A beautiful trail run with varied terrain, a nice mixture of climbs and descents and some cool sights. In the damp conditions we experienced, the ground was sometimes difficult to navigate but where’s the fun in a dry trail run in late January? Passed a few people out for a walk on the route, so does have the potential to be busy, but is in a relatively quiet area so likely won’t get too busy off season. Highly recommended!
The ran began after a nervous drive with a flashing petrol light along the winding roads surrounding Comrie hoping for a petrol station. There wasn’t. But there was no sense in worrying about that now (the car wasn’t beeping yet) so we parked up and headed to the start. I was joined on this run by my good friend Fourpads who features in many of the days pictures and was gracious enough to allow me to slow down the run to take the pictures (my excuse for being comparatively slower than him, which I don’t think he bought…).
We didn’t start the run by going straight into the woods from the car park, opting instead to run along tarmac through a part of the town as a warm up before entering the woods after a half a mile at an entrance beside the River Lednock. As soon as we entered the Laggan Wood the climbing began, seeing us climb 130 meters in a mile. A good chunk of this followed, and with the rain was as wet as, the river. After a short while we happened upon a large set of wooden stairs, followed immediately by a brief flat section allowing you to (deservedly) catch your breath. Continuing, you leave the shelter of the trees to enter a large clearing with more of a hill climb into the highest section of the woods which at the time of writing was undergoing a felling operation, which had churned up mud and exposed tree roots making for some fun hopping about. However this only went on for a short while before we left the forest, descending into a valley and rejoining the river. Hop the fence (or bugger it up like I did), and continue along the river until you reach a cool bridge.
Cross it, follow the path along and turn right onto Monument Road for a quarter of a mile before taking a left onto Maam Road, an old drover’s road that snakes its way up the hill until a path presents itself on the left, taking you into Monument Wood. By this point, the climbing is mostly out the way now, leaving you to enjoy navigating the forest and avoiding (or not) the mud. After a short while (less than half a mile) straight ahead, you’ll reach the Melville monument, dedicated to Henry Dundas the 1st Viscount of Melville, and the last person to be impeached in the UK for misappropriation of public money (estimated to be £15 million at the time, though he had defended slavery later in his career because it was profitable, so you can’t say karma doesn’t have a sense of irony). You can scramble up the little track to the right for a closer look and a view over the valley below (you’ll have to comment below as to the view, we got a great view of 3 feet in front of us).
When you’re done, head back down the scramble, backtrack a little until you come to a right turn and prepare yourself for a very fast descent, most likely suited for walkers and cyclists, but very exciting for runners; very, very fast, ankle breaking territory, but watch the hill in front of you, take it as easy as you need and you’ll get down fine.
You’ll come to the end of the forest after a quarter of a mile, coming out to Monument Road again. Turn right and head back onto the track beside the road, following it until you come to a series of wooden walkways, giving you some fine views of the actual Deil’s Cauldron whilst allowing you to live out your dreams of being an Ewok. This series of wooden walkways ends and brings you back to trails for a short while before another breaks off to take you towards the Little Cauldron. Continuing on from the Little Cauldron, the path is pretty straightforward, curving to the right slightly and taking you right back to the car park where we started!
Now if only the petrol station in Comrie was actually open on a Sunday, we’d get home ok…