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self-guided walking in the Highlands: Boat of Garten to Carrbridge loop

Boat of Garten – Carrbridge and back

Description:
Self-guided walking in the Highlands is how a great number of our visitors choose to explore the area. On this route the paths are good all the way and are seldom muddy (boots advised, though). Dogs welcome (on the lead for a few metres at Docharn Farm). Ceps and chanterelles may be seen in season…
Refreshments and toilets at each end of the walk;and the Landmark Centre at Carrbridge and the Steam Railway operating at Boat of Garten provide interest for all ages. It’s also a great family day out…

Stage 1:

The walk starts from Fraoch Lodge. At the end of our drive turn left and head up the road out of the village. On the edge of the village you will find the school path which runs parallel to the road up to the junction with the A95.

Stage 2:

At the junction you will follow the cycle route no 7 signs across the A95 heading up the narrow road through the hamlet of Chapelton. Follow the road round a corner to a cattle grid which you will cross; at which point the tarmac ends and the road turns into a farm track leading to Docharn Farm.

Stage 3:

The track leads you through the farm buildings of Docharn Farm where you will have spectacular views across the high peaks of the northern Cairngorms. The corries of Braeriach and Cairngorm will be clearly visible on a sunny day. Docharn Farm is not now lived in but used to be run as a smallholding and B&B by friends of ours who produced eggs, raspberries, strawberries, courgettes and tomatoes aplenty.

Stage 4:

After the farm you will reach a gate, the path can be muddy here. You will go through this gate and the next two gates continuing straight ahead as the path descends into the woods.

Stage 5:

As you follow the path down through the woods it will take you down to a junction near the B9153 which leads into Carrbridge.

Stage 6:

Turn right at the junction, away from the road, and continue to the edge of the wood. Soon you will cross a little wooden bridge and re-enter the trees. Stay on this path for half a mile to reach a gate at the other end of the wood.

Stage 7:

Go through the gate until you come to the tarmac road (Carr Road). Turn left onto the road and continue until you reach the main village. You’ll see the Landmark Forest Adventure centre up to your left, Carrbridge Kitchen and Carrbridge Bakery Tearoom are to your right close to the old bridge of Carr which spans the Dulnain river, an impressive sight at any time, but particularly when the river is in spate. The bridge is celebrating its 300th birthday in 2017. If you don’t have a picnic with you, you might want to consider stopping in Carrbridge for your lunch. Both Carrbridge Kitchen and The Bakery Tearoom do great food.

Carrbridge

The 18th century packhorse bridge of Carrbridge

Stage 8:

There is an altenative route into Carr woods to avoid too much road walking but if you’d like to go down to the bridge to take a look it probably makes sense to continue to follow the road next to the river, up to the station, under the railway and the A9 and on to the Sluggan Bridge footpath. The path is clearly indicated. This is also one of the prettiest sections of the route so do take this option if you can.

Stage 9:

After your diversion to Sluggan Bridge, you will come back up to the main road, a little further along than you left it. Across the road you will see another path through a gate. Take this track which you will follow almost all the way back to Boat of Garten.

Slogan bridge

The Sluggan bridge

Stage 10:

You will pass a path junction and a crossroads of paths but each time continue straight ahead until you reach a stream which you need to ford on stepping stones. Take care here. You may need to use a stick for stability.

self-guided walking in the Highlands

Stepping stones here to help keep your feet dry, but walking poles will probably be useful too

Stage 11:

After the stream the track continues a little to the left and then climbs steadily uphill. Again continue straight ahead and eventually you will pass over a cattle grid.

self-guided walking in the Highlands

General Wade believed in getting from A to B along the straightest route possible.

Stage 12:

About 1km after the cattle grid there is a path to the left, after a crossroads. Take the path to the left, which is slightly more grassy and overgrown. This will lead to Kinveachy Estate cottages. Follow the GPS track and the map indicated carefully until you reach the tarmac track down to the A9.

Stage 13:

At the tarmac track, turn left and descend to the A9. Be very careful here as this is a very busy main road. Cross the A9 and descend on the small road past a keeper’s cottage. Be careful to walk on the right hand side of the road so that you are facing any oncoming traffic.

At the bottom of the road you will cross another road and head towards the cycle track which is slightly to the right of where you reach the Carrbridge road.

Stage 14:

Follow the cycle route towards Boat of Garten. This track will take you all the way back into the village past Big Husky Lodge and Deshar Primary School until you see Fraoch Lodge on your right.

self-guided walking in the Highlands

If you’re lucky you’ll pass the wee herd of Heelan Coo next to the road for a photo shoot.

Links:

Self-guided walking week in the Cairngorms National park

The Old Ways: General Wade’s Military road

Slochd Military Road

In the heart of the Cairngorms National Park lies it’s namesake, the Cairngorms. The Cairngorms, a range of mountain peaks adorning the skyline, are rich with historical importance, and full of nature and wildlife. The soul of the Cairngorms, boast four of the five highest peaks in the United Kingdom. Conveniently, this is located just a short drive from Fraoch Lodge, home of Scot Mountain Holidays.

Hiking Ben Macdui

Hiking Ben Macdui with Scot Mountain Holidays group tour

Hiking Ben Macdui

Ben Macdui, at 1309 metres was our destination. Departing Fraoch Lodge we set out for a full day of hiking with the group tour leader, Andy. As someone who hasn’t done much hiking I was in good hands. Scot Mountain Holidays offered plenty of advice, tips and tricks. I felt well equipped in handling the changing climate, the potential wet weather, and cool temperature ahead of us.

Guided Touring with Scot Mountain Holidays

Andy is knowledgeable in not only the secrets of the mountain, but also fauna, wildlife and navigation. This became increasingly comforting as the heavy fog set in the higher we climbed. Transforming the landscape into a world of grey, it wasn’t long before the dips, plains and landmarks of the mountain became a sea of similarity for me.

But, with what appeared to be second nature to Andy, we headed away from the path ready to experience the Cairngorms, raw and untouched. Appreciating the full benefits of guided touring, it was as simple as follow the leader. It’s also advised to keep a camera at the ready for wildlife that Andy has a knack for spotting. We also had Andy’s storytelling keeping us company as we rose higher, with stories of history and legends wealthy with detail and fascinating to hear.

wildlife spotting and hiking

Wildlife with a view

The secrets of Ben Macdui revealed

Before long, history came to life in the form of a plane crash memorial. Pieces of the aircraft littered the mountainside and somewhat eerily seemed almost untouched 70 years on from the impact. Andy’s knowledge of the Cairngorms secrets continued to be show cast during the ascent and decline. Continuing to hike away from the track we came across no one. Allowing us to appreciate the solidarity, and peacefulness of the mountainous environment. With gorgeous views, and amazing landscape treating us as the cloud cover ebbed and waned. The experience of hiking Ben MacDui was memorable and a great combination of challenging and rewarding.

After a full day of hiking we returned to the homely comforts of Fraoch Lodge. Arriving to a roaring fire and well-deserved coffee o’clock it was a warm and welcoming homecoming. Rebecca’s home cooked meal, delicious and restaurant quality was the perfect way to finish a great day. Scot Mountain Holidays is a perfect blend of leadership, knowledge and homely comforts resulting in an amazing experience for group tour hiking.

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