Rob Roy Way: Ardtalnaig to Aberfeldy (Day 5)

Having thought it may be hard going back to where I’d finished the day yesterday, the reality was that it felt great! I had a really settled night last night, feeling very much at home – the upside of having two nights in a B & B is that you can unpack, something I always like to do when away from home.

Starting Well

Breakfast was excellent! Today I opted for porridge followed by freshly made pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. Chatting to my host, he said that most people doing the way just go back to Acharn, thus avoiding the road section. Being the ‘athlete’ that I am, I felt I’d only be cheating myself by doing this, so when the taxi arrived I confirmed with the driver that I was going all the way back to Ardtalnaig. He also expressed surprise and said that I’m one of a few!

The drop off point

South Loch Tay Road

Setting off from Ardtalnaig I felt very positive about the day ahead. I was happy to be here, feeling refreshed, and really relaxed in the knowledge that I could work up my own timetable today with no restrictions on when I could arrive ‘home’. From the off, the views were something to behold and I stopped lots to admire them. Another highlight was seeing two red squirrels (separately) along the road; neither wished to feature in a photoshoot.

There was a fair bit of traffic on the road, usually coming from behind me, but everyone was courteous. I certainly didn’t need any encouragement to follow the rules!

The road felt easy and I thought I’d probably gone down more than up to begin. I was surprised to see the route profile on finishing.

The last of the loch was seen up close just before reaching Acharn. This was where the big ascent of the day began.

Hermit’s Cave

Turning off the road at Acharn, the path started to climb gently and then more steeply. Up and up it went. I slowed to a walk, figuring I’d get there as quickly!

Unsure how far up the cave was, I was concerned I’d missed it. I then came upon the sign …

The cave was ace! I used my phone torch as there wasn’t enough light to see initially, and being alone I didn’t want to bump into anyone unexpectedly! The folly led to a viewing platform. I’m sure on a wet day this would be spectacular; today, there was merely a trickle.

I love the story that this was built by the third Earl of Breadalbane in the 1760s, initially with stuffed wild animals around the cave walls.

Continuing through the cave, a walkway took me across the falls and afforded me great views of the gorge below.

Follow the Farm Track

Leaving the caves behind, I followed a farm track, running through fields and meeting the odd sheep. The views along this higher section were amazing!

Acharn Stone Circle

Not far along the sheep path, a sign pointed uphill to the Stone Circle. The path climbed fairly steeply. Again, I slowed to a walk figuring it would provide a short rest. The sun came out as I headed up and my cap went on as I remembered my I’d forgotten to put SPF spray on my head. The stones had great views to the mountains and loch; cue another burst of photography.

Heading down from the stones, I ran on a grassy path, feeling a little like Maria in the Sound of Music, dancing down the hill. Shame I can’t descend with this eloquence on tougher terrain; I think I’ve concluded today that I’ll never be a hill runner!

Grassy Paths

The grassy paths continued, some wide, some narrow, some a little overgrown with ferns and bracken. There were also many gates!

Queen’s Drive

The track improved and made for easier running once again. The views were lovely prior to the trees closing in again.

Heading Off Piste

At some point thereafter it appears that I must have missed a signpost. It was around Tower House and, with hindsight, the sign stating, ‘No Through Road’, might have been a clue! However, I chose to ignore it after a bit of back and forth, the Garmin seeming to like the route!

I was probably just a few metres away from where I should have been – on the other side of the deer fence! I continued, believing the path to be merely overgrown and interesting!

Ultimately the deer fence collapsed. I climbed over it, waded through more grass, dense undergrowth and broken branches, got both very wet and squelchy feet and stung by a nettle, finally stumbling upon a track. I suspect this is where I should have been in the first place!

On the plus side, I had a spare pair of socks in my backpack, and having changed, my feet felt remarkably dry.

Forest Trails

From hereon in, a variety of tracks ensued. I passed by some sheep …

Followed some single track …

Hit the road and passed through a field of sheep …

Finally arriving at …

The Birks of Aberfeldy

This lovely woodland area has a dramatic waterfall, again not quite as dramatic as it is on a wet day.

It’s also the place where Rabbie Burns was inspired to write poetry.

The Cake Tour Continues

Having been greatly disappointed by the lack of cafe yesterday, my folks had recommended the Watermill Bookshop and Cafe. Down a wee lane, I must have walked past it yesterday, making it all the sweeter today!

One day to go, I’m on the countdown to the finish.

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