When it comes to nature and the great outdoors … the Crieff area has an embarrassment of riches.

Rolling hills and magnificent mountains sit alongside fast-flowing rivers and stunning lochs, while an intricate network of paths and trails meanders through the stunning Strathearn countryside making the area ripe for exploration on foot and on two wheels.

The landscape is especially beautiful in October when the leaves turn into a riot of autumnal reds and oranges, and the elusive red squirrels can be glimpsed burying their nuts beneath avenues of oak and copper beech.

It’s therefore no surprise that Crieff attracts walkers from all over the UK and further afield to our annual Crieff and Strathearn Drovers Tryst walking festival (www.droverstryst.com).

The nine-day event from October 6-14 is run by volunteers and celebrates the life, work and play of the people who made Crieff the cattle-droving crossroads of Scotland in the 1700s.

The 32 graded and guided walks vary in difficulty from easy through to extra hard, but all are enriched by wildlife, plants, trees, history and the company of like-minded people.

As in previous years, the Tryst offers a range of opportunities to go “walking with” to learn from experts: including subjects such as photography, archaeology, flora and fauna, Innerpeffray Library, beekeeping, and local wildlife.

The social programme, most evenings, offers talks, films, whisky tasting, food, and drama at a variety of venues.  The Tryst culminates in a ceilidh, open to all, on the final Saturday night.

The Tryst also embraces a mountain bike event, The Hairy Coo, which offers riders of all abilities a chance to have fun on Comrie Croft’s network of trails on Sunday, October 14. Comrie Croft (www.comriecroft.com) was awarded ‘UK Trail of the Year 2016’. Plus the Tryst will be offering family friendly guided bike rides around the roads and tracks of Strathearn.

Here’s our pick of this year’s Tryst to inspire you to get outside this Autumn. The walks fill up quickly so check the official website for the most up-to-date information (www.droverstryst.com).

And finally … remember to follow the Scottish Outside Access Code (www.outsideaccess-scotland.scot) and be safe while you explore.

  1. Walking With Wild Weeds

Join noted Strathearn herbalist Claire Mullan for a walk along the hedgerows to discover the wonder of the wild weeds. Learn about the healing properties, folklore and traditional uses of October’s bounty of berries, barks and seeds. The last leg of the walk will return via Muthill’s new cycle path.

Tuesday, October 9. 9.30am-3.15pm. Easy. 7.37km. £10.

  1. A Short Walk Through History: Ancient Romans and Ancient Books

Guide Ian Buchan takes walkers down the Roman Road which runs along the Gask Ridge on the northern side of the Strathearn Valley. The route continues to Innerpeffray Library for lunch in the old schoolhouse, and a guided tour of Scotland’s oldest free lending library by Lara Haggerty, the Keeper of the Books. You may also visit the Chapel and see the site of the Roman ford and camp. The cost includes admission to the library and the tour.

Friday, October 12. 9.45am-3.30pm. Medium. 10k. Minibus provided. £20.

  1. Glen Artney Nature Walk

Pack the binocular and keep them handy for this lovely tour through Glen Artney. Walk leader Andrea Hudspeth says: “If we arrive early enough, we will begin by watching red kites leave the roost at Aberuchill. We should see plenty of red deer along the way and hear the sounds of rutting stags.” The walk is suitable for people of most abilities as the ascents and descents are fairly shallow.

Thursday, October 11. 7.30am-1pm. Medium. 9km. Minibus provided. £16.

  1. Walking with the Shepherdess above Glen Tarken

An incredible opportunity to gain an insight into the life of a Scottish Highlands hill farmer. Join local sheep farmer Moira Maclarty on a walk around the hillside above her family farm in St Fillans. Moira will share her experiences of the highs and lows of farming and managing her flock in this challenging upland environment.

Sunday, October 7. 9am-3.15pm. Hard. 10k. £10.

  1. Ben Vorlich, Stuc a’ Chroin and Beinn Each

These peaks, which stand above Strathearn, form a dividing line between the mountains of the North and the central lowlands of Scotland. Led by Gordon Grant, this expedition will take in two Munros and a Corbett as walkers travel south towards Callander. Having the minibus meet the group at the end the journey will allow a linear route to the three summits.

Saturday, October 13. 8am-6pm. Extra Hard. Minibus provided. £16.

  1. Social Family Bike Ride

The family friendly social bike ride is a new event for Tryst 2018. Taking in quiet country roads, and dedicated cycle track, this ride is suitable for all ages and abilities, with an emphasis on relaxed pedalling. Enjoy the beautiful countryside of the Earn Valley with plenty of time to chat and an opportunity to purchase refreshments with a café stop halfway at St Fillans. The route is relatively flat with a couple of hills, most notably on the approach to St Fillans, but will be manageable by anyone of reasonable fitness. All welcome, under 16s should be accompanied by an adult. The ride is led by two experienced cycle guides.

Saturday, October 6. 10am-1pm. £5 for adults, and £2 for children (under 16s)

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