A party of eight, including two children, gathered in the Cally car park just outside Dunkeld on Saturday morning. While we awaited Amanda’s arrival we heard and saw a great spotted woodpecker and a very noisy gaggle of geese flew low over the woods – probably heading for the loch we would reach just before the end of our walk.
We followed a forest track up to the Glack where we spotted a herd of fallow deer on the hillside. At the Mill Dam our young companions had to investigate the dam that retained the waters and also the rope swing that hung nearby. We came across some pretty damselflies – they would have been almost invisible if the sun had not caught their iridescent blue colouring.
s there was already a large group of walkers seated beside the Mill Dam, we carried on along the track and found a nice spot where we stopped for early lunch on some flat rocks beside Rotmell Loch. We watched in vain for the osprey that had been spotted earlier near Mill Dam.
Rather than retreat to the turn off for the Atholl Woods track we continued past Dowally Loch and soon reached Roar Lodge. Here we turned down the hill towards the flat lands of Strathtay – but the sun disappeared and it became quite chilly – what a contrast to the conditions beside the loch! Numerous fungi were spotted and some Chanterelles were gathered (with a health warning). Various ‘walking sticks’ were tested as the track wound down beside the steep sided burn that drains into the Tay. Then the views opened up and we could see Ben Vrackie and the hills above Blair Atholl as well as the gentler wooded hills across the valley. The track was lined with lovely old deciduous trees, some of which had clearly lost branches in the recent strong winds.
Screaming bird calls alerted Yvonne to the presence of a group of Jays at the edge of the forest just before we reached the boundary of the woods. There were wild flowers growing in profusion on the banks beside the track.
We were overtaken a single walker and then by a fast travelling group of bikers. Emerging at the end of the track we joined the old A9, winding round the hill and down towards Dunkeld. A number of climbers were tackling the crags at the end of Craig a Barns as we carefully made our way along the side of the road for a short distance before taking a left turn along the side of Polney Loch. Finally we followed a yew-lined track through the woods, passing behind a saw-mill, and made our way back to our starting point.
A circuit of about 8 miles, with a variety of scenery and wildlife, gave us all a breath of fresh air – so much so that Jim found himself chauffeuring a trio of sleeping passengers home to Bathgate!