For the second day on the trot I set out to work off some Christmas cheer, this time heading west for Comrie. The family were having a little get together at my grandparents’ in Crieff, so the idea was to get some stone-related cycling in, then head there.
A late night last night had put an end to the plan to leave before dawn, so I set off at a much more reasonable 11:30, the bike still in the back of the car from yesterday, stopping at the Broxden services for petrol and provisions.
Driving out on the A85, I passed the cairn and its standing stone at New Fowlis, which I’d decided to save for a return trip to Fowlis Wester. On through Crieff I went, until I reached the standing stone at Lawers, two thirds of the way to Comrie.
Parking at the layby just beyond it, I walked back and had a quick blether with the very friendly equine residents of the field before jumping the fence to get a better look at this big stone.
Back in the car, I continued on my way to Comrie, parking at the car park beside the school, where I assembled my bike, and added to the layers of clothing I was already wearing.
A freezing wind was rushing down the River Earn from Ben Vorlich‘s snow-capped peak, which made the going tough as I set off for the remains of a stone circle at Wester Tullybannocher. After stopping to take a few photos, I didn’t hang around long at this very exposed site, and struggled on to the Dalchonzie turn-off.
It was still cold, but the wind behind me made the ride back much easier as I followed the Earn down to Comrie. Crossing the river into the “suburb” of Dalginross, I made my way to the “Roman Stone” close to West Cowden Farm. Several standing stones around here have been attributed to the Romans in the past, presumably by those believing the Romans brought us civilisation!
Continuing along the B827, there was a fantastic view over Cultybraggan camp to Glen Artney ahead of me, the snow-covered peaks set against a crisp blue sky. Next stop was Auchingarrich wildlife centre. On the long climb up the track to the park I passed the wallaby enclosure, which contained a pair of wallabies looking none too amused by the temperature.
Stopping in the car park to look at a large sign showing a map of the centre, I couldn’t figure out where the standing stone was. According to my OS map it should’ve been right here. As I walked away to find someone, I realised it was right behind the sign! This is a huge stone standing on a large mound, spoiled only slightly by the covered walkway behind it, which provides protection from the elements for people looking at the chickens.
I cycled back down to the main road, stopping on the way to take some photos of the none-too-distant wintry mountains. And I also stopped at the bottom to have my sandwiches and crack open the thermos, much to the amusement of passing motorists – sitting on a wall in sub-zero conditions having a picnic.
My fingers began to freeze as soon as I took my gloves off, and the Snickers bar that had been in an outside pocket of my rucksack was actually frozen – I couldn’t bite into it, and when I tried to break a piece off, the caramel snapped clean off! Who needs a Snickers ice cream when you live in Perthshire?!
I thought about continuing on a wee bit further to the stones at Dunruchan and Dalchirla, but by now the temperature was beyond a joke, and I turned back for Comrie. In the car park out of the worst of the wind, I took the gloves off and poured myself a cup of tea to defrost my fingers before trying to get the wheels off my bike.
With the bike safely stowed in the back of the car, and the heater on full blast, I re-traced my steps past Auchingarrich, then drove to Dunruchan. I must confess that the heat inside and the wind that was buffeting the car conspired to make me drive on past with thoughts of returning in summer for these stones.
By this time I was dreaming of the warmth I would find in my grandparents’ house, and so I drove on past Dalchirla, Concraig and Dargill without stopping. Looks like I could well be back over here next week, only after I’ve warmed up though!