LOCHEARNHEAD TO COMRIE
The Perthshire Advertiser newspaper article cited (see here) seems to be a lot of hype about very little in mileage terms. What is correct is that the railway path project is being delivered in three stages, as described below.
Phase 1 has provided
about 1 mile (1.5 km) of surfaced cycleway on the east side of St.. Fillans
along the formation from the A85 bridge at Tynreoch (grid reference NN
715234) to the Fank Burn (NN 703244), beyond which a farmyard has taken
over the trackbed, and the cycleway then deviates to the north, zigzagging
up the hillside (it is believed that the photo in the newspaper article
was taken on the deviation, not on the former railway). The A85 overbridge
has been re-opened, but with a much reduced arch. Users, especially cyclists,
are not helped by the fact that a local farmer has taken to storing a
piece of machinery in this narrow space, severely restricting passage.
The section between this bridge and Dalchonzie remains a good forestry
track with two fine bowstring girder bridges and a concrete viaduct along
the way. However, it is not suitable for cyclists with road bikes, which
will clearly reduce usage of the new section, so it may be that Phase
3 will involve putting tarmac on this stretch. Path users are
directed between Dalchonzie and Comrie over a rather indirect route via
minor roads (NCN775). East of Dalchonzie, the trackbed is adjacent to
the road for a distance and this could potentially be used as a path in
the future, if it was thought desirable to provide a shorter and entirely
traffic free cycle route. The final section into Comrie has the two missing
bridges mentioned in the previous post and it seems unlikely that this
part would ever be reconstructed, particularly the eastern bridge which
now abuts directly onto property on the eastern bank. The Dalchonzie to
St Fillans stretch is the only part of the A85 east of Lochearnhead that
does not have a minor road alternative, so a cycleway has presumably been
prioritised here for that reason.
Unfortunately, linkage with NCN7 at Lochearnhead would need to be through the village and the A85/A84 and not directly across the fine curved concrete viaduct over Ogle Burn. Although the structure is in apparently good condition and accessible from the west, there is property immediately to the east that cannot easily be bypassed.
Report by Dr Keith Potter