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Autumn in Highland Perthshire, and No Midges!

Reporter: Chris Fildes

In September, Wendy, Paul, David, Sheila, me, and the dogs Freddie, Fossie, Barney and Wallace, met for a few days walking in Highland Perthshire.

It was a week of comings and goings. We stayed in the luxurious Keepers Cottage, set in 17 acres of meadows & woodland, close to the Tay and near Aberfeldy. We had en-suite rooms, so no social distancing problems. (David stayed nearby). Sorry about the leaky air bed Paul, Oh, and remember to bring some Brillo’s next time! Wendy, your delicious steak pie went down well with us all. We were lucky with the weather, apart from David, who’d been camping and joined us on Thursday after a soaking! He took some rather good misty and ethereal shots though!

Monday, Craig Varr and hills above Kinloch Rannoch. Fantastic views! The Allt Mhor burn had been dammed higher up, so the magnificent Allt Mhor waterfalls in the village were depleted. The turbines housed in a modern structure by Loch Rannoch didn’t impress either!

Tuesday, ‘The Birks of Aberfeldy’, named after Robert Burns. (Incidentally Birks are birch trees). The waterfalls and autumnal colours were spectacular,. We also visited the sixteenth century Castle Menzies, which was almost a ruin until restored by the Menzies Clan Society in the ’70s, (aided by Robert Menzies, the Australian politician). When the estate became bankrupt, it was acquired by a local well to do farmer.

Wednesday, Took us into Glen Lyon, the longest most remote and beautiful glen in Scotland they say. We walked from the Bridge of Balgie by the River Lyon, into Gleann Da Eigg to see ‘The Praying Hands of Mary’ perched on the hillside above, an amazing granite formation. We had lunch by yet another damned burn! And then tea and scones to follow in the Bridge of Balgie tea rooms on our return.

Thursday, Benn Vrackie, height 2759ft We started from Moulin, Pitlochry thus attracting walkers, hence well constructed paths to prevent erosion. The day was warm with a clear blue sky, A shorts and tee shirt day and No Midges! A short break to admire picturesque Loch a Choire, then came the 300ft unrelenting climb to the summit on a paved staircase. The spectacular views from the summit more than made up though. We could see for miles and miles… the Cuillins on Sky, Ben Nevis, Glen Coe, Beinn Aghlo, the Cairngorms etc. David lead us all down an adventurous off piste dog (though perhaps not little Wendy) friendly route back to Loch a Choire and a pause for photos. Eventually, back at our cars, the Moulin Inn with its Micro Brewery beckoned, but we decided sensibly, (sorry Paul), to return to Aberfeldy and the Ailean Chraggan Inn.

Friday, Stuch’d An Lochain, and a 30 mile drive into Glen Lyon’s upper Loch’s Estate. (Just two of us and two dogs walking to-day). We started from the Giorra Dam east of Loch An Daimh. Although a Munro, has an advantage of being 1300ft above sea level. After an interesting off piste ascent, the summit path was reached and the views were breathtaking! The route took in Creag an Fheadain 2910ft, Sron Chona Choreanen 3012ft and followed the rim of a steep sided Corrie to reach the summit of Stuch’d an Lochain 3150ft, the circular Lochan nan Cat nestling 800ft below. For Munro baggers, only one summit counts (not enough descent between the peaks)!

Legend tells of Glen Lyon’s notorious mad Colin Campbell of Meggernie, (nutty as a fruit cake), commanded his Ghillie to jump into the abyss, to see how long it would take him to reach the Lochain far below, but his Ghillie, (who wasn’t daft), stepped aside and pushed Colin over the edge instead! With a little imagination, you might see Colin’s ghostly profile in the shadows of the Corrie.

I caught up with David on the summit, but not for long, he added on an extra mile to include Meallan Odhar 2674ft, (for the view I think)! Meanwhile I continued down ridge to the Loch at Daimh, soaked up some rays and waited… It wasn’t too long before he appeared, running down through the crags above. The dogs enjoyed a well deserved swim while we sampled the water, which although a little peaty, tasted quite good (Hence Dewar’s distillery in Aberfeldy and the excellent single malt). The walk back along the pathless loch was easier than expected due to Cashlie power station’s requirements. In all, it was perfect day, good weather, exceptional views and tranquillity. What more can you ask?

Power from the Glens around Lochs Tay, Loch Earn, & Loch Lyon. Loch Giorra and Loch Daimh were joined during the huge 1950’s Breadalbane Hydro-Electric Scheme. Loch An Daimh is the holding reservoir for Cashlie Power Station a few miles further along Glen Lyon. The water is then pumped into Loch Lyon, (the gushing can be heard miles away), it’s then piped over into Loch Lochay, the next reservoir in the system. This Hydro Scheme was a huge undertaking. Altogether Seven power stations were built in the Breadalbane region between 1951 and 1961!

Although the hydro scheme has changed the upper reaches of the Glen, it remains beautiful, serene and remote.

Construction of small dams in highland burns continues and the magnificent Glen Etive (famous for its rapids), is next on the list. So enjoy the waterfalls, while you can!

The week was very enjoyable, enhanced by the companyb of good friends of course… So haste ye back!

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