This delightful wooded hill is a personal favourite. Although a bit steep it is not too strenuous and there are good paths for the whole circuit. The route is waymarked with red arrows and green Scotways signs.
- Distance: 6.4 km / 4 miles
- Ascent: 400 m / 1350 feet
- Terrain: Good paths though steep in places
- Start / finish: Birnam station off the A9
From the railway station a path at the northern end of the car park provides a pedestrian route into Birnam. Take this path out of the car park but turn left away from Birnam passing under the railway line. Keep on the path rather than the track until you reach the next signpost. Here there are two signs for Birnam Hill in different directions. Go straight on (the track on the left will be our return route) on a path with a marker post (red arrow). At the next signpost go left on the path which goes uphill. Follow this path steeply up the hill through old birch woods.
The path is quite steep but other than that it is easy going. After about 30 minutes when larch becomes the dominant tree you reach a flat rocky area with first class views over Dunkeld and the Tay. This area makes an excellent lunch or coffee stop.
After admiring the views, return to the path and continue onwards on now flatter ground with larch and pine trees. This section of path can be a bit muddy after heavy rain especially if mountain bikes have been using it. Soon you will reach the large summit cairn perched on the 404m summit.
The hard work is now behind you. Follow the continuation of the path into the larch trees and start to descend the south east side. This side of the hill is more open than the ascent route with scattered conifer trees. The descent is steep in places but is aided by wooden steps and zig zags. After the zig zags the path counter-intuitively turns right. At this point you can either follow the main path or use the short cut that is forming. After about 500m the path turns left again and enters the woods.
It is worth taking the signposted detour to the viewpoint at Stair Bridge for views of Birnam Wood and the Tay Valley. Return to the main path and stay on it as it circles around the hill until you reach a track. Turn left onto the track for about 400m passing through a quarry area. Keep right on a path that goes into the woods rather than following the track to the left and the old quarry. The path is rather undulating but is a very pleasant woodland walk. A link to Birnam using an underpass joins the path. If you are returning to Birnam you could use this link.
To return to the station stay on the main path until it joins an obvious track where you turn right. The track soon reaches some cottages and houses and then meets your outward route at the signpost you passed earlier. Turn right, under the railway, and then right again to enter the station car park.