Historic walks and the beautiful Perthshire scenery make this a great choice for people who would like a more gentle introduction to walking in Scotland. As the daily walking distances are shorter than our other routes, you have more time for exploring local towns and villages, and visiting the many castles and historic attractions in the 'Heart of Scotland'. It is also possible to visit a choice of distilleries, play a round of golf at one of the many local courses in the area or try salmon fishing on the River Tay. The standard itinerary is 6 nights, but as there are many things to see and do, if possible, we recommend you have extra nights in 2 or 3 of the villages. Accommodation is limited in some villages but we can usually still arrange this hike if you are only booking a few months ahead of your preferred arrival date (but it's still best to book sooner rather than later). Highland Perthshire is a great destination for a staycation and introduction to self-guided walking in Scotland. The prices below are approximate, as there are options to stay in B&Bs or hotels in some of the villages.
|HPT A||Blair Atholl||Kinloch Rannoch||9||Easy walks with extra days for sight-seeing||£725|
|HPT B||Blair Atholl||Kinloch Rannoch||6||Whole route but no extra days||£585|
| Version B itinerary: -
Day 1. Arrive in Blair Atholl and, depending on time, you could visit the famous Blair Castle home of the Duke of Atholl and the last remaining private army in Europe. The castle played an important part in the 1715 Jacobite Rising. You can also visit the village folk museum to see how life used to be in the old days for the local people. An extra night in Blair Atholl is highly recommended if you want to have more time to explore local walks in Glen Tilt. Pony-trekking and cycle hire also available in the village.
Day 2. Today you can start with an easy riverside walk to Killiecrankie, scene of the famous battle in 1689 and the Soldier's Leap over the River Garry. Then continue on river-side and forest trails to Pitlochry. (8 miles). If you prefer, it is also possible to take a more challenging route over the hills (12 miles). On arrival in Pitlochry you can visit one of the local malt whisky distilleries or see a play at the local Festival Theatre. If you choose to have an extra day in Pitlochry you could climb Ben Vrackie (2757ft./841m) the mountain which overlooks the town and has great views of the southern Highlands.
Day 3. A gentle climb over the hill between Pitlochry and Strathtay in the morning and then a chance for a coffee at the Scottish Chocolate Centre by the banks of the River Tay or lunch at The Inn or the Tay. Then continue west by following the line of the old disused railway line and riverbank path to Aberfeldy (10 miles), or only 5 miles if you decide to take a local bus from Strathtay. On approaching Aberfeldy, you have the opportunity to visit the Aberfeldy Whisky Distillery and Dewars World of Whisky Centre. If you have an extra day in Aberfeldy you have the chance to visit Menzies Castle, which lies just beyond the village of Weem on the north side of the River Tay.
Day 4. An opportunity to explore the Birks o' Aberfeldy, an impressive woodland gorge & waterfall made famous by the poet Robert Burns. The historic theme continues as you soon pass a 4000 year old Neolithic stone circle and then Taymouth Castle, where Queen Victoria spent her honeymoon. The day finishes in the 'model' village of Kenmore at the mouth of Loch Tay. (8 miles, or 12 miles if you take an optional detour).
Day 5. An option to start the day with a visit to the re-constructed crannog (an iron-age house built on an artificial island on Loch Tay). This is a fascinating opportunity to see how the ancient Celts lived 2500 years ago. The walk continues with an ascent up Drummond Hill, to a viewpoint overlooking Loch Tay and Priory island, where Queen Sybilla of Scotland was buried in the 13th Century. The trail continues above Loch Tay, ending at the peaceful village of Fortingall. (6 miles). This was an important area in Neolithic times and many stone circles and standing stones can still be seen around the village. Fortingall is best known for its ancient yew tree which is estimated to be at least 3000 years old, which makes it the oldest living tree in Europe.
Day 6. Today's walk (12 miles) is the most challenging walk on the route and takes you by remote Glen Mor, (the great valley) overlooked by Schiehallion. There is also an easier alternative from further up Glen Lyon taking you to the shores of Loch Rannoch. The walk finishes at the quiet village of Kinloch Rannoch in the heart of the Highlands where you have your last overnight stop. If you have an extra night this allows time to explore the area - options include a half-day walk to see the ruins of a deserted Highland village; or hire a bike and cycle around the loch (24 miles - 38 kms). The latter allows you to explore one of the few remaining parts of the Caledonian pine forest. If weather is favourable, it is also possible to climb Schiehallion (3553ft - 1083m), or Craig a Varr, the smaller but steeper hill above the village, which gives great views over Loch Rannoch and to the west.
Version A. (9 nights). This version is as detailed above but with 3 extra nights. Extra nights are generally recommended in Blair Atholl, Pitlochry and Aberfeldy, but also possible to have an extra night in Kinloch Rannoch if you prefer somewhere quieter and off the-beaten-track. Blair Atholl gives a full day for visiting the castle and exploring the grounds and many walks in the area. An extra day in Pitlochry is good for climbing Ben Vrackie, (but you can also do this on the day you walk to Pitlochry from Blair Atholl), or for visiting Edradour Distillery 1 mile to the north-east, and the smallest working distillery in Scotland, or the Blair Athol distillery which is located on the edge of the town. Aberfeldy is also an attractive Victorian town with fewer but more interesting shops, e.g. the award winning Watermill Bookshop and Art Galleries and the re-opened art-deco Birks Cinema. Kenmore is a small village with scenic Square and hotel, the main attraction is the Crannog on the south-shore of Loch Tay, but this can be visited in the morning before you walk to Fortingall. There's also a cafe at the Marina next to the Crannog, and the Courtyard shop and bistro on the other side of the river. Kinloch Rannoch is also a small village with just one shop and cafe, but it is a good base for a walk up Craig a Varr, the steep hill which sits just above the village and gives great views to the west up Loch Rannoch and across to Schiehallion. Also possible to take a taxi-bus (not Sundays) to explore the ancient Caledonian pine wood on the south-side of Loch Rannoch, or to visit Rannoch Station on the eastern edge of the moor 6 miles beyond the west end of Loch Rannoch. The remote train station rather has become an enigmatic place to visit for many people; there's not much to see - only 3 or 4 trains a day, but there's something special about it, a bit like the lemon cake from the excellent tea-room on the station platform. Mrs MacLennan is long gone, but new folk who run the tea-room also know how to bake a cake.
Accommodation is based in very good B&B's and guest houses in all the villages except Kenmore and Fortingall where we book the hotels as standard. We can also book superior rooms in the hotels - supplement is usually about GBP30-40 per person per night.
Fewer nights if you only have a few days, it is also possible to start this walk in Pitlochry, or Aberfeldy, or miss out the overnight stop at Kenmore. If you miss out the overnight in Kenmore you may also wish to take the shorter route between Aberfeldy and Fortingall along the banks of the River Tay and then the River Lyon, which makes the total distance only 9 miles.
Notes: On most days you have options to take longer walks if you wish. The walk from Fortingall to Kinloch Rannoch involves an ascent of about 2000 feet (600m) and may not be possible during the deer stalking season (early September to late October). If stalking is planned on this day you can still take an alternative footpath to Kinloch Rannoch from further up Glen Lyon. Alternatively, always choose a start date which means you arrive in Kinloch Rannoch on a Sunday as there is never any deer-stalking on Sundays.
We are based in Aberfeldy which you pass through on this walk, so it is usually possible for us to meet you to say hello and answer any questions you may have about the rest of the hike. We have been organising walks in this area of Scotland for 30 years so there is not much we don't know about the things to see and do along the way.
Start: Blair Atholl is 75 miles north of Edinburgh/Glasgow and can be reached by bus or train or taxi. Journey takes less than 2 hours.