The old packhorse bridge at Carrbridge – the oldest stone bridge in Scotland and a “must see” for any tourist venturing near the village – is 300 years old this year.
Although severely damaged by the “muckle spate” of 1829 which devastated much of Strathspey, the bridge has survived many floods since then and deserves to be celebrated for standing so long.
I’ve seen it many times but just had to take a look before starting this circuit from the village’s sizeable free car park – a sort of pilgrimage, I suppose.
After viewing the arch spanning the River Dulnain, we walked south along the main street in the direction of Aviemore and turned left into Carr Road.
At the end of the street a green signpost appears on the right pointing to Boat of Garten via Carr Plantation.
As we walked towards the gate into the pinewood, a scarecrow dressed in a roadman’s yellow jacket caught my eye in a field on the left. There wasn’t a crow in sight so he seemed to be doing his job well.
The pleasant walk through the pinewoods, keeping straight ahead, leads to a fence where the track doglegs right. It also doubles as National Cycle Route 7.
A beautifully carved wooden bench with owls as a feature is the perfect place to sit and eye up the next stage of the walk.
A gate in the corner of the fence gives access to a field, with a plank crossing a small burn. There are open views of the countryside now with another plantation ahead.
Carry on to a point where fences reach an angle. Instead of going immediately left on boggy ground, continue uphill slightly and bear left along a small ridge – a much drier option.
This reaches a track going up into the Scots pinewood. Keep ahead to enter a small clearing then a birchwood. The track passes under power cables and soon reaches a gate which has to be climbed.
We kept going to reach a clearing crossed by a substantial track with the wooded hill of Creag an Fhithic above. The route takes a right turn here on to a less distinct track, which is easy to miss so keep an eye out.
There’s a shallow incline at first then a descent to Docharn farmhouse, which is surrounded by fields.
We turned right here, passing the farmhouse, to be confronted by some cows on the track ahead. They were docile enough and obligingly moved out of the way to let us through.
The track continues to a forestry gate leading into more woodland. Eventually it reaches the B9153 leading back to Carrbridge. Our route stays off road, though, and we turned right here then almost immediately left along a path that runs parallel to the road then crosses it to continue on the other side to join a track.
Turn left here and follow the track to meet the railway line linking Inverness and the central belt. Go right on a path between the wood and the railway to meet a footpath sign.
A right turn along a track here led us past the boundary fence of the popular Landmark Forest Adventure Park where excited children were making their way up and down a tall wooden tower with steps inside it.
I’ve never been up but the view from the top must be stunning.
From here it’s just a matter of following the signs across the park’s overflow car park to reach the road back to the Carrbridge car park.
Before leaving we took a closer look at the intricately carved wooden bench, created as part of the bridge anniversary celebrations.
It has all sorts of figures carved into it, from animals and birds to the railway line – fun for children to find them, with a waterproof list stored in a slot in the bench, documenting them all.
Carrbridge forest circuit
Distance 4.5 miles / 7.5km
Terrain Forest paths and tracks, can be a little muddy in places
Start/finish Public car park in Carrbridge
Map OS Explorer OL57, Cairn Gorm
A fairly gentle circuit through the woodlands surrounding Carrbridge