4.2 milesApproximate Height Gained:
PH16 5BXA rewarding route for reasonably fit mountain bikers up to the loch below Ben Vrackie and back over the Bealach na Searmoin.
Reaching nearly 600m height, the start of the route is in the car park just above Moulin, a little over a mile (1.9Km) from Pitlochry main street. If heading up the hill, turn left immediately at the Moulin Inn, cross the burn, veer right and you'll see a sign pointing you right up the road to the car park. That'll save a mile grind uphill! Although that's not the spirit!
You'll be in your granny ring or close to it for much of the section from the car park to the loch. After the loch there are a steeper sections where pushing is no shame! However, once you hit the Bealach path from Killiecrankie then it's all rideable to the Bealach itself. This is the pass between two hills where, in past times, the god-fearing residents of Killiecrankie would walk over to Moulin Kirk on a Sunday. (Moulin as a village is much, much older than Pitlochry.) The Moulin Inn is conveniently next to the Kirk and that makes me wonder about actual motivation for such serious exertion. I hope that the beers then were as worth it as they are now! Rumour has it that this walk would be carried out twice on a Sunday. That's the danger of drink. We've all been there. Completely befuddled and unable to work out the way home!
All round the route, there's lots of opportunities to stop and look at the view. I also find that stopping to take photos is great cover for catching your breath!
Importantly, this is a mountainside that you're travelling up. The prize is that, although you are close to Moulin and Pitlochry, you genuinely feel high up and among mountains (also, walkers say very flattering things about your fitness and less flattering things about the state of your mind).The price is that you must be reasonably fit and prepared for mountain conditions and accordingly have the appropriate clothing, fluids and food with you.
The downhill from the bealach is highly entertaining. Slidey grass; deep, boulder-filled ruts, fast, fast, fast (if there are no walkers) footpath and bunny hopping water bars. The gates could be made more bike friendly and you'll find crossing them easier if there are two or more of you. There's a few windblown trees too that should be cleared. Practice your limbo cycling in the interim.
Nevertheless, for a morning or afternoon or evening ride it's hard to beat. Sit smugly on a terrace afterwards sipping something and gaze back at what you achieved. Then bore the backside off of anyone polite enough to listen to your mini epic while you point out the route!
Let someone know that you are going and when you are likely to return. Tell them whe you return!. Take the appropriate clothing, fluids and food with you. It can be very cold and windy up there.
After the end of the loch, several informal paths appear. Don't get too hung up on those. Follow the signs and also the general direction of up and across to your right to catch the Bealach path. You can turn right at this path and follow it down to Killiecrankie and the lovely cycle back to Pitlochry. I'll post that route soon.
Check in at the local bike shop, Escape Route, on the main street of Pitlochry, almost across the road from the tourist information centre. Over a coffee, you can discuss the route and get up to date info on it.Another contribution from the Escape Route crewBen Vrackie, Bealach Mountain Bike Route, at EveryTrail