Perth To Braemar By Blairgowrie
ROUTE LENGTH: 56 MILES
Leave Perth via South Street across the River Tay. At the end of the road, turn left onto the A85, which after the traffic signals becomes the A93. Follow this – and turn left at the gatehouse entrance to Scone Palace (Queen’sDrive). After your visit to Scone, leave via Queen’s Drive. Turn left onto the A93. Turn left onto Stormontfield Road. Before the burn, turn right onto Cambusmichael Road. You will find St David’s Church, with a parking space, immediately at an unmarked left turning.
After visting the chapel, return to Cambusmichael Road and continue to its end, turning left onto the A93. Drive along the A93 and turn left at the next turning onto an unmarked single-carriage road. At the end of it, turn right onto the right-most road, and drive to the end to reach the site of the Linn of Campsie, where the daughterhouse of Coupar Angus Abbey was.
Return to the A93, and turn left. Follow the road to a gatehouse on the left of the road.
After visiting Stobhall, return to the A93 and continue. To reach Old Cargill Church, turn left onto the roadmarked ‘Cargill 1⁄4’. Follow, keep left, and you will find the gate to the churchyard. Afterwards follow the roadon to return to the A93. To continue the journey, follow the A93 north, crossing the bridge. But turn left at the next turning, signposted Kinclaven, Murthly and Stanley. Follow this road over the Tay, and follow until the second right-turn, with a blue sign marked Church of Scotland. Turn onto this road and follow to its end to visit Kinclaven Church.
Return and follow the road to Murthly, in which you will turn right onto B9099. Follow to Caputh. At Caputh, turn left onto the A984. On this road, follow the left turning marked Clunie. Follow this road, and at crossroads, turn right (marked CLunie again). Follow this road past Clunie and Loch Clunie, and turn right onto the A923. Follow past Kinloch and Loch Rae, and you will drive into Blairgowrie. From Blairgowrie, follow north the A93. Turn right at Blacklunans to visit Persie Hill, but return to and continue along the A93 to reach the Spittal of Glenshee. Here turn left off the A93. Follow the A93 after to Braemar. In Braemar, follow the A93 but turn left onto Invercauld Road and then left onto Balnellan Road. Here you will find Kindrochit Castle.
By Public Transport
You can take the Stagecoach 58B (Perth to Blairgowrie) along much of this route, to Scone Palace (decanting at Old Scone), Stobhall (decanting at Wolfhill Road), Cargill (decanting at Cargill The Smithy), Kinclaven.
Murthly and Caputh are reached via the 23 then 34 to Blsirgowrie from Perth (36/44 minutes), or taking the 34 headed to Perth from Kinclaven (17/13 minutes). Alternatively you can walk between each.
Finally, you can take the 34 from either Murthly or Caputh to Blairgowrie.
To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.
We leave Perth on the north side of the Tay heading for Old Scone. Little remains of the once magnificent Abbey, now in the grounds of Scone Palace, but the Moot Hill is still there as a reminder of this sacred site for the crowning of Scotland’s kings and queens on the Stone of Destiny. Turning left off the main road towards the race Course keeps you by the river and passes the perfect little Church of St David at Stormontfield. Rejoining the main road you come by the picturesque Linn of Campsie where there was once a small daughter house of Coupar Angus Abbey. At Stobhall , the old castle of the Drummonds contains a fine chapel in its courtyard. To reach the lovely secluded site of Old Cargill Church you have to go down into the village and walk to the very foot below the existing church. There was a river crossing here just below the confluence of the Isla and the Tay before there were bridges. We cross both bridges going back westwards on the other bank. Kinclaven Church, a classic Scots country kirk is hidden on the right hand side of the road.
Continuing past Kinclaven we reach Murthly and Caputh, and then by Clunie and Kinloch to Blairgowrie. This rather neglected corner of Perthshire, on the boundary with Angus and the Grampian Mountains, is rich in Roman remains including the vast fort of Inchtuthill, which is on private land, and the Cleaven Dyke. Next comes a wealth of forts, castles and tower houses, many associated with medieval churches and burial grounds. On the shores of Loch Clunie on a larger mound beside the church mound, you can see the circular ramparts of Malcolm Canmore’s palace, preceding the later island castle, which was built for the Bishop of Dunkeld. A few short miles west would take us to Dunkeld on the St Andrew Pilgrim Journey between Iona and St Andrews.
Blairgowrie is a busy town and route centre joined to Rattray on the other side of the strong flowing River Ericht. North of the towns is a serpent shaped Pictish mound that was the original stronghold guarding the pass north by Craighall, the present castle and mansion of the Rattrays. The road becomes steep and dramatic as it climbs into Glenshee. This is an ancient pilgrim route into the mountains. On Persie Hill at Blacklunans there was a healing well, with a traveller’s hospice at Spittal of Glenshee where present day skiers congregate. East of the Spiital stands the Tomb of Diarmaid, one of the mythic comrades of Fionn, reminding us that we are entering Highland territories. Next we ascend Carnwell Pass with its Devil’s Elbow, and then the gradual descent into Glen Clunie.
Coming down into Braemar, Kindrochit Castle sits above the Clunie Bridge. Founded by Malcolm Canmore, the castle was later a fortress of the Earls of Mar, like the later Braemar Castle. The whole area has a rugged hardy feel with the Celtic Earls, the Farqhuarsons, sometimes known as Clan Finlay, and the MacDuffs spawning martial history and legend. The 1715 Jacobite Rising began here under the Earl of Mar with a convocation of chiefs and nobles.
Given this background it is unsurprising that the early Christian missionaries did not have an easy passage. St Monire came here by Glenshee, and rested on the slopes of Morrone Hill above Braemar, where according to Gaelic tradition the Cailleach or Auld Mither dwelt milking the deer. Repulsed by the people in the village, Monire turned west into the upper Dee valley but was again driven away from Inverey. Bruised and weary he lay down on the lower slopes of Carn na Moine where he slept. Waking parched and hungry, he found a spring bubbling up and the deer grazing above it. There a priest of the old faith challenged Monire, cursing the spring, but the saint blessed it in the name of Mary and it bubbled up with redoubled force. So Monire won his first convert in the Dee valley, and St Monire’s Well, also known as Tobar Mhoire, became a place of healing.
It is good to continue past Carn na Moine to the deep Linn of Dee before coming back to Braemar. Walkers might go further up to the river’s source at Wells of Dee or other dramatic locations in the Braes of Mar and the Cairngorms beyond. Hardy long distance trekkers could follow the Geldie Burn, then climb over into Glenfeshie and down to the Spey. The difficulty of these journeys shows why our main route is such a vital artery.
Climbing into the mountains
By narrow defile and looming crags
We follow the pilgrim path
Form one gklen to another
Connecting with the burns
And rivers that mark life’s courses
Till with Monire we find a place
Of old lore and healing where
Springs flow fresh once more.