Deuchary Hill and Loch Ordie
In the latest edition of our My Favourite Run series, Advnture contributor Jack McKeown heads to Dunkeld to tackle a route that leads into hills and lochs above the pretty Highland Perthshire town.
“Dunkeld has some of Highland Perthshire’s best scenery and is also its most accessible town,” Jack says. “There’s a train station in neighbouring Birnam, and it’s only 20 minutes from Perth, 45 minutes from Dundee, or a little over an hour from Glasgow or Edinburgh.
“This route takes in three lochs and a hill that offers an amazing 360-degree vista (and a handy point to catch your breath).”
- Start/Finish: Cally Car Park, Dunkeld, PH8 0EP
- Distance: 12.7 miles/20.4 km
- Elevation gain: 1,350 ft / 411 m
- Difficulty: Challenging
- Duration: 2.5 - 3 hours
Setting off from Cally Car Park head out of the car park the way you came in and take a left turn. Follow the track through woodland for a couple of miles. Eventually you’ll see a house and kennels called The Glack. Turn left before the approach to the house, going through a metal gate.
Here’s where the really good stuff starts. Follow the track up through a stand of cherry trees (pausing to pick some if they’re in season) until you reach a beautiful stretch of water called Mill Dam.
Turn right at the eastern edge and run alongside the dam (looking out for trees freshly gnawed by beavers) before rising above it and reaching a stone bridge over a stream.
Just after the bridge turn right, leaving the main track to follow a narrower trail that leads up through woodland and bracken.
After a mile or so keep a close eye out for a faint trail to the left leading steeply uphill – it’s quite easy to miss.
This is where, for me, My Favourite Run turns into My Favourite Hike. The next 20 minutes are a steep and strenuous push up Deuchary Hill. It’s a good test of heart, lungs and legs.
Eventually, after a false summit, you’ll reach the top. From here there’s a very steep and tricky but short section down the far side, then a long descending path past a lochan (that’s Scottish for a small loch), through a lovely stretch of woods and alongside a stream.
At the next junction bear right and this will take you to Loch Ordie. Here you can either admire the view before turning back or run a loop around the shoreline, which is about a mile and a half.
Take the same route back but carry on past where you came down from Deuchary Hill. This easy track eventually brings you back to Mill Dam. Enjoy another look at this wonderfully tranquil body of water before retracing your steps back to the car park.
Deuchary Hill and Loch Ordie: why I love it
Highland Perthshire is a magical place, with ancient woodlands, majestic mountains, glittering lochs and rivers, rich wildlife, and historic towns and villages.
I first discovered Deuchary Hill and Loch Ordie about two years ago when I was looking for new walking and running routes within easy reach of my home in Dundee.
I still remember my initial delight on heading into the hills and discovering one special spot after another. Since then I’ve been back more than a dozen times with my golden retriever Bracken. Sometimes I run. Sometimes I hike. A couple of times I’ve taken my bike.
I still haven’t come close to getting bored of it. Nor have I scratched the surface of what’s to offer. The route described above is my favourite of several variations I’ve tried. You can easily add or delete sections, or take alternative routes to mix it up. There are also virtually endless minor trails and tracks to explore through the woods and hills.
You can feast more than your eyes as well. At the right time of year the slopes of Deuchary Hill are loaded with millions of blueberries and the trees on the trail up to Mill Dam groan with ripe cherries.
From the top of Deuchary Hill you enjoy outstanding views in all directions. Looking back over Dunkeld you can see the silvery gleam of the Tay. Turn around and you’ll see Lochan na Beinne, Loch Ordie and the sweep of the Highland Perthshire mountains – including the distinctive sharp peak of Schiehallion.
The shores of Loch Ordie are another glorious spot. A long bothy is used by anglers and in front of it there’s a stone wall just above the shoreline. At the other side of the water an arched stone bridge spans a stream that burbles into the loch.
Either of these are perfect rest stops. If you have enough energy a loop around the loch is well worth it. You’ll spend most of it picking your favourite camping spot for your next adventure.
After the run I recommend a trip into Dunkeld for some well-earned food and drink. I rarely leave without fuelling up with one of bakery Livvi’s superb sausage rolls. If you’re getting the train home, the Taybank Inn is a terrific spot to enjoy a pint or two.
Highlight: Deuchary Hill to Loch Ordie
The vista from the top of Deuchary Hill is phenomenal. And standing on the edge of Loch Ordie (or indeed having a swim in it) is a very special place to be. But my favourite section is the stretch between the two.
After descending from Deuchary Hill there’s a couple of miles of path that never fail to delight me. It leads past a small but wonderful lochan then through a tranquil wooded vale, crossing a couple of streams.
Very rarely do you encounter anyone else here – most people descend Deuchary Hill the way they came up – and it feels like you have a glorious little dell all to yourself.
My Favourite Run Collection
To view the other runs in the My Favourite Run series on komoot, click on the Collection below...
You can also check out our My Favourite Hike series.
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Jack McKeown is a Scottish journalist, hiker, skier, runner and beach volleyball player. Having walked many of Scotland’s long distance trails, last year saw him tackle his first ultramarathon. He lives in Dundee and in his spare time Jack and his golden retriever Bracken are often to be found exploring the mountains, forests, lochs and rivers of Highland Perthshire.