Blair Atholl Off Road & Mountain Biking Bruar Loop 2162 <p>Start at the car park at the House of Bruar adjacent to the A9. Turn right up the old A9 to Calvine. After the defunct petrol station (check out those prices, I wish!) you will see a a green Scotways sign for the Minigaig Pass to Speyside. Head up this track. After the last house on your left before the A9, turn left and immediately right, passing through a little car park and you'll come to the short tunnel under the A9. This is a safer crossing than the one offered by turning right at the house. Now the climbing starts, steady and exposed. Fortunately, it's amongst a panorama formed by Ben Vrackie, Farragon, Schiehallion, the Drumochter hills and Beinn Dearg. It's also a good place to see black grouse and other upland and woodland-edge birds.<br />Soon you'll start the downhill (can be sketchy) to the former home of the laughing (read drunk) man of Cuilltemhuc (locked), found very pleased with himself in his bath, apparently. Head down towards the fords of the Bruar Water. These are generally low because of hydro extraction upstream. Many have been tempted to ride them and it can be done. Just look out for Pete Dogg's rock in the middle of the second (main) ford, it's a wheel stopper. Peter was (almost) uninjured but his expensive bike light needed intensive care! Anyway get across the fords as dry as you can and head up past Ruichlachrie (derelict with limited shelter) to the junction with the Banvie trails. Turn right and head down through the deer gate passing through woodland. Turn right at all junctions.<br />To attain the wonderful (and not a little risky) singletrack ending, turn right up the brutally steep but short path to the upper bridge over the Bruar Water. Head down the path along the top of the gorge (look out for walkers). If you feel the need to bail out then make sure it's to the right! Actually, it's great fun and you should stop frequently to appreciate the gorgeous (pun fully intended) scenery of the Bruar Falls. Too soon, you'll go under the railway and come out next to the retail phenomenon that is the House of Bruar.<br />Tips:<br />It's not suitable for beginners or young children. The gorge is largely unfenced. There are many other routes in this area. <br />OS Landranger (1:50 000) 43 Braemar and Blair Atholl<br />All of this starts a stone's throw from the A9 at Bruar, about 50 minutes north of Perth.<br />Do the route clockwise.<br />It's fantastic in a low sun, it really causes the trees to glow red. Best done early morning, evening or at night with good lights.<br />Avoid Bank Holidays: House of Bruar measures its visitors in millions http://www.houseofbruar.com/ .<br />It's all rideable. At the steep wooden steps in the gorge, keep right and you can take the chute next to them, there's space for most handlebars, you may have to shoogle a bit!<br />Nearest and best bike shop is the rather fab Escape Route in Pitlochry 20 minutes away back down the A9; http://www.escape-route.co.uk/. This offers all facilities, services, banter and sympathy.<br />Great camping, food and beer in Blair Atholl less than ten minutes away.</p> Allt Sheicheachan Bothy Circuit 1804 Probably best to get the pronunciation out of the way first!&nbsp; Sheicheachan is pronounced 'ee igh an'! It takes a comfortable two to two and a half hours in the dry with stops.&nbsp; Expect to get wet feet.<br />The route starts with a steady climb from Blair Atholl, up lower Glen Tilt, past the shooting range, out on to grouse moor alongside the Slanaidh Burn (a few water crossings but none is dodgy), before cresting the watershed (Haribo stop) and flying down to the Allt Sheicheachan (where the footpath to the Munro, Beinn Dearg, heads off).&nbsp; The route continues downhill to the burn crossing (usually best walked over (just ask Iain!)) at the bothy.&nbsp; It's Mountain Bothies Association sponsored and provides important and sometimes essential respite. MBA's a voluntary group and a donation towards the upkeep would be much appreciated: <a href="http://www.mountainbothies.org.uk/" target="_blank">http://www.mountainbothies.org.uk/</a>&nbsp; . <br />A path heads north off over to Glen Bruar from here but you stay on the track and head uphill, initially, to cross more grouse moor.&nbsp; The track will eventually join the Banvie Burn and lead you back to Blair Atholl.<br /> <div><b>Tips:</b><br /> Maps- OS Explorer 394 Atholl 1:25000 or OS Landranger Braemar and Blair Atholl 43 1:50000<br />Sheicheachan is pronounced 'ee igh an'!<br />It's amongst mountains: bring appropriate gear for Scottish hills i.e. everything!<br />It's virtually all on land rover track with no singletrack and crosses several small burns.<br />This route starts and stops at the gates to Blair Castle, a genuinely great place to visit. Parking is across the road or up at the Glen Tilt car park (NN874662), which the route passes.&nbsp; Blair Atholl has pubs, hotels and shops plus a fab Mill where you can sip coffee and eat Rami's wonderful bread, bagels, carrot cake etc made from freshly milled flour.<br />The nearest bike shop is the incomparable Escape Route, ten mins away by car in Pitlochry, on the main street near the tourist information centre. <a href="http://www.escape-route.co.uk/">http://www.escape-route.co.uk/</a><br />Do the route anticlockwise for the best downhills.<br />There's a huge range of routes in this area.&nbsp; Check out others on EveryTrail or just browse a map!</div> Beinn A'Ghlo Loop (Glen Tilt circuit) 1779 <strong>A rewarding winter mountain bike ride through an area steeped in history requiring fitness and commitment (and Haribo Tangfastics)</strong><br /><br />Even though this is largely on land rover track, you don't normally get to ride this route in winter because of the snow and ice. However, it was so snow-free, dry and mild that the three of us decided to give it a go. Two of us live locally and know it well. It's tempting to ride it clockwise but resist that! By riding anticlockwise you get that sweet Fealar singletrack and then 13 or so miles straight down Glen Tilt to the Atholl Arms!<br />It starts with a killer climb up from Blair Atholl up the River Tilt, through Old Bridge of Tilt and then by the Fender Burn on the Monzie road to Loch Moraig. It continues with a more gentle climb towards the uninhabited farm of Shinagag (with a wide and shallow ford en route that should be taken slowly if you want to try to keep your feet dry). Before the descent to the Girnaig Burn bridge for Shinagag look out for the old track branching off to your left/East (639 682) . It sometimes has a cairn marking it but this often falls over. If you follow it then you'll come to the Girnaig about a mile further upstream of Shinagag. Fording is usually easy but at least one wet foot is guaranteed most of the time. Head upstream for a hundred metres or so and you'll see a natural weir formed by the burn. You might find it easier to cross there.<br /><br />Push your bike up the hill (much further than you think) and you'll encounter the solid, singletrack (and ancient) trail from Shinagag to Glen Fernate. The views to your left are fab/distracting and it's a good place to look for eagles and red deer. This is an area steeped in hunting history (the gaelic place names support this) and territorial disputes. Mary, Queen of Scots hunted here and is reputed to have caused the death of several beaters by releasing her hounds too early and stampeded the deer over the men. Soon you meet the land rover track for an exhilarating downhill to the site of the old bothy at Ruigh Chuilein. To your left towards Loch Loch is the site of a fairly recent tragedy involving the crew and passengers of an RAF Hercules transport aircraft. Loch Loch itself is worth a detour any day, it's name is self-evident! It is home to Arctic charr and has some really interesting plants on the crags above.<br /><br />Now, take the undulating track down to Daldhu and turn left up Glen Fernate towards Fealar Lodge. This is a long series of climbs, with exhilarating downhills, taking you deeper into the mountains. Not long after halfway round this circuit, you come to the long, narrow, wooded gorge of Gleann Mor and then Feith Lair gorge (where the name Fealar comes from). Shortly after you encounter Fealar.<br /><br />The appearance of a settlement is surprising enough but the pink paintwork gives a further, if somewhat incongruous, touch! This is reputed to be the most isolated inhabited home in Scotland. It's difficult to disagree. I know several people who have lived here and, although life wasn't easy, Fealar is held with deep affection. You can imagine the stories that this place has generated over the centuries! Further progress is not clear at this point. So, go through the gate and then follow the track towards the houses bearing left round towards the yapping dogs in the kennels. The trail continues to the right of the kennels and out through a gate into the fields, becoming singletrack and heading towards Glen Tilt. This section is on fenced, rough grassland and apart from some short very boggy sections and burn crossings, is rideable with a few gate stops.<br /><br />The singletrack leading down to the nascent River Tilt is amongst the sweetest in Scotland. If your mojo is present then expect to arrive at the river bank with cheeks sweetly painful from grinning, your nostrils full of the acrid stench of brake pads and adrenaline influenced hyperbole on your lips ! There's no shame in dabbing, just get yourself down safely to the river crossing. This is generally straightforward, but take care and don't try and stay dry (in the unlikely event that you still are). On the other side of the river you are heading left. You can cycle through to Braemar if you turn right. but this report isn't about that route! By the river, you'll see several remains of settlements and buildings. These are a testament to past communities who populated these glens. Centuries ago, a nasty, bullying local laird met a bad end near to here. His horse was found by the river, several miles from where it was judged to have stampeded. The laird's leg was all that was still attached to the horse, by the stirrup. Oops. 'Devil mend you', as my Mum would've said.<br />Swing your leg back over your frame and enjoy the technical singletrack downstream to the Bedford Bridge. The plaque tells you a little of the reason why it is so named. In order to prevent the great unwashed from disturbing his deer shooting, a former Duke of Atholl had the previous bridge removed. A young English lad called Bedford drowned attempting to ford the Tarff at this point. A public subscription was put together and a new bridge was installed. Be grateful for their generosity and spirit! Soon the singletrack ends and the land rover track restarts. This will be your companion for many miles down through the extraordinary Glen Tilt (in winter no adult salmon will bve around but it's fun spotting them in pools in the summer). Generally, downhill and fast, you are heading to Blair Atholl (an hour or so away) and rest/pints/crisps/food/car/home/therapy/relationship counselling, whatever!<br /><br />Be aware that the glen is soaked in history: Kings brought Papal Envoys here for a decadent feast, it gave birth to the Scottish Rights of Way movement, it's where the first manned, powered flight took place in the British Isles, it's where some of the most significant interpretations in geology were described first bringing into fierce confrontation scientific theory and the beliefs of the established church, there was a marble quarry, US Presidents and other World Leaders have shot deer here but it's the links to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert that are probably most popularly known. There are lots of stories in books of local history and some great illustrations of their expeditions up the Glen. Seek out the picture of them crossing the Tarff ford complete with kilted pipers! Fantastic or just a bit daft?! See John Kerr's books for much better info.<br /><br />Continue on for miles. Cross the Tilt down at Cumhann-leum Bridge, climb up the last incline and then tear down the descent that spits you out of the glen road, past the wee cottage, across the road and into the Glen Tilt car park. To get to the village, continue on down past the car park, with the caravan site on your left until you encounter the main drive to Blair Castle. Turn left on to it and head down to Blair Atholl. If the main gates are closed then bikes can exit by a track to the left of the gates. That's it! You've done it and if you're normal then you'll be knackered, happy and in much need of sustenance. Remember beer is food! ;-) I hope you enjoy and appreciate it, Mike<br /><br />Tips:<br />Do it anticlockwise, like the locals.<br />Bring a map: OS Landranger 43 Braemar &amp; Blair Atholl is best and shows bale-out routes if required. The Explorer's might give more detail but you'll have to carry two or three to cover the area.<br />Escape Route in Pitlochry (01796 473859 http://www.escape-route.co.uk/index.html ), ten mins by car south of Blair Atholl, is my friend's genuinely outstanding bike shop. You can have anything done there, supplied there and laugh while sipping freshly ground coffee while you do.<br />This is a six hours bike ride amongst mountains, often isolated by hours from help.<br />Phone signal is patchy and unreliable after crossing the Girnaig.<br />In addition to the usual Camelback stuff, bring extra food, socks, a hat, gloves and a replacement rear dropout.<br />Don't try to race it unless you've something to prove. This is a route to be savoured, shared and laughed about.<br /><br /> Falls of Bruar from Blair Castle 1213 <p>This route has very short stretches of public road, but for the most part is a mix of tracks through the fields surrounding Blair Castle with a woodland section taking you to the farthest point at the Falls of Bruar.&nbsp; Full details on pdf route card below.</p> Glen Banvie Trail 176 <p>Part of this path follows the route of the Banvie Burn Walk but continues uphill into Glen Banvie Wood. Continue out of the wood over open moor, home to the rare black grouse and its more common cousin the red grouse.</p> <p><br /> Further up the track are the ruins of Bail an t'Sepail (Chapel Town) leading into Baluain Wood. At the bottom of the hill, a slight detour leads to the Falls of Bruar, immortalized in a poem by Robert Burns in 1787, 'The Humble Petition of Bruar Water to the Noble Duke of Atholl', supposedly from the river itself entreating the then Duke to plant some trees in the then barren landscape.</p> <p><br /> The final part of the walk offers views of the River Garry and Ben Vrackie, above Pitlochry.</p>