Aberfeldy and Dull, Perthshire

Grade: Easy road loop

Distance: 14 miles/23km

Time: 1-2 hours

THE Highland Perthshire town of Aberfeldy is an excellent place to base yourself if you fancy a weekend of cycling. The roads are generally quiet and there is a mass of off-road potential in the woods and forests around the town. And I shouldn’t forget the excellent Aberfeldy Watermill bookshop and café – that’s well worth a visit whether you are cycling or not.

I began this short and relatively easy road route from a small car park behind the recently refurbished Birks Cinema. Once on the main road through the town I knew all I had to do was keep cycling west on the A827 as far as the foot of Loch Tay at Kenmore. My return journey would be along the north side of the River Tay, along the evocatively named Appin of Dull.

The National:

The A827 was surprisingly quiet – I really thought I’d be competing with timber lorries and juggernauts but there was hardly even much car traffic, which suited me just fine. The road is undulating, initially with the River Tay running close to the road on your right. Ahead I could see snow-covered hills, the Carn Mairg Munros I reckoned. Winter still gripped the land.

A check of my map showed me that this part of Highland Perthshire is littered with tumuli, standing stones and stone circles so I wasn’t surprised to see signs guiding me to the Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay. It features a unique reconstruction of an early Iron Age crannog, a loch dwelling. There are good examples of the standing stones and circles at Croft Moraig, just before you reach the entrance to Taymouth Castle.

After a longish climb it was good to freewheel down to Kenmore, on the shores of Loch Tay. The loch stretched out before me with the big snow-covered hills dominating everything. Kenmore is a pretty wee place, a planned estate village created by the Earl of Breadalbane in the late 18th century.

I crossed The Square, a rather imposing broad street that contains the Kenmore Hotel which claims to be the oldest inn in Scotland. Robert Burns was a visitor in 1787 and scratched a poem on the plaster of one of the walls. I dare not describe it as ‘graffiti’.

I continued across the bridge over the infant River Tay before turning right at Mains of Taymouth. If the A827 had been quiet this minor road was even quieter. Forested slopes rose to my left, climbing to Drummond Hill, and to my right the open flood plain of the river allowed the scenery to breathe.

I was soon past the ranks of conifer and crossed the River Lyon just before it joined the Tay. Once across the river I turned right and continued through Dull (aye, it’s twinned with Boring, Oregon, USA). There was once a monastery here, founded in 687 by St Adamnan who was once the Abbot of Iona. He died in 704. Hence the name of the strath, the Appin of Dull – Appin derives from the old Irish word ‘apdaine’ or ‘abbacy’, which refers to the former monastic estate.

I wonder if Boring, Oregon has such an interesting history?

Not far along the road is Menzies Castle, seat of the Chiefs of Clan Menzies. It was built in the 16th century and Charles Edward Stuart apparently rested here for two nights on his way to the fateful Battle of Culloden in 1746.

The National:

Menzies Castle is located close to the small village of Weem, where I turned south to cross the impressive Wade Bridge over the River Tay. It was built in 1733 by the architect William Adam (son of the better known Robert Adam), who considered it his greatest achievement.

Map: OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 52 (Pitlochry & Crieff)
Start/Finish: Aberfeldy (GR: NN857491)
Distance: 14 miles/23km
Time: 1-2 hours
Coffee & cake: Taymouth Marina Restaurant, 01887 830450
Information: Aberfeldy TIC, 01887 820276
Link to digital map: https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/5842113/Rte-28-C14-Aberfeldy © Crown copyright 2020 Ordnance Survey. Media 059/20.