The Soft Road For The Hoggs
Start location: Melgarve (NN 462 961)
End location: A82, Glenfintaig Lodge (NN 224 868)
Geographical area: Lochaber, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey
Path Type: Drove Road
Path distance: 30.3km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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The route to Glenfintaig leaves the Corrieyairack track by turning south past Melgarve cottage and swings west, on a good land rover track. It crosses the Allt Yairack by a substantial bridge and the track continues for 2km to the ruined Shesgnan bothy. The track disappears here and a route has to be picked over boggy ground until after about 1km the Shesgnan burn is crossed by a ford which could be difficult in wet weather. Continue west along the north bank of the Spey past Loch Spey and across the low pass (350m) into Glen Roy. Go down the River Roy for about 7km, first passing the Luib-chonnal bothy, to Leckroy where there are good views of the famous Parallel Roads.
For Glenfintaig go just over 1km past Leckroy and turn north up Glen Turret. Cross the River Turret by a footbridge and go west along the narrow glen of the Allt a’ Chomhlain (path indistinct) to the col (357m). Cross the fence there by a stile and go down the head of Glen Gloy into the forest to the start of a track leading to Auchivarie. From there continue 10km down the glen by a private road to Glenfintaig Lodge and an old Wade bridge beside the A82, 6.5km from Spean Bridge.
OS Landranger 34 (Fort Augustus & Glen Albyn area)
This droving route was known as the soft road for the hoggs because it was well suited to young sheep. It has also been said to be a former coffin road.
It is certainly one of the old highways of the Highlands, once the main route between Speyside and Lochaber. It is shown on Moll’s map of 1725 as part of the route going from Ruthven Barracks to Mucomir at the south end of Loch Lochy, from where a road went south to Fort William and another one north to Kilcumein (Fort Augustus); the Wade road from Fort William to Fort Augustus was made in 1726. This old route can also be seen shown as a road on Roy’s map of the Highlands (1747-1752).
In 1931, the crofter and land rights campaigner Ronnie Campbell was born at Bohuntin in Glen Roy. He was thought to be one of the last Highland drovers. He died in January 2022, but if you listen to his obituary on BBC Radio 4's The Last Word, you'll hear Ronnie speak about driving sheep from Newtonmore via Glenshirra and Braeroy in 1949.