Sunday 28th July to Saturday 3rd August
The 22nd Scottish 6-day event is being held in Strathearn, between the 28th July and 3rd August 2019. The Strathearn area of Perthshire runs along the Highland Boundary Fault, and bridges the glens, lochs and mountains of the Highlands with the rich farmland and towns of the Lowlands to the south. This was originally one of Scotland's ancient Celtic Earldoms, home to the Earl of Strathearn, a title which expired in the middle of last century only to be recently revived when the Queen bestowed the titles of Earl and Countess of Strathearn on Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Events will be staged in a number of new areas, including ancient oak woodlands and stunning mountain scenery to the west near the pretty, picturesque, conservation village of St Fillans (in the north east of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park). Subject to agreements, we are hoping to stage a couple of the days of Strathearn 2019 in Highland Perthshire to the north, including Grandtully and Craig a Barns, the birthplace of Scottish orienteering.
We are looking to establish the event centre including campsite in or near Crieff or Comrie, the Heart of Strathearn, with of course a full range of social activities. Strathearn is a very popular tourist area, and Crieff itself is a hub for crafts, galleries and shops. Outdoor activities are well catered for, including golf, scenic walks, mountain biking and other family fun. Comrie uniquely has an Earthquake House to hold a seismometer, but the main activity on the Highland Boundary Fault was 400 million years ago. St Fillans is on the shores of Loch Earn, a popular water-sports centre for water skiing, sailing and windsurfing.
Auchingarrich has a classic mix of plantation forest, with a surprisingly intricate network of rides; technically detailed open hillside and some faster running on the fields and woodland of the valley floor to the north. Physically and technically challenging, Auchingarrich hosted the Scottish Championships in 2011 and in 2018 plays host to the first of the Scottish Orienteering League events. The area has proved a popular venue for orienteering squad training over recent years, with shades of green getting progressively lighter as time goes by.
Tilhill Forestry manage the main afforested area, and thanks go to them and adjacent landowners including Major Melville at Strowan and Michael Aldridge, Factor of Drummond Estates. The nearby Wildlife Centre is out of bounds but is a very popular visitor attraction including exotic creatures as well as farm animals.
Auchingarrich is only a few miles from the event centre in Crieff and the event campsite at ComrieCroft.
Edinchip is a new area for orienteering, adjacent to the small village of Lochearnhead at the western end of Loch Earn. The village is a popular for a wide range of watersports including sailing, water-skiing, wake-boarding and canoeing.
Running through the centre of Edinchip is an old railway line, now part of the long-distance walk called the Rob Roy Way and including a section with great views from the bridge above the Kendrum Burn. The area includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest, an Upland Oak Woodland as well as interesting moraine features. The area is very mixed, and along with the ancient woodland includes areas of birch, rough pasture and a commercial forestry plantation.
Thanks go to the Manager of the Edinchip Estate for his encouragement and assistance.
Edinchip is accessed along the A84 from Callander or A85 alongside Loch Earn. Care is needed on both these roads as there are many bends and significant holiday traffic.
Dundurn & Cnoc a Mhadaidh
The other end of the loch from Edinchip! Dundurn & Cnoc a Mhadaidh is another new area for orienteering, with a very technical and mixed forest including oak woodland, beech and conifer plantations and virtually no paths or tracks. Less technical courses are likely to take in parts of the adjacent St Fillans Golf Course. The course is surprisingly level but is surrounded by towering and craggy hills and the imposing St Fillan’s Hill – a must for a control site.
The area is wholly within the Drummond Estates. The Drummond Castle Gardens, just a few miles south of Crieff, are in the list of the finest gardens in Europe and well worth a visit.
The A85, running east-west through nearby St Fillans, has a series of very sharp bends to the east of Dundurn so please take care.
Grandtully (pronounced Grantly) is well known for white-water canoeing, including sections of grade 3 water. Grandtully is on the River Tay rather than Strathearn, but this area has long been seen as a possible orienteering venue by event coordinator Terry O’Brien of St Andrews (Glasgow) Orienteers or STAG. In 2017 they celebrated their 35th Anniversary at Grandtully, the first time the area had been mapped or used.
The southern part of the area is on Forest Enterprise Scotland land, and their permission to use the area is appreciated. There are significant areas of light to dark green, but there is on-going thinning and clearance and an extensive network of paths, tracks and rides. The area opens out to an ancient hill fort at Castle Dow or Caisteal Dubh – this was long occupied by Celtic tribes of the Picts. To the north of the area there are gentle slopes covered predominantly with birch, and to the east the area above Balnaguard is notable for the juniper woodland.
Thanks go to David Nairn as well as farmer Shona Calder, as well as nearby Kinnaird Estate.
The A822 from Crieff passes through the Sma’ Glen – for those unable to venture further into the Highlands this is like some of the more mountainous areas of Scotland in miniature. Access up and down the A9 is also possible, but exploratory works for the dualling (upgrade) of the A9 are still expected to be in progress.
Craig a Barns
The birthplace of Scottish orienteering, and widely regarded as one of the best orienteering areas in the country. Craig a Barns was used for the Scottish Championships in 1962 and was the first specially mapped area for orienteering in Scotland. The area has played host to various events, including the Jan Kjellstrom 1990 and more recently JK2012.
Edinburgh Southern Orienteering Club describe the area as “a tough area, on a steep craggy hill, often quite rough underfoot. The terrain is complex; a forested plateau split by a series of parallel valleys, with many crags, fallen trees and some areas of bracken”. For Strathearn 2019 we will extend the area to the north and east of Rotmell Farm, including some fine detailed terrain with runnable heather and rough grazing and extending out beyond the Rotmell and Dowally Lochs and down to the Mill Dam.
Thanks go to the Atholl Estates for use of the area, and if you have time to venture a bit further north their Blair Castle is worth a visit. Thanks go to the Brewster family for access to Rotmell Farm -this was built around 1825 as a show farm by the Duchess of Argyll, with Prince Albert, of Queen Victoria fame, also involved in the original design. Beatrix Potter, of Peter Rabbit fame, used to stay in the Dunkeld area and was known to visit the farm and use it in her illustrations.
Craig a Barns like Grandtully is outside Strathearn but is readily accessible via the A822 which leads directly to Dunkeld (care needed crossing the A9).
Culteuchar and Dron
This is a large mainly open hill area with some of the best hill running in the area, enjoying extensive views out across Strathearn and the River Tay. The area is being extended to include some mixed woodland on the north-easterly slopes.
Castle Law, Forgandenny, adjacent to Culteuchar Hill, is a fine example of a hill fort and courses will enjoy views from here on their way to the more afforested area of West Dron Hill. Previous events have included the Scottish Orienteering League.
There are multiple land owners including the Dupplin Estate (Lord Forteviot), Ardargie Mains and Glenearn and thanks go to them and local farmer/shepherd Mike Blanche.
The area is close to the M90, allowing an easy departure at the end of what will be a great week of orienteering in some very different terrain.