I chose Perthshire for my June trip along part of the Cateran Trail. For those who are interested, the complete trail is a 65 mile / 104km circular route which includes Strathardle as well as parts of Glen Shee and Glen Isla. It is named after the bands of cattle thieves known as Caterans who previously brought terror to these glens.
The section I completed between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael (above), contains all the different types of terrain which this area is known for; various types of woodland, untamed heather moorlands, rolling farmland pastures, and many burns feeding into the Ericht and Ardle rivers.
I set off from Blairgowrie along the Ericht River in the sunshine.
After a couple of miles, the route turns westwards to climb into the hills above Lornty Burn for three or four miles, before turning northwards at West Gormack towards Bridge of Cally.
At Bridge of Cally, I turned westwards into Blackcraig Forest along good broad tracks which follow the River Ardle.
After about four miles with some pleasant views across Strathardle to the north, the track re-emerges into open pastures at Easter Dalnabreck, where I perched on a rock for a snack and a drink.
Once I had finished, I continued towards Dalnabreck where the track became a bit more tricky underfoot. I had been warned that there had been a recent charity event on the trail, but not that it had left it very churned up and muddy in places.
I perservered slowly, trying to keep my attention on the views to distract attention from the mud beneath my feet. To compound the wetness emanating from the ground, it began to rain quite heavily at the picturesque bridge over Pitcarmick Burn (below)
At Pitcarmick I happened on a fairly flat grassy plateau so I decided to pitch early to get out of the rain. Once I was under cover, I made some hot food and a drink while peering out into the dreich landscape.
I believe this land may be part of a shooting and fishing estate, although there were no signs, so apologies if I shouldn’t have been there. It was an unplanned camp and there was a complete lack of alternative places. As usual, I left no trace.
My trail shoes and socks were soaked by this point, so it was a relief to take them off and hang a few things up to dry on my improvised clothes line. I was glad to have found a decent pitch when and where I did.
The following morning I packed up and continued to hike down the verdant country lanes into Kirkmichael. Even if some people don’t thrive so well in the regular Scottish rains, the wild plants do really well and looked magnificently abundant. At the village shop I lingered over a hot breakfast and tea before heading for a dry room overlooking the Ardle. I would like to return to this trail when it has had the chance to recover, so I can focus on the fine scenery rather than being constantly watchful of where I am putting my feet.
Since this trip in June it has been confirmed that I have Lyme Disease, so I suspect this affected my stamina and outlook on this trip. Hopefully my strength and good cheer will return soon.
Best bits of kit; Jetboil Stove, Black Diamond Distance poles, PHD Minim bag.
Not needed; Sun cream, Head net, Treadlite Cuben LED light.