Hike Northbound through Britain with Daryl May
Click for Southbound hike
The Sma' Glen north of Crieff
DN43 Mist lifting at Sma' Glen
DN43 Sma' Glen stitch
Days N40 - N44                                                                  Central Scotland
Day N43 - Sma' Glen to Aberfeldy
Day N42              In General Wade's footsteps                  Day N44
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Southbound Home
Thursday, May 3, 2007

Time of departure: 9.00 am
Time of arrival: 5.15 pm
Place departed: Sma' Glen, Perth and Kinross
Place arrived: Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross

Miles: 20.3
Cum miles: 700.4
Percent complete: 75.5

Bed sign Six The Beeches, Aberfeldy  *****
Cost for bed and breakfast: 28 ($56)
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DN43 General wade's road
DN43 River Almond from Newton Bridge
General Wade's military road near Amulree; and the River Almond from Newton Bridge
Today was a wonderful day. They don't come any better than this. "Besides," as a man said to me back in Cornwall, "it's the only day we've been given." But a wonderful day is still better than a bad one.

Breakfast was good, and I stepped out of the Foulford Inn well rested and even socialized by time spent yesterday evening in the bar with the owner and the locals.

The weather started misty and cool, and the countryside revealed itself only gradually. Firs along the edge of the road became evident at first, and then the River Almond to the right and steep hills to the left.  As the weather goddess raised her misty skirt, the river sparkled beside a green meadow, while the mist skidded past the hillsides, until it lifted there also, revealing sweeping slopes beneath craggy peaks. The bigger hills were to the left of my northbound heading, where the sun sets. I imagine it gets dark on this road two hours earlier than elsewhere at this latitude, and I'm glad I found accommodation in the Sma' Glen and was not forced on to Amulree where I now figured I might have arrived in the dark.

I did not see a single person on or off the road today, for all 20 miles, except for those in cars. And one such car, seeing me on the road, stopped. It was the owner of the Amulree Hotel, apologizing for her absence yesterday. She'd tried to reach me by phone later, but cellphones did not work in the glen.  We chatted amicably.

After she left, I reflected on the matter-of-fact way this courteous exchange took place in a rural lifestyle. Can you imagine the owner of the Holiday Inn in Pittsburgh stopping his car to greet people on the street with "did you call me about a bed last night?"

Just south of the Amulree Hotel, I decided to take a shortcut across the fells on one of General Wade's military roads. In the post-Napoleonic years, Wellington, no less, called on General Wade to construct roads in Scotland to improve access for troops. To this day, these roads are marked on maps, appearing in many locations as hiking alternatives to today's asphalt roads. In this case, Wade's road started and ended as a fair track, but the middle portion was unsuitable for hiking - being at times no trail at all, leaving me to walk through the gorse and heather, and at other times it deteriorated to a single wet ditch. My shortcut to Amulree took longer than the road would have done, and a lot more energy. I decided that General Wade didn't have Daryl in mind when constructing this particular road. Besides, when General Wade’s road faded to nothing, had that occurred for a greater distance, I would have had to use the GPS to find my way out of the wilds to the real road.

After Amulree, the sky was unclouded, and the horizon widened as I walked through Glen Cochill and up an exceedingly long but gentle hill, and continued past a lake, Loch na Craig, before starting the descent to Aberfeldy. When I get to descend to the destination like this, I get to feel for a moment like a pilot on approach to land, not that my piloting days were anytime recent. Beyond Aberfeldy, a significant set of hills and some mountains were evident. Aberfeldy itself was a pleasant town, and it became even more pleasant when I stopped a man in the street to ask about accommodation - and he was the owner of a B&B! Six The Beeches is a nice place, too, and in the morning I awarded it one of my rare five-star ratings.

I did 20 miles today, mostly with a spring in my step.  The scenery by itself made my progress easier. I booked ahead at Tummel Bridge for tomorrow night, eliminating one accommodation concern. It was a reasonable distance, and it positioned me for a trail that would join the A9 the day after. The A9 to Inverness and beyond is pretty unavoidable at some point, and has an off-road bike track to free the hiker of most traffic. Inverness, itself, is also pretty well a "conduit" for travel beyond to northeast Scotland and the Orkney Islands.  I was about a week away from Inverness still.
Day N42                       2007 and 2008 Daryl May                      Day N44