A series of long-distance walking and cycling routes has been created in the Perthshire area of Breadalbane.
At the heart of Scotland, in Perthshire, is an area known as Breadalbane. It’s been branded by tourism groups as the â€œHigh Ground of Scotlandâ€, a translation from the Gaelic name for the area â€œBraghad Albainâ€, and it is hoped the new initiative will attract more walkers and cyclists.
Part of the project is a series of walking and cycling routes called the Rings of Breadalbane, which takes its inspiration from the many Neolithic stone rings found across the area.
Created by local walker Felicity Martin and cyclist Andrew Donaldson, the multi-day walking and cycling rings offer a chance for visitors to explore the area, taking inÂ many places of scenic, natural and historical significance.
In addition, an existing Rings of Breadalbane Explorer bus, which runs throughout the summer, links in with the walking and cycling start and finish points. The hop-on, hop-off circular service allows walkers and cyclists to pick and choose their start and finish points.
More about Breadalbane and the Rings
Breadalbane incorporates the settlements of Crieff, Aberfeldy, Kenmore, St Fillans and Killin. In between the towns and villages is a beautiful landscape, where lochs stretch into the distance, mountains rise high above you and around every corner is a natural or historical discovery.
Itâ€™s here that Felicity, a walking books author, lives and where she has explored the trails and paths that criss-cross the area over many years. She says: â€œBreadalbane is such a beautiful area and one that is less explored by the usual visitors. I think itâ€™s an area of Perthshire that is under-explored and so I wanted to show keen walkers where they could go and what they would see.â€
Felicityâ€™s walking Rings of Breadalbane include the Clan Ring and the Tay Ring.Â The Clan Ring explores Strathearn and Loch Earn, as well as taking walkers to Balquhidder, Glen Dochart and on to Killin at the southwestern end of Loch Tay, before returning to Crieff. Itâ€™s 72 miles in total and offers 10 to 15 miles of walking each day over six days.Â The Tay Ring is a two-day route exploring the area between Aberfeldy and Kenmore, at the north-eastern end of Loch Tay. It starts and finishes in Aberfeldy, visits the Falls of Acharn and offers 21 miles of walking over two days.
Felicity says: â€œThese walking routes can be completed on one multi-day walking trip and I have suggestedÂ the miles that can be walked each day. However, it is also possible to walk just one section at a time and use the Explorer BusÂ to take you to and from many of the start and finish points.â€
Highlights of the Clan Ring
The 10-mile stretch from Comrie to St Fillans, on Day Two, is a fairly challenging walk, but the rewards come thick and fast with beautiful scenery, the tumbling white waterfall of the Deilâ€™s Cauldron and the manmade Neish Island, a crannog that is alsoÂ the site of a clan massacre.
Day six is St Fillans to Crieff and a mighty 15 miles but this route certainly saves the best to last. From the pretty parkland of Aberuchill Castle to the Earthquake house outside Comrie, there are plentiful sights to keep you walking, even when your energy levels are dipping. A top tip is to recharge your batteries at Comrie Croft in their lovely Tea Garden.
Trail and road cycling rings
Mapped by Andrew, a director at cycling and camping centre Comrie Croft, the trail cycling routes are spread over six days from Killin, via St Fillans, Crieff, Aberfeldy, Bridge of Balgie, Tyndrum and back to Killin. The daily mileage is between 13 and 40 miles.
A 100-mile road cycling circuit offers road riders the opportunity to take on a big day challenge or enjoy shorter sections over many days.
Again, the Ring of Breadalbane Explorer bus can be utilised to pick you up and drop you off at various points along the route.
Andrew says: â€œWith so many more people cycling, on roads and trails, the Rings of Breadalbane is a great opportunity to showcase what our area has to offer. So much of Breadalbane is off the usual tourist map and I wanted to take cyclists on a journey of discovery.â€
Highlights of the cycling in Breadalbane
A gentle 25-mile section of the Trail Cycling Ring from Tyndrum to Killin can be enjoyed by families. This is hillwalker territory, so be prepared to share, especially when navigating the West Highland Way portion of the trip. Andrewâ€™s top tip is to â€œtake a pair of binoculars so you can stop every so often to spot buzzards, kestrels and the majestic golden eagles which have been known to glide the skies aboveâ€.
Hardcore mountain bikers wonâ€™t be disappointed either. Blaze a trail on the gruelling Bridge of Balgie to Tyndrum stretch, a relief-heavy track that takes in river and stream crossings. There may not be any phone reception for part of the ride, so always travel in groups of at least two, and take plenty of water and snacks to replenish your no-doubt depleted energy. The rewards are in the shape of dramatic views of the West Highland Railway line, a crumbling old viaduct and the mist-cloaked hillsides.
For cyclists who prefer riding a smooth asphalt surface, the Road Cycling Ring offers views of beautiful hillscapes, lochs and tree-shaded roads connecting Crieff, Aberfeldy and Killin.