Hills to climb in Badenoch

Kingussie and Newtonmore make excellent bases for sightseeing in the Cairngorms, with everything you’d want for a short break in the Highlands. There are also a variety of hills to climb in Badenoch and the accompanying app helps you delve into Badenoch’s past. You have the vast expanse of the Monadhliath mountains with munros to climb and smaller hills to the back of the villages which make excellent family walks.

Here is a selection of hills to add to your Badenoch bucketlist. Each of the walks below are linked to the full walk on WalkHighlands where you can read a full description and download a map and gpx. Download the Badenoch Storylands app and listen to the stories and history of the area as you explore.

Always carry a map and compass with you and know how to use them. Don’t rely on a mobile device.

Creag Bheag, Kingussie | 273 metres, 7km.

This is a lovely wee hill above Kingussie with stunning views all around. It is best to park at Ardvonie car park behind the Duke of Gordon Hotel where there is an information board on the walks in the area. You climb up through the village and then through the pinewoods at the bottom before the track up onto the hill. There are a series of cairns you pass as you approach the larger summit shelter cairn. You can sit in here and take in the views over Kingussie out of the wind. As you return down the hill you take in the views over Loch Gynack and descend into woodland again and out beside the ruins of an old township Toman an t-Seomair. You pass through the golf course and have various options here to return to Kingussie.

Black Wood and Dùn da-Lamh Pictish hillfort, Laggan | 436 metres, 8.5km.

Park at Druim an Àrd car park on the A86 past Laggan. The route is largely on forest tracks but the summit sections are rougher. Caution is needed in icy conditions. You follow the path along the ridge through woodland where a small cairn marks the summit of Black Craig. The woodland continues with denser pinewood and you can see down to the ruins of the hill fort of Dun da Lamh below. The climb rewards you with views over the Spey Dam towards the Corrieyairack Pass, and down the Spey Valley towards Laggan and beyond, showing the prominent position the hill fort held.

The app features a recreation of the hillfort which you can overlay on the site, you can also read the fascinating history of this Pictish hillfort.

hill walks in Badenoch
Dun Da-Lamh Hill Fort. Image James Stevens

Càrn an Fhreiceadain, Kingussie | Corbett 682 metres, 18km.

This is a steady climb with a good track to the top. It can also be cycled. Park at the Duke of Gordon Hotel and walk uphill to the Golf Club crossing the bridge just before the car park. The route follows the Gynack burn and crosses the golf course before climbing up onto open moorland. You will pass the Green Bothy, a grouse shooters hut. Look back as the views start to expand as you climb. You reach the summit of Beinn Bhreac before the track dips down and then climbs again to reach the summit of Càrn an Fhreiceadain. Keep your eyes peeled for mountain hare which thrive in this landscape.

Creag Dubh, near Newtonmore | Fiona 503 metres, 5km.

Take the road to Laggan from Newtonmore and park opposite Lochain Uvie. (limited parking). This is a great climb if you like a scramble as the ascent is very steep and passes the rock climbers crags on your left. Once you clear this area you eventually meet the heather and then a path. The path then unfolds in front of you along the ridge, dipping and then climbing to the summit with two cairns. As you follow this ridge the views over Glen Banchor and the two munros of  A’Chailleach and Geal Chàrn expand out to your left. A very different landscape to the scenes over Badenoch to your right. You can follow a path all the way back to Newtonmore or make a return loop back to the start.

hill walks in Badenoch
Creag Dubh

Geal Chàrn, Monadhliath | Munro 625 metres, 12.5km.

Take the road to Laggan and then pass the Spey Dam and park in the space just before Garva Bridge. This is very open moorland and feels quite remote. There is a burn crossing so if the weather has been very wet you might have to pick your way to a better crossing higher up. By this point you can take in the views to the previously hidden side of the Creag Meagaidh mountains. The plateau is a large flattish area with the cairn some distance across to mark the summit.

Garva Bridge. Image: James Stevens

A’ Chailleach, Newtonmore | Munro 930 metres.

This munro, which has a huge cairn at the summit, is a popular mountain to climb and is a big feature of the landscape around Newtonmore. You park at the end of the minor road leading out of Newtonmore up Glen Banchor. This starts out as a landrover track then eventually crosses a rickety footbridge over the Allt Fhionndrigh. The path then becomes an ATV track which is quite boggy underfoot. This munro can be combined with Càrn Dearg and Càrn Sgulain. Carn Sgulain and A’Chailleach are often combined into one route. These munros in the Monadhliath range are quite rolling hills. Navigational skills are key here if visibilty is poor. A’Chailleach means the old woman in gaelic.

The surrounding hills offer a great days walking and the villages of Badenoch are the perfect place for a short break in the Highlands.

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