HIGHLAND Perthshire is an intriguing, beguiling place. For many it is the large mountain groups, huge lochs and pretty towns and villages that come to mind.
However, there is another, less seen, part and those out shooting or fishing get to know these quiet, rolling hills slightly off the beaten trail of most walkers and tourists. In recent years estates have worked to keep deer and sheep off some of their land to let trees grow back and the result is woodlands that are a haven for wildlife. This walk takes you into this type of country before returning through a little forestry to views over the mighty Tay and along the way are two delightful lochs.
DISTANCE 6½ miles. HEIGHT CLIMBED 500ft. TIME 3 to 4 hours. MAP OS Landranger 52 or 53. PARK Follow the A923 north out of Dunkeld. Go right at a junction to continue following the A923 uphill, and after a couple of hundred yards go left at a post box, up a track. At the top go left to reach the Cally car park.
IN SUMMARY Go back down the track from the car park entrance and at a junction go left, following a sign for “Atholl Woods Path To Mill Dam”. Ignore a path on the right and keep to the main track, passing the end of Cally Loch.
Ignore tracks either side and continue to a large metal gate on the left (just before an isolated house with kennels attached – The Glack). Through the gate follow a yellow waymarker (white arrow on a yellow background) and up the track to reach Mill Dam.
Keep on the main track along the loch’s west shore. As the track veers left away from the water go through a gate in a deer fence on the left (ignoring a yellow arrow pointing along the main track).
A slightly rougher track leads across open ground into forestry. Ignore tracks either side and follow yellow waymarkers to cross a stile. The track on the other side drops steeply and then swings right, away from the forestry. At the bottom of the track, in front of a large field gate, go left to follow a track and reach another gate. Through this, re-enter forestry land. Follow this easy track for about one and a half miles down to a road. Go left to follow the road to reach Polney Loch after a few hundred yards.
A signed path leaves the road on the left to run past the water’s edge. Trees blown down in winter storms block this section so you may wish to follow the road from Dunkeld you drove in on back to the car park. If you’re not averse to clambering over tree trunks, continue on the path, beyond the loch and above a saw mill to reach the car park.
REFRESH There is a wide choice in Dunkeld – try the Taybank for live music and good food.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA The 14th-century Dunkeld Cathedral (www.dunkeldcathedral.org.uk) is well worth stopping off for.