Cateran Trail

The Cateran Trail is a 103-kilometre (64 mi)[3] circular long distance walking route in central Scotland. The trail has no official beginning or end and can be joined at any stage.[4] The route was established, way-marked and is now maintained by, the Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust. A variety of terrain is covered by the trail including farmland, mountains and forest. The path itself follows old drovers' roads, minor paved roads and farm tracks and can be walked in 4 or 5 days.[5] It is now designated as one of Scotland's Great Trails by Scottish Natural Heritage.[1] As of 2018 it was estimated that around 8,000 people were using the trail each year.[6]

Cateran Trail
Stile on Cateran Trail - - 246951
Stile on Cateran Trail
Length103 km (64 mi)
LocationPerth & Kinross and Angus, Scotland
DesignationScotland's Great Trails
TrailheadsCircular, usually Blairgowrie
56°35′31″N 3°20′10″W / 56.5919°N 3.3361°W
Elevation gain/loss2,470 metres (8,100 ft) gain[1]
Highest point653 metres (2,144 ft)[2]
Lowest point59 metres (195 ft)[2]
Hiking details
SeasonAll year


The Cateran Trail is typically walked in 5 stages, with the stopping points being determined by the availability of accommodation and the walker's fitness. Generally, the trail is started at Blairgowrie and the clockwise direction is taken towards Kirkmichael, Spittal of Glenshee, Kirkton of Glenisla then Alyth. Throughout the walk, the path is well marked. Some waymark posts feature gnarled drover's faces carved into the edge of the post while most display the Cateran trail logo; a green ring enclosing a red heart on a white background.[5][7] Due to the large number of stiles, the trail is mostly unsuitable for cyclists and dogs are prohibited where the path crosses fields with young livestock.

The Cateran Trail has been linked with the hobby of geocaching: each of the "drover's face" posts is numbered, and further information about each one can be obtained by entering the number into the website. Additionally, a "passport" is available for walkers to record geocaches found along the way, with points available for visiting each one, or getting a stamp from participating businesses along the way. Small commemorative coins are awarded depending on the number of points scored.[7]

Blairgowrie to Kirkmichael

Starting from the centre of Blairgowrie, the trail follows the River Ericht before climbing onto the wide expanse of Cochrage moor. After descending close to Bridge of Cally, the path comes to a T-junction where walkers can opt to travel towards Kirkmichael or Alyth. Following the signs to Kirkmichael, the trail enters Blackcraig forest and offers some fine views over Strathardle. This section is 24.9 kilometres (15.5 mi) in length.[5]

Kirkmichael to Spittal of Glenshee

Although this section is, at 13.7 kilometres (8.5 mi),[5] the shortest section in terms of length, it is here where the trail reaches the highest point on the route and so presents its own unique challenges. Skirting Kindrogan wood on the West side of Strathardle, the path passes Tullochcurran Loch before crossing the river into Enochdhu. From here, the trail begins its long ascent through forest and open hillside to the col (An Lairig) between Ben Earb and Meall Uaine. On the ascent there is a wooden shelter known as the Dirnanean Estate upper lunch hut. After the mountain pass, the path quickly descends into Spittal of Glenshee.

Spittal of Glenshee to Kirkton of Glenisla

This leg of the journey begins with a leisurely walk down Glen Shee. Just after Westerton of Runavey, there is an alternative route to the left which climbs through some rough terrain to Loch Beanie and rejoins the main trail at Forter. The main route continues to follow Shee Water to the grounds of the superb Dalnaglar Castle. Now the route follows the B951 to Forter. Another side path climbs Mount Blair, which offers commanding views of the surrounding countryside on a clear day. Between Forter and Kirkton of Glenisla, the trail loops around Auchintaple Loch and descends by Loch Shandra. This section is 23.5 kilometres (14.6 mi) long.[5]

Kirkton of Glenisla to Alyth

Over this stage the scenery mellows as the path returns toward Strathmore. To start this section, walk west on the road from the Glenisla Hotel until the primary school, turn left and cross the iron bridge. Here the path climbs rapidly over moorland before passing by a string of farms. A short diversion to the spectacular Reekie Linn is well worthwhile. Finally the trail passes between Hill of Alyth and Hill of Loyal prior to reach the village of Alyth, a distance of 17.4 kilometres (10.8 mi) from the Kirkton.[5]

Alyth to Blairgowrie

North of the village, the trail climbs Hill of Alyth and passes through the extensive Bamff estate. From here, the route follows a quiet country road and passes through some mixed woodland before descending into Bridge of Cally. The final section of the Cateran Trail follows the same track as the very first stage, this time returning to Blairgowrie for a total distance of 24.1 kilometres (15.0 mi). An alternative, and much shorter route exists between Alyth and Blairgowrie. The trail progresses through the wooded Den of Alyth before passing the Tullyfergus farms and through Drimmie woods into Blairgowrie.


  1. ^ a b "Trails Archive". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Walk the Cateran Trail". Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Cateran Trail Official Site". Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  4. ^ "The Cateran Trail". & Kinross Countryside Trust. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Cateran Trail leaflet". Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Scotland's networks of paths and trails: key research findings" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. August 2018. p. 6. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b "The Cateran Trail - GeoTrail". Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust. Retrieved 16 August 2018.

External links

ABF The Soldiers' Charity

ABF The Soldiers' Charity, formerly the Army Benevolent Fund is a British charity. It is the National Charity of the British Army and provides financial and practical support to soldiers, veterans, and their immediate family in times of need, even after they have left the Army.

The charity spends on average £5 million on individuals who need help every year, and provides grants to over 80 charities, which deliver specialist support on its behalf – reaching over 70,000 people annually.

Blairgowrie and Rattray

Blairgowrie and Rattray ( (listen)) is a twin burgh in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Locals refer to the town as "Blair". Blairgowrie is the larger of the two former burghs which were united by an Act of Parliament in 1928 and lies on the southwest side of the River Ericht while Rattray is on the northeast side. Rattray claims to be the older and certainly Old Rattray, the area round Rattray Kirk, dates back to the 12th century. New Rattray, the area along the Boat Brae and Balmoral Road dates from 1777 when the River was spanned by the Brig o' Blair. The town lies on the north side of Strathmore at the foot of the Grampian Mountains. The west boundary is formed by the Knockie, a round grassy hill, and Craighall Gorge on the Ericht. Blairgowrie and Rattray developed over the centuries at the crossroads of several historic routes with links from the town to Perth, Coupar Angus, Alyth and Braemar. The roads to Coupar Angus and Braemar form part of General Wade's military road from Perth to Fort George. The town's centrepiece is the Wellmeadow, a grassy triangle in the middle of town which hosts regular markets and outdoor entertainment.

Bridge of Cally

Bridge of Cally is a small village in Kirkmichael parish, Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It sits at the junction of three glens, Glenshee, Strathardle and Glenericht and is centred round the bridge over the River Ardle 200m before it joins the Black Water (which drains Glen Shee as Shee Water) to form the River Ericht. The A93 road from Perth to Aberdeen crosses the bridge where it forms a junction with the A924 road to Kirkmichael and Pitlochry. The village is on the Cateran Trail long distance path, and is popular in winter as it is near the Glen Shee skiing area.The village has a hotel, a post office / general store, an angling book shop, a village hall and a large holiday park.

The hotel was originally a temperance establishment with alcohol being served for the first time in the 1960s. Until that time it served as the local petrol station and the proprietor operated a daily bus service along the A93 from Blacklunans to Blairgowrie.

The local one-teacher school, known as Strone of Cally School, closed in 2011 and the site has been sold for house building. Pupils now attend school in Kirkmichael.The bridge, for which the village is named, is a Category B listed building and nearby Cally House, an early 19th-century house, is Category C listed.The village is in two parts with Bridge of Cally strictly comprising the hotel, post office and the houses and holiday park on the Kirkmichael road and Strone of Cally the houses and old school on the ridge above the bridge. A third settlement called Netherton lies half a mile away on the Drimmie road around a bridge over the Blackwater beside which is the old water powered wool mill. This closed in the 1950s and is now a house. The local parish church was built here in 1890 as part of the United Free Church of Scotland which amalgamated with the church of Scotland in 1928. Falling numbers led to a linkage with Glenshee & Cray parish which then linked with Kirkmichael and Straloch before a final merger with Rattray. Netherton kirk finally closed its doors in 2010 and is now the property of a local family.Bridge of Cally is served by Stagecoach bus services to Blairgowrie, Kirkmichael and Glenshee and is 6 miles from Blairgowrie.

Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park (Scottish Gaelic Pàirc Nàiseanta a' Mhonaidh Ruaidh) is a national park in north east Scotland, established in 2003. It was the second of two national parks established by the Scottish Parliament, after Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, set up in 2002. The park covers the Cairngorms range of mountains, and surrounding hills. Already the largest national park in the British Isles, in 2010 it expanded into Perth and Kinross.As of 2018 it was estimated that the national park received 1.8 million visitors each year. The majority of visitors are domestic, with 25 % coming from elsewhere in the UK, and 21 % being from other countries.

Dirnanean House

Dirnanean House is part of a private, traditional Highland estate located near Enochdhu in Moulin parish, Blairgowrie, Perth and Kinross, Scotland, 10 miles ENE of Pitlochry. The Dirnanean estate is situated adjacent to the 64 mile waymarked Cateran Trail.

Dirnanean's steading house, lime kiln and shepherd's house are all Category B listed buildings.The name Dirnanean is likely a derivation of Gaelic term Dur-nan-eun meaning "the birds' water" or alternately, but similarly, Doire nan Eun meaning "bird grove".

Kirkmichael, Perth and Kinross

Kirkmichael is a village located in Strathardle, Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It is 13 miles NNW of Blairgowrie and 12 miles ENE of Pitlochry on the A924 from Bridge of Cally to Pitlochry road and is linked to the A93 Perth to Aberdeen road by the B950. The village is centred around the bridge over the River Ardle.

The name Kirkmichael means "The Church of St Michael"; the Gaelic name is Cill Mhìcheil. The village dates back over a thousand years and was at one time an important market in the cattle trade between the Highlands and Lowlands with various drove roads converging on the village. The area became popular as a holiday resort following Queen Victoria's building of Balmoral Castle in nearby Deeside and many of the local shooting lodges or "big houses" as they are known were built at that time. Traditionally they were occupied for "the season" of August and September which included the all important Glorious Twelfth when grouse shooting started. The location of the village in the geographical centre of Scotland at the gateway to the Cairngorm National Park and the convenience of roads leading north, south, east and west has again made it a popular holiday destination.

Kirkton of Glenisla

Kirkton of Glenisla is a village in Glen Isla, Angus, Scotland. It is situated on the River Isla, eleven miles north-west of Kirriemuir and ten miles north of Blairgowrie, on the B951 road. The village consists of a church and graveyard, a hotel, and several holiday cottages. The village is situated adjacent to the 64 mile waymarked Cateran Trail. There is a suspension footbridge that was built in 1824 over the River Isla.

List of long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom

There are hundreds of long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom designated in publications from public authorities, guidebooks and OS maps. They are mainly used for hiking and walking, but some may also be used, in whole or in part, for mountain biking and horse riding. Most are in rural landscapes, in varying terrain, some passing through National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is no formal definition of a long-distance path, though the British Long Distance Walkers Association defines one as a route "20 miles [32 km] or more in length and mainly off-road." They usually follow existing rights of way, often over private land, joined together and sometimes waymarked to make a named route. Generally, the surface is not specially prepared, with rough ground, uneven surfaces and stiles, which can cause accessibility issues for people with disabilities. Exceptions to this can be converted railways, canal towpaths and some popular fell walking routes where stone-pitching and slabs have been laid to prevent erosion. Many long-distance footpaths are arranged around a particular theme such as one specific range of hills or a historical or geographical connection.

Long-distance footpaths in Scotland

This page lists long-distance footpaths in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage have defined such paths as meaning a route that is at least 32 kilometres (20 mi) long and primarily off-road, or on quieter roads and tracks. This definition is consistent with that of the British Long Distance Walkers Association.

Perth and Kinross

Perth and Kinross (Scots: Pairth an Kinross; Scottish Gaelic: Peairt agus Ceann Rois) is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland and a Lieutenancy Area. It borders onto the Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, Fife, Highland and Stirling council areas. Perth is the administrative centre. With the exception of a large area of south-western Perthshire, the council area mostly corresponds to the historic counties of Perthshire and Kinross-shire.

Perthshire and Kinross-shire shared a joint county council from 1929 until 1975. The area formed a single local government district in 1975 within the Tayside region under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, and was then reconstituted as a unitary authority (with a minor boundary adjustment) in 1996 by the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994.


Perthshire ( (listen); Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt), officially the County of Perth, is a historic county and registration county in central Scotland. Geographically it extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south; its borders the counties of Inverness-shire and Aberdeenshire to the north, Angus to the east, Fife, Kinross-shire, Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire to the south and Argyllshire to the west. It was a local government county from 1890 to 1930.

Perthshire is known as the "big county", owed to its roundness and status as the 4th largest historic county in Scotland. It has a wide variety of landscapes, from the rich agricultural straths in the east, to the high mountains of the southern Highlands.

Scotland's Great Trails

Scotland's Great Trails are long-distance "people-powered" trails in Scotland, analogous to the National Trails of England and Wales or the Grande Randonnée paths of France. The designated routes are primarily intended for walkers, but may have sections suitable for cyclists and horse-riders; one of the trails, the Great Glen Canoe Trail, is designed for canoeists and kayakers. The trails range in length from 40 to 340 km, and are intended to be tackled over several days, either as a combination of day trips or as an end-to-end expedition.In order to be classified as one of Scotland’s Great Trails, a route must fulfil certain criteria. Each of the routes must be at least 40 km in length, and clearly waymarked with a dedicated symbol. It is expected that visitor services will be present along the way, and that the route has an online presence to help visitors in planning their journey. Trails are required to run largely off-road, with less than 20% of the route being on tarmac. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is the custodian of the brand, maintaining the official list and providing some of the finance and publicity, but responsibility for creating and maintaining each route lies with the local authority(ies) through which a route passes. There are 29 routes, offering 3000 km of trails in total. Additionally, the northernmost 10 kilometres (6 mi) of the Pennine Way between the Anglo-Scottish border and Kirk Yetholm lie within Scotland, but are designated as one of the National Trails of England.

The route of each of the Great Trails is marked with coloured diamonds on Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25000) and Landranger (1:50000) maps; the SGT logo of a thistle within a hexagon is also used to highlight the routes at the 1:25000 scale.

Spittal of Glenshee

The Spittal of Glenshee lies at the head of Glenshee in the highlands of eastern Perth and Kinross, Scotland where the confluence of many small streams flowing south out of the Grampians form the Shee Water. For centuries, there has been a hostel or inn at the site and, in modern times, the small village has become a centre for travel, tourism and winter sports in the region, sited at a bend on the A93 trunk road which leads from Blairgowrie north past the Spittal to the Glenshee Ski Centre and on to Braemar.

Inhabitation in the Neolithic period is indicated by a Megalithic standing stone behind the old kirk, and the Four Poster stone circle on a nearby mound.When interest in ski mountaineering revived after the First World War and the Scottish Ski Club was resuscitated in 1929, they restarted weekly snow reports with reporters appointed at Lix Toll near Killin, Dalwhinnie, Braemar and the Spittal of Glenshee. The Dundee Ski Club used the Spittal Hotel as its meeting place, and pioneered improvements, setting up the first ski tows in Britain at Glenshee in December 1950. The hotel burnt down in 1959 and was rebuilt in Scandinavian style. However it was once again destroyed by fire in August 2014 and currently the site is for sale.The village also provides a stopping place on the Cateran Trail waymarked long distance footpath which provides a 64-mile (103 km) circuit in the glens of Perthshire and Angus.Scotland's foremost folklorist, Hamish Henderson spent a number of years in the village and developed his interest in Gaelic culture there.

National Trails
(England and Wales)
Scotland's Great Trails
Long-distance path
(Northern Ireland)

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