Down by the river

By James Carron

Relax by the River Tay on this delightful walk along peaceful waterside paths lined with mature leafy deciduous trees and carpets of wildflowers. The route starts in the charming Perthshire village of Dunkeld where whitewashed houses with crow-step gables and neatly clipped lawns crowd the magnificent ruins of the historic cathedral at the heart of the friendly wee community. It's a popular spot for tourists, but you will quickly escape the crowds as you venture out along the riverside, sharing the calm tranquillity with the salmon fishermen. The return leg of the route passes below the crags of King's Seat where you may be lucky enough to see a Golden Eagle.

Follow the main road south through Dunkeld and cross the bridge over the River Tay. Continue on, past Little Dunkeld on your left and, as you reach the junction with the road into Birnam, take a minor road on the right, signed for Inver. It passes a residential home and gives way to a path which skirts a sporting ground before ducking down through an underpass below the A9.

On the other side, cross a wooden footbridge spanning the River Braan, turn right and go back under the A9. A straight path heads off through the trees. The route meets the River Tay and curves left to follow the riverbank west. The tree-lined way is beautifully tranquil, the woodland floor carpeted in bluebells. The path takes a fairly straight line through the woods, leaving the river briefly to pass a couple of ruined stone cottages before returning to the bank.

The path emerges from the trees below the towering span of a concrete viaduct taking the A9 across the river. The path runs below this and, at a junction just beyond, turn right and go through a dark, narrow stone passage beneath a railway line. Steps lead up to the B898. Turn left, follow the road up to the A9 and cross the viaduct. There is a wide pavement but take care as the traffic is fast. Once over, climb over the metal crash barrier on the left and a short but steep path descends the embankment.

At the bottom, turn left and a track passes below the viaduct. It crosses an area of open grass dotted with small trees and shrubs from where a good path leads into a woodland of mature broadleafs.

As you approach the grounds of the Dunkeld House Hotel, the path passes a charming little riverside stone shelter before skirting along above a strip of pebble beach popular with fishermen. Beyond the neatly trimmed front lawns of the hotel, a wide path continues, veering away from the river slightly through woodland before bearing left as it nears Dunkeld Cathedral. A fenced-in path skirts round the edge of the historic site before branching left through parkland where you should bear right to return to the car park at the start.


5 miles/8km.
Map OS Landranger sheet 52 or 53.
Start/parking Public car park at the north end of Dunkeld, grid ref NO 025428.
Grading Low level riverside walk on well-defined footpaths, suitable for all.