Two Lochs from Aviemore

Friday 17th June 2022

We’d arrived in Scotland the day before and checked in to the youth hostel in Aviemore. For a few of us within the group, this was our first ever trip north of Hadrian’s Wall.

We’d planned to be up on the mountains and Munros. But the weather had other ideas; with 60-70mph gusts forecast for the summits and still a good 40mph berating us lower down.

Most of us had arrived here by public transport, whether that had meant flying (and having to had to reschedule flights to Edinburgh, after Easyjet cancelled the route to Inverness) or taking the train up. We weren’t expecting to have the usual fleet of cars to support our numbers and so, as a group of 26, we set off from the hostel on foot.

Crossing over the B-road, we joined a cycle path to cross the River Spey and head on to Inverdruie. We then continued in to the Rothiemurchus Forest.

Above, might’ve been Lochan Mor. I cannot recall now, almost two months later and I wasn’t following the route too closely. Technically, a ‘Lochan’ is a small loch and so, the heading of this post still stands!

We then arrived at the next body of water and our first loch of the day. This was Loch an Eilein. Confirmed by the presence of a visitor centre, beyond the frame of my photos. We had our first snack stop here.

What’s interesting and sometimes challenging about walking in Scotland is the lack of signed Public Rights of Way, compared to walking in England and Wales. Where they exist, they may not be marked clearly on a map. Although land access rules in Scotland are more considerate for those who like to explore, wander from the path and also wild camp.

After taking it all in and taking away many photos, we moved on with our walk. Bird feed is available to purchase from the nearby visitor centre.

On an island in the middle of the loch, stands the ruins of Loch an Eilein Castle. Built in the 13th Century. Minor repairs have been made in the past. It’s also said that some of the island has been lost to rising water levels.

We marched on through the forest, heading south-west towards Loch Gamna, where we’d stop for lunch.

After which, the group decided to break off in two… I stuck with the “sensible” crew, who only ventured up the nearest small hill before making a loop back towards Aviemore. While the others had greater ambition; to head steeply up an unclear route towards the summit of what was possibly Creag Dhubh, at 848m.

Apparently it was insanely windy on top!

This was our view from the top of Kennapole Hill, looking back down over the loch. I had no regrets over the choice I’d made. I didn’t want to push myself too hard on day one and I didn’t fancy being blown off a potential Munro!

Does it even count as bagging a Munro when the wind whisks you away?!

Standing beside us was the Duchess of Bedford’s Cairn. I doubt it was her resting place and she was known to have commissioned a series of huts around the Cairngorms. For the wife of John Russell sought peace away with her extra-marital affair.

We’d found our way up to the cairn by walking anti-clockwise around the foot of the hill and finding a worn path. But we tried to take a different approach on our descend. Heading east-ish and following a path that very quickly disappeared!

That was the mountain/Munro that the other half of our group had gone off to conquer. From this distance, there was no sign of them. On the summit or sailing across the sky!

But we fought our way through on this descent. A few scratches and places to itch. We’d now walk anti-clockwise around Loch an Eilein, following a very clear path through the forest.

But not without one last stop beside the water. Nobody ventured in for a swim as the waves were so fierce and choppy.

Further on from here and we could see patches of snow on what was possibly part of Cairn Gorm, where we’d hoped to be a few days later.

A series of roads would lead us back to Aviemore, via Inverdruie and our outward route along the cycle path. I cannot recall now but we probably walked a good 10 miles on this day. Perhaps a bit more. Fingers crossed that the wind would ease for Saturday!

Thanks for reading.


Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

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