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Blair Atholl Burn - Sat 14th August

posted 17 Aug 2010, 08:16 by Charlie Barrow


View Blair Atholl Bike Route in a larger map
What could be better than pitching a 4(???) man tent in the middle of remote Perthshire and spending a couple of days watching children of varying ages cry, fight, sleep and eat? Actually, the camping trip was pretty good thanks to good company and an eclectic assortment of Brewdog beers.


When around Blair Atholl, it would be rude to neglect the mountains so we awoke on Saturday (somewhat wet and aching after little sleep) and found the local bike hire place to get Neil a bike. After Mr Bikehire showed us the map and suggested a nice morning’s ride on his yellow-marked route, we decided to head straight for the more interesting red route. Armed with Neil's 'experienced' Trek and my 'quickly repaired with new chainset' Kona, we fixed Beinn Dearg in our sights.


Better weather couldn't have been wished for and the quiet tarmac roads soon turned into rough landrover tracks with a steady, serious incline. Unbeknown to us, this incline was to be pretty constant for the next few hours. Nevertheless, we were in no hurry and after passing the rifle range… quickly!... we were given some fantastic views over the Blair Atholl Estate complete with it’s 7 Munros.


Several hours later… we arrived at our highest point, though still only 600m, half the height of Beinn Dearg. This was the point at which we began to loop round and head along our descent. To be honest, the view from this point was slightly disappointing as I’d naively hoped that we’d be looking down from the summit of something. I think that given an earlier start and a faster climb, I’d have liked to try my luck at the summit of Beinn Dearg but this was not the day.


It was just at this point, the point at which the legs give a kind of euphoric wheeze, realising that from now it’s downhill all the way, when we crossed paths with other bikers from the campsite who were feeling the very same way. After brief greetings and with the knowledge that the next 100m drop featured a steep, rocky descent through two rough switchback and ending with a nice, wet water crossing, we headed off, pedalling hard.


One pinch-flat later and the adrenaline pumping, we continued down towards Blair Castle. The last part of this blog is going to be fairly short since most of the journey was a blur of midges, heather and rocks. I think I remember a bothy and some water but considering it took several hours to get up, the descent was only about 45 – 60 mins, fast, rocky downhill. Absolutely brilliant. I’d definitely recommend this route. Some nice spots for food on the ascent but midge heaven due to the water. The bothy on the way up was padlocked and uninviting but the one about 5mins into the descent was luxurious and busy. A good place to stop for sustenance though.


Lastly, I must apologise to any walkers climbing as we careered down at 100mph. Also, on behalf of Neil, I’d like to apologise to the Duke of Atholl (and his Atholl Highlanders!) for the skid-mark that he over-exuberantly left outside the castle. Sorry!