self-guided walking in the Highlands: Boat of Garten to Carrbridge loop
Boat of Garten – Carrbridge and back
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
As you follow the path down through the woods it will take you down to a junction near the B9153 which leads into Carrbridge.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.