Walk Report: Bealach na Searmoin – Pitlochry to Killiecrankie

A couple of weeks ago, I went for the Bealach na Searmoin walk from Pitlochry to Killiecrankie and back. Janie and I have done this walk previously, and some parts of it several times (see previous walk report HERE), but never at this time of year.

We’ve always been a little annoyed that we keep missing the prime autumn colour, particularly around Killiecrankie. I was determined that this year, I’d be catching it!

I arrived at Pitlochry, and parked at the main car park at about 10am. It was a bit overcast, but dry, so not too bad. Sadly, the forecast was for the rain to arrive in the afternoon.

I set off on the path up the hill and past the golf course (It’s quite well signposted, with ‘Pitlochry Paths’ signs at all the relevant junctions). Already, the autumn colours were beginning to show themselves (see photo below), so I was quite hopeful for some good scenery at the Killiecrankie end, and some good views at the higher points on the bealach path.

Once you’ve passed the golf course and a small farm, the road ends at a junction. Annoyingly, at this point, there’s a sign pointing to the left, advising that the paths to Killiecrankie are that way. In this case, we’re actually going right, to get to the Bealach path!

When you go right, you end up at the outskirts of the village Moulin, where there are plenty of signposts for Ben Vrackie, the local hill. This is the route to take.

Once at the car park for Ben Vrackie, the Bealach walk is clearly signposted (see photo below). For a large part of the uphill sections, it follows the path up Ben Vrackie, anyway, so it’s rather difficult to get lost.

As you may be able to tell by the above photo, the lighting was pretty awful, as it was very dull and overcast. It still hadn’t started raining, but I didn’t think it would be long in coming!

As you climb up the hill, the views back down to Pitlochry would normally look pretty spectacular, but sadly, with the awful day, and the approaching rain clouds, visibility was certainly not the best. The photo below is the last one I managed to get on that side of the hill, before the rain clouds started to obscure everything completely.

Its was around this point that the path split, with the left-hand route taking you along the Bealach, with the right-hand route carrying on up Ben Vrackie (which was obscured by low cloud). After a little bit more uphill (the slope is actually reasonably gentle. It’s not too challenging a walk, it has to be said), the path levels out at about 2000ft before starting down the other side, towards Killiecrankie.

Yet again, the awful weather and dull day managed to ruin what could have been some stunning views (see photo below), but that’s the nature of Scottish weather, I guess!

The walk downhill from here was pretty straightforward, on an old track. It was a little boggy in places, but nothing that couldn’t be handled. At the bottom of the hill, after crossing a reasonably quiet road, you arrive at the Killiecrankie Visitor Centre. I stopped here for a breather and a chance to have a snack at one of the picnic benches before heading on.

This is the part of the walk I’ve mentioned in the previous walk report. In the previous report, I’d commented that I keep missing the prime time of the year for Autumn colours. I think it’s fair to say that this is no longer the case. It truly was stunning! OK, it’s not quite as vibrant as you’d get in places like Canada, or the US, with all the Maple trees, but as far as Scotland goes, I reckon this is one of the best places to see autumn colour. See the photos below

I’ll not talk too much about how the walk went from here, as I’ve detailed it already in the previous report. It was, however, raining rather heavily by this point (it started pretty much as soon as I finished eating at the Visitor Centre), so I didn’t actually take as many photos as I thought I would.

I think it’s fair to say that the walk back to Pitlochry is reasonably straightforward, on relatively level ground (there’s a few tiny uphills and downhills, and a fair amount of tree roots that could trip you) and should provide very little in the way of challenge. As with the previous report, you could simply walk this section to get the best of the autumn colours.

I think it’s fair to say that I find this area absolutely stunning at this time of year. Had the weather been slightly better, it would have been a near perfect walk. I’d strongly recommend doing this walk at this time of year, where possible!

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