Old Road by Macduff's Cross
Start location: A913 at Carpow Gate (NO 207 173)
End location: Whinnybank (NO 228 167)
Geographical area: Perth, Kinross and Stirling (part)
Path Type: Medieval Road
Path distance: 2.3km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
Newsflash: 20th June 2020 sees a guided walk using the Old Road by Macduff's Cross as part of the Walks Programme arranged by ScotWays for its members; for 2020 the walks celebrate ScotWays' 175th Anniversary. Other historic routes featured include the Herring Road, the Stoneymollan Road, the Cauldstane Slap, the Thieves Road (Feshiebridge) and the Spout of Ballochleam. If you're not yet a ScotWays member, please consider joining up as membership helps support the Heritage Paths project and it'd be great to see you on the walks!
A ScotWays signpost with Heritage Paths plaque on the A913 between Newburgh and Abernethy identifies the start of this old right of way. It proceeds in a south-easterly direction past Gavney Brae and over the railway line, past Woodcliff House to a point where it intersects with a track heading south from Wester Clunie farm. The route continues ESE and east passing Bloomfield before heading southeast to meet a track running north to Easter Clunie farm, and then passes Ninewells Farm. It continues in a south-easterly direction to cross the Q52 public road, passes Macduff's Cross and reaches Lumbennie Road (National Cycle Network route 776) at another ScotWays signpost opposite Whinnybank.
OS Landranger 58 (Perth & Alloa, Auchterarder)
This right of way is a very old road that will have seen a great deal of traffic over the centuries. It is thought to have formed part of the ancient Coronation Road between Scone and Falkland. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, this route was the commonly used route from Ferryfield of Carpow to Auchtermuchty - on 19th century OS mapping, ferries are marked from Ferryfield both across the Mouth of the Earn and across the Tay to Cairnie Pier.
It is said that in 1673, Sir James Macgill of Lindores and Sir Robert Balfour of Denmiln were using this route to return from a fair in Perth when they quarrelled and Sir James killed Sir Robert in the ensuing sword fight. Sir Robert's Prap, a cairn, is shown on the OS first edition 6" map (1843-1882) as marking the spot near Ninewells Farm where the duel took place, but the stones have long since disappeared.
James Stobie's 1783 map of the Counties of Perth and Clackmannan shows a road, between Aitken's Boat (elsewhere labelled Ferryfield of Carpow) and McDuff's Crofs, which corresponds with this old route. It can also be seen on Aaron Arrowsmith's 1807 Map of Scotland. A plan dated 1825, marks it leaving the Newburgh road and labelled as "Road from Aitken's-Boat to Auchtermuchty".
Historically, it appears the old road was used as a coach road, a cart route, and as a drovers road for the driving of stock. However by the 1920s it was used by pedestrians only, and from then onwards primarily for recreation.
ScotWays has long been involved in the efforts to protect this right of way. From the late 1980s, attempts had been increasingly made to stop people using the route, and this resulted in a 1997 court action vindicating it as a right of way for pedestrians. Following the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, both Perth & Kinross and Fife Councils designated the route as part of their respective core path networks, available to cyclists and equestrians. Despite this dual confirmation of its status and recreational value, efforts to discourage use continued. Eventually, in summer 2015, the right of way was fenced off from the garden that had previously been extended over it.