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Published: February 8th 2020
After the first part of the A to Z of Perthshire which was a nice circular run starting and finishing in Aberfeldy , it was time for something a bit more problematic. The run itself was reasonably straight forward. Lots of trail and over two race routes I had ran previously . My anxiety revolved around getting to the start and then returning to the car afterward.Achievement one – I arrived at Ballanluig a good fifteen minutes before the bus to Aberfeldy was due to depart – I toasted the lack of traffic action at regular trouble spots Hermison Gait , The Queensferry Crossing and The Broxten Roundabout with a cup of tea in a café as I waited for the bus. The bus dropped me where I had stopped the previous week and just to make sure I hadn’t forgotten where we are up to with this , I ran a few yards eastwards to reach The Dewars World Of Whisky giving me a bonus D.
I quickly found the Rob Roy Way path that would take me most of the way to the next checkpoint. This hugged the River Tay for a few miles and at
the point where it picked up a disused railway line , I climbed a wee hill to keep a view of the river. There is never a bad time to visit this area however the start of autumn is probably premium . The colours were excellent contrasting with the dark , brooding pools of the river. I didn’t spot any anglers which was a surprise with the season closing soon. Possibly too expensive for this stretch.
I reached Grandtully quickly and felt as if the first few miles had flown by. I crossed the bridge at the canoe centre where the river churns up into rapids. I remembered a race starting there at the odd time of a Sunday evening. I think it was organised as the end of a try canoeing day . We were on holiday in the area and I managed to take part. The next few miles went up through Strathtay Golf Course and climbed steadily ( always a nightmare for hillrunners who like dropping to a walk occasionally). I passed the turning point of the race and the remains of a stone circle which must have been some Neolithic viewpoint.
After a pause to enjoy one of many great views on the day , the path descended through forestry towards Pitlochry . At times the descent was steeper than the climb however nothing technical and I felt comfortable wearing road shoes. After crossing the A9 with care , I joined the end of the Pitlochry 10km course that ends at the festival theatre. I have only done this race once – the course is lovely however I had a bad run the day I did it. We weren’t ready for an F yet so the theatre was ignored and I made my way through the town looking for the Black Spout path that leads to the Edradour Distillery.
The good news was I was ahead of time as I reached one of Scotland’s most beautiful distilleries. Sadly I arrived as a tour group was leaving who all needed to have a fly fag at the gates. Not good when I was still breathing heavily from the climb to get there. Also, Im not a regular whisky drinker and the prices of the product in the shop were eye watering. Over £100 for their cask strength offering.
Even the £6.50 for the miniature was beyond my pocket. Having gained the height to visit Edradour , I decided to take the high path round to Moulin and visit The Moulin Inn. I enjoyed a wee snack and a very fine pint and it will shock no-one to learn that there may be a longer visit there in a few letters time.
The path also gave a great view of Ben Vrackie – Im hoping for a clear day when that stage is reached also. Leaving the Hotel, I ran passed the adjoining brewery, and took the road down past the golf club and Craigower pond.
Tranquility was breached by the yells of ducks and a swan was dredging with its long neck under the water. F had given three choices of more or less the same thing. Firstly I reached Loch Faskally which was created when the dam was built in 1950. Ground breaking in its day – it was an early example of hydropower being used to create energy.
Seeing the dam at Pitlochry with the flews open is a spectacular site. Ample rainfall and water cascading down mountain sides
was an asset exploitable and a forerunner to the wind and tidal projects commonly seen today . If we put our minds to it , sustainable energy could reach the point of free delivery for the majority of Scots.
Despite reaching an obvious F , I chose to continue through Faskally Wood , back on the Pitlochry 10 km route , until I reached Faskally House. The preponderance of strictly private signs made me feel this was a wasted effort . Also as the property is a Christian Fellowship Centre I didn’t quite understand the need for privacy. Sating that – I had concluded another stage and reached 6 letters of the Perthshire A to Z . I was tired but it had been a very enjoyable day. Now where had I left the car again?
I had decided that the 17 miles I had ran was enough and I walked onto the road looking for a bus. I then walked into Pitlochry looking for a bus. I found a bus stop with a timetable helpfully attached to its post. Very few buses existed. Despite Pitlochry boasting it is Highland Perthshire’s biggest town. Good
news - There was one due that would take me to the south side of Pitlochry except on a Tuesday . It was a Tuesday. I walked through the village and stupidly didn’t fancy the half hour wait on a bus that did exist that was going to Ballanluig. I had underestimated the distance I had to walk. Also at the Pitlochry A9 junction I didn’t fancy the verge of the A9 and took a B road which added about three miles onto the trek. Very nice it was – lots of lovely Perthshire houses and views of the valley . Lots of weaving around corners and doubling back to cast some doubt on whether I was ever going to get back to the car. Fortunately two hours after completing the run , I did arrive at the car. This was a lesson . I would have to be very careful with any point to point days that I was doing on this A to Z – especially with the days shortening. Sometimes it is better to learn than it is to achieve. Pleased to report the next bit will be easier ….and the planning will be better….
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