Rising between Glen Turret and Glen Almond, Auchnafree Hill can be tackled from various different directions. While Glen Turret provides easy access from the south via Loch Turret, this route attacks the peak from the north, following a very pleasant valley walk through Glen Almond.
Beginning in the wonderfully craggy Sma' Glen, this is a walk for a good clear day, as the summit of Auchnafree Hill - a Corbett - sits atop a wide, featureless plain of heather and grass and it is very easy to become disorientated up here.
From the car park, cross Newton Bridge - take care as there are no pavements - and a few metres on, go left through a gate. The track skirts below the cottage at Newton and continues west along the base of the glen, following the River Almond upstream.
The glen itself makes a very pleasant walk - or cycle - in its own right and is part of a right of way leading through to Ardtalnaig, above Loch Tay. While Auchnafree Hill presents a fairly strenuous ascent and is best done by fairly experienced hillwalkers, the pleasant stroll into Glen Almond suits all ages and abilities and there are plenty of good spots for riverside picnics.
One approach to Auchnafree Hill is via Coire Chultrain. A track leaves the main Glen Almond track on the left at a gate about 400 metres before the steading at Conichan is reached. It crosses the river by a metal bridge - not marked on the OS map - and climbs to the left of the Allt Coire Chultrain and a strip of woodland. The way reaches a line of wooden grouse butts at the south-east end of the Eagles Rock crags. From there, the walker can head up over rough ground, following the line of butts on to the broad ridge. Here fence posts continue south-west over fairly boggy ground and, once Auchnafree Hill comes into view, you can bear off across the moor to reach the broad summit.
This is a fairly rough and ready route and should be avoided during the grouse shooting season (or done on a Sunday when there is no shooting). Our route continues up the glen, past Conichan, towards Auchnafree Farm, passing by obvious stone circles and ancient remains at Clach na Tiompan. About a kilometre before the farm is reached, the track forks at a junction. Take the left-hand option, crossing a solid bridge over the Glenshervie Burn and head up the track to cottages at another junction. Go left here, staying on the main track as it skirts alongside the river to the next junction. Turn left here and follow the track up to Larichfraskhan. The track continues past the cottage, crosses a burn and then zig-zags quite steeply up towards Crom Chreag. Higher up it switches back on itself, rising above the crags. Once the crest of the ridge is reached, continue up over the open hillside to reach the prominent summit cairn, a fine spot for views west to Ben Chonzie, a Munro, and south over Loch Turret towards the market town of Crieff in the distance.
To complete the walk, retrace the route back to Newton Bridge.
Distance 14 miles/22km.
Map OS Landranger sheet 52.
Start/parking Newton Bridge in the Sma' Glen, six miles north of Gilmerton on the A822. Free parking. There used to be public toilets here but these are now closed.
Grading A long walk on a good track through Glen Almond with a strenuous ascent on to Auchnafree Hill suitable for fit and fairly experienced hillwalkers. The ascent from Glen Almond on to Auchnafree Hill crosses grouse moor and should be avoided during the grouse shooting season (August 12 to December 10), or done on a Sunday when there is no shooting. Extensive sheep grazing in Glen Almond and on the open hill and the presence of ground nesting birds means dogs should be on the lead throughout.