Start location: B970, Ruthven Barracks (NN 764 995)
End location: Old Bridge of Tilt, Blair Atholl (NN 876 663)
Geographical area: Perth, Kinross and Stirling (part), Cairngorms National Park
Path Type: Rural Path, Military Road, Drove Road
Path distance: 41km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Newsflash: 2020 sees 175 years of the work of ScotWays in upholding public access rights - a great excuse to celebrate the history of public access in Scotland. One such key event was the Cairngorms signposting delegation of 1885, led by Walter A Smith, which ultimately led to the Jock’s Road court case. To commemorate that trip, ScotWays is inviting you to join its 175th Anniversary Challenge, a virtual journey in the footsteps of these nineteenth century access enthusiasts - it's a fun way to combine daily exercise with sharing their story, and learn more about the landscape they passed through and its cultural heritage. Excerpts from WAS's diary have been recorded by broadcaster James Naughtie, so you can even listen to his account of the day the delegation signposted the Minigaig. Join us, as we look forward to travelling together with you!
From Blair Atholl go up the east side of the River Tilt to the Old Bridge of Tilt, then cross the river towards Old Blair, but go northwest by the road up the Banvie Burn. In another 2km turn north up the Allt na Moine Baine for 1km, then cross this burn and go northwest over to the Allt an t-Seapail and then, still northwest, over to the Allt Sheicheachan, where the track ends at an MBA bothy. Continue north-northwest along a path round the hillside, descend into Glen Bruar and go up to Bruar Lodge, where the track from Calvine is joined. This track, which can also be joined from the A9, 7km west of Blair Atholl, is an alternative start to the Minigaig Pass.
From Bruar Lodge, continue up the east bank of the Bruar Water for another 5km and when the glen divides climb due north up the steep hill straight ahead to reach the crest of Uchd a’ Chlarsair. Descend slightly, still heading north, and climb a gradual slope to the Minigaig Pass (833m). The descent across the west slopes of Leathad an Taobhain continues north, then lower down the path bears northwest down the north bank of the Allt Bhran to reach the private road in Glen Tromie. At this point, the route is joined by that from the Gaick.
The way down Glen Tromie for the next 2.5km goes along the road, and then there are three possible finishes
(a) To follow the original soldiers’ route to Ruthven Barracks, cross the River Tromie by a footbridge (reported in May 2018 as washed away) at NN753923 and climb just east of north up heathery slopes past Carn Pheigith and over the east shoulder of Sron na Gaoithe. Just beyond the top of this rounded hill a faint path may be found at NN760946. Follow it north slightly downhill to about NN760959 where a better path is reached. Follow it north-northeast along the flat crest of the heathery moor to a junction of paths at NN770974 and from there go north down a good path to Ruthven Barracks. Kingussie is 1.5km further across the River Spey.
(b) The second way is down Glen Tromie as far as Glentromie Lodge. Cross the River Tromie by a bridge and a stile on the right just beyond it to follow a waymarked path northwest uphill through the birchwoods. At the upper edge of the trees cross the fence by a stile and continue northwest for 400m to the crest of the moor where the route (a) above is joined.
(c) The third finish goes right down the private road in Glen Tromie to Tromie Bridge, 2.5km along the B970 from Ruthven Barracks.
If doing this route from Ruthven Barracks southwards, the start is at a field gate about 50m south-west of the carpark at the barracks. Go along the edge of a field, turn right along the edge of the next field and aim south along a track up a small wooded glen to a ruined cottage, beyond which a stile gives access to the open hillside. Follow the path south almost to the crest of the moor and look out for the point (marked by a small cairn) where the right of way turns south-southwest while the more obvious path continues southeast to Glentromie Lodge. Unfortunately, if taking the former route, the bridge across the River Tromie at Dailriach has been washed away as has that about a mile upstream, so the river crossing is likely to be difficult. For a recent account of a two-day trip following the Minigaig from north-south, read A Minigaig Adventure by John Davidson, published in May 2018.
OS Landranger 43 (Braemar & Blair Atholl), 42 (Glen Garry & Loch Rannoch area) & 35 (Kingussie & Monadhliath Mountains)
The Minigaig is the only road to the north shown on Greene’s map of 1689 and Moll’s map of 1725. It superseded the earlier Comyn's Road and was itself superseded by Wade's military road over the Drumochter Pass, constructed 1728-30. Although after that latter date the Minigaig still appeared on maps as a summer road to Ruthven. The Minigaig is marked, without a name, on Willdey's map of c.1745.
The Minigaig was first signposted by the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society in July 1885, when it was freely admitted by the 7th Duke of Atholl to be a public path. In his report, Walter A Smith of the signposting delegation describes the Minigaig thus: "This is a most interesting and very grand as well as ancient mountain crossing and should be used by all able-bodied pedestrians on their way north or south".