Cateran Trail, 4 nights solo wild camping.

Date walked: 21/08/2016

Time taken: 4 days

Distance: 104km

This summer I completed the Cateran Trail, solo and wild camping each night. Weather was generally great with a few short showers now and again.

Part 1: Blairgowrie to almost Bridge of Cally

After driving up from England, I found a suitable parking space on Riverside Park and set off on the trail about 3pm on a Sunday afternoon. While I would have had a good 5 hours daylight at least I didn't want to go too far on the first leg. I'm never really sure I have everything until I've camped that first night.
Me on day 1

The path to Bridge of Cally.

Camp 1 (56.630657, -3.393018) This was perhaps the worst camp site I picked on the trip. Right beside the trail, on lumpy, heathery glassland. I thoroughly recommend thermorest's neo-air xlite, as this lightweight inflatable mat made this surface perfectly comfortable.

In the morning I was assaulted by a cloud of midges that seemed immune to midge repellent. Ugh.

Part 2: Part Bridge of Cally to (almost) Spittal of Glenshee

I escaped the midges and got on the trail about 8am. Went straight past the turn to Bridge of Cally and walked through till lunchtime at Kirkmichael. There is a great general store here, whose sign promises Refreshments, Groceries, Internet, Petrol/Diesel, and Gifts. I filled up on water and had lunch on the picnic tables outside.

Later the trail rises to it's highest point at An Lairig but before then I'd aimed to camp by the Lunch Hut on the way up. I somehow managed to trudge right past it, perhaps a little distracted by the audiobook in my ear. Rather than go back downhill I continued over the top of An Lairig to..

Camp 2 (56.803850, -3.475831) This was a great spot on the descent into Glenshee. Pretty much the first flat spot on the decent. A stream flowed past nearby, and there were handy rocks for sitting on.

Dried veg and noodles for dinner

Food was cooked and eaten. It was roughly at this point where I started reading Jacquetta Megarry's excellent book, "Cateran Trail: A Circular Walk in the Heart of Scotland". I wasn't going to miss anything else on the way.

Part 3: Spittal of Glenshee to Kirkton of Glenisla

This was a really hot day. It took quite a bit of effort to push myself all the way to Kirkton of Glenisla. It was well worth it though, as the Glenisla Hotel has food and beer and everything else you could want. I was tempted to ask if they had any vacancies but pushed on before dark to..

Camp 3: (56.726365, -3.289125). Just outside Glenisla and before the trail heads steeply uphill. Nice flat grass, no midges in the morning.

Part 4: Kirkton of Glenisla through Alyth and beyond.

The top of that hill had horses. Despite not wearing headphones they managed to sneak up on me. They were nicely turned out in stylish retro flares.

This was another very hot day. It was made much easier by a lovely afternoon break in Alyth. Alyth is a decent sized town and I made use of a general store, a pub, and the chippy. I was completely refreshed before moving on.

A pit-stop in Alyth

The next section goes through the Bamff estate. I caught a glimpse of a beaver in one of their ponds, but didn't see any of the estate's wild boar. A few miles on the roads follow but eventually the fences disappear, and I found somewhere to camp at around mile 55.

Camp 4 (56.650842, -3.336031) This was about 20 metres from the road in a nice flat grassy spot that the sheep at the other end of the field had already trimmed. The sheep stayed well away, and the road was quiet till morning. Again no midges.

Part 5: The end

I started the day only a few miles from Bridge of Cally, so got there early. There was a general store/post office and a hotel there, but I didn't need anything so went straight through. Soon I was retracing Sunday's steps past Cargill's Leap in Blairgowrie and I arrived back at my car at about 1pm. Completing the whole journey in about 94 hours.

The trail was well marked all the way, with only a few chances to get yourself temporarily lost.

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Comments: 4

Alan J

Activity: Backpacker

Munros: 1
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Cateran Trail    Cape Wrath Trail    Arran Coastal Way   

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Trips: 1
Distance: 104 km

Joined: Aug 29, 2016
Last visited: Jul 08, 2019
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