Gaick Pass

Gaick Pass MTB

Route: Kingussie to Blair Atholl via Gaick Pass
Distance: 34m / 55km
Profile: View
Grade: Moderate
Fitness: High
Time: 6 - 7 Hours
OS MAP: 32, 35 & 42
Route Data: GPX KML
Riders: Dave Banks, Brian Gray
Date: 14/09/2013


Summary

A mixture of tarmac road, landrover track and single track make this a rewarding mountain bike trek through interesting scenery.

This route is best run from Kingussie to Blair Atholl, as this avoids a steep ascent at the start of the Gaick Pass at the A9 turn off. To make the logistics easier, leave the car at Blair Atholl and take the bikes by train to Kingussie. This requires you to book bike space on the train in advance with Scot-Rail.

High levels of fitness are required only due to the distance involved.


Details

Starting at the car park at the Atholl Arms Hotel, cycle the hundred yards to the railway station just behind the hotel. A 45 minute train journey, via Dalwhinnie and Newtonmore, which roughly follows the route of the A9, allows you to relax and admire the scenery before the start of the trek.

At Kingussie, head towards the monument in the station car park then turn right onto the B970 (Ruthven Rd). This road takes you under the A9 and past Ruthven Barracks into open countryside before heading down to the bridge over the River Tromie. The road turns sharp left and heads uphill here, but take the landrover track on the right up through the trees. The track gradually climbs and alternates from landrover track to tarmac and changes from woodland to open countryside as it heads long the valley floor, sometimes following the course of the River Tromie.

Several large buildings and the Tromie Dam at Poll Dubh are passed as you head along the valley floor towards the pass. The track follows the shores of Loch an t-seilich before you pass the last sign of civilisation, Gaick Lodge. The first river crossing of the day is reached just after the lodge. Due to the low water levels, crossing the river was an easy affair using stepping stones to keep our feet dry, but expect to get wet feet at other times of year, as the fording point doesn't look rideable and the stepping stones don't look big enough to cope with higher water levels.

The landrover track continues uphill towards Loch Bhrodainn where it deteriorates in places and resembles a dried up river bed at times, but nothing that will require you to get off, except for another water crossing and that will depend on water levels. The landrover track ends at Loch an Duin where another river crossing takes you onto the start of the single track. Stepping stones allows you to keep your feet dry, but if water levels are higher, then you will probably have to wade across.

The track on the other side is very indistinct to start off with, but soon becomes more visible as it cuts through the grass. Before long the track is obvious. An undulating, narrow stony line cutting along the steep, heather clad hillside. Occasional rocky outcrops require you to get off, but with reasonable mountain biking skills, the single track is easily managed. As the track leaves the loch, there are some boggy patches that are easily negotiated, before the track heads downhill towards the Edendon Water and the landrover track back to the A9.

When you reach the Edendon Water, and see the landrover track on the other side, this is where the OS map becomes mis-leading. There is a faint track to the left that follows the line of the river bank that isn't shown on the map. That is the route to take. Don't do as the map suggests you have to, and cross the Edendon Water to join the landrover track as it only lasts a few hundred yards before it crosses back again. The crossing point has been washed away, but convenient boulders make ideal stepping stones to get you back across again. Looking upstream, you see the path you should have taken cutting through the heather as it comes down the hillside to join the landrover track.

The track passes the abandoned Sronphadruig Lodge, and crosses the Edendon Water by means of a concrete culvert. The track continues along the valley floor before leaving the river and climbing past a lone cottage and then a lone cairn, a few yards from the roadside. The pylons in the distance signify the line of the A9 and you realise you are nearing civilisation. A gentle climb up to Dalnacardoch Wood, then the track heads steeply downhill to quickly meet the A9.

Crossing the A9, follow the sign for Bike Route 7 to Blair Atholl along the old A9 and then onto the B847 at Calvine. This road cuts under the A9 and brings you out at House of Bruar. Turn left onto the B8079 and continue along Bike Route 7 to Blair Atholl.

The last few miles are relatively easy, as the road is quite level, and Blair Atholl and the parked car are soon reached. The Atholl Arms hotel is a short walk from the parked car, where a well deserved pint from the local micro brewery at Moulin awaits. They also do excellent food, so an evening meal there is highly recommended to finish the day off.


Photo Gallery

Car parked at Atholl Arms Hotel

Route to Railway Station from hotel

Blair Atholl Railway Station

Blair Atholl Railway Station

Car parked at Atholl Arms Hotel

 

Route to Railway Station from hotel

 

Blair Atholl Railway Station

 

Blair Atholl Railway Station

Our train arrives

Bikes on train

Kingussie Railway Station

Exit to Station car park

Our train arrives

 

Bikes on train

 

Kingussie Railway Station

 

Exit to Station car park

B970 to Ruthven Barracks

Heading under A9

Ruthven Barracks

Open countryside

B970 to Ruthven Barracks

 

Heading under A9

 

Ruthven Barracks

 

Open countryside

River Tromie

Tromie Bridge

Landrover track from Tromie Bridge

Typical landrover track

River Tromie

 

Tromie Bridge

 

Landrover track from Tromie Bridge

 

Typical landrover track

View up Glen Tromie

Tarmac section

Glentromie Lodge

River Tromie

View up Glen Tromie

 

Tarmac section

 

Glentromie Lodge

 

River Tromie

Tarmac section along valley floor

Looking further in Glen Tromie

Estate workers building

Road washed away by erosion

Tarmac section along valley floor

 

Looking further in Glen Tromie

 

Estate workers building

 

Road washed away by erosion

Entering Gaick

Gaick Pass in the distance

Military vehicle

Tarmac road continues

Entering Gaick

 

Gaick Pass in the distance

 

Military vehicle

 

Tarmac road continues

Tromie Dam in the distance

Tromie Dam

Poll Dubh

Loch an t-seilich

Tromie Dam in the distance

 

Tromie Dam

 

Poll Dubh

 

Loch an t-seilich

Head of Loch an t-seilich

Approaching Gaick Lodge

Gaick Lodge

Track deteriorates

Head of Loch an t-seilich

 

Approaching Gaick Lodge

 

Gaick Lodge

 

Track deteriorates

Head straight on for river crossing

Fording point

Easier crossing point further upstream

Looking back towards Gaick Lodge

Head straight on for river crossing

 

Fording point

 

Easier crossing point further upstream

 

Looking back towards Gaick Lodge

Route to re-join the landrover track

Looking back towards Gaick Lodge

Track climbs away from fording point

Looking back towards Loch an t-seilich

Route to re-join the landrover track

 

Looking back towards Gaick Lodge

 

Track climbs away from fording point

 

Looking back towards Loch an t-seilich

Loch Bhrodainn

Looking back along Loch Bhrodainn

Landrover track continues

Looking back towards Loch Bhrodainn

Loch Bhrodainn

 

Looking back along Loch Bhrodainn

 

Landrover track continues

 

Looking back towards Loch Bhrodainn

Track resembles dried up river bed

Looking back towards Loch Bhrodainn

Another river crossing point

Sign for Domingos Road

Track resembles dried up river bed

 

Looking back towards Loch Bhrodainn

 

Another river crossing point

 

Sign for Domingos Road

Track heads towards Loch an Duin

Loch an Duin and th ecrossing point below

Crossing the outflow from Loch an Duin

Indistinct track from water crossing

Track heads towards Loch an Duin

 

Loch an Duin and th ecrossing point below

 

Crossing the outflow from Loch an Duin

 

Indistinct track from water crossing

Indistinct track to Loch an Duin

Loch an Duin

Single track along Loch an Duin

Single track along Loch an Duin

Indistinct track to Loch an Duin

 

Loch an Duin

 

Single track along Loch an Duin

 

Single track along Loch an Duin

Single track along Loch an Duin

Single track along Loch an Duin

Single track along Loch an Duin

Looking back along Loch an Duin

Single track along Loch an Duin

 

Single track along Loch an Duin

 

Single track along Loch an Duin

 

Looking back along Loch an Duin

Single track along Loch an Duin

View across Loch an Duin

Single track leaves Loch an Duin

Boggy section

Single track along Loch an Duin

 

View across Loch an Duin

 

Single track leaves Loch an Duin

 

Boggy section

Track to Edendon Water

Looking back up boggy downhill section

Actual route should be on the left somewhere

Edendon Water

Track to Edendon Water

 

Looking back up boggy downhill section

 

Actual route should be on the left somewhere

 

Edendon Water

Preparing to cross the Edendon Water

Crossing the Edendon Water

Landrover track

Looking for the route ahead

Preparing to cross the Edendon Water

 

Crossing the Edendon Water

 

Landrover track

 

Looking for the route ahead

Re-crossing the Edendon Water

Re-joining the landrover track

Single track joins landrover track

Looking back towards Gaick Pass

Re-crossing the Edendon Water

 

Re-joining the landrover track

 

Single track joins landrover track

 

Looking back towards Gaick Pass

Approaching Sronphadruig Lodge

Sronphadruig Lodge

Looking down valley floor

Concrete culvert

Approaching Sronphadruig Lodge

 

Sronphadruig Lodge

 

Looking down valley floor

 

Concrete culvert

Crossing Edendon Water

Looking down valley floor

Isolated cottage at Badnambiast

Cairn

Crossing Edendon Water

 

Looking down valley floor

 

Isolated cottage at Badnambiast

 

Cairn

Track heading to Dalnacardoch Wood

Heading through Dalnacardoch Wood

Pylons signify the A9 is near

Approaching A9

Track heading to Dalnacardoch Wood

 

Heading through Dalnacardoch Wood

 

Pylons signify the A9 is near

 

Approaching A9

Sign post for Gaick Pass

A9 crossing

Heading onto old A9

Sign for Bike Route 7

Sign post for Gaick Pass

 

A9 crossing

 

Heading onto old A9

 

Sign for Bike Route 7

Keep left along Bike Route 7

Old A9

Old A9

Calvine

Keep left along Bike Route 7

 

Old A9

 

Old A9

 

Calvine

Heading under the A9

Turn left for Blair Atholl

House of Bruar

Bruar Water

Heading under the A9

 

Turn left for Blair Atholl

 

House of Bruar

 

Bruar Water