The Cateran Trail

The Cateran Trail is a fully waymarked walk of 64 miles (103 km) that lies at the heart of Scotland, approximately 1½ hours north of Edinburgh. The Trail takes its name from the feared cattle thieves who raided the rich lands of Strathardle, Glenshee and Glen Isla.

The route follows some of their old drove roads and ancient tracks across a varied terrain of farmland, forests and moors. It boasts breath-taking scenery in a corner of Perthshire relatively unknown to walkers.

A circular route, the trail has no real beginning or end allowing walkers to join at any of the many settlements along its length. Blairgowrie, as the biggest town, is where most walkers choose to begin. The nearest village is never more than 7 miles (11 km) away and gradients vary from easy to moderate. The Trail’s highest point is only 650m (2100 ft) above sea level. Signposts, stiles and bridges marked with the Trail’s distinctive red heart logo, make it easy to find your way.” (http://www.caterantrail.org/)

“This is a walking route full of breath-taking landscapes with a wide range of changing terrain that should suit long distance walkers of any age. Situated on the southern end of the Highlands in the Heart of Perthshire and the Angus Glens this route provides the walker with a true feel of Scottish landscape and offers a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Caterans in the 15th to 17th centuries.” (http://www.walkthecaterantrail.com/)

The trail is named after the Caterans, marauding cattle thieves who roamed the more lawless areas of the Highlands from the Middle Ages until the 17th century.

The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon

The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon covers 55 gloriously scenic miles of the Cateran Trail. The race, capped at 85 participants, is a lot smaller than many of the other Scottish Ultra Marathon Series events but benefits from a fantastic ’family like atmosphere’. The race ‘HQ’, the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel, is largely taken over by runners and support crew and runners benefit from a generous accommodation offer for the weekend of the race.

Registration for the race takes place at the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel, with a race briefing outside the hotel in the early morning before runners are then led the short distance to the race start.

Runners have 15 hours to complete the 55 mile route which includes some 7450ft of ascent. The somewhat brutal finish to the race involves a climb, starting at the 49 mile mark at Enochdhu (approx. 243 metres), rising to the race highpoint at An Lairig at around 53.5 miles (approx. 650 metres). The climb is rewarded with a glorious descent of more than 300 metres down to the finish line 1.5 miles later at the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel.

Anyone considering participation in the race should ensure that they have sufficient clothing to cope with all weathers. I completed the race for the first time in 2011 and spent the final 5-6 miles battling the elements in torrential rain. The ascent to the highest point of the race was less about following the path than wading up and through a shallow stream and the descent focussed on remaining upright in gloopy mud that was set on uprooting you. Losing your footing on the descent is made all the more embarrassing as any falls are witnessed by those runners and support crew awaiting your return in the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel!

The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon is a 2 point qualifier for the UTMB races.

Note that the map details the Cateran Trail Ultramarathon route. Anyone who wishes to see the full 64 miles of the Cateran Trail is advised to check the resource links at the bottom of the page.

Resources

The Cateran Trail

A rather timely addition to the new routes section of the website – The Cateran Trail.

Having just checked the entry list I see that there are only 4 places left on The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon, one of the absolute gems of the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series. For many, at 55 miles, it is the final long run of their pre West Highland Way Race training and this is the approach that I took last year. Unfortunately I managed to pick up an Achilles injury in the first 6 miles of the route but a combination of stubbornness and stupidity saw me grind out a finish! As a result, I didn’t actually get much running done before the West Highland Way Race, an enforced ‘taper’ of sorts.

Due to some great news and the logistics involved, I will unfortunately not be on the start line of the 2013 Cateran Trail Ultramarathon but will hopefully be back soon.