Friday, 3 October 2014


Those of you who follow my blog regularly will know just how much I love Autumn.I always make an effort to escape the city and head into the Highlands of Scotland to be amongst the colours.

It's been a busy time for me over the past couple of months, without a single day off, so though I only managed two days away it was a break I had long looked forward to.

Just under two hours north of Edinburgh, Pauline and I unloaded our bicycles, attached our kit and cycled west on a bright and crisp Autumn morning. Just minutes out of Pitlochry we were on the small back road to Foss, heading out to Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch.

The Autumn palette was not at its fullest yet, but there was a bonus to this as there was a greater variety of colours, with lime greens, yellows, orange and red. Many trees still had their full dark green foliage as well, so the contrasts were fabulous.

Along tunnels of tree lined roads we followed the edge of the 11km long Loch Tummel. it is only 1km wide, and on the opposite bank we could see little Highland country castles nestled among the colour forests and red squirrels darted across the road from side to side.

Normally we only see one or two of these most cute Highland creatures, but this area is somewhat of a stronghold for them and throughout the two days several would cross our path, hunting for acorns to top up their winter stores. In the hedgerows blackberries were still fruiting and like the squirrel with his acorns I stuffed my pouches with ripe berries.

It wasn't long before we reached the next body of water in this chain, Loch Rannoch, somewhat bigger at 14km long, and the small village at it's eastern edge, Kinloch Rannoch. There was no resisting the inviting small coffee shop for late morning coffee and cake, followed by our packed lunch in the village square.

The road around Loch Rannoch goes nowhere except to the remote railway station at it's westerly edge, a stepping off place for those walking the Road to the Isles. We followed the northern shore of the loch on the way out, past small white sandy beaches, arriving at it's western point by early afternoon. Out in the middle of the loch at this point was a small Crannog, a tiny island with a medieval folly built in the middle.

Turning east along the southern shore we started our search for an overnight wild camp. On our right was dense forest broken at times with open fields of wildstock. To our left was the loch and nowhere could we find a place to pitch for the night at first. About halfway along the loch we came across a wider spit of land pushing out into the loch and found room for our two tents on the edge of the forest near the waters edge. With a resident Robin clicking away nearby we settled in for the night.

Early morning the rain was falling, a sound I really enjoy as it strikes the outside of the tent with me tucked up in my sleeping bag. It was a lazy start and by the time we set out for the day the skies were brightening up.

We could have merely retraced out route back to Pitlochry, but with time on our side we took a small detour on a hill road that took us past the base of the nearby pointed top mountain of Schiehallion. It is a recognisable peak for far and wide and stands isolated amongst the surrounding lower hills. It's isolation led to it being part of a ground breaking experiment in 1774 when Charles Mason used it to calculate the mean density of the earth. He was assisted by mathematician Charles Hutton who would go on to devise a graphical system to present the heights of large volumes of landmass called contours, a system every hillwalker in the world would be lost without.

A speedy downhill brought us back to Pitlochry on a warm and sunny afternoon in time for coffee and cake at Hetties Place. However, not before one last small detour to a nearby Pictish stone called the Dunfallandy Stone.
I had been to Pitlochry many times in the past but had never known the stone was here. Dating from the 9th century it is decorated in intricate carvings from the period. Speculation over its origins and the meaning of its carvings have had many interpretations over the centuries. Now protected by a stone and glass surround to protect it for future generations. The glass made it impossible to photograph its carvings to show you here, so you'll just have to make the visit to see it yourself.

In my opinion well worth the short amble, especially on a warm sunny Autumn day.

More photos on Flickr.

No comments: