The Cateran Trail guidebook

The Cateran Trail guidebook

This guide describes a circular walk from Blairgowrie, the ‘berry capital’ of Scotland, in a 104km (64-mile) route through Perthshire and Angus that touches the southern edge of the Cairngorms national park before heading back south into Strathmore.

The trail gets its name from marauding cattle rustlers who roamed the area from the 15th to 17th centuries, and can be comfortably walked in five days.

This updated Rucksack Readers guide features photographs from Mike Bell, and is laid out in a ring-bound format slightly larger than A5, which means it should slot into a jacket pocket.

The guidebook breaks down the walk into five chapters equating to a day’s walk. Megarry also provides a few variations, including a two-day ‘mini-trail of 33km (20 miles), which can be walked in a weekend. The main trail can also be shortened by starting and ending at Bridge of Cally, meaning it can be walked in four days by getting a wiggle on and extending each day’s distance a little.

Megarry provides information on potential accommodation and areas where this may be a problem, including at Spittal of Glenshee, where the quirky hotel burnt down in 2014.

The Cateran Trail – from the Gaelic ceatherairne, meaning peasantry – is classed as easy to moderate, rising to a modest 648m (2,126ft) at its highest, and is fully waymarked. Megarry says navigation shouldn’t be a problem, and that the guidebook’s own maps should suffice.

Each chapter has custom Footprint Maps at 1:50,000, with the trail highlighted, though there are no maps for the mini-trail. There is a preface to chapters, with a short description of its terrain, its difficulty and possible refreshments before a detailed turn-by-turn route description.

Some historic and folk tales add colour to the walk and there is information on farming in the area and its history. The author explains the classification of munros, corbetts and graham, and details of these hills close to the route. The guidebook has information on wildlife likely to be encountered while walking the Cateran Trail.

There’s enough detail on points of interest to enhance a walker’s experience, and potential navigational pitfalls are marked by a warning symbol. Lovers of legend can make a short detour near Spittal of Glenshee to visit four standing stones, supposedly the grave of pan-Celtic warrior Diarmid.

This useful guidebook is nicely written, with comprehensive directions and commentary on the countryside, fauna and history of this area bordering the southern Highlands, on a trail that’s an ideal introduction to those new to long-distance, multi-day routes.

Published by Rucksack Readers, £12.99.

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