Widespread low cloud had aborted a December day visit to the high tops. Instead Jimbo, Rhona and I did an Aberfeldy to Kenmore walk suggested by Jimbo’s brother, an Aberfeldy resident.
Our presumption that the walk followed mapped tracks on the south side of the Tay was misplaced; it was, in fact, a stroll by the river’s northern banks.
However, we were minded to explore that south side; possibly following a 400m high track by the Urlar Burn, then a return to Aberfeldy by a lower track. However, on the day the lull between storms was forecast to be short-lived. That, plus the fact that the upper track would be smothered by heavy dumps of snow, led to yet another change of plan – this time a linear walk from Kenmore to Aberfeldy, following that lower track which is part of the 79-mile Drymen to Pitlochry Rob Roy Way.
The route is waymarked and, at important junctions, signposts give directions and mileages. After an initial climb by minor road, the Way undulates through and by woodland, to reach the town by the Birks of Aberfeldy. Our route was facilitated by using two cars; a less-than-green approach. Try the Aberfeldy/Kenmore bus service – contact Traveline on 0871 200 2233.
From Kenmore walk to the sharp bend on the A827, map ref 775452, and the narrow road that zigzags, steeply climbing southwards. Note the warning sign – no gritting or snow clearance carried out beyond this point, use alternative route in winter conditions. After a hard first mile, reach the Rob Roy Way, map ref 782447 (Aberfeldy 7 miles). Continue on the road/Way and pass a Woodland Walks car park, not a winter shortcut! After a 200m climb from Kenmore, the gradient eases on reaching Tombuie Cottage, map ref 790446. Leave what was for us a snow-covered icy road and turn left, Aberfeldy 6½ miles.
The track gently descends (left as waymarked at a junction) to the edge of a plantation. Turn right by a white Rob Roy sign, then briefly by path to join a higher track that heads north-east to Tullichuil, at first through open country with views back to Loch Tay. Schiehallion was cloud-covered on our day and parts of the Way were very muddy.
The track turns sharp right, map ref 814474, just beyond Tullichuil (Aberfeldy 3½ miles) to meet some of the Beauly/Denny overhead power line construction works. At the next junction, turn left as waymarked, leaving the broad access track for a minor track. The next section below Bolfracks Hill was rough – one fallen tree and lots of fresh deep snow – before eventually descending towards Dunskiag on a good gritty track. Turn right, 1 mile to Birks of Aberfeldy. (Left then right is a short cut, Aberfeldy 1¼ miles). The grassy track rises to reach the Urlar Farm private road, which also gives a quick, though less exciting return to the town.
However, head uphill a short distance to reach the signed path to the Birks and the bridge that straddles the ravine by the spectacular Falls of Moness. Cross to the east bank. A narrow but well-built stepped path zigzags down into what was originally known as the Den of Moness before Robert Burns influenced the name change in 1787 after penning The Birks of Aberfeldie. Pass a seated statue, allegedly marking the spot. Lower down, cross the Moness Burn and so to the free car parks by the A826.
We finished the walk in good time. Later the heavens opened and it was a gusty, waterfall drive home with windscreen wipers on overtime.
MAP Ordnance Survey map 52, Pitlochry & Crieff
DISTANCE 8 miles
TERRAIN Minor road, forestry tracks, then burn-side path
START POINT Kenmore time 4 hours
NEAREST TOWN Aberfeldy
REFRESHMENT SPOT Habitat Cafe, The Square, Aberfeldy