirkmichael is a very small, sleepy little place and not to be relied on for supplies. We pressed on to Enochdhu (an even smaller place), through more forestry and then out onto open moorlands on our way to Spittal of Glenshee. We stopped at the Upper Lunch Hut (although it was well past lunchtime) and then went over An Lairig, the highest part of the route at just over 700m. There was a fair amount of snow on the track in places. The climb is very gradual, followed by a steeper descent towards Glen Shee. We found a good place to camp close to the burn
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and soon had the soup on, followed by curry and rice, chocolate cake and a mug of hot chocolate. It started to rain.

Day 2 Easter Saturday Spittal of Glen Shee to a camp site about 4k to the south of Kirkton of Glen Isla (NO232576)

It was still raining in the morning and the cloud was well down. No sign of the Spittal of Glen Shee or anything else for that matter. We were quite late getting away (about 9am!) – perhaps we were reluctant to emerge from our sleeping bags into the clouds. It was very cold taking the tent down but we warmed our hands in hot water in the Ladies at the hotel which very kindly allows itinerant campers to use the toilets. There was a blazing log fire in the bar and we were tempted to linger. Progress was rather slow over the next section which was quite rough underfoot. As always when you are burdened with camping gear and you feel you aren’t getting anywhere we were overtaken by people in shorts running past – rather demoralising. Passing Glenshee Lodge Outdoor Centre we were able to pick up the pace a bit but had still only reached Dalnaglar Castle by lunchtime – well, first lunch anyway. After that you have to walk along the road for about 4k to Forter where there is a splendid castle.
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Mount Blair was up on the right in a cloud – it didn’t look very inviting. After Forter a track goes uphill around Auchintaple Loch
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before heading over to Loch Shanora. The Cateran Trail is generally well waymarked but in a bog to the north of the aforementioned loch the waymarking disappears. Why is it that when you really need a bit of direction there isn’t any but when you are walking along a road where there is no choice at all the way is well signposted? At this point we had a few words and then stomped along in silence for a while before stopping by the loch for some chocolate which in my experience always does the trick in a crisis. No further problems were encountered as we dropped down to Kirkton of Glenisla, another pleasant village. To pick up the trail again you have to walk west out of the village past the hotel and a children’s playground (public toilets here). Ignore the information board in the car park which indicates that you have gone wrong and should have crossed the river just past the hotel. Carry on a bit further where you will see a Cateran Trail signpost indicating the way over a bridge. And then, rather unfortunately for this stage in the day, the path goes quite steeply uphill. Once at the top however the track levels out and there are good views over the river. Passing a few farms we came to a camping spot that we had identified from the map. Soup, followed by chilli con carne and fruit cake and custard.

Day 3 Easter Sunday Back to Bridge of Cally

The forecast for Easter Sunday was for rain so we were determined to finish the Trail and get home if we had a wet tent and lots of wet waterproofs. In the event it was the warmest, sunniest day of the weekend! But we made an earlier start and were in Alyth in time for a coffee. One of the websites we looked at said that people doing the Cateran Trail spend on average about £40 a day. The £3.80 that we spent on coffee was our total for the whole 3 days so I don’t feel we made much of a contribution to the economy of the area. To be fair, unless you are staying in hotels or B and Bs there isn’t a lot to spend money on really. We had a quick snack (and a Cadbury’s Crème Egg in honour of the day!) and made a friend.
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Going over the Hill of Alyth was very pleasant. The sun was shining, there was a wonderful smell of gorse in the air, the skylarks were singing.
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At the other side of the hill the Trail departs from that depicted on the OS map and goes off through Bamff: in fact we were almost back to where we had been much earlier in the day (at Ardormie). There were then a few more kms along a minor road past a fishing pond. It was at this point that we spotted someone else wearing a rucksack a bit further down the road. This was the first walker we had seen since we had set out from Bridge of Cally! As the road does a sharp left we carried straight on between trees for about 3km to emerge at Cloquat. The road then winds down through Netherton (red squirrel spotted outside the church) and back to the car.

On arriving home there was a message on the answer phone from Tayside police. Someone had reported that the car had been parked at Bridge of Cally for two days and would I phone to confirm that it wasn’t stolen/we were OK. I expect there is always a risk of this happening if you leave a car for a few days to go off walking.

Forgot to mention that there are loads of huge ladder stiles on this trail - a bit of a trial when you have a heavy rucksack.
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Yet another stile
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby Gable Gable End » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:32 am

Nice report!

How tough was this over 3 days? Thinking this could be a good long weekender for later this year!
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby bootsandpaddles » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:39 am

I thought it was quite hard going carrying camping gear but it was my first backpacking trip of the year so perhaps I was not as fit as I thought. Mostly it is on good tracks and is never very steep but 7 hours a day with a heavy load is never going to be that easy. And those ladder stiles!!! If you stay in B and Bs or hotels, of course, and do it over 4 days it would be a breeze. It would be difficult to do a non-wild camping trip over 3 days because of where the available accommodation is ie Kirkmichael, Spittal of Glen Shee, Kirkton of Glenisla and Alyth.
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby trekker53 » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:27 am

I have good memories :D of doing that trail a few years ago with brother and friend. We camped where we could but used Spittal of Glenshee bunkhouse. Noticed the staff were all foreign and wearing kilts. Good for the foreigners though. We had quite a few beers that night. Well backpacking is thirsty work.
Further on we camped opposite a small hotel on it's own ( can't remember name just now) in a field. It was a wet night so all time was spent in the bar. Between meals and beers the hotel made some good profit that night.
Like yourselves my brothers car was noticed by the police and message left with his partner at home. She got a bit of a fright at first but luckily calmed down when it was not bad news. I must tell him the police are still as vigilant as ever.
It's a pleasant walk and maybe a useful warm up if you're planning a more long distance walk like West Highland Way.
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby lacacz » Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:47 am

Thanks for the beatifull report. I'm going to Cateran trail this July. I would prefer a longer trip, but the shift from the Czech Republic takes a lot of time. However, I would like to make a day trip from Spittal of Glenshee, to the Glas Tulaichean & Carn an Righ. Last year I went through WHW and I hope that will be so beautiful :-) (Excuse my bad English, please)
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby Merry-walker » Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:22 pm

Excellent reporting. Always fancied this walk and it's right on my doorstep :D
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby Circles » Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:25 pm

wondering if its worth reversing this route to get the stiles out of the way on the first day...thoughts?
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby Gordie12 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:35 pm

Circles wrote:wondering if its worth reversing this route to get the stiles out of the way on the first day...thoughts?


It's a couple of years since I did the Cateran but I only remember a few stiles although the one at Little Forter is international class and you need to come down backwards.

Personally, I would just decide which way round you want to go and then just go for it (either the windfarm will be on your left for 65 miles or on your right depending whether you choose clockwise or anti-clockwise). Sounds like I didn't enjoy this walk but I did!! Like bootsandpaddles i met a couple of dog walkers and that was about it - really quiet.
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby The Rodmiester » Fri Feb 15, 2013 6:37 pm

Hi Gordie, hoping to do this later this year, how did you do it? wild camping? and I assume you started at Blairgowrie and went clockwise. Any advice on campsites if you wildcamped?
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby Gordie12 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:26 pm

The Rodmiester wrote:Hi Gordie, hoping to do this later this year, how did you do it? wild camping? and I assume you started at Blairgowrie and went clockwise. Any advice on campsites if you wildcamped?


This was my 1st attempt to do a long distance walk (albeit a short one if that makes sense). I did the walk clockwise (so the windfarm was always on my right!).

Day 1 Blair - Kirkmichael
Day 2 Kirkmichael - Spittal of Glenshee
Day 3 SofG - Kirkton of Glenisla
Day 4 KofG - Alyth
Day 5 Alyth - Blairgowrie

bootsandpaddles said she didn't give much money to the local community (£3.80), I can beat that as I spent nothing. With living so local Andrea dropped me off and picked me up each day.

As for wildcamping, the trail is in farmland a lot of the time so not sure how that would go down. Between Enochdu and a few miles south of Kirkton of Glenisla I would think you could find somewhere to pitch up but not so sure about Blair - Kirkmichael or Alyth - Blair.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby The Rodmiester » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:24 pm

Gordie12 wrote:
The Rodmiester wrote:Hi Gordie, hoping to do this later this year, how did you do it? wild camping? and I assume you started at Blairgowrie and went clockwise. Any advice on campsites if you wildcamped?


This was my 1st attempt to do a long distance walk (albeit a short one if that makes sense). I did the walk clockwise (so the windfarm was always on my right!).

Day 1 Blair - Kirkmichael
Day 2 Kirkmichael - Spittal of Glenshee
Day 3 SofG - Kirkton of Glenisla
Day 4 KofG - Alyth
Day 5 Alyth - Blairgowrie

bootsandpaddles said she didn't give much money to the local community (£3.80), I can beat that as I spent nothing. With living so local Andrea dropped me off and picked me up each day.

As for wildcamping, the trail is in farmland a lot of the time so not sure how that would go down. Between Enochdu and a few miles south of Kirkton of Glenisla I would think you could find somewhere to pitch up but not so sure about Blair - Kirkmichael or Alyth - Blair.

Hope this helps.


Thanks for that Gordie, I better do some more homework before heading off!
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Re: Cateran trail

Postby gazzmatron » Thu Jul 07, 2016 3:15 pm

bootsandpaddles wrote:It would be difficult to do a non-wild camping trip over 3 days because of where the available accommodation is ie Kirkmichael, Spittal of Glen Shee, Kirkton of Glenisla and Alyth.


What are the trees like for hammocking? I was thinking about heading out there this weekend.

Cheers, G
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