Saturday 7thJune 2008
Pitlochry to Balsporran Cottages (Dalwhinnie)
In planning this day’s ride I had deliberately kept the distance low as we would be climbing slowly for most of the day starting off at 100m above sea level and ending up at 450m. Averaged out over the day this was not a big climb and roads through Scottish valleys usually have quite a gradual gradient. This climb through Glen Garry followed the river Garry for most of the route finally reaching the summit through the Drumochter Pass. There didn’t appear to be much to see along the way – however the first port of call was Killiecrankie and the Soldier’s Leap. Killiecrankie Pass was the scene of a large battle between the Jacobites, who supported James VII, and the Orange Covenanters in 1689. It is reported that Donald MacBean, a government soldier, leapt the 18 feet across gorge while fleeing from the Jacobites.
The next stop was Blair Atholl and the Mill where we took refreshment. We decided not to visit the castle as there was still a long day ahead of us. However not far down the road from here were the Bruar Falls and a large commercial outlet selling everything expensive! We sat down by the river Bruar and started to eat our lunch and were immediately attacked by midges – the first of the trip. Fortunately Christine had brought the insect repellent and the attack soon abated. We then went on a walk up the river past the lower falls until we reached the upper falls. There were great views back down the valley. We returned on the opposite side of the river down an extremely steep path (if you have a choice use the path on the west bank!)
Time to move on again – we had only gained 50m height in the whole of the morning – 300m still to go! At Calvine we left the minor road we had been using and joined a tarmacked track running parallel to the A9 which took us, after 15miles, to the top of the Drumochter Pass where the scenery was becoming more bleak. Not long after passing Loch Garry on the left, as we were approaching the top, energy levels were beginning to run low, so we took the opportunity of lying down in the heather for a quick 40 winks. Not far then to the summit at 462m above sea level – once over the top we were soon at our B&B accommodation of Balsporran Cottages – in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately the landlady provided an evening meal so there was no need to travel downhill to the next village of Dalwhinnie which was 4 miles away. Again we were blessed with a railway line running alongside the B&B, but this time there was little disturbance from the trains In the distance we could see snow which still lay on the hilltops.
Mileage 28.5 miles Total 217.8 miles