Hike Northbound through Britain with Daryl May
Click for Southbound hike
Balsporran Cottages a little north of Drumochter summit.  I had the bedroom with the dormer window top center
DN45 Balsporran Cottages
Days N45 - N56                                                                  Scottish Highlands
Day N45 - Tummel Bridge to Balsporran Cottages
Day N44                          Into the Highlands                               Day N46
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Southbound Home
Saturday, May 5, 2007

Time of departure: 6.45 am
Time of arrival: 4.15 pm
Place departed: Tummel Bridge, Perth and Kinross
Place arrived: Balsporran Cottages (south of Dalwhinnie, Highland)

Miles: 20.5
Cum miles: 735.3
Percent complete: 79.3

Bed sign Balsporran Cottages  ***
Cost for bed and breakfast: 40 ($80)
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I was really in the boonies now. Tummel Bridge itself has one little-known B&B, so I was lucky to have a bed at all. Leaving the village, I headed north across the fells, later to pick up the A9, which is pretty well the only logical route to Inverness and beyond from where I was.

The roads and trails from Tummel Bridge to the A9 at Dalnacardoch have no accommodation for those ten miles. One hits the A9 at its most desolate spot, and there is no accommodation of any sort for another ten miles - or 14 miles if that one B&B were full.

Mrs. Ellis at Tummel Bridge, who is an absolute angel, agreed to do breakfast at 6.30 am - and then hearing me up and about earlier, had it ready by 6.00! She used to work at Gordonstoun, the Scottish public school where Prince Charles was educated - and she remembers cooking him scrambled eggs. Her breakfast was first-rate, and I left with a freshly baked cheese scone and some of her cake, and they were both deliciously light and tasty.

The route was a cruel set of ascents, some with switchbacks. From Tummel Bridge at about 150 ft, I climbed in about three miles to over 1200 ft, before descending steeply into the hamlet of Trinafour at 750 ft.  From there, in less than two miles, I climbed to over 1400 ft over the fells - with beautiful vistas, despite mist, of some substantial peaks and Loch Errochty with its dam.

Then I descended to about 850 ft at Dalnacardoch before an ascent over the Drumochter Pass, which is over 1500 ft.

When a road sign then proclaimed that I had reached the Scottish Highlands, I thought, "You don't say".

Conditions were excellent, and the only problem with the mist was that photos weren't worth bothering with. Behind me, 3,500-ft Schiehallion was but one of many impressive,
half-obscured peaks. It was the up-and-down and sheer length of the hike that made things tough today. Reaching the A9, I confirmed the hard way that there was no accommodation at Dalnacardoch and at Dalnaspidal, neither of which amounted to more than a building or two. I then booked a room at Balsporran Cottages. This made for a 20-mile hike and saved me from the extra four miles to go on to Dalwhinnie.  Balsporran Cottages is actually a single building, and it is the only building in a place that the Ordnance Survey maps as a village which it isn’t.

On the way, I started to collect tufts of raw wool that the sheep had left on barbed-wire fences.  It's light, and it compresses, and I thought that Jenny might like it for her kindergarten class.

When I got to Balsporran Cottages and checked in, I found I had a new blister on the side of one toe, which had ballooned out and had better be popped and bandaged.  I also excavated my left thigh to remove a thorn sliver that's been there for a few weeks and caused a bump that hasn't healed.  I hoped it would heal now.

Doing some route planning, I spaced out 15-mile days to Inverness via Newtonmore, Aviemore and Tomatin.  Inverness is truly the city, which, once behind you, makes John o’Groats seem just ahead.  Inverness is four days away per my plans.

From the window of my B&B, I could see snow on the hills.
Day N44                          2007 and 2008 Daryl May                          Day N46