Cateran Trail

Distance (km) Ascent (metres) Number of days
103 2470 4 - 5
Start: Blairgowrie Finish: Blairgowrie
Online map

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Books

Below we list printed maps and/or guidebooks in ascending order of cover price: click image or title for more info. To add or alter any items in this list, please Contact us.

Cateran Trail

Footprint Maps | Footprint Maps - 2010

£6.95
Cateran Trail

J Megarry | Rucksack Readers - 2015

£12.99

Route type and direction

Circuit. The Cateran Trail circuit can be joined at any point, but traditionally it is approached by a 7.2-mile (11.6-km) spur from Blairgowrie to Bridge of Cally. From there, the main circuit can be followed clockwise or anticlockwise to return to Blairgowrie (either via Bridge of Cally or direct from Alyth). There is also a Cateran Minitrail, a 20-mile (32-km) loop that follows the northern part of the main trail, generally started at Kirkmichael to reach Lair, and returns offroad from Lair to Kirkmichael.

Overview

The Cateran Trail is a fully waymarked circuit through the Perthshire and Angus glens in the heart of Scotland. Some of these routes follow the same ones used by the Caterans – fearsome cattle thieves who raided Strathardle, Glenshee and Glen Isla from the Middle Ages to the 17th century. The Cateran Minitrail samples some of the best bits of the main trail over a two-day adventure. It includes the trail’s highest point over scenic Strathardle and Glenshee, the remains of hut circles and Iron Age buildings. For those interested in geocaching, there are 20 special caches and a Cateran Trail Geocaching Passport. Find the caches and complete the passport to earn specially commissioned bronze or antique silver geocoins.

Highlights

  • Blackcraig, Dalnaglar and Forter castles
  • prehistoric buildings
  • Upper Lunch Hut, near the Trail’s highest point, and once visited by Queen Victoria
  • Dirnanean Gardens (open in the summer months)
  • Auchintaple Loch and Loch Shandra
  • Mount Blair (744m/2440ft): an optional detour with stunning views

Be aware

  • limited accommodation at Spittal of Glenshee
  • map-and-compass skills needed on the Lair to Kirkmichael section of the Minitrail

The challenge

The Cateran Trail is well waymarked and mostly follows old drove roads and ancient tracks across varied terrain of farmland, forest and moors. Many of the old stiles have been replaced with modern self-closing gates for easier access. It is suitable for a wide range of abilities including less experienced walkers. The five stages of the main trail vary in length from 8.5miles/13.7km to 15.5miles/24.9km, and the whole Trail can comfortably be completed in five days. There is only one long climb, with no very steep sections, to the trail’s highest point at the An Lairig gate (648m/2130ft).

Accommodation

There are several villages along the trail at which visitors can find B&Bs, hotels, lodges and camping accommodation. Accommodation can be in high demand, so booking in advance is recommended. Since the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel burned down in 2014, there is limited accommodation at Spittal.

There are various designated campsites along the trail. Wild camping is legally allowed in Scotland if practised responsibly under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Support services

Most of the hotels and B&Bs on the trail offer baggage transfer and pick-up and drop-off services. Alternatively, pick-up and drop-off at the start and end of each Trail section can be arranged with local taxi firms. Baggage transfer and guided walks can also be arranged through Outdoor Explore which is based in Alyth and Perth. Several companies provide complete packages:

Public transport

The nearest train station is in Perth and then a bus or taxi can be used to reach Blairgowrie 15 miles further north. The bus journey takes around 45 minutes.

For details of relevant buses, visit Traveline Scotland, or, for the entire UK, Traveline. For travel from anywhere to anywhere, try Rome2Rio.

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