Cairngorms MTB traverse: Tromie Bridge to Dalnacardoch via Gaick

Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Bike, East Highlands | 8 Comments
Campsite by Loch an t-Seilich. The waves give an indication of the invigorating headwind that I enjoyed on the cycle out.

When travelling between Blair Atholl and Kingussie I have never previously given much thought to hinterland that lies to the east, an area roughly the size of the Monadhliath that extends between the A9 and the ski centre at Glenshee. All that will change henceforth following a highly enjoyable bike traverse from Tromie Bridge to Dalnacardoch via the Gaick Pass.

As has become my custom of late, I left home after dinner on friday. My cycle had started from Tromie Bridge near Ruthven Barracks and was surprisingly on tarmac all the way, allowing me to make my rendezvous by 2000 hrs with friends who had cycled in from the south. This allowed plenty time to enjoy our scenic campspot on the northern shore of Loch an t-Seilich, yet another fantastic wild and remote place that can be reached from my house in under two hours.

North to Gaick Lodge with Loch an t-Seilich beyond

The banter round the campfire was excellent. Three bouts of hilarity stick in my mind. The first was at the expense of Pete, who had for some reason or other removed the pannier rack from his bike. Unfortunately he remained oblivious to this modification until the start of the ride, when unloaded his panniers from the car and found he had nothing to fix them to.

The second fit of giggles resulted from some discussion about whether or not it might be possible to cook a pizza in the campfire. I opined that a Dutch oven may be the best option. This confused Neil no end. He had previously only heard the phrase ‘Dutch oven’ used in a euphemism that was as unfamiliar to me as the conventional definition had been to him. For those who have led lives as sheltered as my own, a Dutch Oven is when you fart in bed then hold your partner’s head under the covers, thus ensuring that they experience the full force of your flatulence.  I subsequently confirmed Neil’s version on My favourite example of its usage was the following. ‘Did you see the ambulance round Big James Kendall’s house? Aparently he ‘dutch ovened’ his girlfried on the back of a night out in a curry house. She nearly died, twice.’

Loch Bhrodainn

The lavatorial theme continued as we discussed a youtube clip parodying bushcraft clown Bear Grylls entitled ‘Bear Grylls; Born Shit Eater’. This is without doubt the funniest thing I have seen so far in 2011. I will warn you that it is not for the easily offended. While coprophagia is prominent  throughout, it is neither the funniest nor the most tasteless aspect of this comedy masterpiece.

Divers on Loch an Duin

We swapped car keys and parted after breakfast. An unrelenting headwind did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for the route, past Gaick Lodge and Loch Bhrodainn. I paused to watch a pair of divers before tackling the singletrack section beside Loch an Dun. I was puzzled by a large weir above the dilapidated Sronphadruig Lodge (bothy closed – unsafe) that served no obvious hydroelectric or drinking water reservoir purpose. On my way down the glen I surmised that it was for flood control. The route was littered with the remnants of bridges and fording points, the legacy of generations of attempts keep a road open up the glen in the face of the vast quantities of shifting glacial material, sand and gravel, gradually making its way towards the sea.

North towards Sronphadruig Lodge

I almost got my comeuppance for laughing so heartily at Pete’s pannier problem. After blasting down the final descent to the A9 at top speed I arrived at Pete’s car without a stuffsac that had been bungied over my rack. The sac contained a number of essential items including the keys to Pete’s car and the spare battery for my mobile phone. I had been listening to some rather nice deep house on my phone throughout the ride and my battery was shot. Thankfully I only had to retrace my steps a few hundred metres to locate the missing items. It would have made a far better story if I had been forced to cycle all the way back to Gaick…..


  1. Gavin Macfie
    May 3, 2011

    Re the dutch oven confusion. It has just occurred to me that Neil must have momentarily been under the impression that I was confident of mimicking the effect of a woodfired pizza oven by taking an uncooked pizza into my sleeping bag, fastening the neck and ‘dutch ovening’ until it the cheese melted and the crust crisped up.

  2. Robert Craig
    May 3, 2011

    Shame about Sronphadraig, it was one of the best bothies (though I got the impression it was intended for use of estate workers only)

  3. cairngormwanderer
    May 3, 2011

    Sounds like a good trip. One of my mates has been talking abouit something similar – is it good for cycling all the way?

  4. Gavin Macfie
    May 3, 2011

    It’s all on landrover tracks or tarmac aapart from about 2.5 km of partially ridable singletrack. Pretty straightforward stuff.

  5. Neil Ross
    May 4, 2011

    RE the dutch oven – Rogers Profanisaurus has it listed as ‘ The act of cooking one’s partners head beneath the bedclothes using cabbage gas’. Don’t worry I had no vision of you cooking a pizza within your sleeping bag!

  6. swanscot
    May 5, 2011

    I did this superb route years ago from south to north when I was dropped off on the A9 near the snow gates by my hubby as he passed heading further south. It was a glorious, long day of superb cycling.

  7. Alex
    May 5, 2011

    Your blog is certainly a mine of information.Never heard of a Dutch Oven.!
    Quite fancy this as an overnighter myself.I stayed in Sronphadruig many years ago and the sign was there even then.

  8. Gavin Macfie
    May 6, 2011

    Wish I’d checked the door of Sronphadruig to verify that the sign was correct rather than a deterrant. The door closest to the track certainly had a padlock on it – is there a tradesmen’s entrance that may have been open?


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