The Monaliadth is a different style of mountain area. The rounded hills and extensive high moorland give it a remote feel but without the dramatic landscape of the steeper and more rocky West Highlands or Cairngorm.
|an entrance to the Monadliadth at Drumnaglas|
|The track leading into the Monadliadth|
|Looking north over Drumnaglas and the mountains beyond Loch Ness|
Drumnaglas is busy with development. The whole area seems to be under threat from windfarms but here, although the access roads and a new bridge need to be negotiated, the main site to the south remains hidden from my route. There are campaigners promoting protection of this wilderness look here and here.
|Shap M powering up the track|
|Pathless at the top of the Monadliadth - zoom in to see the Scottish Electricity van|
From here I have my cross-country route planned down to the next valley, while Shap heads off along the 'ridge' (more like a wide and rough moor) - both routes pathless. As the skyline disappears behind me I get a glimpse of Sandy arriving at the hut by the SSE van.
My journey will take me across three ranges of hills as I move eastwards. The first two watersheds require some navigation skill as the tops are relatively featureless while the last one is traversed by a track which leads down to Kincraig.
In this territory the landscape underfoot can be difficult to negotiate without a path and often a stream will provide an easier route - although it is never straight.
So the routine is to follow a track to get close as possible to the crossing point, then follow a river or stream to the watershed, navigate by compass over the top, then pick up a recognised stream heading downwards to join a track on the other side. Even in fine weather a compass is useful to ensure you continue to travel in the right direction.
It is now around 5 in the afternoon and I decide to save the ascent out of this central valley for the next day. A field close to a ruined building provides a good camping spot, and an hour later I am joined by Sandy with his distinctive tent, a red Laser Competition. The small wood here hides a large group of dismantled houses which add to the atmospheric setting.
We set off together in the morning with different destinations in mind. Skirting the small wood we crossed a river to join the track heading east. This is shooting territory and gamekeepers are keen to protect the targets by trapping predators. By the road in quick succession we found 3 different traps.
|? Mystery trap|
Many of the landrover tracks appear on the OS map, and you'd expect more detailed information on the 1:25000 than appears on the 1:50000. At this particular location however the tracks are different depending on the scale (you should be able to see this effect by zooming in on the accompanying map). We counted bends and side streams until we thought we reached the right point to head up to the watershed.
|Stream bed leading down to Dulnain Bothy|
A little later we parted ways - Sandy heading east and slightly north towards Caggan and Red Bothy whereas I faced southeast to reach the Dulnain river further upstream. 3-4 hours into the day I reached Dulnain Bothy, which was my overoptimistic target for the previous night.
|bridge above Dulnain Bothy|
|Bridge over River Dulnain|
|Hut on River Dulnain|
Before long the views to the east are dominated by the Cairngorms and I spend some time with the map trying to identify my target entry point which was to be Glen Einaich.
|Cairngorm panorama from Monadliath above Kincraig|
The track leaves the Monadliath at Leault Farm which is announced by the barking of many dogs. All around are kennels with dogs chained up shouting at the intruder, but not one person. Most of the dogs are collies and once through the farm yard I see why the people are missing. There is a coach and a crowd of visitors watching a demonstration of dog craft with a few wary sheep in the field ahead. Follow the link above for more information.
|Dog show at Leault Farm|
Kincraig looks important on the map, but it is a small settlement with just one general store. I was relying on this place for a resupply of gas - I'd heard of others making order with the shop so I was reasonably optimistic about my chances! As it turned out they did have some gas, but completely the wrong fitting except for the two pre-orders. They stock warm food, but that had sold out in the morning.
This is the crossing point for the river Spey, and working around to Feshiebridge bypassing the road found some pleasant way-marked paths with an intriguing sculpture park.
|Feshie Sculpture Park|
After Feshiebridge the route heads into the forest and follows several kilometres of wide track with any potential view obscured by the tall conifers. Eventually a path breaks away from the service track and emerges out of the plantation. Now I'd been walking for over 11 hours and it was clear that I could not comfortable reach my target at the top of Glen Eanaich so I was looking for somewhere to camp.
|Feshie Forest track|
As it turned out I had the site to myself. The bothy had a small supply of gas which helped me eke out my remaining supply.
|Campsite by Drake's Bothy|