The Gaick Pass
A remote high level route between Perthshire and the Spey Valley.
Looking at a map of Scotland one might wonder why General Wade did not use the Gaick, rather than the Pass of Drumochter, when planning his route north.
The Gaick is much the same elevation and is more direct. Possibly the reason was the threat of winter avalanches on the steeper slopes of the Gaick.
Subsequent road and rail engineers, and most recently the Sustrans cycle path builders have continued with the Wade line so the routes still sweep to the west, leaving the lonely Gaick to the occasional walker and mountain biker.
The route is a right of way, it may be impassable in winter because of snow. Even in summer take warm waterproof clothing. It's best to bike it with a friend. There is a river crossing so do not attempt the route if there has been recent heavy rain.
It's probably most convenient to do it in a northern direction as you finish near Kingussie which has a roughly hourly bus service back to the start (buses don't take bikes). Trains are less frequent.
*Another possibility would be to return to the start using the National Cycle Network. There is now a purpose made cycle path beside the A9, going through the Pass of Drumochter. This would be a 30 miles, but a great deal of it would be downhill, two or three hours perhaps?
Start from the A9 at the Trinafour turn off, ten miles north of Blair Atholl near Dalnacardoch Lodge. Directly opposite the junction a locked gate leads to a dirt road leading up the hill, signposted Public Footpath by Gaick to Speyside. If you have a car leave it at the lay-by 500 metres further south on the same side of the road.
The dirt road climbs through trees above the A9 snow gate. There is a right turning which you should ignore. After this the dirt road leaves the wood by a radio mast. It then becomes a rough track.
Ignore a left turn which drops down to the burn then pass through a gate by a ruined cottage, a tall cairn on the left. After this the track drops to the burn, passing another (intact) cottage, then crosses the burn to the west side on a wooden bridge.
The track climbs steadily; splash across the burn again on a concrete ford then pass Stronphadruig Lodge (unoccupied) standing in trees on the right. The long dam-like feature ahead is a glacial moraine and the first loch lies on the other side.
The track curves round to the left then crosses the burn. Splash across this ford, then 200 metres after, leave the track carrying your bike over a small burn then up the side of the glacial moraine. There was a tiny cairn by the track at this point.
Once you have gained sight of Loch an Duin the path along the west side will be visible. this can be biked in parts but care is necessary owing to the steep sides. Towards the north end of the loch the path becomes easier.
At the end of the loch, if it's safe, cross the river that flows out of it. If the water is low you might make it across dryshod, otherwise it's a wading job. Boulders and gravel make cycling across impossible.
Once you are on the other side of the river you'll meet a Land Rover track, from here it's a fast descent to Loch Bhrodainn. Here Gaick Lodge comes in to view, together with a little bridge over the river.
Ignore this, keep on the Land Rover track, climb up by trees and a deer fence, then descend again to the Allt Garbh burn. Assuming the water level is reasonable it's possible to bike across this. Turn left downstream after crossing the burn.
The track continues past the lodge, it would probably be tactful not to have your picnic lunch opposite. Keep on past Loch and Seilich cycling up and down through trees to reach the estate road at the far end by the dam.
After this its eight miles on the estate road to Tromie Bridge, then another three miles on the B970 to Kingussie. A locked gate on the estate road prevents cars coming up, you can bike round it.
To do the route in a southerly direction start at the bridge over the River Tromie, two miles east of Kingussie. A dirt road leads through trees next to the bridge. Cunningly the estate have left the first 400 metres unsurfaced in an effort to convince you it doesn't go anywhere much.
The white hatched area next to the bridge is to allow timber lorries to turn. Park any car on the other side of the bridge.
The road follows the east bank of the River Tromie, initially through woods, it then emerges on to open hillside. Shortly after this you pass Bhran Cottage on your right by the river. A mile after this bear right to cross the river on a small bridge.
A mile after Gaick Lodge bear right, crossing the river to keep on the Land Rover track. After passing the second loch there is a steady climb to Loch an Duin. The Land Rover track runs out 200 metres before the loch. If it's safe, ford the river where it leaves the loch to gain access to the track on the west side.
Type of Ride
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