It was a bit dreich as I left Dundee, but as I headed west it started t get a wee bit brighter. Despite the sun being hidden behind the clouds it was still warm when I called in to see my parents at Stanley. I was ultimately on my way up to Strathardle to cycle part of The Cateran Trail over into neighbouring Glen Shee.
I parked in the layby just over the bridge before Straloch, assembled my bike and cycled back down the road towards Enochdhu. I passed the Croft House standing stone, just across the road from the Tulloch Guest House, as I wanted to press on, but as I reached the stone’s twin – the Wester Enochdhu standing stone – I decided to stop.
Unfortunately I completely forgot about the Giant’s Grave in Enochdhu as I joined The Cateran Trail climbing up past Dirnanean Garden. The track continues through Home Farm where an elderly collie was lying beside the farm buildings. I think he must have been deaf as he didn’t seem to hear me approach, and when he finally did, he stood up – just to let me know it was his farm but he’d let me through – then lay back down without making a sound. Up above the farm you can see The Cateran Trail stretching out ahead of you.
The track at this point is a rough, wide forestry track, and beside it, about 1km from Home Farm, is what looks like a standing stone which I’ve named Calamanach after the nearby wood.
Since it isn’t marked on the map or mentioned by Canmore I wondered at first if it could just be for showing the edge of the track in winter. But the stone is actually on the wrong side of the ditch for this purpose, which suggests to me it may well be a standing stone. I’ve reported it to the county archaeologist.
Not long after this stone I turned into the forest and started a long twisting climb uphill, dropping down to ford the Allt Dubhagan before climbing steeply once again to the edge of the forest and a deer fence. Lifting my bike through the high style I was viewed with some suspicion by a small band of sheep, but they soon lost interest when they realised I wasn’t a threat. I made my way along the fence to the north-west and finally reached possibly the tiniest stone circle I have ever seen – Fàire na Pàitig.
Looking at these stones it struck me how important they must have been to the people who erected them. From the looks of the landscape, this area would have been a temporary summer settlement, but the inhabitants still felt the need to build a stone circle – however small. Leading away from Fàire na Pàitig is a perfectly-straight line of 5 hut-circles, with one crowning the summit of Elrig, where I stopped for my lunch after wading through knee-high heather to reach it.
As I walked through the heather to get back down to the track, light rain started falling. By now the trail had turned from forestry track to grass, which was now getting wet, and I was cursing myself for not buying new tyres last week. With hardly any grip left, I was forced to walk up over the shoulder of Creag an Dubh Shluic because of too much wheelspin. But at the top I was rewarded with magnificent views over Spittal of Glenshee to Gleann Beag.
Once over the peak the track changed again to muddy singletrack, so I got back on my bike and started my steep descent down to Spittal of Glenshee, cursing myself for not buying new brake pads last week! After a few hairy downhill moments – partly due to looking at the stunning view over Glen Shee – I rounded the corner to find my way blocked by a large bull lying across the track.
Luckily a university holiday spent working on a farm up near Memus had left me well used to cows, so I just rode up to him and asked him to move, which he did, obligingly. From Spittal of Glenshee I cycled down the A93 through Glen Shee, cutting across on the B950 to Kirkmichael, then back up through Enochdhu to the car.