Slopes of Ben Vrackie

High above Glen Garry for an eagle-eye's view of Blair Castle and Pitlochry.

NEAREST LOCATION

Pitlochry

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

9.5 miles (15.3kms)

ASCENT
1575ft (480m)
TIME
5hrs
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Medium
STARTING POINT
NN944597

About the walk

Pitlochry is an 18th-century innovation. Moulin is the original settlement, above the valley's bogs and swamps, and where the Old North Road could cross side streams up where they're slightly smaller. Its inn dates from 1695, but there were people living here in the Bronze Age. If the name looks like the French for 'watermill', that's no coincidence. Gaelic Scotland had more intimacy with France than with Lowland Scots, and its word 'muileann' reflects this.

Roads of ages

That old drove road ran across the top of the present-day golf course, and as the 'Killiecrankie Path' is still a walkers' way to Killiecrankie. In the 1720s, General Wade's military road, part of the network build to pacify the Highlands, ran along what is now Pitlochry's main street on its way to the Drumochter Pass and Inverness. Then came the railway in the 1870s, and Pitlochry grew as a 'health resort' away from the polluted air and water of Victorian Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The main A9 followed General Wade's line through the middle of Pitlochry until 1988, when the current bypass was built with its impressive concrete bridge over Loch Faskally.

Hard-working water

The waters off Ben Vrackie, which would have powered the presumed mill at Moulin, are put to even better use today in the Moulin brewery, one of Scotland's first micro-breweries, the Edradour Distillery and the Athol Distillery in Pitlochry below. And now it’s the River Tummel in the valley floor that's put to the hard work of power production.

There's an interesting contrast between the hydro-electric production between here and at Kinlochleven, further west. Highland Scotland's watershed lies far across in Argyll, so that the rivers of the west are short but steep. Fairly small rivers, impounded into pipes, drop through hundreds of feet to the power stations. Here in the east, very large rivers like the Tummel drop through just the height of the Pitlochry dam. Again at the west side of Loch Faskally, the water from Loch Tummel's dam has a drop of just 150ft (46m) to the Clunie Power Station. As power supply is given by water flow multiplied by the drop, either way is worthwhile.

 

Walk directions

A path leads up the Moulin Burn. Where a track crosses, turn right for a few steps, before continuing uphill with the stream on your left. The path joins a higher track, then turns off on the right to a footbridge. Follow the stream up to the top of the woodland, where a gate leads out to open moor.

A wide path continues up to the right of a stream, then bends right to a bench with a fine view down Glen Garry. Just before rejoining the Moulin Burn, bear left on a smaller, stony path signed ‘Bealach Walk’. (The main path ahead leads, after a stiff climb, to the summit of Ben Vrackie.) After a stile, the path becomes grassier. It runs directly uphill (northwest), to pass just to the right of the little pass just above.

Now the path becomes a clear track through the pass leading downhill. A sign points towards Killiecrankie. The track fords a stream, with a footbridge alongside. After two gates, turn left at a T-junction to continue downhill. Near a small reservoir the track reaches a tarred road. Turn right, again signed for Killiecrankie. The road passes under the new A9 to the Killiecrankie Visitor Centre.

Head down behind the visitor centre to the River Garry, and follow it downstream, under the high Garry Bridge to a riverside lane. Follow this for 650yds (594m), and turn right at a signpost into a disabled car parking area. Follow green 'Bealach Path' arrows on a wide path near the river, to the end of the long concrete road bridge over Loch Faskally.

Don’t cross the Clunie footbridge over Loch Faskally, but keep ahead under the road bridge to the Loch Faskally Boating Station. Take its access road up to the A924 and follow this main road across the railway and into Pitlochry. The first street left is Larchwood Road. Sunnybank Cottage, on this corner, is where a local man, John Stewart, stabbed his cousin Donald. He stayed in the area to spy on the funeral in the belief that if he could see light under his cousin’s coffin as it passed him, he would get away with the killing. It worked: he was never charged with the crime.

Turn left up Larchwood Road. It climbs with a dog-leg to left and right, then bends right beside a pool. Above the golf course, you turn right to a T-junction at Moulin village. A standing stone called the Dane Stone is in a field on the left. Turn left here, signed ‘Ben-y- Vrackie’, and go up the lane to the car park.

 

Additional information

Good paths and tracks, several stiles

High heathery hill slopes, then wooded riverbank

On lead through Pitlochry and if passing livestock or deer

OS Explorer 386 Pitlochry & Loch Tummel

Car park above Moulin village

Publicly accessible in Pitlochry (eg at Service Station); Killicrankie Visitor Centre

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WALKING IN SAFETY

Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

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About the area

Discover Perth and Kinross

Perth and Kinross, sheltered by the Grampian Mountains, is often regarded as the Heart of Scotland, and its mountains, lochs and glens yearn to be explored. Just outside the ancient city of Perth is Scone Palace, home of the mystical Stone of Destiny, on which 42 Scottish Kings were crowned. Not far south-west lies the world-famous Gleneagles Hotel.

The Tay Valley is one of the region’s most scenic features, with its popular holiday resorts of Pitlochry and Blair Atholl, while Rannoch Moor is a magnificent wilderness that represents one of Scotland’s great walking experiences. The long and beautiful hidden valley of Glen Lyon lies sandwiched in the mountains between Loch Tay and Loch Rannoch, separated from Loch Rannoch by the broad summit of Carn Mairg. Said to be the longest glen in Scotland, it exhibits an enormous diversity of scenery.

In recent years Perth has developed as Scotland’s adventure capital, with an ever-longer list of adventure sports and activities to take you out and about across the region. So, if the more traditional sports seem tame, you can get your adrenaline rush by quad biking, off-road driving, abseiling, canoeing, waterskiing, cliff jumping, white-water rafting or even paintballing.

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