Following the fence-posts to Carn na Caim

East of Drumochter

Hill-walking route on the Munros east of Drumochter

Carn na Caim, A'Bhuidheanach Bheag and Meall Chuaich form a linear route on the eastern side of Drumochter Pass. Having a bike or other transport organised will save a long return route as the start and end points are around 11km apart.

Route outline


A' Bhuidheanach Bheag, 

Carn na Caim, 

Meall Chuaich

Ascent 1100m (3600ft)
Distance 25km (16m)
Time 8:10hr
Start Drumochter Pass, layby 82
Grid Ref : NN631763
Finish Chuaich on A9
Grid Ref : NN655867
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Terrain is fairly easy underfoot, with fence-posts aiding navigation from A'Bhuidheanach Bheag to Carn na Caim. North of Carn na Caim, the ground is heather-covered with no paths to follow until nearing Meall Chuaich.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Drumochter Pass

Heading up A'Bhuidheanach Bheag, looking back to A9 and Loch Garry

Heading up A'Bhuidheanach Bheag, looking back to A9 and Loch Garry

This route starts from layby 82 on the A9, in Drumochter Pass around 9km south of Dalwhinnie. The lay-by is on the east side of the road, so driving up from the south, it might be better to park on the lay-by opposite on the west side.

2. A' Bhuidheanach Bheag

Nearing A'Bhuidheanach Bheag's summit, Ben Alder behind

Nearing A'Bhuidheanach Bheag's summit, Ben Alder behind

From the layby, walk to the southern slip to the edge of some forestry surrounded in deer-fence. There is a stile over the fence, cross this and head through the forest. On a path, you'll quickly come to the other end of the forest, where another stile is climbed to get over the deer-fence again.

Now on open hillside, cross a burn to get on its southern bank and begin heading directly up steep ground over and through heather.

The rate of ascent easies as heather becomes more stunted and a line of fence-posts are picked up and followed for around 2km to the trig point on A'Bhuidheanach Bheag's summit .

3. Carn na Caim

Meall Chuaich from Carn na Caim's summit

Meall Chuaich from Carn na Caim's summit

Leave A'Bhuidheanach Bheag's trig point and head north following the fence-posts for 500m. Where the fence-posts take a sharp turn east , continue north directly downhill to a wet flat area. Cross a burn here and pick up an excellent track heading northwards uphill.

This track meets up with the line of fence-posts, heads over a bump and then to a minor summit (marked 902m on OS maps) - this is the point of an escape route down to the A9 just south of Dalwhinnie.

Continue following the fence-posts or track over another minor summit (marked 914m on OS maps) on towards Carn na Caim. Over undulating ground, a sharp turn in the fence-line just before Carn na Caim's summit. Carn na Caim's summit cairn cannot be seen from the turn in the fence-line, but the worn path on the ground indicates the way.

4. Meall Chuaich

Looking north from Meall Chuaich's summit

Looking north from Meall Chuaich's summit

Having left the large cairn of Carn na Caim behind, turn east and descend gentle slopes. The ground is pathless with occasional fence-post, but as it covered in a light layer of grass and heather, is fairly easy to progress over.

After around 2km leaving Carn na Caim, you should meet up with an old gate , at this point begin heading north-eastwards and drop a little to a bealach, into deeper heather-clad ground on the way.

Uphill briefly, a further 2km on and a burn travelling north-east can be hand-railed to the edge of Coire Chuaich where a very obvious path is met.

Follow this path above some crags and down to the base of Meall Chuaich , then slog up steep slopes meeting up with a line of fence-posts that travels to the large cairn on Meall Chuaich's summit . There's a fine view over the Monadh Liath and Rothiemurchus hills from here.

5. Return to A9 near Dalwhinnie

Track out from Meall Chuaich

Track out from Meall Chuaich

From Meall Chuaich's summit cairn, retrace your steps south-west for around 100m following the fence-posts, then head west over boulders to pick up an obvious worn path.

Use this path (really mucky on the lower slopes) to get down to a bridge over the Allt Coire Chuaich and to a bothy by Loch Cuaich - a fine place for a stop to look back up Meall Chuaich. Now on a fine estate track, follow this past a dam and aside an aqueduct for 4km back to the A9, where hopefully a bike or other transport awaits .

If you haven't left a bike or arranged transport, don't walk along the A9. Instead continue to follow the aqueduct under the A9 to where it meets a weir just south of Dalwhinnie. A cycle track can then be followed from there to Balsporran and back to Drumochter Pass.

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Alternative and nearby routes »

Carn na Caim and A' Bhuidheanach Bheag

Carn na Caim, A' Bhuidheanach Bheag are the highest points on the vast expanse east of Drumochter Pass. A fine track leads from the busy A9 onto this expanse, where a line of fence-posts make for straightforward navigation on what would otherwise be very challenging ground.

Peaks : 2 Munros

Ascent : 800m (2620ft)
Distance : 16km (10m)
Time : 5:30hr

Meall Chuaich from Dalwhinnie

Fine estate and hydro tracks are followed to a hidden bothy, from where a quick jog up and down bags Meall Chuaich, a fairly unassuming Munro.

Peaks : 1 Munro

Ascent : 650m (2130ft)
Distance : 14km (9m)
Time : 3:35hr

An Dun and A' Chaoirnich

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.

Peaks : 2 Corbetts

Ascent : 1190m (3900ft)
Distance : 53km (33m)
Time : 5:30hr

West of Drumochter Munros

Bags of character and great views, this is a fine high-level route on which to quickly bag the 4 Munros west of the Pass of Drumochter, possibly adding in the Corbett peak of the Sow of Atholl for good measure.

Peaks : 4 Munros, 1 Corbett

Ascent : 1300m (4270ft)
Distance : 24km (15m)
Time : 8:10hr


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