I set out today with great intentions of finding a couple of little-known stone circles to the south of Aberfeldy.
The plan was to cycle around Craig Formal on the forestry tracks and visit the Coilleaichur circle, then follow the Calliachur Burn over the hills towards Glen Quaich to see the Shian Burn circle. Nice plan, but in reality somewhat more difficult to carry out!
My quest began at the forestry car park at the head of Glen Cochill, just to the south-east of Aberfeldy, which looks out towards Schiehallion. This afternoon the mountain was barely visible, enshrouded in cloud.
I cycled back along the main road, past Loch na Creige and entered the forest to the west soon after. A long, rough forestry track stretched out in front of me, and I had a good feeling about today’s cycling. After initially heading south, I took a track that headed north-west towards the summit of Elrig Mhòr – a long climb – before turning south-west to skirt the south side of Craig Formal. I reached the cross-roads marked on the map – so far so good – and it was then that the trouble started!
The branch of the cross-roads I was taking – to the north-west – is marked on the OS map with a double dotted line, suggesting that it was a decent size. In reality, it was badly overgrown with heather, and only just visible in places. Add to that boggy sections and it soon became very difficult to cycle. Although beautiful to look at!
Unsurprisingly I made very slow progress, as I was having to carry my bike on my shoulder and wade through knee-high heather in places. It took me around half an hour just to do a couple of kilometres! The Coilleaichur circle – marked on the map as an enclosure – was somewhere in the forest to my left, but the thickness of the forest and the slowness of my progress conspired to stop me going in for a look. It was late afternoon and already getting dark, and I didn’t fancy being stuck in the forest for the night!
Eventually the barely visible track disappeared under waist-high grass with a stream running through it, so I followed this and finally dropped out onto a major forestry track. Looking at the map confirmed I’d come out exactly where I’d expected, but I’d lost the will to look for circles by now, despite the fact it was probably only a couple of hundred metres away, hidden in the trees.
The thought of finding a way out of the forest to the west to look for the Shian Burn circle was now out of the question, so now that I was on a hard-packed rocky forestry track I decided to follow it down to the main road and call it quits. The track dropped me onto the main road just where the Allt Glac Ruighe Fionnlaidh trickles under a bridge.
Then it was the small matter of a steep climb back up to the car park, then the drive home. I might have failed to see any stones today, but at least I knew of a much easier route to the Coilleaichur circle for next time!