A' Chaoirnich and An Dun

An Dun and A' Chaoirnich

Biking and hiking route up the Corbetts overlooking Gaick Pass

An enjoyable cycle on estate tracks leads to Loch an Duin from where a fine hike on faint paths and broad crests bags the two remote Corbett peaks of A' Chaoirnich and An Dun.



Route outline


Corbetts

A' Chaoirnich, 

An Dun

Walk ascent 750m (2460ft)
         distance 9km (6m)
         time 3:30hr
Bike ascent 440m (1440ft)
         distance 44km (28m)
         time 2:00hr
Start/finish Drumguish
Grid Ref : NN792997
Terrain
easy hard
Nav
easy hard
Effort
easy hard
Scenery
ok fab


A' Chaoirnich and An Dun hide in a remote south-west corner of the Cairngorms National Park. There are a few ways to reach these two Corbetts, with most hillwalkers opting to cycle along estate tracks to Loch an Duin at the foot of these hills either from the A9 near Calvine in the south or from Drumguish to the north. The approach from Drumguish described here.

Once Loch an Duin is reached, a wonderful circular route explores high crests above a glacial-carved U-shaped glen.



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Route description


1. Getting to Drumguish

Woodlands by Drumguish

Woodlands by Drumguish

The B970 travels along the southern bank of the River Spey, linking Kingussie to Aviemore. On this road, around 4km south-east of Kingussie, the road twists sharply as it crosses the River Tromie via an old bridge. Although the estate road down Glen Tromie begins from here, it is not possible to park by the bridge or close by.

Instead, around 500m north of the bridge, a sign points eastwards to Drumguish. Drive uphill on a narrow road into woodland and park somewhere appropriate without causing any obstruction, before reaching the houses at Drumguish.


2. Cycle to Loch Bhrodhainn

Loch an t-Seilich and Gaick Pass

Loch an t-Seilich and Gaick Pass

On bike, cycle up the narrow road to the crossroads in the heart of Drumguish. Turn right at the crossroads and head downhill on a rough track to join the main estate track that approaches from the bridge over the River Trome and travels through Glen Tromie.

On this fine, fairly flat estate track, cycle down delightful Glen Tromie. The journey to the foot of A' Chaoirnich is around 22km, the first 5km or so on track to Lynaberack Lodge - a rather 1970's housing-estate looking building and slightly out of odds in such a beautiful area !

Beyond the lodge, it's back on a tarmac surface for the next 6km that leads to Bhran Cottage - a disused building above a knackered bridge over the River Tromie.

Beyond Bhran Cottage, it's back to cycling on track as it initially climbs a bit, then drops to another bridge over the River Tromie by a wooden estate house. Once over the bridge, and just beyond the house, the track splits - take the right fork.

Aiming south, the track climbs gently before leveling out by some forestry on the approach to Loch an t-Seilich. Having passed this loch, lonely Gaick Lodge is met with the track becoming rougher and rutted.

Around 1km south of the lodge, the track splits again - take the right (west) fork. Cross the Allt Gharbh Ghaig , pass some forestry and cycle further down the track to Loch Bhrodain.

Looking up A' Chaoirnich

Looking up A' Chaoirnich

A short distance on from the southern end of the loch, you'll be greeted by a sign 'Domingo's Road'. Beyond this sign, the track goes around a little bend and a little further on there is a grassy divet at the foot of A' Chaoirnich - an ideal spot to leave your bike.

Looking up A' Chaoirnich

Looking up A' Chaoirnich


3. A' Chaoirnich (Maol Creag an Loch)

Looking up A' Chaoirnich's northern shoulder

Looking up A' Chaoirnich's northern shoulder

Having left your bike in the little divet at the foot of A' Chaoirnich, the north-western face of A' Chaoirnich rises either side of a small burn. Facing this, I took the left rise, but the rise on the right could equally be taken. The hillside is steep and of grass and heather - some of the patches of heather are quite deep and there are no paths to ease the effort !

Summit of A' Chaoirnich looking west

Summit of A' Chaoirnich looking west

After climbing around 200m, the gradient easies, the heather becomes more stunted and higher up grass-covered. In clear conditions, it is pretty straightforward to get onto A' Chaoirnich's flat and wide crest, then hike to the surprisingly small cairn on the summit , in misty conditions, navigation may require a bit of work.

Summit of A' Chaoirnich looking west

Summit of A' Chaoirnich looking west


4. An Dun

An Dun from Loch an Duin

An Dun from Loch an Duin

From A' Chaoirnich's summit head due south along the hill's wide plateau crest for around 600m and you'll come to another cairn . This cairn marks the top of Maol Creag an Loch, previously referred to as marking the highest point on this long hill.

Veer south-west from the cairn and continue along the crest of the plateau. Further on, the crest turns southwards once more, and after around 500m heading in this direction, begin to aim over to the top of the crags above Loch an Dun.

Keeping to above the crags, begin to descend, picking up a worn path travelling through heather. The path leads to the bealach before Meall an Spianaig and just before reaching this col, you should be able to branch off the path onto another which then takes a sharp turn and descends north-westwards.

The path drops to the flat grass moorland south of Loch an Dun . As the path nears the loch, leave it and cross the moorland aiming towards the foot of An Dun. There are no obvious paths to be found here, just a case of finding a dry route over grass and peat-hags.

Begin to climb uphill, crossing a well-defined path on Loch an Dun's western shore. Keeping to grass-covered patches on An Dun's southern slopes, gradually faint evidence of boots having been here before can be traced while climbing up the steep hillside.

Carn na Caim from An Dun's northern cairn

Carn na Caim from An Dun's northern cairn

An Dun's flat plateau is reached where there are two cairns standing around 500m apart - both are marked as having a height of 827m on the latest OS Explorer map, though the southern cairn is recognised to be the summit.

Carn na Caim from An Dun's northern cairn

Carn na Caim from An Dun's northern cairn


5. Return

Little lochan at the northern end of An Dun

Little lochan at the northern end of An Dun

From An Dun's southern cairn , hike over a delightful plateau to the northern cairn , then continue northwards following the line of An Dun's grass-covered crest.

The ridge narrows and divides around a tiny lochan - an interesting and very unusual landform. Keeping to the left (west) of the lochan, aim north-east and begin to lose height.

An Dun's northern grass-covered crest narrows and becomes surprisingly quite steep. When some rocky and rough terrain is met - veer towards a more easterly direction and begin to drop down on grassy terrain loosing a height of 250m or so.

The hillside levels, becomes soggy in places and the Allt Loch an Duin is met and needs to be crossed. This may be tricky if in spate, in which case, there is a foot bridge downstream around 200m north-west of the grassy divet below A' Chaoirnich.

Looking to Gaick Lodge from An Dun's slopes

Looking to Gaick Lodge from An Dun's slopes

Back on the track, enjoy the cycle back to Drumguish.

Looking to Gaick Lodge from An Dun's slopes

Looking to Gaick Lodge from An Dun's slopes





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The OS Explorer covers the area of these two Corbetts. To use OS Landranger, both maps 35 and 42 will be needed.

Information on maps and GPX files is on this page.

The map images above link to items on Amazon. A small commission is earned on any map purchased which helps fund the operating costs of this website.





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