Saturday, 7 May 2011

Getting the hump above the woods of Glen Tromie

Towards the end of a very fine spell of weather, I set out from home to travel to Druimguish to do some hillwalking above Glen Tromie (Gaelic: Glen of the Elder trees).  I'd use my bike to get up the glen to the start of the walk.

Glen Tromie is attractively wooded in its lower part with Willow, Birch, Oak, Rowan and of course Elder all being prominent.  Higher up the glen  conifers dominate but fortunately not in monoculture blocks of Sitka Spruce.  The River Tromie flows from the linked lochs of the Gaick Pass and enters the Spey below Druimguish.

There are extensive grassy flats higher in the glen and a couple of abandoned cottages.  The hill which appears to block off the head of the glen is the delightfully named Mullach Coire na Dearcag (Summit of the Corrie of little berries).  I left my bike near this spot and set out up the hill.

A steady climb took me over the subsidiary summit of Meallach Bheag (Little Hump) and onto the Corbett of Meallach Mhor (Big Hump).  Both summits are well named, being just as the names describe.  The view is very extensive; to the northeast the Cairngorm summits were clearly visible, and to the west, the central highland giants of Ben Alder and Creag Meagaidh stood out well.

The Window on Creag Meagaidh was very prominent. How simple it looks to find in this view, but it's not so easy when on the hill itself with the weather down; and finding it is key to a safe way off the summit plateau.  The Post Face was also prominent, containing hard climbs pioneered by Dr Tom Patey

The higher ground still has the bleached tones of winter, but Spring has arrived even here.

The vegetation is largely short heather, parts of which have been burned in strips to provide young shoots for Grouse to browse.  There were more Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) flowers on this hill than I've seen in a long while.  The plant flowers quite infrequently in Scotland; perhaps the exceptionally dry Spring weather has suited it.  Whilst taking this photograph, a lizard scampered over my boots, seemingly without noticing me at all.

To the south I could look into the Gaick Pass, a traditional right of way goes through here linking Speyside with Atholl.  It makes a fine walk or mountain bike route, and has a number of legends attached to it; as well as probably the first recorded avalanche deaths in Scotland when a notorious recruiting Sergeant and his party were avalanched in a hut in the heart of the pass.

I headed north along a broad ridge above Glen Tromie for about 5 km to a trig point on the small summit of Croidh-La.  The view from here is great, a panorama of the Spey valley and the towns of Kingussie and Newtonmore.

A steep descent led me back to the bike and a leisurely spin back down Glen Tromie, with a nice sighting of an Osprey as a bonus.

The route is 25 kilometers in total, about half of which can be cycled; the ascent is 710 metres.  You'll need OS Landranger sheet 35 (Kingussie and the Monadhliaths).  Most of the hillwalking guides recommend a route which uses a bike all the way to Bhran Cottage at the foot of the hill followed by a straightforward up-and-down walk.  I feel that the route I used is a better one, a pleasant ridge walk with very good views.


  1. Thank you Tony - it was a very fine day with pretty good light :o)