This tour allows you to explore some of the magnificent scenery west of the A9 near Pitlochry and follows the seemingly oddly named "Road to the Isles" to the point at which it now stops on the edge of Rannoch Moor at Rannoch Station. The tour then heads south to give a glimpse of the scenery around the mouth of Glen Lyon (or an optional excursion taking in much more of it) before returning via Aberfeldy.
The main circular route shown on the map in dark blue is 90 miles long, with a significant portion on single track roads. The route assumes a starting point of Pitlochry, and that the route is tackled anti-clockwise, in other words that the Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch section is done first, then the Glen Lyon section.
The excursion taking you much deeper into Glen Lyon and over the shoulder of Ben Lawers adds a further 27 miles for the round trip, most of it on single track roads. Note that the road over the shoulder of Ben Lawers is not kept open in winter and should not be attempted in wintry conditions.
From Pitlochry you should follow the old B8079, the old road north west, avoiding the turning that takes you onto the new A9 just outside the town. At Garry bridge you take a left turn onto the B8019 which leads you cross country before approaching the north shore of Loch Tummel, which it then roughly follows as far as the loch's west end at Tummel Bridge. A couple of miles along Loch Tummel look out for signs on your left to the Queen's View, one of the classic views in Scotland, along Loch Tummel towards Schiehallion and beyond.
From Tummel Bridge the road follows the River Tummel to Kinloch Rannoch, then runs along the north shore of Loch Rannoch. From the west end of the loch the road climbs steadily, levelling out as it passes the Moor of Rannoch Hotel and then reaches Rannoch Station: literally the end of the road. Having come this far, the Rannoch Station Tea Room is a welcome sight. The bridge over the railway line at Rannoch is one of the best places from which to gain some impression of the vastness of Rannoch Moor, stretching away to your north, south and west.
On your return journey, watch out for a junction at the west end of Loch Rannoch, and from here follow the very minor road that runs around the south side of the loch. En route you pass the lonely Braes of Rannoch Church, and the site of what was once Rannoch School. At the east end of Loch Rannoch you emerge back in Kinloch Rannoch. Here two other churches, All Saints and Rannoch Old Church, are worth a look.
From Kinloch Rannoch you take a minor road that heads roughly south east, passing to the south of Dunalastair Water before climbing the glen on the north flank of Schiehallion, one of the most distinctive mountains in Scotland. The usual route up the mountain is from a parking area on the road beyond the far, eastern, end of the mountain.
When the road you are on meets the B846, turn right along it. Then look out for another right turn signposted Fortingall when you reach the tiny settlement of Keltneyburn. This leads you through part of Glen Lyon to Fortingall, a remarkably attractive place complete with thatched houses, an attractive church, and the Fortingall Yew, said to be the oldest living thing on Earth.
From Fortingall you have a choice. The "main" tour follows a minor road south to meet the A827 on the north shore of Loch Tay at Fearnan. An optional excursion proceeds west through the stupendous scenery of Glen Lyon and past the Glenlyon Church as far as the small settlement at Bridge of Balgie. Here you take a left turn and proceed up a road that climbs steeply to a height of around 1800ft as it crosses the shoulder of Ben Lawers. There is a car park a little beyond the highest point of the road and this is the usual starting point for climbs of Ben Lawers. Those wishing to climb the Meall nan Tarmachan ridge, on the other side of the road can either start in the car park or a little nearer the highest point on the road.
This road descends to emerge on the A827 only a few miles from the west end of Loch Tay and Killin. Turning east along the A827 takes you above the north shore of Loch Tay and through Fearnan (where you pick up the main tour again) en route to the picture postcard village of Kenmore.
From Kenmore you follow the south side of the valley of the River Tay to Aberfeldy, the largest settlement you will see on the tour apart from Pitlochry itself and home to the splendid Tay Bridge. The most direct route back to the start of the tour in Pitlochry is to continue along the A827 (watching out for a spot where you need to make a left turn to stay on the main road) to the A9 at Ballinluig, then following that for the last few miles.
Two other options are available for the adventurous with time on their hands. The first is to follow a minor road along the north side of the river valley east from Aberfeldy until it meets the main road again. A second is to take a very minor road up the west side of the valley of the River Tummel from near Logierait to the southern end of Pitlochry. This is a very narrow road with many twists and turns, but it does avoid using the A9 to complete your tour.
Visitor InformationDistances: The main circular route covers 90 miles. The excursion along Glen Lyon adds a total of 29 miles, much along single track roads and some on roads not cleared in winte.
Fuel: There are petrol stations open at least some of the time in Pitlochry, Kinloch Rannoch and Ballinluig.