Deil’s Cauldron, Comrie, Perthshire
The conservation village of Comrie is the starting point for a perfect school holiday walk, short and sweet and with plenty to keep the whole family entertained for a few hours.
The main attraction is the Deil’s Cauldron (Devil’s Kettle), a dramatic waterfall which roars down a narrow gorge on the River Lednock, boiling and hissing as it plunges into a deep pool. Legend has it that it was the haunt of a water elf who lured victims to their doom.
Further downstream is a second cascade, the Wee Cauldron, a much gentler affair but still worth the short diversion off the main path.
The walk is signposted as the Glen Lednock circular – there are regular signs all round the circuit to keep you right – and starts from the small car park at the western end of the village. Follow the main road for a short distance and when it bends sharp left, leave it, keeping keep straight on to reach two old stone gateposts where the delightful woodland route begins.
The path skirts the edges of fields at first then rises lazily through the trees, crossing wooden bridges and, at one point, passing between the two halves of a huge fallen tree, cut to match the path.
Branch right to visit the Wee Cauldron, then continue on the loop back to the main path which climbs more steeply to reach a series of fenced wooden walkways fastened to the edge of the rock face high above the river. A few steps lead down to the well-protected viewing platform.
The next stage of the walk, the climb to the Melville Monument, is steep but short-lived. The 72-foot obelisk which crowns the summit of the wooded Dun More was built in 1812 to commemorate Henry Dundas, the 1st Viscount Melville, whose political power during the late 18th Century earned him the nickname “the uncrowned king of Scotland”.
The small flat summit area gives a great line of sight down over Comrie and there is a view indicator picking out the surrounding hills but beware wandering too far – there are potentially dangerous drops on three sides.
For the descent, retrace your steps to the track but instead of dropping by the inward path, keep left and follow the track until it emerges from the trees at a high gate. Turn right, following the sign marked ‘Monument Road, Maam Road’. The track drops in long zig-zags to reach the road, but there is a more direct, grassy line heading straight down to a rickety stile (beware the missing step!).
A short distance along the road, another signpost on the left for Laggan Wood directs you down a grassy path. Keep right when it forks and cross the Shaky Bridge, then right again by the path along the river. This is a fine place for a picnic stop.
The last leg sees the path swing uphill to the left, going through a gate and back into woodland. There has been some felling recently and the going can be a bit muddy amongst the debris but the way is clear and you are soon back on a more solid footing. The Melville Monument is high on your right, its prominence and rocky defences more spectacular from this angle.
There are plenty path splits and markers on the way down, but basically keeping right is the rule until you reach the long pedestrian bridge just beyond a weir. Then it’s just a short distance back to the start.
1. Head out of car park to main road, turn right then keep straight on when road turns sharp left to reach two old stone gateposts and path sign.
2. Follow path into woods, eventually dropping closer to the River Lednock. Watch for smaller path on right which goes down steps for short diversion to the Wee Cauldron.
3. Rejoin main path and as it climbs keep right to reach wooden fenced walkway high above river where steps lead to viewpoint for the Deil’s Cauldron.
4. Follow wooden stairs back up to road, turn right on path and after short distance watch for signed path on left for Melville Monument. This rises steeply through trees before joining track going left for final slope to obelisk.
5. Return to track but keep left. Leave woods at large gate to join old hill track, turn right and head down wide zig zags (there is more direct grassy path) to reach small stile.
6. Turn right on road, then left at sign for Laggan Wood and follow grassy path, taking right fork to wooden footbridge. Cross and head right on path running alongside river.
7. When path veers left, go through gate and back into trees. At waymarked junction further on take path going right.
8. Keep right at next fork and stay right to join main track by river. After passing weir path reaches bridge. Cross and keep ahead on path alongside fields to return to car park.
Time: 2-4 hours
Grading: Waymarked woodland paths and tracks. Suitable for all ages, one short climb to Melville Monument which can be omitted. Can be wet and muddy in places, some exposed tree roots, good footwear recommended.
Start/finish: Small car park beside school at west end of Comrie (Grid ref: NN 772220) reached by right turn from A85 between two bends.
Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 52 (Pitlochry & Crieff); Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet OL47.
Tourist Information: VisitScotland, Perth iCentre, 45 High Street, Perth, PH1 5TJ (Tel 01738 450600).
Public transport: Bus services from Perth (No 15).