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The Caterans and the Cateran Trail

The Caterans and the Cateran Trail

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2003 The Cateran Trail


The Caterans

The Caterans and the Cateran Trail

Local Cattle Rustlers!

Hear about our local cattle rustlers from years gone by and about the 64 mile Cateran Trail.

The Trail may be joined at a number of points along the route, but Blairgowrie is the main starting and finishing point on this circular, fully way-marked route, which is now managed and maintained by Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust, with permission and co-operation of the landowners through whose land it passes.

Along the way, walkers are treated to dramatic landscapes, stunning mountain views, tranquil lochs, peaceful glens, farmland, forests and moorland, with glimpses of Highland cattle, sheep, an abundance of wildlife and even a Scottish castle or two.  

The trail follows old drove roads and ancient tracks, used by cattle drovers to reach the cattle markets at Crieff and Falkirk, and by Caterans.

Who were the Caterans after whom the trail is named?

The official Cateran Trail website offers this explanation:

“The Trail is named after the Caterans – marauding cattle thieves who flourished in the more lawless regions of the Highlands from the Middle Ages until the 17th century. More feared than wolves, Cateran raiding parties numbered anything from 5 to 500 fierce warriors. Favouring dark nights, and often remarkably well informed about their targets, they would descend on richer neighbours when they were off guard. Weddings and other festivities often provided an opportunity for a raid and many revellers would sober up to find their folds empty and their cattle gone.  The Caterans raided far and wide, but the rich farmlands of Glen Isla and Strathardle were particularly ‘favoured.’ By custom they would return by a different way from which they came, using ancient drove roads through remote glens.”

Many stories have been told over the centuries about the Caterans. Maurice Fleming, in his book ‘The Ghost o’ Mause’ tells the story of a man named Chalmers who farmed at Morganstoune, near Bridge of Cally. A band of Caterans plotted to murder him in his sleep and steal his cattle. While out tending his herd, Chalmers became aware of the Caterans lying in wait. Pretending not to have noticed them, he finished his work and gave the impression he had retired for the night. However, he stayed up, and when a Cateran attempted to enter his property, Chalmers killed him and a second Cateran. The surviving Caterans crept away and never troubled him again.


First launched in 2011 by the ABF The Soldiers’ Charity (formerly the Army Benevolent Fund) the annual Cateran Yomp raises money for soldiers, veterans and their families. Yomp is a military term for a long-distance march. Starting in Blairgowrie, the circular route takes teams through Kirkmichael, the Spittal of Glenshee and Kirkton of Glenisla. Teams battle to complete the 54 mile (gold) route in 24 hours. There are 36 mile (silver) and 22mile (bronze) options.


In 2017 Blairgowrie and East Perthshire Tourist Association (BEPTA) rebranded Blairgowrie and the surrounding area as Cateran Country.

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