THE expanse of land which stretches north from Blair Atholl towards the Gaick Forest and then the Cairngorms is a great place to lose yourself in.
On the first few miles of this walk, up on to moorland, I didn’t see a soul and could only hear the tweets of ground nesting birds, as well as the mournful cry of buzzards. You also have the chance to see red squirrels in the woodland at the bottom as well as red deer and black grouse higher up, so don’t forget your binoculars.
DISTANCE 10 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 1,000ft.
TIME 4 to 5 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 43.
PARK Turn off the main road in Blair Atholl opposite the Bridge of Tilt Hotel to follow a sign to Old Blair. After just over half a mile go left, again following a sign to Old Blair. There is a car park a few hundred yards further on, to the left.
IN SUMMARY Go back to the car park entrance and turn left to follow the road uphill. Ignore a track going off to the left and continue between fields to a crossroads, where you go left. After dropping down into the hamlet of Old Blair and following the road to the right you cross the Banvie Burn – just after this go right to follow a track up into woodland.
About half a mile from the road you can take a detour left, following a small wooden sign to The Whim. This folly of gothic stone arches was built in the 18th century and offers good views down towards Blair Castle. Continue on the main track above the Banvie Burn, passing (but not crossing) a lovely old stone bridge.
A little further on, the main track swings right but you should go straight ahead, on a slightly more grassy track.
At a fork, go left, then pass through a gate to follow the track on to open moorland with wonderful views over Glen Banvie. The track continues up the glen to eventually reach pine trees – a few hundred yards before these look across the glen to see the ruins of a settlement which was last inhabited in the 1850s. The track bears left at the top of the glen, passing through the pines before reaching a junction where you go straight on.
After this the track swings further left and drops down, eventually reaching a gate, which you go through. The next section, through forestry, takes you down to a wide track, where you go right.
At a junction the way back to the start is to the left but you would be missing a treat by not turning right, to go to the Falls of Bruar.
After a few hundred yards the track reaches a bench, just beyond which is a huge drop and a view of the falls. To take the falls in more fully (and it is worth it) go left, down a path, cross a bridge then turn right on the other side. Walk up to the top of the falls, cross another bridge and follow the path back down to the bench at the end of the track. Return along the track and keep straight on at the junction passed earlier.
The track eventually passes through a gate and reaches a junction, where you go right. At the next junction go left, on to a track which goes through trees to lead across farmland near Blair Castle. At the end of the track go left, on to a road which leads back to Old Blair, from where you retrace your steps to the start.
REFRESH There are quite a few places in Blair Atholl – try the Atholl Arms hotel which has a lovely bar.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Blair Castle is a superb country pile near the start of the walk (www.blair-castle.co.uk).