Dowally to Dunkeld

By Andy Crawford

This is a linear walk that starts at Dowally, a roadside hamlet dating from the Culdee times, lying some 5 miles (8 km) to the northwest of Dunkeld. The small church here, built to replace an earlier one, dates from the early 19th Century. A stream flows down from Dowally Loch into the River Tay near here.

The walk ends in the ancient burgh town of Dunkeld, one of Perthshire's gems, where it is thought a pre-700 AD monastery was founded. The relics of St Columba were brought here from the west when the kingdoms of the Picts and Scots were united in 846 AD. The Cathedral Church of Dunkeld was built between the mid-13th and late 15th Centuries. After the destruction of Dunkeld in 1689, the centre of the burgh was moved eastwards to its present position and the cathedral grounds were incorporated into the grounds of a house of the Dukes of Atholl.

Thickly wooded Stanley Hill, an artificial mound raised in 1730 in the form of a fortification by the Duke of Atholl, forms a backdrop to the village. The bridge over the Tay was built in 1809, as a toll bridge by Thomas Telford, surveyor and engineer to the Commission for Highland Roads and Bridges.

If using the local northbound bus service from Dunkeld to Dowally, cross the busy A9 road CAREFULLY and bear right, in front of the cottages to the south of the church. Car users should walk south up the footpath from the slip road leading to the Craft Centre. Follow the path (that deteriorates somewhat into rutted vehicle tracks) uphill in an easterly direction through an attractive woodland and, after about a quarter of a mile (0.5 km) negotiate the stile or gate onto a rough, wide road crossing north/south and turn right.

A short distance on there is another stile and gate on the left. Cross over (or through) and continue up the rough road alongside the stream to another gate and stile at Raor Lodge. Roar has more the appearance of a croft or small farm rather than the traditional image of an estate 'lodge'. Again, cross over (or through) then turn left (north then northeast) and continue on the wide track for some one and three quarter miles (2.6 km) until reaching a junction at the outflow of Loch Ordie (GR NO 028499). Turn right, cross over the bridge and follow the path between the high rhododendron bushes to Loch Ordie Lodge. The grassy area between the lodge and the loch is an ideal place for a picnic.

To continue, follow the path to the right of the lodge, up a bank and through a gate in the deer fence then ascend gently over the lower, western, slopes of Deuchary Hill before descending again to Mill Dam. Cross over the narrow outflow at the south end of the loch to reach another rough, wide road that joins from the right (from Raor Lodge).

Turn left and follow this road all the way to the A923 Dunkeld to Blairgowrie road. Turn to the right, heading downhill, for about 220 yards (200 metres) to a T-junction then turn left and follow the road into Dunkeld.

The car park is on the right just after the Hilton Dunkeld hotel entrance.


Distance 7.5 miles/12km.
Map OS Landranger sheet 52 or 53 or OS Explorer sheet 379.
Start Dowally, five miles north of Dunkeld on A9. GR: NO 001479.
Finish Dunkeld.
Parking Follow the main road through to the north end of Dunkeld and park in the public car park. Be sure to get a 'Pay and Display' ticket. If not able to use two cars to connect the start and finish of this walk use the local northbound bus service from Dunkeld, and get off at Dowally. If leaving a car at Dowally, park on the slip road that leads to the Dowally Craft Centre or on the old bridge next to the craft centre entrance. Do not park in, or block access to the craft centre car park.
Grading This is a relatively straightforward route of scenic beauty suitable for walkers of most abilities. It is over good forestry roads and other vehicle tracks. There is a short bit of road walking near the end. Sheep and cattle grazing therefore dogs must be kept on a lead.