Willie’s View: Into Glen Tromie

Willie Shand ©

Willie enjoys a pleasant summer’s bimble into Glen Tromie.

As the A9 passes close to Kingussie, the eye can’t help but be drawn across the Spey. There lie the ruins of Ruthven Barracks, perched on top of a massive grassy mound.  Although the mound may look man-made, it’s actually natural. It was created by melt waters in the wake of the last Ice Age some 14,000 years ago.  It provided the perfect site for a stronghold, guarding as it did one of the main crossings of the River Spey.

into glen tromie

Ruthven Barracks.

Long before the Barracks were built in 1721, and as far back as the early 1200s, a castle stood here.  It was built by Walter Comyn.  In 1371, that castle became a base for the notorious Alexander Stewart. He was the illegitimate son of King Robert II – better known as the ‘Wolf of Badenoch’.

Alexander was not a man you’d want to get the wrong side of in an argument.  When he fell out with the Bishop of Moray, the Bishop was soon to feel his wrath. He burned the town of Elgin and destroyed its grand cathedral.

Keeping Control

Ruthven Barracks was built in the wake of the 1715 Jacobite Rising. It was one of four in the Highlands aimed at trying to keep the Jacobites under control. It was the Jacobites who in 1746 left it in its present ruinous state to prevent the Government troops from using it.

After the Jacobite’s defeat at Culloden, around 3000 survivors had gathered here in the hopes of regrouping and continuing the fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie.  The Bonnie Prince, however, was less enthusiastic and decided to make himself scarce advising all his loyal followers to do likewise.

The Beautiful Birches

I had a fantastic walk today, starting out from the Barracks. I crossed the high heathery moors, then descended down through the Tromie birch woods into Glen Tromie.  From Tromie Bridge with its tumbling falls, the final stretch brought me back through the RSPB Nature Reserve of Tromie Meadows and the Insh Marshes.

into glen tromie

Tromie Bridge.

Be warned, though, the track through Tromie woods is not the easiest to follow and when it eventually petered out I found myself clambering waist deep in bracken looking for a gap to crawl through in the deer fence near Glentromie Lodge.

As it turned out I’d only been a hundred yards or so off course. Reconnecting with the track by Keeper’s Cottage, I don’t think there was anyone around to notice my less than dignified approach!



Read Willie’s last blog about a visit to MacDuff’s Castle.

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.