When we asked around for an experienced mountaineer who could introduce visitors to our mountains, everybody pointed to Grahame. He’s got wide ranging knowledge and valuable advice if you’re thinking of heading to the hills:
Yes, there are many Munros (hills over 3,000ft high) within an hour’s drive. Closest is Carn Liath, part of the Beinn a’ Ghlo group, only half-an-hour away at Blair Atholl. Another very popular hill is Schiehallion just beyond Aberfeldy, and slightly further is Ben Lawers and its neighbours. To the north-east the Glen Shee Munros are easily accessible, and to the south west is Ben Chonzie, a very easy Munro near Comrie.
Ben Vrackie (841m) would be my suggestion. Start at Moulin above Pitlochry and follow an excellent path past Loch a Choire and up to the summit. The views down Strath Tay are fantastic and there is a indicator plate naming all the surrounding peaks. And there is the added bonus of the Moulin Inn when you get down.
A word of warning here. The Scottish mountains in winter can attract weather and snow conditions much more severe than their height would suggest. Go to any of the Munros mentioned above in benign weather and you can have a grand day out, but if the weather turns then it can become a fight for survival. Unless you have an ice axe and crampons and know how to use them then I would suggest you stick to the lower hills. And remember, winter days are short – carry a torch.
Locally we have the well known and popular Birnam Hill circuit, but for something a bit longer and ‘off the beaten track’ I can recommend Deuchary Hill (511m) starting from the Cally Car Park. You will need a map as the route is not obvious and there is a choice of paths, which means you can make a satisfying circular walk. The summit is quite pointy and is a great viewpoint.
In Dunkeld we have an excellent but small mountaineering shop – Insitu Climbing. For a vast range of outdoor gear go to Tisos at Inveralmond in Perth. Worth a mention is the JMT Wild Space in Pitlochry selling OS maps and a good selection of books.
I use the Mountain Weather Information Service http://www.mwis.org.uk/home click on the Southeastern Highlands forecast for our area. The Met Office mountain weather forecast is also useful http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/mountain-forecasts
It may sound simple but for me the most important element of any forecast is – is the weather going to get better or worse as the day goes on.
We are very lucky to have some of the best outcrops in Scotland on our doorstep here, at Craig a Barns. There are 2 main crags – Polney Crag which has many superb easier routes, and Cave Crag which is overhanging and caters very well for climbers operating in the higher grades. The routes are all described in ‘Highland Outcrops South’ by the SMC. For sport (bolted) climbing there are easy routes at Bennybeg (Crieff) and Kirrie Hill (Kirriemuir), and for harder sport routes go to the central wall at Cave Crag. The big mountain cliffs of Glen Coe and The Cairngorms are a couple of hours away.
The nearest climbing wall is at Perth College UHI, on the Crieff Road. Only 20 minutes from Dunkeld. It is very new (opened Dec 2016) and is an excellent training venue as well as great fun.