Glen Banchor to Loch Dubh

By Tom McIntyre

Loch Dubh is a delightful spot nestling below the wide open Monadhliath plateau, above Newtonmore. Overshadowed by the crags of Sron nan Laogh, white tails of water cascade down on to the shimmering glass surface of this lost lochan. The route up follows the River Calder through wide Glen Banchor where abandoned cottages add to the feeling of remoteness.

The start is easily reached, following the minor road from the centre of Newtonmore up past the community's church. The tarmac climbs past solid, detached houses before heading out over moor to the walkers' car park at Shepherd's Bridge.

With boots donned, follow the track west from the road end. It descends to cross Shepherd's Bridge, a solid wooden span over the Allt a'Chaorainn. The track runs level through open grazing land, passing through a gate and staying close to the River Calder initially. A derelict cottage on the left is passed before the rundown farm at Glenballoch is reached.

The track crosses the Allt Fionndrigh before skirting below the farm buildings. Continue to a high gate a few metres on. Go through this and a grassy path heads south towards the river. It runs through low woodland before turning west to reach another gate on the edge of open moor. Go through and continue to walk west through grass, heather and a profusion of wild flowers. The path meets up with the River Calder again and stays close to the water as it heads upstream.

The route crosses the Allt Ballach below the derelict cottage at Dalballoch. There is no bridge but there are plenty of well placed stepping stones and the crossing is easy. Once over the path continues to head west for around 800 metres before bearing right, following the narrow Allt an Lochain Duibh up into Gleann Lochain. The path is quite vague below the cottage at Dalballoch where it crosses quite marshy ground but it becomes much more obvious as it gains height.

The route climbs into Coire nan Laogh, bearing right for the final section of ascent to Loch Dubh. There's an impressive wee waterfall down to the left of the path at this point.

The route reaches the shores of the lochan at its southern outflow where there's a small open bothy - a grey corrugated iron shed offering basic shelter. Loch Dubh extends back towards the crags of Sron nan Laogh with its narrow waterfalls.
To complete the walk, retrace steps through Glen Banchor to Shepherd's Bridge.

WALK FACTS

Distance 10 miles/16km.
Map OS Landranger sheet 35.
Start/parking Walkers' car park at Shepherd's Bridge, at end of minor public road from Newtonmore, grid ref NN 693997.
Grading Good track and path through open glen to remote lochan. The estate requests dogs are kept on the lead due to sheep grazing in Glen Banchor. The gate beyond the farm at Glenballoch has the words 'no dogs' painted on it but we ignored this without consequence.