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A great 3 days out on the Cateran’s Trail

A great 3 days out on the Cateran’s Trail

Postby mrmanben » Thu Aug 04, 2016 2:11 pm

Route description: Cateran Trail

Date walked: 29/07/2016

Time taken: 72 days

Distance: 78 km

Ascent: 2024m

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Headed out last Friday (29th July 2016) for 3 days of a shortened version of the Cateran’s Trail. We aimed for 90% self supported (collecting water, forage, irn bru and cold beer where we could find it) Here is an account of our experience. I hope you find it useful to shape your own Cateran’s walk in the same way that walk reports from Andrew7642 and bootsandpaddles helped shape our (cheers folks!!)

Day 1 – 25km – Bridge of Caly to the Creg an Dubh col.

We only had 3 days planned so decided to cut out the Blairgowrie to Bridge of Caly leg and pinch off the trail over the top of Alyth. So Day one drove up from Edinburgh to Bridge of Caly. Parked at the Bridge of Caly Hotel car park, letting them know what we were doing and when we would be back (safety first.) Very pleasant first leg through Blackcraig forest on fire trail, single track and minor roads.
Starting out at the Bridge of Caly

Both being cyclists, it took a while to mentally get round how slow you travel on foot but once we got our faces out the map and the Garmin managed to distract ourselves with banter, nice views and the bounty of forage including cherries, blaeberries and raspberries to be had along the trail in late July.
Forage !!

Kirkmichael came as a welcome break to get the packs off and enjoy our lunch with cold cans of juice from the shop. Next leg took us through Kindrogan Wood (anybody with a background in Environmental Science or Biology may have visited the field centre at some point in their lives) which was a bit more windy and interesting, crossing the road through Enochdhu up through Calamanch Wood on more fire trail away from the civilisation. Stopped to watch a herd of deer for a bit and pressed on up the trail that wound through the valley. Lovely views back where we had been too. Came across the Upper Lunch Hut at NO 082673 which is pretty basic and birds have been roosting in it but it would make a very welcome bad weather break or emergency overnight spot with some phone reception should the **** really hit the fan.
Looking back. Upper lunch hut just in view - day 2

Had just enough beans to press on up the steep hill to a high spot to try and catch any anti-midge breeze. Walked down to a stream on the Spittal of Glenshee side of the hill to gather some water to heat up yummy vaguely thai noodles (thanks WH’s David Lintern!!) wash and an early bed time.
Thai noodles with free midge topper

Camp spot day 1

Day 2 - Creg an Dubh col to GlenIsla – 27km
Woke up, packed up and headed down an easy trail to breakfast by the stream. Crossed into the Stittal of Glenshee, saw the remains of the hotel, devised a plan to buy it and refurbish it into a café/bar serving fresh coffee, cakes and local ales where you could camp in the back garden. Figured this would never work, pressed on!! The next stage took us through rough farmland on quite a diverted route that was sometimes difficult to follow maybe to avoid going through fields. Stopped at the Christian Outdoor Centre and turned on the charm to ask to use their facilities (less impact to use someone else’s septic tank than leave anything buried on a hill.)
Taking a load off just past the outdoor centre - day 2

Kept on to the very impressive looking Dalnaglar Castle (Visitors NOT welcome – says the sign!!) Felt sorry for the lairds relatives and continued through a wooded sections to meet up the B951. Next section was a bit of a slog. We hate walking on tarmac but the the views open up past Balloch and there is a lovely piece of folklore you learn about on the end of the road in Meikle Forter about giants chucking boulders down at the locals from the top of Mount Blair. Figured this would give you something to contemplate along the road or run in terror along it. Either way would make the time pass a little quicker. Had hot lunch and a cold skinny dip in the Balloch burn under the bridge out of view by everyone.
Lunch and a bath - day 2

Walked passed the nice looking Castle we had seen under the bridge to see a wedding party being set up (lovely place for it.) The path then winds up round Auchintaple Loch, when the wedding pipes started with a view to Mount Blair (a good reference point from here on into to try and spot to give you an idea how far you have walked) through the woods and onto a very rough but easy to follow section of paths onto Loch Shandra. Not long now to the Glen Isla Hotel passed the noisiest ducks you will ever hear. Last 500m along the road were a killer. That and first cold pint of Sunburst scuppered any ideas of pressing on. Camped by the river. Ate. Went back to the pub.
Cold beer at the Glenisla - we are not moving!!

Day 3 – Glenisla to Bridge of Caly – 27km
Woke up, packed up. The first section over the bridge and up the hill first thing in the morning was a bit daunting but was not problem, came back off the hill a bit further on than we should after missing a sign and generally not paying attention but picked up the tail without any problem. The next section over solid ground is a bit featureless but a real mile cruncher that you will get through in no time at all. Crossed over the road and had a quick breather before heading over fields onto a really nice interesting high level path bordered by beach and birch trees. After crossing the small cow-y river in the valley of Balduff Hill the path climbs up the hill in a stunning meadow dotted with massive oak trees. A great place for a lunch stop if you had enough water at that part of the day. We stopped for the view and then pressed on.
Great Lunch spot on Day 3

At Ardormie where the Caterans trail switches back on itself to Alyth we carried on West then South past Little Bamff to pick up a grassy path that would join back on the Caterans trail just after Newton of Bamff. This was really easy to do. Had lunch in the woods just by the river.
After lunch carried on passed the impressive looking home farm where there seems to be a whole host of Tipis and Eco-huts being developed. Well worth looking into as a start / end point to the Caterans trail in the future. Out of the estate, you cross the road and start another section of sloggy road up a shallow hill where you can peak at Mount Blair way in the distance for encouragement. The weather at this point was great though and the blue skies, distant forests, friendly cows and ripe raspberries were welcome relief from any pain in the feet legs and shoulders.
Trust issues with a raspberry

Before the road turns south towards Burnside of Drimmie the path carries on along a piece of singletrack between two fields which slowly turns massively overgrown. Eventually opted to walk along the edge of field to the south even if it meant jumping over the fence at the end.
Where has the trail gone?!

The path eventually joins back up with the road at Cloquhat just before Bridge of Caly and the home stretch. Be careful crossing over the narrow bridge. High Fives. Hugs. A change of shoes and then home. A great 3 days !!
What we looked like at the beginning

Camping – Loads of places higher up or in the woods.
Water – Loads of good rivers to get water. Treat it, Boil it or take it fresh. What ever is your preference.
Food – Bring everything you need and add to it along the way. There is not a whole lot to buy along the way.
Clothes – Long legs. I wouldn’t stick with shorts as there is lots of long grass and perfect tick, cleg (horse fly) conditions. Walking boots – yes (too rocky to get away with approach shoes IMHO) Gaters – maybe (we went without and were lucky with the weather but any other time of year definitely gaters)
Other Hazards - Cows – you cross lots of fields of cows and some bulls too (being the Caterans Trail and all!!) Not always possible to go around. We had no problems, we stuck together and were clam and quiet but be careful especially if you are with young children.
Cows - thankfully on the other side of the fence!!
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 6, 2012
Location: Edinburgh

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