Having had such fun last weekend trying to cycle through foot-deep snow drifts in the Allean Forest, last night’s weather forecast predicting more snow above 1000ft, but also bright sun and clear blue skies helped me make my mind up for today’s destination – to the hills!
As usual, the bike was dismantled and stuck in the back of the wee car, and I set off just as the sun started to come up on a glorious Perthshire day. A couple of hairy moments on the way to Murthly confirmed that it was icy under foot, so slow progress was made to Dunkeld, where I crossed the A9 into the dark tree tunnel along Strathbraan. Turning up Glen Cochill, the sun behind me turned the hill-sides golden brown – texture like sun? – and I pressed on, stopping opposite Griffin Forest to take a photo of Schiehallion, rising above Aberfeldy with it’s snow-capped peak glistening in the morning light.
Aberfeldy was deserted except for a lone paperboy cycling down towards the bridge, which I crossed on my way to Weem and beyond towards Schiehallion. Instead of parking in my usual spot by Loch Kinnardochy, I continued on a bit further to the car park at the Tomphubil lime kiln. As I assembled my bike, Schiehallion disappeared before my very eyes! I had managed to come to the only place in Perthshire that wasn’t bathed in glorious winter sunshine!
As the sleet began to fall, I set off for Tummel Bridge, another place that seems to empty of people in the winter, although it was still before 9 o’clock on a freezing morning. The river was high, and the power station had it’s sluices open, adding to the volume of water rushing by. As I cycled beside Dunalastair Water, the sleet stopped and Schiehallion was revealed in her full glory as the clouds lifted.
Kinloch Rannoch had a bit more life about it as I passed through on my way to the timeshare complex on the north-east shore of Loch Rannoch. Leaving my bike at the side of the road, I was viewed with some suspicion by a timeshare guest on the running machine in the glass-fronted gym – this is surely the only place in Scotland where you can work out while looking at a standing stone! The stone in question is the Clach a’ Mharsainte or Pedlar’s Stone, where an unfortunate merchant sat for a rest one summer many years ago, and didn’t get up again – he rested his pack on the stone without actually taking it off, it fell over the back of the stone, and he was hanged by his wares.
I also had a look for a stone called Clach Ghlas, which was marked nearby on the 1867 OS map. I found a large flat-ish stone in the right area, but it was covered in 2 inch-thick moss, so I don’t know what it’s significance is. It may well be cup-marked, but I can’t find any reference to it other than on the old map.
I had been planning to cycle along the side of the loch to Rannoch Station and take some photos of over towards Lochaber, but the colour of the sky and the rain hitting the water in the distance made me turn around and re-trace my route back to the car. And sure enough, as I made my way back down to Aberfeldy, the sun was blazing in a clear blue sky, which was the same all the way back to Stanley. I had managed – again! – to find the only place in Perthshire it was raining!