Highlights of this route:
- Arriving at the restored Victorian-era Gleneagles train station
- Step inside a medieval chapel built by one of the wealthiest families in Scotland
- Pick up a snack from Muthill village store that has antlers above the door
- Be taken aback by the splendour of Drummond Castle Gardens
- Sink a cool bottle of ginger beer with a splash of whisky on the terrace cafe of the Famous Grouse distillery
- Hike through moss covered forest to an obelisk built in honour of a military hero
Begin at Gleneagles station
- Direct trains from Glasgow to Gleneagles take around 50 minutes.
- From Edinburgh it takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes, changing trains in Stirling.
- Some of these trains require bicycle reservations.
3.5 miles from Gleneagles station you come to a chapel that was built by one of the wealthiest families in Scotland. The Murray's founded Tullibardine chapel around 1446 as a place of private worship and burial. In those days it would have been richly decorated, but today you find a building that is rather austere.
Some interesting things remain, such as the roof beams, fine stone construction and carvings. One of the carvings has a skull and hourglass- a reminder of death, meant to encourage people to live good lives and not sin.
5.5 miles of cycling on a minor road brought me to the pretty village of Muthill. I loved the community garden with the children's wellington boots filled with flowers
From Muthill it is only 2 miles to Drummond Castle Gardens. A small part of this is on the A822, which can have fast moving traffic. but during my visit vehicles were infrequent.
The castle entrance is by means of a long, narrow, uphill driveway. It is a bit of a slog and felt like it went on forever and ever.
"Where is this castle!" I said this to myself many times.
On the plus side it is a really beautiful road, tree-lined, peaceful and filled with birdsong. It is worth pulling over for a rest so that you can enjoy this magical stretch of tarmac.
Ticket purchase takes place in the imposing castle gatehouse. They also sell ice cream from local producer, Stewart Tower Dairy. I thoroughly enjoyed my small tub of chocolate and hazelnut flavour, which hit the spot after climbing up that driveway.
Everything is so neat. The layout of the hedges, trees and flowers is sheer perfection. It makes you want to get down there and explore.
On my road atlas I spotted something intriguing- The Baird Monument. This is my surname, so I had to see what this was all about. General Sir David Baird appeared to be perfect in every possible way from the glowing description on the side of the monument. It is written with typical Victorian gusto and this makes it all the more bizarre to find it in this location.
To get there I walked through forest and ferns. The trees were layered in moss and I rubbed my palms across it. It felt like a rough carpet or a sponge. Even though the monument is on a hilltop there was no view because the trees were so tall and thick. Scottish nature was taking over and it all seemed at odds with a military man used to campaigns in India and Egypt.
The monument is incredible, not only for the inscription, but the impressive height and size of the stone blocks. Gone are those days when grieving widows built such structures in remote countryside.
I parked my bicycle next to a pretty little cottage. I wondered if it had once housed a caretaker for the monument. On a patch of grass opposite the cottage there was a couple having a picnic lunch.
"Don't suppose you have a spare bicycle wheel?" The man with the ginger beard asked.
He explained his predicament. They had a cart with bicycle wheels that contained all of their belongings. They pulled this cart along old drover's trails, but one of the wheels ended up bent. He said that they were part of a travelling circus and walked with their cart across Perthshire to perform shows.
They did not seem too concerned about the broken wheel, "We'll just knock on the door of every house that we pass and ask if they have a spare wheel."
The road that I took to make my way back to Gleneagles station is the kind of thing that keeps cyclists awake at night. When I want to think about my next cycling trip it is likely to be a place like this that I imagine. A place of dense forest, moss covered stone walls and fern jungles. It smelt green and earthy. Give this place a few months of neglect and nature would reclaim the narrow road.
There is some steep climbing required, but the reward you get is the stunning views of the hills.
Trains to Gleneagles are infrequent and a bicycle reservation is sometimes required, so this cycle route requires a bit of advanced planning.
This route is around 33 miles in total. It is mainly on quite roads with negligible vehicle traffic, although there are some sections on A-roads. The A822 has to be used to reach Drummond Castle and Gardens, but I did not find the traffic volume to be concerning.
I would not recommend using the A85 unless you are very comfortable cycling with fast moving traffic. I did use it, because I was short on time, to reach The Baird Monument. It can be avoided using quieter roads that run parallel to the A85.