Reekie Linn and Loch of Lintrathen, Angus
WATERFALL visits are always better during or after heavy rain so the slowly-emerging sunshine that followed a 24-hour deluge seemed like an opportunity to do just that.
I had intended a casual low-level circuit taking in the Loch of Lintrathen, but instead of starting from one of the spots along the western shore, I decided to park at Bridge of Craigisla and tag the short jaunt to the spectacular falls of Reekie Linn on to the route.
I could hear the thundering waters ahead as I pulled in to the empty car park, the River Isla racing along, in a hurry to reach the big drop.
It’s hard to draw your eyes away from the increasingly steep drops off to the right as the path climbs along the gorge. Extreme care is needed – this is not a suitable walk for young children or anyone with an aversion to heights. There is no fence and the drops are sheer.
There are tantalising glimpses of what lies ahead but its best to wait until the final reveal when the full power of the falls are in view. On a quiet day, you can see the join between the two waterfalls, but today there was just one massive white-water torrent.
There was no chance either of spotting the cave called Black Dub at the base of the falls. This is where it was said a famous outlaw hid out until the devil appeared as a big, black dog, scaring him so much that he surrendered the next day.
I retraced my steps – carefully, of course – and followed the road uphill, before turning left at Formal. A rusted metal gate on the right offered access to the Knock of Formal, a mere 353-ft addition to the day, and a chance for a high-rise view over the surrounding landscape.
As I rose, I spotted four buzzards performing a synchronised aerial ballet, but despite their languid movement they faded from view almost as soon as they had appeared.
The summit area is a flat mix of grass and heather, but running off north-east are the remains of Durward’s Dyke, an ancient wall believed to have been belonged to a deer park, a status symbol in the 13th Century when Sir Alan Durward was an important political figure. The Durward home was nearby Peel Castle, but the building is long gone, along with the prominence of the family name.
Back on the road after that short interlude, I followed the route as it meandered along farm lanes and through the wood which houses Fornethy residential school, re-emerging briefly on the road before heading back into trees.
The way through this second wooded section was not so straightforward – the dilapidated state of the entrance gate should have been a clue – and the path onward was a quagmire in places, struggling to be seen at other times. Even the deer seemed surprised by my presence.
The easiest line was to follow a raised grassy wall along a ditch, and eventually I found a metal gate into a sheep field, then a series of farm lanes which led out to the shores of Loch of Lintrathen. There were swans, ducks and a few varieties of geese but it was otherwise quiet, my hopes of seeing a wildfowl extravaganza gone as flat as the light, the water now grey as a sheet of pressed steel.
At the end of the loch I turned right, passing the primary school and Peel Farm, to reach Formal again. Considering half of this circuit seemed to be on the road, I was untroubled by cars, and it was a similar story all the way back to the bridge.
1. Take signed woodland path east to reach viewpoint for Reekie Linn falls.
2. Return to car park, exit and turn right on to B954 which heads north then east to reach Formal.
3. Turn left to follow road north again and after 1km leave it for farm lane on left, marked Middleton.
4. Just before farm buildings, turn right up track by edge of wood and before metal gate take grassy track on right into wood.
5. The track leads around grounds of Fornethy residential school before twisting round to emerge back on B954.
6. Follow road short distance north to reach wooden gate on right, go through it and take atv track across field to gate at edge of wood.
7. Go through gate and after reaching another gate, follow path through trees to metal gate and grass track across sheep field.
8. Follow farm lanes east along edge of wood, passing entrance to Torrax and continue straight on to emerge on minor road on western shore of Loch of Lintrathen.
9. Walk south down road to junction, turn left and follow road past primary school, Peel Farm and entrance to Formal and back to parking.
Distance: 10.5km/6.5 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Grading: Woodland paths, farm tracks and minor roads. Care needed along gorge to Reekie Linn, unfenced with steep drops, not recommended for young children. Short climb to Knock of Formal (optional, add 105m/350ft ascent). Very wet, muddy sections, good footwear recommended. Dogs under close control due to farm livestock.
Start/finish: Bridge of Craigisla car park (Grid ref: NO 252538) on B954.
Map: Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 53 (Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth); Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 379.
Tourist Information: VisitScotland, Dundee iCentre, 16 City Square, Dundee DD1 3BG (Tel 01382 527527).
Public transport: None.