Blackcraig Forest is a plantation set on a hillside in a beautiful part of upland Perthshire, with excellent views when you reach the higher ground. Adjacent to the forest is Cochrage Muir, an open moorland with man-made fishing lochans and good access tracks. The forest route is rarely flat, with some longish ascents and fast descents, all on wide tracks. The moor route is generally fairly level.
Turn left immediately before the hotel. Parking is either in the small layby at the side of the track, just a hundred metres or so up the track, or in a larger parking space a few hundred metres further on, just before the gate.
There are no real technical challenges, but a reasonable level of fitness is required to cope with the ascents. Be careful on the descents, which are very fast if thatís your inclination. Some end in tight bends so make sure you are looking ahead.
There is a choice of tracks - no need to the stick to the ones Iíve marked on the map once you are in the forest. You can start by climbing to the moor and then heading across to the forest, or just spend an hour or two in the forest itself. It is easy to get lost temporarily if you donít keep checking the map, as there are parallel forest tracks without distinctive features, but it is difficult to stay lost for long. The main navigational danger is accidentally ending up in the north-east part of the forest (near the castle) from which the only way back to the car is to retrace your steps up the slope.
The first time we did this route there seemed to be ospreys everywhere, and we had the pleasure of watching one flying at a larch tree trying to snap off branches for its nest. There was a nest in plain view for a while, but it doesnít seem to have been used in recent years - possibly the victim of disturbance by egg collectors who have been known to target this area.
On one evening ride, we were lucky enough to see a pine marten at dusk as we loaded the bikes back onto the car near the hotel. Beautiful creatures, but also a predator of osprey nests. Both ospreys and pine martens can be more reliably seen at SWT's Loch of the Lowes reserve, just over the hills west of Blackcraig.
The slope at the north end of the route was the scene of the accident mentioned in safety.