"Black Gaick of the wind whistling, crooked glens, ever enticing her admirers to their destruction" - An eighteenth-century Gaelic poem.

Loch an Duin under the slopes of Creag an Loch

I have had Exploring Scottish Hill Tracks by Ralph Storer knocking about for ages and it is a very readable guidebook full of interesting history and funny anecdotes. I selected the Gaick, filled a pannier and bungeed the tent on and got a train up to Blair Atholl.

In the first part of the route you head up through some woods and out on to a huge wild moor. Then its a case of following the track alongside Edendon Water. This soon leads to a few river crossings where I miraculously managed to keep dry feet. As I headed toward Loch an Duin, which is really in a dramatic spot. I got a bit lost and had to push the bike through some heathery stuff on the side of An Dun, and then when I found the path not much of it was ridable for about a mile along the side of the loch. At the N end of the loch I had to squelch my way though a peat bog before another land-rover track appeared and I continued with no problems.

With another couple of river crossings out the way I came across the ruins of the bothy where Captain John MacPherson (known as the Black Officer (how racist)) was killed in an avalanche in 1800. It must have been some avalanche. The bothy was a fair way back from the steep slopes and apparently, when it was destroyed, the roof was swept a mile or so down the glen.
My bike is by the end of the ruined walls of the bothy

Then I passed Loch an t-Seillich which has a big dam at the end and a long down hill tarmac road all the way to Kingussie. On the way I found a good spot for the tent, ate malt loaf and finished reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Its a great book with an interesting idea of how humans might evolve into two breeds. Firstly, the hairy, ugly, nocturnal, carnivorous, and industrious Morlocks who live underground. Secondly, the bald, dim-witted and beautiful Eloi who run about in the sun, picking flowers, fornicating, eating fruit and getting eaten by the Morlocks. The idea seems to be that the divide between the working class and aristocracy became so great that they became two radically different breeds of human. I liked it but not as much as The War of the Worlds which I think has a stronger ending. It is undoubtedly an important little book though as it was the first to introduce the idea of time travel (and coin the name time machine) and was the fore runner of science fiction.

I would have thought a simple No Camping sign would have done

On Monday I cycled past Kingussie and Newtonmore down to Dalwhinne. On the way I dodged showers by popping into a cafe for breakfast. I took the track along Loch Ericht to Ben Alder Lodge and then up to Loch Pattack. From here there are great views of Carn Dearg, Geal Charn, and Beinn a Chlachair. I took the decision to go back the way I had come, rather than complete a circuit via Kinloch Laggan, because the rain was pretty miserable and I didn't want to miss the train. With half an hour to kill, I got a bowl of soup in Dalwhinnie and read about Bonny Prince Charlie, the Jacobites, and General Wade's military roads.
Loch Pattack and the bad weather arrives

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