The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Back to the Cateran Trail

This past weekend I went on the first of two reconnaissance runs on the Cateran Trail.
I planned to start at Bridge of Cally and finish around Kirkton of Glenisla, getting to know a good chunk of the night time section of the race.  This was hastily changed when another DC110 entrant invited me to join him on a night time run in April.  This allowed me to recce the whole route anticlockwise, Spittal of Glenshee to Blairgowrie on Saturday, with the night time jaunt Blairgowrie to Spittal planned later in April.

Lynne and Skye dropped me off Saturday morning, a shopping trip in Perth beckoned while I spent time on the trail.

It was good to get back onto the Cateran, even low cloud and mist couldn't dull the beauty of this route.

I must admit, the straight uphill start of this run was a bit of a killer.  I made a mental note to warm up before the start on race day.  The famous finish is about to become the famous start to the DC110.

Once over the snowy top it was a muddy descent to the refuge hut.

I love the view of the track heading towards Enochdhu.

Previous high winds allowed me to skip using the stile.

The descent goes through the first of many farms on the trail.  This one was busy with lambing, a lot of agriculture vehicles were on the go.

The recycle point at checkpoint Enochdhu.

It's not long before I was running through fields.  I was careful not to disturb livestock on this run.

There were a few obstacles in the forest section between Enochdhu and Kirkmichael.

A quaint holiday home tucked into the trees.

Funny how I was noticing things on this training run, usually missed coming from the opposite direction.  Here is an abandoned church in Kirkmichael.

After Kirkmichael it was time for some track before turning off at the signpost and heading for marsh.

The waterway pattern caught my eye here.



A quick self timed selfie!

This is about a quarter of a mile of marsh, it wasn't as bad as I expected.

What makes the Cateran a great route is the variety of the terrain. 

Grouse, Pheasant, Buzzards, Hare, Red Squirrel.  There was an abundance of wildlife but I'm afraid I only captured this one fuzzy zoomed in picture of Deer.

I had to keep a lookout for the Cateran posts, it would be easy to miss one and take a wrong turn.

From here it was downhill all the way to Bridge of Cally.

Checkpoint Bridge of Cally.

From here it was a right turn to head for moorland.

My namesake was hated by the Caterans!

Very muddy on the moor, but passable if run at the sides of the track.

Another farm to run through before reaching a short road section.

The sign was a bit askew, but it's a left turn and nice run along the edge of farmland.

Another farm, but this one has a couple of gates allowing a short detour.

Onto the farm track, I kept going until reaching the road overlooking Blairgowrie.

A left turn took me down the hill before turning right and following the river.

Across the pedestrian bridge and up the steps took me to checkpoint Blairgowrie.
I always viewed Blairgowrie as half way in this race but I was only 23 miles in.  With 28 to complete I decided to continue.

I crossed the road and run / walked the 2 miles uphill to the turn off at Drimmie woods.
This was the end of my run, I had to double back and meet Lynne and Skye at the hotel.

Some thoughts on the run -
The food consumption went well for a change, no queasiness and I actually had an appetite.
I made it to Blairgowrie in 5 hours, that will be a good time to aim for on race day.
Hopefully there will be enough daylight left to cross the moor without torches.

Driving home on Sunday, we took the opportunity to locate all the checkpoints by road, this was a novelty for me having only run through them.

I'm looking forward to the night run, hopefully the route will be easy to follow in torchlight. 

I'll leave you with a blooper.  The camera on 10 second self timer, I stood on slippery rocks and fell into the stream. I felt like a right plonker getting snapped while I climbed out, a keeper for sure.  

Tues 6  Wed 15  Thurs 6  Sat 28.  Weekly total 55 miles.


  1. Love the last picture! Very noble sharing it with us. It was a really useful insight into what to expect. I have done Spittal to Blackcraig and agree it's an amazing route. The start will be as epic as the finish. What would be perfect would be a sunny evening to start things off with a spectacular sunset over the summit.

    1. Cheers Keith, here's hoping we get good weather.

  2. fantastic pictures George, I've run the Blairgowrie to BofC bit for a few miles and recognised the route in reverse :-)

  3. Terrific! I ran the Cateran Trail 55 in 2011, your pictures and commentary brought back fond memories -- especially running past the turn off in Blackcraig Forest (sight-seeing cost me 3 extra miles!). Good luck on the DC110!

    1. Nice to hear from you David. We ran together between Glenisla and Alyth,
      we have the same split times. Thanks, George.