The BLiSS Trail
This guide to the BLiSS Trail in Bredalbane was the first on my to-do list of articles for this new website. I'd read coverage of the BLiSS trail when it had launched and seen the subsequent awards that had received, but hadn't yet done the trail for myself.
The BLiSS Trail, stands for Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St Fillans, the four communities that the trail connects (see map below for their locations). The organisation behind the project is LETi, the Lochearn tourist information group.
The idea is simple, a series of arts installations that blend into the scenery. Just before setting off on my trip I was pleased to see on social media that a new app, with audio tour, had been produced as an accompaniment for the trail. What a good idea. I've put links below to the Geo Tourist app that is free to download either for IOS (Apple) or Android devices. On the app each of the art installations is described by either the artist themselves or a local person, there are also photographs and maps to show you the locations.
Sadly when on the trail I couldn't get connection at a number of the locations, but I'd listened in advance and found them really interesting. The quality of connectivity in the area is generally improving so I am sure that there will be coverage at all the installations before too long.
Planning Your BLiSS Trail Visit
It is worth looking at the locations on the apps map before heading off so you can plan your route and stopping points. You could cycle between them, some are either on or close to the National Number 7 cycle route. If you're driving have a think in advance about where to park, maybe making plans to stop at some of the excellent cafes, pubs and restaurants on the route. That I guess is part of the driving force for the creation of the trail, encouraging visitors to use the local businesses in these communities.
Here is a full list of the art installations, with photographs of some of them.
1. Sloc-Nan-Sitheanach - by Ruairidh Moir. Also known as Faerie Hollow, this is at Loch Lubnaig's Car Park 1 (the first for the loch when heading north). The loch can be found between Callander and Strathyre. This is the first of two viewpoints on the BLiSS Trail that are also part of the Scottish Scenic Routes collection, it provides a beautiful viewing point of the loch. By the way as you are following the BLiSS Trail look out for the signs below to help guide you.
2. Soaring Eagle - by Iain Chalmers. There are three pieces of art to see in the grounds of the excellent Broch Cafe which is located just before Strathyre on the A84.
3. Ride Out Seats - by Jeremy Cunningham, also at The Broch Cafe.
4. Thistle The Heilan' Coo - by Wee Coo Co the third item from the trail that is at The Broch Cafe.
5. "Airliephant" - Airlie House B&B and Ice Cream Parlour on Main Street at Strathyre. There's a free car park on the left hand side of the road, by the Village Shop. This is ideal for parking to allow you to walk to the ones that are in Strathyre.
6. Drover's Bho - by Kev Paxton, opposite Munro Hotel, before Balvaig Bridge, Strathyre
7. Miniature Mill House, Strathyre Old Road, over the Balvaig Bridge, Off the A84, Strathyre
8. MHOR Coo - You'll find this in the grounds of MHOR84 Motel, at Balquhidder, just off of the A84
9. Old Victorian Signpost - near MHOR84, off A84, Balquhidder. Lovely to see the classic, restored signpost. Sad though that a sign for a house builder has been added that is more modern and certainly less attractive.
10. Red Phone Box Book and DVD exchange - can be found at Balquhidder Village Hall and is very neat and tidy inside!
11. Half Way Totem Pole - by Edward Chadfield, on the road opposite Balquhidder Village Hall
12. The Lookout - Daniel Tyler & Angus Richie, another of the Scottish Scenic Views collection. Park at Monachyle Mhor and then walk onto the field between Lochs Doine & Voil where you will see the mirror box. You will probably disturb a flock of sheep admiring themselves in the mirrors! Sit in the look out and look out to Loch Doine, whilst simultaneously seeing Loch Voil reflected in the mirror. Very cleverly it blends beautifully into the landscape too. So much so that it can be difficult to see sometimes from Monachyle Mhor.
13. The Sheiling - in the grounds of Monachyle MHOR Hotel.
14. The Cockerel - by Iain McColl, A84. Edinchip nr. Lochearnhead, this is a mile marker on the Number 7 Cycle Route.
15. Dragon Bike - love this Willow work by June McEwan, it's just outside Mansewood Country House just before you turn onto the A85 and into Lochearnhead
16. Ewen - Westies of Craggan - by Kev Paxton. You'll find this steel West Highland Terrier at St Angus Church, Lochearnhead.
17. The Three Sisters - by Perth College UHI Art students in Lochside Cottages garden on the A85 at Lochearnhead
18. Blawn Wi The Wind - by Kev Paxton ArtFe Blacksmiths, created to show how the thistles battle the Scottish elements. The first of two that are in the garden of Briar Cottages on the A85 at Lochearnhead.
19. Stan The Stag - Another very photogenic piece of art on the BLiSS Trail is also in Briar Cottages Garden, with Loch Earn as the backdrop. Stan contrasts well against the different weather that reflects off of Loch Earn, he also lights up at night.
20. Fish Out Of Water - by Lynne Shroder, who is an artist based in Callander. The fish can be found in the garden of Achray House Hotel in the beautiful village of St Fillans
21. Craggan Croc (Crocodile Rock) - head just outside of not only St Fillans but the National Park to the old railway embankment on the A85 towards Comrie for the final piece of the trail.
Well done to LETi and all involved in the creation of the BLiSS trail, having completed the trail it is easy to see why the project has won so many prestigious tourism awards.
This article and accompanying photographs are by Paul Saunders for See Loch Lomond. Visit Paul’s other websites, Paul Saunders Marketing & Paul Saunders Photography, for his marketing, photography & video services in Loch Lomond and beyond.
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