The Cateran Trail is a superb circular long distance route that straddles the border between Perthshire and Angus. The Trail explores this neglected corner, taking in secluded Strathardle together with parts of Glen Shee and Glen Isla. Taking its name from the maurading bands of cattle thieves known as Caterans which brought terror and bloodshed to these glens in times past, the landscapes are now a peaceful idyll.
64 mile circular solo hike starting and finishing at Blairgowrie in Perth and Kinross, passing through Bridge of Cally, Kirkmichael, the Spittal of Glenshee, Kirkton of Glenisla and Alyth.
3 days walking, 3 nights wild camping, 22 hours of sunshine and about 6lb's of weight loss.
I completed this long distance route in 4 days between Thursday 11th June and Sunday 14th June 2015. Just by coincidence I chose the same weekend as the annual "Cateran Yomp", a 24 hour walking marathon around the cateran Trail but didn't see any of the walkers/runners due to being well ahead of them all.
The route is fully waymarked and easy to follow, although the map and compass did come in handy on a few occasions. The terrain is mostly easy going on the feet, following countryside paths and tracks through cattle fields, forests and open moorland. There is also a fair bit of minor road walking, stiles to hop over and some boggy areas to consider.
Day 1 (21 miles approx)
I travelled to Dundee bus station from Aberdeen where I then hopped on a second bus to Blairgowrie, the official start of the walk. My plan was to cover approximately 20 miles per day and wild camp throughout.
I arrived in Blairgowrie at about 10am and once finding my bearings I immediately began walking alongside the river Ericht, before ascending quite steeply through woodland, away from Blairgowrie and heading towards Bridge of Cally (6 miles). It was a scorcher of a day, the temperature reaching 22 degrees celecius, clear blue skies and the good weather was to stick around for at least another day.
Heading off, for a short distance along the river Ericht
Crossing the moorland to Bridge of Cally
Upon reaching a junction in the forest about lunchtime (12:30ish), I detoured about half a mile into Bridge of Cally for some Juice and Ice Cream from the village store before continuing the next stage towards Kirkmichael (9 miles).
Bridge of Cally Hotel
Passing through Kirkmichael in the blazing heat around 5:00pm I once again made a quick stop at the village store for some refreshments (A cola Mr. Freeze, some ice cold Irn Bru and some out of date water) before the final 6 miles to the lunch hut where I was intending to spend the night.
Surrounding views along the way
Arriving in Kirkmichael
Kirkmichael store and cafe
Creeping through the woods towards destination: lunch hut
Sheep - about the only company I had for most of the trail, the most fun I had was creeping up to them and scaring them, shouting out "LAMB CHOPS" as they ran away! lol
The Peacock was friendly too
Early evening stroll over the moorland... and lots more timid sheep, just because I stay in Aberdeen doesn't mean anything OK!!
21 miles later I finally reached my accommodation... wait, was that a mouse in the house or a moose, loose in the hoose!
I soon arrived at my destination about 8pm, plenty of time to pitch up, cook some food, make a hot drink and relax before sunset. I had considered sleeping inside the lunch hut but there were mice running about inside plus spiders and god knows what else so I just pitched the tent. I had the place to myself for the evening (excluding the sheep that were dotted about), felt like I was the only human on Earth. I made a small fire with dry heather that was lying about to keep me entertained before bedtime.
Inside the caterans hideout, warm and accommodating with a window out for air conditioning
Hot on the trail with Heather!
Day 2 (18 miles approx)
Woke up to another gorgeous day and it was set to last until the evening.
I had breakfast in the lunch hut before packing everything away and sweating my way up over the hill towards The Spittal of Glenshee (about 3 miles).
Approaching the spittal of Glenshee
The Spittal of Glenshee Hotel - gutted by fire in January.
No Thanks, keep it!
From Glenshee, I then continued for another 15 miles to arrive at Kirkton of Glenisla at about 8pm. The nice weather had now taken a turn (white cloud and a temperature drop) as I pitched the tent up behind the graveyard and popped into the hotel for a well earned (and very expensive) snack.
(£5.00 for a bowl of burnt chips and a can of Coke!) I made it quite clear on my way out that I wasn't too impressed.
I retired to the Banshee for the evening, it was a very peaceful night except for the occasional grunt coming from the direction of the graveyard. Thankfully that noise was actually coming from the Horse across the road.
Crossing fields, heading for Kirkton of Glenisla
Rats hung out to dry - normal in these parts I guess...
Approaching Kirkton of Glenisla
The Community Hall with a marquee and portaloos set up for the annual Cateran Yomp marathon which was held on the Saturday and Sunday.
Finally settled for the night, behind the Graveyard! Dead peacful it was.
Day 3 (20 miles approx)
I made my way out of Kirkton of Glenisla, heading for the small town of Alyth (10 miles).
It was dull and miserable for most of the day with occasional light showers.
Rickety old bridge upon leaving Glenisla
More country views, great walk if you like country views.
and more sheep.... fed up of them, running away from me like I have a disease everytime they see me approaching, wimps!! seriously!
First views of Alyth
Alyth town centre
Upon arriving in Alyth I made my way to the store where I went a bit crazy spending £8.00 on supplies. Seriously, everything just tastes so good when you're living in the wild. Then I continued across country in a clockwise direction, returning to Bridge of Cally (10 miles) where I spent my third night wild camping in the Blackcraig Woods (about 1 mile from Bridge of Cally, in the direction of Kirkmichael). I was planning to have a campfire and a wee tipple on my final night. Unfortunately that didn't quite go to plan because of the rain plus the midges made sitting out of the tent pretty much unbearable.
Just for info - For anyone planning to walk the Cateran trail, there is actually a campsite half a mile outside of Bridge of Cally, the only campsite on the whole route of the Cateran Trail it would seem.
Heading back to Bridge of Cally
Found an old ruin hidden in the undergrowth
Back at Bridge of Cally
Pitched up at Blackcraig forest as the rain made its long anticipated return.
A not so fine supper - Snax on the go, 40% beef - the only place it should "go" is in the bin!
My efforts at a fire under the trees, it was going well but I put it out because I got worried about it spreading to the pine trees, did not want to risk causing a forest fire. So I became tent bound for the remainder of the evening, sheltering from the rain and the midges.
Day 4 (6 miles)
My final day dawned. I packed away my sodden, now midgy infested tent (adding an extra kilo to my luggage) and retraced my footsteps back to Blairgowrie. I got to Blairgowrie for 10:45 and made the 11am bus to Dundee where I caught another bus back to the granite city. I was happy to be home... until next time.
This is what keeps me going
Approaching Blairgowrie and looking forward to easy living... maybe