Blair Atholl – Allt Bhran
21 March 2012
28.4 km/877 m/08:00 hrs
Ever since my walk from Glen Feshie to Glen Tromie last April, I had been wondering how the continuation to the south, via the historic Minigaig Pass, would be like. I took a bus from Inverness down to Blair Atholl and started walking along the long straight lane towards Blair Castle. At this time of year the castle itself is still closed to the public, but the castle grounds seem to be accessible all year round.
Peacock in the castle gardens.
I had planned to walk along the west bank of the Banvie Burn and then cross a bridge to the other side after about 2 km, but in the maze of little paths in the garden, I must have missed a turnoff and suddenly found myself in Old Blair. Never mind, instead of retracing my steps I just continued to the crossroads from where I followed the same forest track that I had used a couple of weeks ago on my way to Beinn Dearg.
Soon I arrived at the prominent cairn.
After that the track leads across a landscape of rather featureless moorland, but I discovered the occasional old milestone in the heather by the side of the path.
I was delighted to find that a new picnic table had been placed outside Allt Scheicheachan bothy, and so I had a lunch break sitting outside, enjoying the warm weather.
After crossing the Allt Scheicheachan, I followed a slightly boggy path around the shoulder of Druim Dubh and down into Glen Bruar.
Past Bruar Lodge, a good track leads up the glen, passing a scenic little lochan/reservoir.
At the head of the glen, a footbridge leads across the Allt a’ Chùil, and the path forks (two diagonal lines on the hillside just visible in the photo). The branch going up to the right leads to the Minigaig Pass.
Looking back down into Glen Bruar.
The path across the large plateau is marked by little cairns, topped with white stones.
Again, the terrain becomes quite featureless.
Eventually, I reached the Caochan Lùb and followed it upstream.
At this stage, I couldn’t see any cairns marking the path, and after a while of just following the stream, I decided to cross it, take a shortcut up to the plateau and cut across to the path (which I thought would be easier to see from higher up). Unfortunately, this turned out to be not such a good idea at all…
Soon my way was blocked by some huge snow patches, covering several tributary streams of the Caochan Lùb.
I didn’t dare to walk across because of the stream underneath (I suppose I am a bit paranoid about this, but I am always worried the snow might collapse and I might end up falling into the stream, twisting an ankle – or worse – in the process), and so I started to walk around it.
Just when I thought I was almost there… there was another snow bridge – and another one right next to it!
In the end my “shortcut” turned out to be a huge detour, wasting a lot of time. But eventually I found the path again – phew!!
After passing the highest point, the path descends along the western flank of Leathad an Taobhain into Coire Bhran.
A’ Chìoch on the other side of Coire Bhran – some debris of a collapsed cornice visible on the right hand side.
Further down the slope, I lost the path again and struggled across some very boggy and rough ground until I reached the Allt Bhran.
It was just getting dark when I finally found a campsite by the river.
Allt Bhran – Kingussie
22 March 2012
17.5 km/238 m/04:15 hrs
The night was very cold with clear skies, and I woke up freezing several times. In the morning, my tent was covered in frost, but as soon as the sun reached the glen, it melted away.
The walk along the river was very pleasant and the morning sun was so strong that I warmed up very quickly.
Approaching the dam on the Allt Bhran.
In opposite to my last visit here in April 2011, there was hardly any water in the basin, and the area below the dam was almost dry.
I made it to the other side with dry feet and continued along the track leading to Glen Tromie.
Looking south towards Gaick Forest, another area I would like to explore sometime…
View north along Glen Tromie, the Keepers House in the centre.
View back along the road, Meall Chuaich in the distance.
After crossing the bridge at Glentromie Lodge, walkers are being directed to a stile across a high fence, and to a path going up the hill through woodland.
A climb over another stile leads out of the forest and onto a large plateau covered in heather, but there is a clear path, again marked by cairns.
This large cairn indicates the high point of the pass.
Newtonmore to the west…
… and Kingussie straight ahead.
Ruined farmhouse near Ruthven.
I arrived in Kingussie at about 12:45, which gave me just enough time to buy some cold drinks in a shop near the train station. It was very hot by now, and sitting in the shade on the platform, waiting for my train to Inverness, it really felt like summer – a great end to this trip 🙂