Those of a certain age will remember the old A93 line from Blairgowrie winding through the steep forests of Crayhall Gorge and the familiar rumble and whine of tires on Bailey Bridge.
The bridge was a temporary solution to an ongoing subsidence problem, but the section was eventually closed in 2008 when a new bypass opened.
It’s always exciting to watch how quickly nature reclaims abandoned roads and buildings, and Craig Hall’s part of this circular walk along the banks of the Ericht River is a major attraction.
When entering from the north side, the road surface is at first glance flat. In fact, it is in better condition than the new road sections.
But the deeper you go, the more nature grows: the grass looms to cover the pavement, the branches of the trees stretch along the sides to join forces, the white stripe in the middle of the road disappears, littered.
The old road is especially impressive in late autumn, when the colorful carpet of fallen leaves hides the slightest traces of its former use. The bridge is still intact, the mossy block at the end where the traffic light once stood, and the protective barrier next to it is now green instead of rusty.
While this is undoubtedly the highlight of the walk, there is plenty to enjoy along the way. From Blairgowrie Bridge, follow the Cateran Trail signs along the west bank of the Ericht River and you can reach two lookouts in the woods.
The second of these is Cargill’s Leap, in which outlawed minister Donald Cargill is said to have jumped over the turbulent waters of a narrow ravine to valiantly escape dragoons.
Cargill, born in Rattray, insulted Charles II by refusing to recognize the law establishing a bishop in Scotland, and the king paid him dearly for treason. Although he narrowly escaped here, he was eventually captured and executed in 1681.
Textile production played a major role in the region’s prosperity in the 1800s, and the river is full of industrial history, abandoned or refurbished buildings, including Oakbank Mill, Scotland’s first jute mill.
The trail continues through a mixed forest with many ruins and many natural sculptures, as well as a great spot to watch red squirrels. I turned off the Cattelan Trail in front of the private entrance to Lonti, crossed the bridge, and climbed up the paved road to Woodhead Farm.
The trail gets increasingly bumpy and wet, along the edge of the woods, then turns to find a passage between fields, then through open pastures to a footpath gate where signs indicate a right turn, through Middle Mose Farm and onto the A93 Cross the old. Craigal Road. Several kilometers of birdsong, tranquility and rebirth of nature end at the metal barrier, and you again enter the A93 highway through the road bridge.
The road back to Blairgory is mostly tarmac, but there is a short section of road that you need to walk carefully before you get to the parking lot on the right. Head back, follow the trail marked “Cargill’s Leap” and follow the wooden steps to the bridge over the river at Oakbank’s Mill. Cross the road, turn left and return to the starting point along the original road along the river.
1. Pass to Blergourie Bridge, turn left and follow the Kateran Trail (marked) along the Ericht River.
2. Go up the wooden steps to the left, then follow the path to the right, go down to the right to the river viewpoint, then continue to Cargill Jump, then up the hill again to return to the trail.
3. Keep left past Oakbank Mill, then turn right at the junction onto the road behind Brooklinn Mill.
4. Turn right (Cateran Trail), then right again at the private entrance to Lornty, cross the bridge and go up the asphalt path. Pass a few cottages on the right and continue on to Woodhead Farm.
5. Go straight along the bumpy dirt road along the edge of the forest to the junction.
6. Drive straight along the marked lane between the fields. Enter the sheep farm through the gate and follow the grassy path to the metal farm gate with sidewalks.
7. Turn right (arrow) and follow the trail down through Middle Mouse Farm, then turn left on the highway to the A93.
8. Carefully cross and follow the old road (marked) over the metal barrier above the Bailey Bridge and continue on the road that ends up on the A93 at Crayhall Bridge.
9. Return along the path to the outskirts of Blergourie (a short section without a path) and turn right into the car park. Cross over and take the path (labeled “Cargill’s Leap”) that leads down the steps and across the bridge to rejoin the outbound route near Oakbank Mill and turn back up the steps to start.
Level: Pleasant roundabout along the river and back along the old abandoned road, suitable for all ages and levels of fitness along coastal and forest paths, field edges and paths. There are no sidewalks on a short section of the main road, so be careful. Some areas are quite muddy, a good pair of shoes is recommended. The route passes through farmland and the dogs are closely monitored. Please close all doors.
Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 53 (Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth); Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 53 (Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth); Карта: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 53 (Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth); Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 53 (Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth);地图：Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 53（Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth）；地图：Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 53（Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth）； Карта: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 53 (Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth); Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 53 (Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth); OS 1:25,000 Resource manager table 381.
Tourist Information: VisitScotland, Perth iCentre, 45 High Street, Perth, PH1 5TJ (tel. 01738 450600).
Post time: Dec-08-2022