Aberfoyle To Dunblane

Bute To The Trossachs

ROUTE LENGTH: 21 MILES

By Road

Return by A821, then turn left onto A81, pasing Port of Menteith, where you can take the Ferry to Inchmahome, followed by take A873 and B826, then left onto A84 (Station Wynd), then right on A820, follow to end. Turn right onto B8033 (dual carriageway), then left onto Beech Rd and High street to Dunblane Cathedral.

By Cycle

Ride from Aberfoyle by A821, then first right onto A81. Follow, stopping at Menteith to take the ferry to Inchmahome. There are some steep points on this route, shortly before Port of Menteith, and approaching Dunblane.

By Public Transport

Ferry to Inchmahome (closed November to March):

Sailings are on demand and operate a constant shuttle at busy times. If the boat (maximum of 12 passengers) is not at the pier on arrival, turn the wooden board so the white side faces the island aletring staff to visitors waiting.

1 April-30 Sept – Daily, first outing sailing at 10am, last outward sailing at 4.15pm

1-31 October, first sailing daily at 10am, last sailing at 3.15pm.

From Aberfoyle tourist information centre, take the C11 towards Stirling, decanting at Inchmoy. Walk back along the A81 to Port of Menteith, and take the ferry to Inchmahome if open. Then continue to take the C11 to Stirling, and there you can take several options. You can take the train from Stirling to Dunblane. From the same bus station the C11 stops at there is the 58 to Dunblane, decanting at George Street. From there, it is an 8 minute walk to the cathedral. Alternatively take the M8 to Dundee, and get off at Dunblane, and proceed to the cathedral.

To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.

Aberfoyle is gateway to the most beautiful parts of the Trossachs but it has its own distinctive religious associations. The local saint is Bearachan who founded his church by the ancient fortress of Aberfoyle, just where the old church and manse still stand. Later the seventeenth century Episcopalian priest and scholar Robert Kirk was buried here in his own churchyard, after supposedly being abducted by the ‘Good People’. This may have been because Kirk had gained too much knowledge of their ways, which he put to good his use in his philosophic disquisition on spiritual beliefs- ‘The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies’. Kirk was a Gaelic scholar of repute, sustaining the old link between the Church and Celtic culture. Reputed to be the seventh son of a seventh son, tradition endowed him with the gifts of a seer, and he was interested in the Highland gift of ‘second sight’.

A detour further north into the Trossachs is an attractive route to Callander, but our pilgrim journey goes eastwards to Port of Menteith, from where you can cross by boat to Inchmahome. This island sanctuary- later a medieval priory- is another of Scotland’s remarkable hidden places, on a par with Blane’s monastery at Kingarth on Bute. The original founder was a follower of Columba, but the location close to the island headquarters of the Celtic Earls of Menteith ensured the site’s ongoing importance. Later the five year old Mary Queen of Scots was given refuge here with her four accompanying Marys before they were sent for safety to France. Robert Cunningham Graham the vivid writer and radical politician, who was Laird of nearby Gartmore, is buried here along with many earlier dignitaries, known and unknown. The priory ruins are shaded by mature trees and the island is deeply meditative and peaceful, lapped by the soft waters of Scotland’s only natural lake. In Graham’s own words,

The Isle of Rest still sems to float upon the lake. In the green sedges wild ducks settle with a whirr of wings, and in the shallows pike lie basking in the sun. The hills still are reflected in the frosted, silver mirror of the lake, as in a mirage. The monks who built the long, grey church, sleep all forgotten, unconscious that they wove the spell, that still enchants, the island and the lake.

Turning left beyond Menteith onto the road to Callander, the route then returns by Doune to Dunblane. Blane’s Celtic settlement may have been on the hill above the medieval Cathedral which is poised impressively over the town and the Allan gorge. Surrounding the cathedral is Old Churches House (formerly Scottish Churches House), the Cathedral Museum and Archbishop Leighton’s Library, evidencing a rich tradition of Christian thought and worship in this place. The twentieth century restoration of Dunblane Cathdral is a significant cultural and ecumenical achievement which sustains a living spiritual heritage.

This day has been full of places,
Diverse scenes and spaces;
Evening brings calm reflection
Night’s peace and new direction.
Let nothing of this day be lost.
In attentive mindfulness
Let everything be kept through love.

Pilgrim Journeys

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