Rannoch Drove Road
Start location: A82, eastern end of Loch Tulla (NN 311 436)
End location: B846 Bridge of Gaur (NN 503 566)
Geographical area: Perth, Kinross and Stirling (part), Argyll and Bute
Path Type: Drove Road
Path distance: 26km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Newsflash: the Crieff & Strathearn Drovers' Tryst sees part of this old drove road walked from Achallader to Gorton Bothy (and on to Ben-Meall a'Ghortain) on 9th October 2017. Other historic routes featured as part of the festival (7-14 October) include General Wade's Military Road, the hill track from Comrie to Callander, the Ardtalnaig to Comrie Drove Road and the Kenmore to Amulree track.
This was once an important drove road, but today it gives the walker a fairly hard outing although there are long sections of easy walking at both ends. A shorter middle section across peat bogs can be quite difficult and gives some idea of the many problems which the builders of the West Highland Railway had more than a hundred years ago.
Starting from the A82, 4km north of Bridge of Orchy at the north-east corner of Loch Tulla, follow the farm road northeast to Achallader Farm where there is a car park. Go along the track on the south bank of the Water of Tulla crossing it after either 1km by a ford or after 2km by a badly damaged bridge at Barravourich (ruin) and continuing a further 5km to the end of the track at Gorton bothy. From here it is advisable to head towards the old bridge over the Water of Tulla and keep to the rough and pathless north bank for 2.5km, then go under the railway at the point where it crosses the river close to the Madagan Moineach.
Beyond the underpass, waymarker posts lead to a vertical stile over the forest fence from where the route of the old drove road (by way of Meall Doire Meallaich) has long been overplanted. An easier way through the forest now is at first to follow the overhead electricity pylon line northeast. This soon brings one to the northward-flowing Allt Criche and in 1km onwards cross this burn, which could be troublesome. Continue on a path below the pylon line for a short distance to join a forest road (where at NN412502 nearby is a small windmill providing power for the electrified fence). Leaving the pylon line follow this road northeast along which the only junction of note is at NN437525. There the route goes to the right, and by ford across the Duibhe Bheag continues 5km more through forest, passing the ruin near Lochan Dubh Grundd nan Darachan, before emerging onto open ground. Go down the west side of Gleann Chomraidh and by road to reach Bridge of Gaur.
OS Landranger 50 (Glen Orchy & Loch Etive) and either 51 (Loch Tay) or 42 (Glen Garry & Loch Rannoch area)
This ancient route has had a long usage - including cattle raiders from the West, Campbells travelling between their Eastern and Western estates, and Hanoverian soldiers when the barracks at Invercomrie were extant.
From the coming of the railway in the 1890s until at least the 1920s, shepherds would take their flocks from Argyll up to Dalnaspidal, there to be sent by train for winter grazing on the Moray coast. In the 1930s it was reported that under the lease of the farm of Achallader there was an obligation on the tenant to give accomodation to shepherds who may be staying overnight and facilities for stancing the sheep.
Dues per 100 head of sheep and 20 head of cattle were collected at the Bridge of Orchy drove stance, and another stance was at Gortan but no dues were collected there. Madagan Moineach, a mossy place close to where the railway crosses the river, was another droving stance. It was also said that the farmer at Camusericht might give a stance for the night - a piece of ground near Bridge of Gaur was known locally as Lucky Park or sometimes as Drovers Stance, but it is unclear whether this is the same spot.
The bridge at NN399485 was constructed by the West Highland Railway Company to make provision for both the stream and for the droving of cattle (on the north side of the stream). This was a statutory provision in the company's bill.