Corrieyairack Pass Route

A Walk on the Wild Side.

For a longer cross-country walk, based here in Newtonmore, the Corrieyairack has everything, from the gentle meanderings of the upper River Spey, through the pass itself amid high rolling moorland, and down by the side of Glen Tarff to the A82 near Fort Augustus.

Before starting the walk, however, there are two conditions to be met – physical fitness and organisational skills.

First the fitness, for, although the walk is an old military road built by the notorious General Wade in the 18th century, the distance involved is some 14 miles with a climb of nearly 500m to the highest point at 770m. There the weather could be quite different from the more benign Spey Valley.

Secondly, unless you wish to make it an epic day by returning to your car, alternative transport has to be available at the other end. Work out the drill well in advance.

You will need Ordnance Survey maps: sheet 34, Fort Augustus, and sheet 35, Kingussie. I have described the route from east to west. The start from the Great Glen is at a height of only 50m and the climb starts immediately.

From the A9, drive to Laggan village and follow the minor road westwards initially on the north side of the Spey then on the south side, and continue past the old barracks at Garvamore to the road end at Garva Bridge, which is another Wade feature. There is ample parking space here. The walk now begins.

The first four miles to Melgarve are generally flat through the wide strath. The bulky mountain to the south-west is Creag Meagaidh. Then the climb begins – three miles of ascent northwards but with helpful zig-zags near the top of the pass.

At the top, it is very easy to make a short detour to a Corbett, Corrieyairack Hill at 896m, a fine viewpoint and well worth the extra three quarters of an hour spent.

As mentioned, it is steeper but more attractive on the descent to the A82. The lower section is the best part of the walk – the tree-lined ravine of Glen Tarff and the Culachy Falls and more varied terrain-and with the slope in your favour the seven miles from the top to the minor road just off the A82 soon passes by. Assuming your transport arrangements worked out properly, you will soon be in Fort Augustus for some refreshments before making the return journey back to your base in Newtonmore.

The walk can, of course, be just as easily done from West to East with your driver dropping you off at the clearly signposted start to the walk on the minor road just off the A82 and collecting you again at Garva Bridge.