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The Bealach Path and Killiecrankie Loop

By Julian Paren

The Bealach Path and Killiecrankie Loop Saturday 6 August 2022

This walk to Killiecrankie over the hills from Pitlochry and then back by the River Garry is described in a number of trail guides. The route receives acclaim with high star ratings. So, it was no surprise that Jo and Richard Doake were able to persuade Scotways (The Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society) to lead this route for a sociable walk for its members. The route details were: 8.5 miles/14km; 530 m ascent; and the walk was graded B/B+ “suitable for people of average fitness with hill-walking experience” with walking poles recommended for the hill section.

Seven Scotways members and two well-behaved dogs joined up on the Saturday morning in Pitlochry. Unexpectedly, it was raining hard. The approach towards Ben Vrackie through the woodlands by the Moulin Burn was walked in a persistent drizzle, but the opportunity was taken to replenish a bird feeder by the path. On leaving the woods and joining the moorland, the rain eased and the low-lying cloud started to lift off the hills. The ascent to the Bealach na Searmoin was taken gently and by the time the pass was reached the hills were completely clear and the visibility had become excellent. With less than a quarter of the walk behind us it was downhill all the way home. So there was time to study the ecology of the hillside. Jo Doake excelled in searching out the less usual berry plants and plenty were ripe enough for sampling.

The easy descent to Killiecrankie was broken by the lunch stop above a large field used in the past as a campsite by the Boys Brigade. The plan for the day had been to take lunch at the National Trust for Scotland Visitor Centre at Killiecrankie, but the suggestion that this would be an open invitation for midges to take advantage of us, led us to picnic on the open hillside. At Killiecrankie all was well with the insects so a further refreshment stop followed.

The longer half of the day took the group along the River Garry, firstly beside the railway viaduct and then under the Garry Bridge. Here there was the spectacle of youngsters on a number of Zip wires criss-crossing the River Garry. This was the site of the Killie Zip Park where adults and youngsters from eight years up could spend an hour for £39 traversing the River Garry. This was not without some concern when a light youngster did not have enough momentum to gain the platform at the end of one wire. Quickly a safety officer crabbed along the wire and entangled the person using her legs and then crabbed back to a high platform supporting the wire. The rest of the walk was taken gently with a coffee/cake stop made at the Boat House Cafe by Loch Faskally. Later the sound of traffic on the A9 detracted from the rural scene before the walk to the Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre was completed via Loch Dunmore.

The consensus view on the internet is that the walk takes just over five hours and our own Scotways Walk Description suggested 5-6 hours. Our walk had taken seven hours, but as the weather had held after the first thirty minutes there was no imperative to hurry. The sun was in short supply but with a slight breeze walking conditions were perfect. A delight of the walk was to learn much from our fellow walkers and to discover mutual friends. The summer may be the least exciting season for this walk, but the dry conditions underfoot were a bonus.

You can see this trip plotted on a map on the Geo-trips page Link . Please note the GPS track did not start at the start of the walk at NN943595.

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Tue, 9 Aug 2022 at 12:18
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geotagged! NN9260
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