Perthshire is such a beautiful part of Scotland and I regularly take a break from the hustle bustle of the Central Belt for a weekend of peace, quiet and fresh air. This time, my wife and I, after organising babysitters for the weekend, took ourselves to Braes Lodge, 15 minutes north of Aberfeldy, tucked away in the shadow of the mountain of Schiehallion. This was a stunning retreat, with views to die for.
There are a multitude of fantastic walks in the area; ranging from gentle strolls alongside The River Tay and the 'Big Trees' of The Hermitage, to dramatic gorge walks through the Birks of Aberfeldy and strenuous climbs up some of Scotland's most dramatic mountains.
This time, we opted for the relative ease of the Rob Roy Way, walking from the official end point of the trail in Pitlochry (or start, depending on which way you are walking from), back to Aberfeldy - a lovely 9 mile stretch through woodland, hillside and finally along the River Tay.
Starting at the War Memorial near Pitlochry town centre, we made our way towards the damn and fish ladder before climbing away from the town, carefully crossing the busy A9 road and heading into the tree covered hillside. Upon reaching the A9, we crossed the road and followed a farm track, passed the farm itself, soon reaching the tree line. At this point the path climbed steeply through the trees along what was now a forestry track. A few minuted later, I was glad to see a Rob Roy Way signpost which directed us away from the wide vehicle track onto a more natural, narrow footpath which followed a lovely tumbling burn upstream. We were still climbing at this point, but with the path winding through a combination of newly planted evergreens, whispy Brooms and age old Birch Trees, it was a delightful section of the walk.
As we reached the top of the hill, the path rejoined the forestry track and continued through the forest. Approximately 2.5 miles from the start, the forest opened out provide excellent views of the surrounding mountains, where we also spotted an ancient Stone Circle - the perfect spot to stop for some lunch. We were soon on our way, heading back into the woods, where we continued along the track to the edge of the forest. After climbing over a tall stile, we were out on the open hillside as we descended gradually towards Grandtully. The walk down towards The Tay was completely different to the hill above Pitlochry, with gorse and heather much more prominent now. The path itself was a winding, narrow footpath which eventually followed the course of the Tullypowrie Burn as it cascaded towards the Tay. As we descended off the hill, the path ran alongside a fantastic dry stone dyke, meticulously built many years ago and; although clearly weathered, covered in spongy green moss and somewhat crumbly in places, there was an air of beauty surrounding this early age construction (as strange as that may sound).
Soon after, we reached Strathtay Golf Course and stood an awe at the grandeur of the stunning buildings which scatter the area around the villages of Grandtully and Strathtay. After a well deserved pint at the warm and cosy 'The Inn on the Tay', we started our riverside section of the walk. This was never going to be as interesting as the walk from Pitlochry to Grandtully, however, it allowed us a more gentle stroll along the banks of The River Tay, even holding hands on the odd occasion (it is sometimes possible to be romantic while wearing khaki combat trousers and mud covered walking boots). For the first 1.5 - 2 miles, the track follows an old disused railway, and is very linear in its direction. After a while, the path becomes much more natural in form, following the contours of the river, hugging the banks for most of the remainder of the walk into Aberfeldy. We saw lots of evidence of Beaver activity, whether it be attempted damns (not a good idea on the Tay) or gnawed on trees, which looked more like huge pencils with their newly made pointed tips.
The last half mile of the walk into Aberfeldy town centre, from the Dewars Distillery, is along the main road. This is no great disaster as the knowledge that your not too far from a bite to eat and a cheeky draught ale is always a welcome comfort.
We were in no rush from the outset, starting at 12:30 and finishing at 17:00, which included a 20 minuted break for lunch and another half hour at The Inn at Grandtully. We had an extremely enjoyable March afternoon walk, with this stage of the route very typical of the terrain and landscape encountered throughout the Rob Rob Way. The route is waymarked throughout, although car must always be taken when navigating the paths and tracks across the remote hills and forests.