Scottish walks: Glen Artney, Perthshire

Looking down the Glen Artney track
Looking down the Glen Artney track
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Lone Glen Artney’s hazel shade” figures in Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake. The glen is known to but a few hillwalkers as a western approach to Ben Vorlich, yet is better known to long-distance walkers for the low-level ways to Loch Earn or Callander.

Nevertheless, the glen road was shown on Stobie’s 1783 map of Perthshire.

The glen is drained by the Water of Ruchill which flows north-east to join the River Earn at Comrie. Overlooking both road and Water is a track on the northern side. This offers a delightful wooded walk which Jimbo, Rhona and I extended into a clockwise circuit by a short traverse over moorland to a higher track, then a return by estate roads. This mixture of track, moorland and estate roads was, surprisingly, completely new to the three of us.

Nicknamed the “Shaky Toun,” Comrie has long been associated with earth tremors because of its situation on the Highland Boundary fault. The world’s first seismometers were erected there in 1840. A more sophisticated recording station, Earthquake House, was built in 1869.

From the west end of Comrie, drive over the 1792 stone arched bridge to Ross, a former crofting and weaving community situated between the River Earn and the Water of Ruchill. Pass by Earthquake House to reach Craggish (the return point of the walk) and then on to the boulder-encircled car park by the riverside, ½ mile before the road end. At this point is a sign – “Path to Callander 13 miles”.

Given the distance from Craggish to the car park at the end of the walk, oddly enough, starting the walk from Comrie only adds an extra mile to the 7½ miles of this week’s walk.

Map Ordnance survey map 57, Stirling & The Trossachs

Distance 7½ miles

Height 250m

Terrain Track, moorland and estate road

Start point Car park, ½ mile before Dalrannoch

Time 3 hours

Nearest town Comrie

Refreshment spot Stuart Crystal cafe, Muthill Road, Crieff

From the car park the public road winds and rises to Dalrannoch and a broad track used by estate vehicles. The track traverses a grassy area high above the Water, crosses a burn and gently rises to enter a mixed wooded area. The track, now mapped as a path, becomes a broad grassy way of old leading into more open country. A burn has eroded one section, but this is easily crossed.

Thereafter a soggy stretch leads to another burn crossed by a short uncertain wooden span. An old sign on the far bank warns of a landslip and a concealed hole; obviously placed for the benefit of those coming from that direction.The grassy way continues to rise, passes by a ruin on the right to reach the obvious vehicle track (accessed from the upstream bridge at Dalchruin) that slants up to the right for Blairmore.

The two ruins at Blairmore lie at the edge of a gently sloping moor. Less than a mile to the NW is a track that encircles the southern side of Ben Halton and 640m Mor Bheinn – the latter the only Graham to appear on three Landranger maps. A grassy way covers part of the moor traverse, thereafter seek out what marginally higher ground there is by the south bank of a burn. The terrain was quite soggy on our day. From the 290m high point, the gravel track heads north-east towards Tomanour; a gentle descent offering views of the lower slopes of Ben Chonzie. A few yards short of Tomanour, a lovely white cottage, slant right on the obvious track and cross a burn by the broad wooden bridge.

The estate track, passing by a plantation on the left and a very small quarry on the right, then becomes a Tarmac estate road. Turn right by the large estate houses and head eastwards through the extensive estate grounds – red kite country on our day – to reach the public road at Craggish. Back the way is a sign – “Path to Aberuchill 1 mile”. Then it’s a mile back to the car park.