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Walk 2031 - printer friendly version

Abernethy Forest, Cairngorms Walk

Author - Mountain Innovations

Length - 10.2 miles / 16.6 km

Ascent - 1080 feet / 327 metres

Grade - easy/mod

Start - OS grid reference NJ019161
Lat 57.225088 + Long -3.6263743
Postcode PH25 3DY (approx. location only)

A hike into Britain's least-touched habitat. This route gives you a real taste of what the Highlands must have been like before the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Forming the heart of the massive Abernethy nature reserve, this remaining remnant of the great Forest of Caledon is home to a good number of rare and unique species of bird and mammal, not least the pine marten and Capercaillie. The area you pass through is much less frequented and offers you hidden and dramatic views deep into the heart of the Cairngorms. This walk is an absolute delight during the later part of July and early August, when the heather is out in full bloom.

Your starting point is Forest Lodge (NJ019161).To reach the start of the walk from Boat of Garten (near Aviemore) you follow directions to Loch Garten and then on to Tulloch, (turning first right after the loch). 1.5km further on, at the prominent red letter box in Tulloch, the road makes a sharp left hand bend. 2km after this is the turning to Forest Lodge on the right, which is not sign posted. You will recognise this turning from the V-shaped entrance (2 entry points immediately after one another leading to the same track). This is a well-maintained dirt track and no problem for normal road vehicles. There is room to park by the signs indicating no further access by unauthorised vehicles, 2.5km along the dirt track.

The walk heads off in a north-easterly direction for a short distance past the stalkers' cottages then dropping down to a bridge over the River Nethy. You will then make a gentle meandering climb along a good forest track in a generally southerly direction above the east bank of the River Nethy. The route takes you through delightful pine forest with its lush undergrowth of blaeberry, heather, and juniper. After about 2km, the track divides into 3 and you will need middle one climbing along the apex of a small ridge. For another 2 1/2 km the route continues in the same manner. Keep a lookout for the sizeable herd of red deer that frequent this forest.

The track emerges from the forest to reveal panoramic views of the Cairngorms across open heather moorland. The dramatic v-shape of Strathnethy cuts 2000ft deep beneath the summits of Bynack Mor and Cairngorm. This view of Cairngorm's plunging eastern flanks contrasts dramatically with the more mundane outline from Loch Morlich, the other side of Ryvoan Pass. From here the path then gently drops down to a small burn (Allt Bheadhair). Take the right hand track which heads in a south westerly direction to some ruined crofts (700m away end of track). You are then on your own for a little while, as the track peters out.

From the ruins head on a bearing of 225 degrees (south west) until you hit the River Nethy (400m). Your route then turns left (upstream) following a deer track along the river bank for just under 1 km until you reach a footbridge over the river. Cross the bridge and continue along the track to the dramatic Pass of Ryvoan and another track junction. Again turn right to pass Ryvoan Bothy (0.5km from junction) and then continue in a roughly NNE direction firstly turning right then left to arrive back at Forest Lodge. One walker has commented that there was now no evidence of the deer track and that a trudge through heather was needed.

For those interested in a wildlife watch, the RSPB open up their Osprey Visitor Centre at Loch Garten in the wee small hours of the morning - in Spring time - to observe the Capercaillie "lec", their mating ritual.

Walk 2031 Route Map

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