A circular mountain bike route starting from Blair Castle.
This route begins and ends at Blair Castle, seat of the Dukes of Atholl. Starting in woodland, the route climbs steadily through open hillside towards Beinn Dearg; it then descends to a bothy. The circle is completed by returning down Glen Bruar and Glen Banvie. This means fording a river, but you may be able to cross dryshod if the water is low.
All of the route apart from the section between the bothy and Bruar Lodge is on forest or dirt track, most of this is quite easy. The route is graded difficult because of the footpath section between the bothy and Bruar Lodge, and because there are some river crossings.
If the water level in Bruar Water is such that it would be dangerous to cross use the bridge at Bruar Lodge and then remain on the west side of the river returning via Bruar.
Anyone intending to do this route in Sept/Oct should phone Atholl Estate office (01796-481355) to check first for deerstalking activities.
Enter the grounds of Blair Castle by the main gate. A lady in a small small wooden hut charges entry for motor vehicles but bikes are free. Follow the main drive round to the castle, crossing Banvie Burn on a small bridge, then turn right. Continue gently uphill for a little way then turn right again where the road between the redwood trees becomes a dirt track. Immediately after, before the bridge, turn left up a hill on to a dirt track. This climbs steadily through trees, the Banvie Burn tumbling by on the right. After a kilometre you pass an old stone bridge on the right hand side. Continue up on the same side to the next bridge.
You pass a sign for The Whim Plantation, then reach the edge of the forest. Cross the burn here using another stone bridge and continue up on to open hillside. Shortly after this you pass an ornamental cairn, the climb continues for another two miles after this, gradually levelling out towards its summit. Finally there is a drop to the bothy at the Allt Sheicheachan Burn.
To continue on take a rough footpath opposite the bothy on the other side of the burn. There is a small climb at first. When it levels off you may find the footpath to be bikeable. After half a mile there is a fine view up Glen Bruar towards Bruar Lodge.
Half a mile from the Lodge there is a sign directing walkers round the grounds. Obey this and turn left towards the river. Providing the water level is reasonably low you are best to ford the river at this point as this will get you on to the Land Rover track on the other side. If the water level is high continue with your bike for a further half mile to the bridge by the lodge. It is possible to ride your bike for a further three miles upstream, beyond this exploration must be on foot. Mountain bikers do occasionally go further than this, pushing or carrying their bikes up the hill to the Minigaig, then biking/walking on to Glen Feshie and Speyside. This is a major expedition.
Return south by following the track down Glen Bruar to the locked cottage at Cuilltemhuc. A grassy track leads over from there to a ford and to Glen Banvie, 100m upstream there are some natural stepping stones where you may be able to get over with dry feet. If the river is high do not cross but return via Bruar.
Assuming you did manage to cross the river there is a short climb to Glen Banvie; turn left in pine woods, then drop to Blair Castle. The surface is quite loose to begin with, watch your speed in the trees as there might be a vehicle round the corner. It may be necessary to lift your bike over a gate half way down the hill.
About Blair Castle:
Blair Castle is the traditional seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl. The oldest part dates from 1269. It has been visited by Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Queen Victoria. It was the last castle in Britain to be besieged in 1746. The present Duke of Atholl has formal agreement to maintain the only private army in Europe - The Atholl Highlanders. One could not pretend however that the Atholl Highlanders as present constituted are a threat to anyone.
In the castle itself are fine collections of pictures, lace, arms and armour, china, etc. There is of course a tea room and gift shop. Last entry is at 1700. The surrounding park is also very attractive and it includes an 18th century walled garden.