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Outlander: Jacobite walks in the Highlands – Ruthven Barracks and Glen Tromie

Even today, many walks in the Highlands of Scotland have a historical focus. Ruthven barracks stands abandoned on a hill surrounded by the nature reserve of Insh Marshes. It serves as a monument to the last major civil uprising and pitched battle on British soil. It witnessed both Jacobite success and Jacobite failure. This is where the last remnants of the Jacobite forces regrouped after the battle of Culloden, preparing the make a last stand – only to hear that they had been deserted by their commander in chief – Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Outlander walk in the Highlands

Ruthven Barracks – a redcoat stronghold in the heart of Jacobite country, destroyed by Jacobites in 1746

The barracks were built after the 1715 rising to control the Highlanders but were attacked and taken by the Jacobite rebels led by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. The site itself has a much longer history than this but there is not much evidence now of it’s previous history.

The walk: Ruthven Barracks as one of many walks in the Highlands

Stage 1:

Park in the parking area for Ruthven Barracks. At the top of the car park there is a farm gate which you need to go through to access the track. Follow the track up and bear right behind a stone wall, following the grassy track upwards.

walk Highlands

Looking back from the track leading to Glen Tromie from Ruthven Barracks

Stage 2:

Continue ahead as the track heads upwards and passes between 2 small hills. When you see the track heading towards the right to a ruined house, continue straight ahead passing a tree on the right. At this point you’ll need to go through a wooden farm gate before heading onto the open moorland ahead. Follow a wee path, much less distinct than the previous track. The path will continue across grassy and heathery ground to a more distinct tract rising diagonally across the wee hill opposite. The ground here can sometimes be wet.

Stage 3:

Cross a small stream here on the stepping stones and join a wider path heading up the hill and slightly to the right. The path climbs gently but doesn’t quite reach the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe (yellow mountain). You’ll get a good view of Kingussie behind you from this point.

For a relatively short distance here the path is very boggy and waterlogged. If you manage to bypass it without getting wet feet, you’ll be doing very well. The boggy ground seems to cover the whole area. You’ll also probably need to keep to the heather at the side of the path in places in order to keep your fft dry. After a while the path will more indistinct but is marked by a series of stone cairns. At this point you’ll pretty much be at the high point and will have views down the other side of the hill you’ve been climbing.

Stage 4:

Just before you go into the Woods of Glentromie, you’ll have to climb a high stile over a deer fence.

walk in the HIghlands

Crossing the stile over the deer fence

Cross this stile and follow the path into the woodland, which makes a nice change from the moor and heather you’ve been walking through up until this point. The path weaves downhill and can be wet at times. You’ll also need to bypass a couple of fallen trees at points.

walk in the Highlands

One method of crossing the fallen trees – they are much easier to cross but if you’re 8 you have to climb!

Eventually the path reaches a smaller stile and then goes left and crosses a larger stile to emerge onto a road. Turn left and follow the road past a house and over the River Tromie.

Following the Badenoch Way

Stage 5:

After the bridge turn left and follow the road down Glen Tromie eventually reaching the B970 at Tromie Bridge.

Turn left at the road and cross the bridge. Immediately turn right through a wooden gate into the RSPB reserve Tromie Bridge Meadow. This makes up part of the long distance route, the Badenoch Way. This section of the route follows markers with white circles. The route follows a grassy track through woods and then around the edge of the meadow next to the River Tromie.

walk in the Highlands

Entry gate to join the Badenoch Way and the nature walk close to Tromie Mills.

Tromie Mills, a very well-kept distillery is visible on the other side of the river, but you never really get a good enough view from the path for a particularly good photo.  Climb up a gentle bank and pass through a kissing gate marked nature trail. Follow the path next to a wall and then turn left uphill following the white markers.

Stage 6:

You’ll cross some sparse birch woods with heather underfoot on a clear path along a small ridge. It’s a delightful section of the route. Keep following the white circular markers and pass through another kissing gate.

Turn right at a small marker post and then cross a vehicular track and go through a small gate. Continue on the path and pass through another gate and you soon reach a sign where you can make a diversion to a good viewpoint and picnic area.

To continue on the trail turn left at this sign and follow the path as it contours along the edge of the higher ground above the Insh Marshes. It passes through a gate and over a footbridge just after the diversion down to Invertromie Hide. Just before the carpark there is an information centre about the birdlife on the reserve. Continue down to the parking area and turn left and left again to emerge onto the B970.

walk in the Highlands

Ruthven Barracks up close and personal

Scot Mountain Holidays option:

If you are following this route as part of our self-guided itinerary (it is not currently one of the selected routes but is an optional extra), we will arrange to pick you up at this car park at the designated finish time and return you to Fraoch Lodge for tea and cake before relaxing and enjoying a lovely evening meal with us.

at Fraoch Lodge

Everyone loves an open fire, almost as much entertainment as the TV

If you are walking this route independently you will still have a hike of 1km along the road back to the Ruthven Barracks car park.

 

Further reading

The history of Ruthven Barracks

http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/highland/ruthven_barracks.html

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/kingussie/ruthvenbarracks/

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/ruthven-barracks/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/scottishhistory/union/trails_union_ruthven.shtml

 

Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland?

8 reasons why you should choose a guide to hike in Scotland

  1. Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – local knowledge
  2. Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – weather lowdown
  3. Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – lack of high waymarked paths
  4. Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – go further and higher
  5. Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – interpretation of the landscape
  6. Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – get off the beaten track
  7. Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – extra safety and security
  8. Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – (for winter) knowledge of snow conditions

Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland – local knowledge

When you go out for a hike on your own in a new area, you will almost certainly admire the views you see. You’ll probably stop to admire any pretty buildings you see and you may also see some of the local wildlife; but what you’ll probably miss are the local stories which make the area come alive to you. You might not see the wildlife and you might not be able to identify the carnivorous plants or useful herbs. (There are plenty of useful plants which grow wild on the mountainside, like thyme) If you pick a local guide with a lifetime’s interest in the outdoors, all this will be part of the story he can pass on to you during your excursion into the outdoors.

winter guide

Andy getting excited about snow in the Cairngorms

A guide who lives in the area you want to explore is likely to know wee titbits of information relating to local history, gossip, nature, geology, plants etc that you may well not know yourself. All this information helps to bring alive the walk.

From Tripadvisor:

“Our recent trip to the Scottish Highlands exceeded my expectations. Prior to our trip we contacted Scot Mountain Holidays to create a one day hike for our family based on the current weather conditions and our fitness level. Andy was a wealth of knowledge on so many topics which added interest to the hike – geography, history, botany, cuisine, etc. We foraged our way through the forests, heather fields, and mountains. It was truly the highlight of the trip. Andy and Rebecca are lovely people who shared a part of their world with us and I am grateful!!”

Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland?

Nature’s bounty: handpicked chanterelles mushrooms

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Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland – weather lowdown

One of the most frequent comments, our guests make on their departure is: “Haven’t we been lucky with the weather!” Have they been lucky? Were their expectations very low to begin with? Or was the guide working hard to judge the weather conditions and relate them to his experience so that he could adjust the routes and plan the best day possible for his group?

Andy spends a huge amount of time analysing the forecasts. Check out his blog on how to predict snow, which is all part of his extensive collection of weather research.

forecast snow

learn how to predict snow, the secret weather forecasters use

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Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland – lack of way-marked paths

We’ve been hiking in several different areas in different countries of Europe and the one thing they all seem to have in common, is the high level path waymarks and sign posts. Here in Scotland, however, history has dictated differently. In Europe, high land has not been greatly prized and has historically been used as common grazing in the summer months. As it has not been privately owned, it has been easy to develop a well marked system of walking routes throughout.

In Scotland, however, most land is privately owned even high in the hills therefore the bureaucracy involved with establishing paths and putting in signage has kept the signage to a minimum. Walkers and climbers are all expected to take suitable maps and a compass with them when they go out in the hills. Do not rely on being able to see the path on the ground or in seeing a sign to indicate how far you have to go.

walks in the Highlands

Where’s the path? – winter in the Cairngorms

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Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland – go further and higher

The weather is a feature of many conversations in the UK, and particularly in Scotland. Many foreigners from continental climates can’t understand our fascination – but then they have relatively stable weather patterns and don’t tend to experience 4 seasons in one day. This is a phenomenon peculiar to maritime climates. It can happen anywhere here, but particularly in the mountains. This can mean that even though visibility is good when you begin your route this might not remain the case all day.

If you’re not confident about your navigational abilities this may mean that you don’t go across the high mountains. However, if you hire a guide, the navigation becomes their responsibility as it is also their choice of route (within your aspirations). They are better able to pick a walk which will make the most of the prevailing weather and safely take you to the higher peaks where the best views are to be had.

walking in the Highlands

Go further, go higher, go confidently

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Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – interpretation of the landscape

Most guides have an amateur interest in geology as well as their professional qualifications. They are all interested in their outdoor surroundings. Andy, our director and main inspiration behind the routes on our holidays, is particularly interested in geology. He can always find an explanation for the form of mountains; the make up of the rocks etc

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Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – get off the beaten track

Most hikers are confident about going out on clearly marked paths, which are more often than not in the more popular hiking areas. However, it is not so easy, particularly if you are not familiar with the area to pick the best routes for the limited time you have, unless you are particularly good at map reading. A guide will have intimate knowledge of the local surroundings and is probably able to find you a spectacular route where you are unlikely to see a single other hiker during your entire day out. We like to pick routes for our guests where they see unexpected views and have memorable and unique experiences: as is said, one never walks the same route twice, as the changes in weather, fauna, light, season etc all come together to produce a unique environment every time.

Hiking on the isle of Skye

The Trotternish ridge on the isle of Skye

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Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – extra safety and security

A guide is professionally qualified to cope with hazards outdoors. He or she undergoes first aid training which is renewed every 2 years to keep their knowledge current. Having a guide with you is like having a first aider, risk assessor and professional mountaineer with you all in one person

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Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – Why choose a guide to hike in Scotland? – (for winter) knowledge of snow conditions

If your guide lives in the area you are intending to visit in winter, they are likely to have one the ground knowledge of snow conditions. This kind of local knowledge is difficult to convey even with today’s modern communications. With experience, guides who live in the area are able to pick the best spots for snow and ice conditions, even in lean periods. Winter 2017 was a very lean year but we still ran 4 snowhole expeditions and never had to retreat due to thin conditions. Admittedly Andy did make some reconnaissance walks to check the snow depth prior to going out, but he was still able to deliver all the booked trips.

winter in the Cairngorms

Snowholing in the Cairngorms – an adventure to remember

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Fraoch Lodge

Announcing the winner of our guided walking weekend

We want to send a big thank you to everyone who participated in our latest contest and helped make it a success! In the end, we had over 300 entrants which was a fantastic result. We also received valuable feedback from the entrants which will be put to good use.

And a special congratulations to Diane Smith, the winner of our Gentle Giants Giveaway Contest. Congrats also go out to Claire Waugh and Clint Dillon for winning the runner up poster prize of the impressive panoramic view of the Cairngorms National Park.

The Prize

 


The Gentle Giants Trip is a great opportunity for Diane Smith and their ‘plus one’ to bag a couple of Munro’s on their guided walking weekend with our very own Andy Bateman. Andy will safely lead the way, sharing his years of in depth knowledge of the area and its natural terrain. On this particular trip, the Munro’s ascended will be Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm in Cairngorms National Park. Did you know that a mountain has to be at least 3000ft in order to qualify as a Munro? And did you know that Ben Macdui is the second highest mountain in the British Isles after Ben Nevis in Fort William?

Orientation Point Ben Macdui

Not only will Diane have a full weekend of walking, but they will take in some spectacular views on the way, such as Loch A’an as they ascend Ben Macdui…

walking weekend in the Cairngorms

Loch A’an (Avon)

Diane will have a delightful view of The Lairig Ghru (with the local pronunciation “Laarig Groo”). It is a spectacular mountain pass through the Cairngorms of Scotland. Historically used as a route between Deeside and Strathspey, in particular, a drove road for taking livestock on foot from one place to another.

walking weekend

The Lairig Ghru

In addition to the walking

And it doesn’t stop there. After an active day out on the hill, Diane and company get to put their feet up at Fraoch Lodge and enjoy a cuppa and cake o’clock which always goes down a treat. Tidying them over until it’s time for a delicious and hearty home cooked supper to set them up for the following days adventure.


 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, the competition was such a success that we’ll be holding them more frequently. You’ll have a chance to enter to win our next giveaway coming soon 🙂 We look forward to welcoming …….. to the Scottish Highlands to enjoy their prize. 

Burma Road: Natural MTB Trails in the Cairngorms

The Burma Road route is a fantastic way to see spectacular views of the Cairngorms and the picturesque countryside of the National Park. Graded hard and requiring a high fitness level to complete, this 26-mile cycling route is achievable in four to five hours.

Trekking over a mixture of tarmac, dirt, grass and rocky tracks makes sections of the trail challenging. And with a three mile extremely steep climb the initial part of the route can come across as particularly challenging. But, overall it is worth the initial exertion.

Map of the Burma Road route.

Map of the Burma Road Route.

Distance:

26 miles/41km

Approx. calorie count:

1800 kcal

Time:

allow around 4 or 5 hours cycling time.

Ascent:

2123ft/647m

 

Scot Mountain Holidays route

The official start point of the cycle begins in Aviemore, an enjoyable and relatively easy 6-mile ride from Fraoch Lodge across the countryside. Once reaching Aviemore it’s as simple as following the main road through town, crossing the A9 and following a single tarmac road to the Scripture Union Centre at Alltnacriche. Having followed the route through a forest gate this is where things begin to get difficult.

The Burma Road views

Views from the Burma Road Classic

The climb

The climb is very steep and walking is often quicker then riding at a gradient of this level. Certainly, you wouldn’t be alone in getting off your bike and pushing. The climb stretching over 3-miles levels out at points, but you will likely spend the uphill section hopping on and off your bike. Make sure to turn around regularly during the ascent as the view is well worth the exertion.

Once you have reached the top, the path down is quick and steep. The route in this section is made up of gravel and loose stones caused from water erosion. This will limit your speed, and you will need a fair amount of control and concentration to get down safely. The end of the descent can be celebrated once you reach a wide bridge. This also signifies the countryside section of the route having crossed the bridge.

The Burma Road Classic route

During the Burma Road classic

The countryside

From here it’s as simple as following the path alongside the left hand of the river. The path is overall a wide and good one. But, you will find small patches of boggy ground, grassy paths and several gates to go through. After a very enjoyable ride through the countryside the very end of the path is marked by a T intersection. Take the track leading right and you’ll pass over a bridge, up a small hill and you’ll find yourself back on tarmac.

The last stretch

Mostly downhill and with limited traffic the road to Carrbridge is one of the easiest sections of the day. About halfway along you’ll see a sign on the left hand side of the road to Sluggan bridge. This impressive structure is well worth the short 1-mile detour.

Sluggan Bridge

The Sluggan Bridge

After continuing on and reaching Carrbridge, make sure you stop for the iconic pictures of the bridge. And perhaps even a well-deserved pint at the local pub.

Burma Road

The 18th century packhorse bridge of Carrbridge

Boat of Garten is only 5 miles further from Carrbridge and it’s as simple as following the ‘7’ bike route back to base.

Map of the Burma Road route.

Map of the Burma Road Route.

 

External links:

More pictures and description of the route from Dave Banks

Share and compare the route

The route reviewed in The Herald newspaper

The Burma Raod in the Inverness Courier

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise being gentle, easy and free. It’s something everyone can do, and extremely beneficial to your wellbeing. So, it’s no wonder masses of people are beginning to introduce walking to their daily lives. But to keep the habit up it’s important to ensure you’re not letting your walking become a chore. So to avoid this, try these easy steps to turn a walk into an adventure.

Mountains and Malts - whisky themed hiking

Hiking in the Highlands exploring the footsteps laid by smugglers of old

Turn a walk into an adventure

Walking has been proven to assist you in maintaining a healthy weight, prevent or manage various conditions including heart disease and high blood pressure and additionally, it strengthens your bones and muscles. Not only this, but it’s extremely positive to your mental wellbeing. And, it’s a great excuse to take some time for yourself.

Take the road less travelled by

Firstly, it’s time to get off the beaten path. Head away from the pavement and hit the trails. The Cairngorm National Park is full of gorgeous forest, river and mountain walking so you’re rich for choice.

Switch off

Once you’re away from the roads, and traffic of the world, take some time away from technology. Leave your phone at home, turn the music off and appreciate the beauty of nature. This will not only be a refreshing break and an opportunity for you to restart. But, you will find yourself so much more connected to nature, and you’re much more likely to spot wildlife and fauna. This will add a level of appreciation, and excitement to your walks.

Walk the Lairig Ghru

Self-guided Lairig Ghru logistics

Follow your instinct

This goes hand in hand with switching off. If you have some sense of direction, try to avoid planning out your route prior to your walk. Follow your instinct, keep things fresh and go somewhere new each day. Making a split second decision at each fork you come to, will add a sense of exhilaration to your walking adventures.

These three easy to do steps will be just the thing to turn your walking into memorable adventures.

 

 

 

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