Into the Gaick

The weather finally was showing signs of warming up after a pretty poor spring and I fancied a walk of a reasonable length, but something not too far away. Having first settled on the rough area of Pitlochry and the surroundings, I next honed in on a specific walk into the Gaick Pass, something I’d only recently heard of by coincidence.

The pass starts off subtly and is barely noticeable from the road where one starts from, but eventually it becomes more distinct, providing a north / south passage via a narrow, steep sided glen through higher ground.

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Looking at the map the previous night, I was in two minds, should I take my bike for the 9km approach to the Gaick or not? It would speed things up in both directions but my intention was for a long saunter in the hills so I decided to walk instead. The track in is obviously used by cyclists and apart from the couple of kilometers along Loch an Duin, would provide a great journey through to Kingussie if continuing on further than I did.

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The heat on the way in and views of a lovely river, Edendon Water, were planting ideas of a swim before the end of the day and eventually when crossing a bridge over it, I was pleased to see a nice deep pool which could be just the thing later on.

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An Dun and A' Chaiornich

An Dun and A’ Chaiornich

A fast track in, gently undulating, took me past a few buildings of varying condition and a tall cairn which I have not been able to find any information about. First was a shell of a cottage, then soon after a more intact one with roof but open to the elements and critters. Finally, there were the buildings of Sronphadruig Lodge itself, mostly boarded up for safety but with one building still used by the estate.

Sronphadruig Lodge

Sronphadruig Lodge

The walk in from Dalnacardoch

The walk in from Dalnacardoch

From slightly beyond here, steep ground lead direct to the top of An Dun, that swim was becoming more appealing, but a cooling breeze at the top was refreshing enough at that moment. Great views to savour and complete peace and quiet, barely a sound except for bird song and distant running water. The occasional sight of a silently bounding hare would draw my attention briefly away from views of the mountains in the distance and down to Loch an Duin below me.

Loch an Dun with A' Chaoirnich beyond

Loch an Duin with A’ Chaoirnich beyond

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After a lunch stop, I descended more steep ground to the north end of Loch an Duin and crossed to a gully on A’ Chaoirnich which lead to the plateau above. Sweat poured out me and more thoughts of a swim entered my head as I plodded away upwards.

Gaick Pass

Gaick Pass

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An odd shaped rock stood out near the top and only as I reached the plateau did I finally wonder about the strangeness of its shape. I finally realised it was a rock with a large bird sitting on top watching me and I just had time to get my camera focused on it and walk a few paces closer before it took flight and then soared in circles above me then south.

Buzzard

Buzzard

View north from A' Chaoirnich

View north from A’ Chaoirnich

That distraction over, I headed for the top then beyond it to get a better view north over the surroundings of Gaick Lodge.

An Dun above Loch an Dun

An Dun above Loch an Duin

From there it was just a case of descending back towards Sronphadruig Lodge and then reversing my route in. Despite an increase in heat and notable sunburn, I decided against the swim on the way out, maybe it was the temperature of the water when I hung my feet in it from a low bridge to recharge them for the march out.

Great to find a new place to walk / cycle in future, and maybe even ski as I think it would suit this too with good snow cover. Lots of options in the side glens as well as further on through the pass itself.

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