By Konstantin Gridnevskiy
The Scottish Highlands is a perfect destination for those who like hiking. In our case, we started a hike from Dalwhinnie train station. We walked along Lake ‘Loch Ericht’, camping at night on the shore.
It’s about 20 km from Dalwhinnie to the shelter ( so-called bothy) which is an access point to the local hills. As we discovered later on Scottish walking that distance finds a bit waste of time. What’s wrong in riding long kilometers on a mountain bike?
Once we have passed Ben Alder Lodge we were 2km from the shelter. That’s where you turn into the forest as the path along the lake is not public anymore.
It is very common that hiking paths are often located on someone’s estate, whose ancestors were generous and kind enough to let others walk on it. And it stayed that way until now…luckily. This concerns camping as well. You can pitch the tent wherever you want. Most of the hikers stay overnight in a neighborhood of bothies or at the peak.
As for accommodation we feel at home in a local shelter (Curla Bothy). It’s a temporary shelter, without electricity and other facilities. Simply a roof over the head. However, this is a better solution than a tent, especially taking into account the fickle Scottish weather. The combination of rain and wind can be indeed very discouraging to stay outdoor all night. It is also impossible to predict what the weather is going to be like when climbing munros (munros means peak). In our case, ever-lasting fog eventually disturbed us from climbing Ben Alder ( 1148m). Nevertheless, that area offers a lot of technically not very demanding trails.
What is specific about hiking in Highlands – the trail is where your eyes bear. There are some main paths, but a good map and a compass are musts.
You can always count on the company of deers but also midges.
Midges are kind of micro flies with Vikings personality – the bite and fight like crazy. A little help was an insect repellent which partly worked out. Also, a mosquito net might be useful.
From time to time we could count also on the company of horses, belonging to the owner of Ben Alder estate – friendly and curious creatures.
As for route we climbed up Beinn Bheothil (1016 m) – west from the shelter and returned down the valley along the lake. It’s an about 6-7 hours trip with no hiking path as such.
The next day we have decided to hike east from bothy towards Loch Pattack to climb up Creag Pitridh (924 m) and returned along the lake. It’s an 8 hours trip most of the time along the path.
Unfortunately, we were limited by time and weather. Ben Alder region can keep you busy for at least a week. Both shelters – Ben Alder and Curla Lodge – are fantastic starting points on the course towards any munros.
Nothing more to say than THANK YOU SCOTLAND FOR PROVIDING US SUNNY WEATHER AND THANK YOU RYANAIR FOR THE CHEAP FLIGHT 😉