Stage 5: Laggan to Kingussie — East Highland Way
Alex Langfield planned a hike.
March 1, 2021
During this stage you cross the wild moorland of Strath an Eilich to the Dalnashallag Bothy, before following the River Calder to Newtonmore. You then ascend to Loch Gynack, skirting Creag Bheag’s flanks to arrive in the lively town of Newtonmore. Magnificent Cairngorm scenery is a constant and, if you’re lucky, you might even spot a wildcat.
Leave Laggan, following the A86 for a mile (1.6 km), before taking a left through the small settlement of Balgowan and heading north onto the open moorland of Strath an Eilich. You ascend gradually, with the broad flanks of Marg na Craige rising on the left and the smaller Binnein Mòr on the right.
Eventually you come to Dalnashallag Bothy on the banks of the River Calder. It is a small but characterful shelter and is a handy refuge for those seeking to ascend the trio of Munros to the north. Boulder hop across the river and follow it as it descends into the village of Newtonmore. En route, you pass a number of deserted buildings — a poignant reminder of the Highland Clearances.
There are plenty of places for a pitstop in Newtonmore, whilst the Highland Folk Museum is an interesting experience. This is prime wildcat territory. The Wildcat Centre, next to the village hall, has lots of information about these beguiling felines and there’s even a designated trail that encircles the village.
To leave Newtonmore, you pick up the eastern end of the Wildcat Trail by the Allt Lairaidh stream and venture north then east, ascending towards the mass of Creag Bheag. You soon come to Loch Gynack, passing along its southern shore to a path junction at its south eastern end. A detour to the 1,598-foot (487 m) summit of Creag Bheag is possible here, just around 450 feet (140 m) above you. Otherwise, the Way skirts its pinewood-clad eastern flanks on the way down to Kingussie.
Although not quite as busy as nearby Aviemore, Kingussie is a lively town with many hotels, B&Bs, hostels and guesthouses. Take your pick. There are also a number of good places to eat and drink.
March 15, 2021