Big steps for Ryvoan both racing at Glenmore

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John walks past Ryvoan.

Ryvoan bothy is a special little place, nestled along the track between Glenmore and Nethy Bridge and under the steep path to Meall a’ Bhuachaille.

My older brother Iain and I seem to be drawn to this every time we meet in this great part of the Cairngorms. Iain lives in Cheshire but is still trying to find reasons to return to Scotland – as if the mountains alone aren’t enough!

A Sunday morning run took us up to Bothy on this cold but glorious occasion as the spring sun lit up a fresh layer of snow on the surrounding hills.

Outside of the two, two guys emerged from a tent. They had come from the directions of the Avon Fords by the Lairig an Laoigh and found both full when they arrived – the occupants having already had a few drinks when they arrived in the early evening.

That’s Ryvoan’s real problem as a twoy – it’s just too easily accessible. These shelters are important for people traveling through hills and glens, but too often they are simply used as a meeting point for a party.

Whether that was what happened there last night, we weren’t sure, but there was no movement inside despite the day which seemed to provide lovely conditions for enjoying the outdoors .

Ryvoan went to see the campers' tent beyond.
Ryvoan went to see the campers’ tent beyond.

We chatted with the guys about halfway through our run. We started at the visitor center, following the path to the reindeer center, then turning left on the road following the blue markers.

These take you behind some houses with some of the most spectacular views imaginable, keeping to the right at a junction to join a track.

The climbing continues for some distance here, with views of the snowy plateau at a break in the trees giving us a good excuse to pause for breath. It’s a bit of a relentless early run, but it eventually levels out for a spell along a clearing.

Then the track ends and a narrower path leads downhill giving a whole different feel to the race. There are roots and rocks to leap over, not to mention tree trunks to twist and turn around as the descent drops you steeply over one shoulder to reach the main path opposite An Lochain Uaine – or the Green Lochan as the anglicized signs say here.

Iain at An Lochan Uaine.
Iain at An Lochan Uaine.

We head for the water’s edge, where the lochan lives up to its name in the early morning silence. Only a few ducks swimming towards us broke the perfect calm of the surface.

Back on the main path, we continued on the rougher track to both, patches of ice here and there indicative of another chilly night in the hills.

When we reached Ryvoan the sky was a glorious blue, with the pure white of fresh snow on the hilltops and the sun shining beautifully on the gable wall of the bothy. These traditional stone shelters seem to fit perfectly into this landscape, even to enhance it; a gentle touch of humanity in an otherwise nature-filled setting.

Our reluctant return journey began by retracing our steps to the lochan, where we continued on the main path that eventually leads to Glenmore Lodge. However, in search of a little more time in this enchanting location, we swerved left at the first major trail junction, now taking the purple road to the Allt Mor car park.

This crosses the Allt na Ciste on a footbridge en route to the Allt Mor crossing, through more beautiful pine forests at the foot of the Cairngorms.

Iain crosses the forest after crossing the Allt na Ciste.
Iain crosses the forest after crossing the Allt na Ciste.

Leaving the car park, continue straight ahead then take a path that goes to the left. This takes you straight across the track giving access to the car park and winds through the forest away from the ski slope. We kept an eye out for the Hayfield across the road and crossed over to take the track to the left of the field.

Marked as the white route, this climbs slightly before a fork comes out to the right, marked by another white sign post. A little further the white road splits and we took the right turn to reach a bridge over the burn which flows into Loch Morlich.

After that we headed right before forking left through the campground to the trailhead.

Iain runs along the high road towards Ryvoan on the blue road.
Iain runs along the high road towards Ryvoan on the blue road.

Route details

Ryvoan Loop

Distance 6.5 miles / 10 km

Ground Forest tracks, steep paths with roots and rocks in places

Beginning end Glenmore Visitor Center

Menu OS Landranger 36; OL57 Operating System Explorer

A great circuit from Cairngorms to Ryvoan both and back via the Allt Mor

Both Iain and John at Ryvoan.
Both Iain and John at Ryvoan.


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