A local biker’s guide to seeing Perthshire on two wheels…
Born and bred in Crieff, John Gauld knows a thing or two about the area. Working in the family’s funeral director business since 1997, John discovered motorbikes in 2005. Since then he’s explored some of Strathearn’s best biking routes and much further afield.
John currently rides a BMW K1300S and goes on tours with his wife, Marnie, who is also an avid biker and rides a Suzuki V-Strom. Their most recent jaunt was to England and Wales where they clocked 1,150 miles in a week. John and Marnie’s favourite biking trip was to the States in 2015 where they travelled across the entire country, starting in Florida and heading west finishing in Los Angeles via San Francisco. They covered 4,500 miles in 13 days on a Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra. Incredibly, they clocked up 630 miles in one day travelling across Texas.
Here, John has shared his favourite local route. Starting and finishing in Crieff, John takes us past some of Perthshire’s most picturesque spots, with time for coffee, cake and some fascinating oddities along the way.
If you’re setting off on a group ride Taylor Park on Turretbank Road is a good spot to rendezvous for heading west. Remember, the weather is a bit unpredictable in these parts and can fluctuate wildly when biking. I don’t really need to tell bikers this, but my advice is to wear plenty of layers so, if you’re too hot you can take a layer off. This way, at least you’ll never be too cold.
The narrow lochside road between Comrie and St Fillans is a favourite with bikers who like a route with plenty of twists and turns. The conservation village of St Fillans has plenty of convenient laybys to park up and take in the breathtaking views over Loch Earn.
Falls of Dochart, Killin
It’s a bit more of a challenging road here, but it’s worth the journey to experience the scenery. Admire the misty spray rising into the air as the waters of the River Dochart crash onto the rocks then flow around the Islands of Inchbuie, known as the traditional and ancient burial place of Clan Macnab.
Fortingall Yew Tree
Around 12 miles further up the road from Killin is the Fortingall Yew Tree, which at between 2,000 and 3,000 years old is reputed to be the oldest tree in Britain. It’s a perfect spot for photographs, but you really do need to get off the bike to fully appreciate the surroundings here.
You might need to plan ahead for this one and book, but Highland Safaris is a great way to get closer to nature on your trip. Take a break from your bike and go on a trek in one of their six wheel off-the-road trucks, then go and enjoy some coffee and cake afterwards at their café. I’d say coffee and cake are a definite ‘yes’ on this trip. I need a dose of coffee to keep me alert and some cake for an energy boost. This is the place for both of those!
This is an incredibly scenic walk. Park up in the big car park, then venture for half a mile (15 minutes on foot) to check out the thunderous Black Linn Falls and look up to admire the beautiful Douglas Firs, some of the tallest trees in the country.
Loch of Lowes
Another picturesque spot, this is on the way to Blairgowrie. A narrower B-road, this stage of the route beyond Loch of Lowes will keep you on your toes. Look out for birds of prey and Osprey around the loch. There’s a lovely café here as well if you’re in need of more caffeine and sugar.
There’s a running theme here. Another great coffee stop in the centre of Blairgowrie is the Wellmeadow Café across the road from Wellmeadow Park. If you’re looking for a few amenities and place to refuel, here is where to do it!
Meikleour Beech Hedge
This hedge is a record breaking beech hedge, recognised by the Guinness Books of Records as the highest hedge in the world at over 100 ft high. While the height is remarkable, the story behind the hedge is more touching. The story I know is that the chaps who used to cut the hedge went to fight in the Jacobite rebellion and never came home. As a tribute, the hedge was allowed to grow and was not trimmed again so the men wouldn’t be forgotten.
After you’ve finished looking at record breaking hedges, it’s time to head back to Crieff. Take the B9099 to Stanley and then the A85 back to Crieff where you will find sprawling Perthshire countryside to enjoy the whole journey back. Finish your motorcycle adventure off in James Square where you can park up and go for a pint and dinner at one of the restaurants in the town square. The route is 133 miles in total and, if you don’t stop anywhere, takes three and half hours, but, if you take your time and take in the sights and experiences along the way, it can be the most wonderful day seeing the very best of Perthshire.