A circular route in lovely scenery near Perth - can be made shorter.
Dunning is a peaceful Perthshire village near the foot of the Ochil Hills. In the middle is an impressive Norman tower (1200-1219) attached to St. Serf's church. Fortieviot the ancient Pictish capital is quite near. Here the Pictish armies fought in these quiet hills at the Battle of Duncrub (965AD). Dunning itself was burnt after the Battle of Sheriffmuir by the retreating Jacobite army. However the village retains its earlier layout with buildings gathered around the church. A standing stone outside the village is said to mark the site of the Battle of Duncrub.
The church of St. Serf, Dunning was first recorded in 1219. A Charter of Confirmation dated 1219 includes St. Serf at Dunning, so the church was finished by 1219. The current tower was built in the 12th century, and a single storey medieval church built on to it. There was likely to be an older church on the site because of the remains of an older doorway on the north wall. The medieval church had a high pitched, open beamed roof (see outline on tower, and plan on session house door). All churches were built on an East-West orientation with the altar in the East.
In the early 1700's the minister complained that the church was too small and estimates were produced to enlarge the church by building an aisle at the back of it. In the 1780s a new village was being planned as Dunning had been burnt to the ground by the Jacobites in 1716. Masons worked in the village and the opportunity was taken to enlarge the church. Repairs were carried out in the mid 1800's. The church contains the Pictish Dupplin Cross which can be seen inside; an indication of the presence of early Christian settlement in the area. This unusual stone has a typical Pictish/Celtic cross on the upper part and half a cross at the bottom. Examination of the entwined rope sculpture on the edge shows that the stone has been split at some time during its history. The stone dates from 900 A.D. The bell which strikes the half hour has an inscription in Dutch 'John of Rotterdam made me in 1526'. The larger bell calls sinners to the Gospel, it to Christ and He to Heaven.
A mile to the west of the village, stands a monument to Maggie Wall, burnt as a witch in 1657. It is unusual to have a memorial to a witch, particularly one with a cross, it may have been erected as a mark of shame by those responsible for her death. She was the last person ever burned in Scotland as a witch.
Strath' means wide valley; this road cycling route follows the valley of the River Earn between Perth and Auchterarder. Along the way it takes in the northern edge of the Ochil Hills. The Highland Boundary Fault runs along the north side of Strathearn so there are sweeping views of the mountains to the north. Most of the route runs past woods and farms on quiet roads and there is a myriad of minor roads to choose from to take you back to Bridge of Earn. The peaceful village of Dunning is the centre of the route, this has an inn with a beer garden - good bar lunches too!
Begin in Bridge of Earn which is just off junction 9 on the M90. If coming by train get off in Perth station then follow the A912 to Bridge of Earn. Bridge of Earn has shops and hotels so getting a few emergency calories, or a drink to take with you might be a good idea. Kintillo is contiguous with Bridge of Earn and has a restaurant and a shop.
Leave Bridge of Earn on the B935 heading west away from the motorway. You might like to note that this route can be linked to routes in Fife by crossing over the Motorway on the minor roads to the south of Bridge of Earn. Continue west along the B935 through Forgandenny. Shortly after Forgandenny turn left up a quiet lane in trees, signed Path of Condie. Ignore the first right turn after a mile, but take the second right 600 metres after where the road starts to climb steeply.
Cross the Water of May and continue to climb steadily passing woods and sheep farms. Once you get to the top of the hill you should bear right, shortly after the farm: Mains of Condie. Do not descend steeply to Path of Condie. The road to Dunning runs easily past some trees then starts to drop. The descent begins fairly gently but becomes impressively steep just before the village - check your brakes! Dunning is a peaceful village with a long history. It's dominated by St Serfs Church with its impressive Norman tower dating from 1219. There is an even earlier Pictish symbol stone inside. The church is now de-consecrated, and looked after by Historic Scotland. Entry is free. Dunning has an excellent inn with a beer garden. They serve good bar lunches and have a wide choice of real ales. There is also likely to be a tea room open in summer and a shop selling ice cream and food items. There is a public toilet just beyond the church on the B9141.
Leave Dunning on the B8062 heading west, but a mile beyond the village turn right to a minor road. Just before this you pass a monument to Maggie Wall who was burned as a witch in 1657. The minor road crosses the railway and ends at the busy A9 main road just short of Aberuthven. If you look across the main road you will see a gate on the opposite side. Taking care walk across the main road and go through the gate to enter Aberuthven. Turn left on to the A824 to go through the village. Immediately after crossing a river turn right to a minor road leading to Kinkell Bridge. This back road rises slightly at first giving fine views towards the northern hills, then there is a drop to the B8062 leading to Kinkell Bridge. Turn right here then turn right again to cross the bridge. After the bridge turn right again heading towards Trinity Gask. Immediately after this turn left for Kirkton. You pass a historic church then the road winds up Chapelhill then drops to Dubheads where you turn right.
Turn right again at the next junction; you can identify this by the presence of a contractor who builds garden sheds. The road climbs again, but this soon eases off; go straight over the line of the Roman road at Findo Gask then descend steeply to the A9 again (amazing view). Take care crossing. Unfortunately the short cut to Forteviot along the former A9 is now private, when I attempted to go along it the farmer sent me away with a flea in my ear, so you have to go via Dunning. One advantage of this is that you can pick up a cup of tea if you are in need. It also means you can use the minor road which skirts the northern edge of the Ochils which is quite quiet and very pretty.
Leave Dunning by taking the above mentioned minor road just south of the B934. This starts near the village shop. Halfway back to Bridge of Earn you meet the B935 again. Continue in the same direction going east through Forgandenny to Bridge of Earn.