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Moy - Dalarossie - Farr

 

Begin this route on the A9 Trunk Road at the Parish Church of Daviot (723394), a prominent landmark with its slender elegant west tower. The church dates from 1826 and in the churchyard is the site of the medieval kirk; the bell in those times rang in a detached belfry on nearby Cnoc an t-Sagairt (Priest's Hillock).

North-east of the church, and on the rocky west bank of the Nairn, here flowing through a picturesque wooded gorge with deep, dark pools, is the small promontory fort at Poll an Fhraoich (727396); its natural defences are augmented by a ruinous boulder-wall across the neck of the narrow ridge.

Opposite the church, a side road leads south-west to the base of 947ft. (288m) high Dun Davie (718393): on the summit, commanding a wide panorama of the strath, are the ruined walls of a multi-vallate stone fort, now seriously threatened by the ever-nearing encroachments of large-scale quarrying operations.

Continue over the Nairn, along the [original] A9 road in a south-east direction towards Moy and Strathdearn. Southwards of Craggie farm, up on the brae-face at 730382 is a complex of ten hut-circles and a burial cairn. Beyond Meallmore Lodge (now hotel), built 1869, where Edward 7th and other Royalties were once entertained, the 9th milestone (from Inverness), on east side of road, commemorates, with a tablet, the 1925 reconstruction of the Perth road.

Before reaching Moy, on right side of road, a gate (beside Inverness Field Club's "Rout of Moy" Information Board) leads to Forestry Commission roadway to the deserted farmhouse of Aultnaslanach and the Wade Military Road of 1729. (*)

Moy. the chief residence of the Mackintoshes since the 14th century, lies to the left. The present Moy Hall, completed in 1957, succeeds earlier mansions on the same site: nearby is a small, excellent museum, containing interesting relics of old Clan Chattan, the Mackintosh chiefs, and Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who lived at Moy in 1746. The beautiful Loch of Moy has two islands: on the larger is the 70ft. (21m) high granite obelisk, erected in 1824, commemorating Sir Aeneas Mackintosh, 23rd Mackintosh of Mackintosh, who died in 1820; and nearby are the scanty, overgrown ruins of a stone house with garden, built 1665 by Lachlan. 20th Laird of Mackintosh — the foundations indicate a building about 58ft. (17m) long by 21ft. (6m) wide. Also of interest is Eilean nan Clach, a much smaller islet, evidently a crannog, or artificial island, used as a prison by the clan chiefs until after 1746.

On the west banks of the Loch is Moy Parish Church (772342) a simple Presbyterian building dating from 1765: in the south-west corner of the churchyard is a small early 19th century Watch-house.

At the south end of Loch Moy, opposite the school, where the A9 road and the railway line run side by side, the Wade Road, here a footpath, merges with the main trunk road. One mile (1.6km) further, on left is the farmhouse of Dalmagarry; originally a King's House (Inn) on the military highway, along which such hostelries were established generally every 10 miles (16km) or so.

A short distance along the side road on the left is the picturesque single-arch hump-backed bridge (797320) at Milton of Moy, spanning the Funlack burn. The main road now enters the wide strath of the Findhorn; and, near Invereen, on the west bank, was discovered the Invereen Pictish Class 1 Symbol Stone — with incised 'spectacles' and Z-rod "crescent" and V-rod part of circle with line motifs — now in the National Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh.

Turn left. at the crossroads in the small village of Tomatin and take the side road down under the rail viaduct to the Bridge of Corrybrough (810292).

Just downstream, when the river level is low can be seen the wooden stumps of the 1833 bridge designed by Joseph Mitchell, the civil engineer, to replace the older stone bridge which carried the military road until it was swept away in the great spate of 1829. Up on the east bank. near Raigbeg school, the Wade Road continues, first as a farm track, then as a moor road. in a fairly direct south-east direction, between Creag an Tuim Bhig and the Allt Braenrerich, heading towards the pass of Slochd Mor.

From Raigbeg follow the unclassified road, again passing under the Findhorn rail viaduct: the road here is on the line of Telford's early 19th century road as far as Soilshan, whence, north of, and parallel to, the railway, it proceeds as a "green" road towards the Slochd summit. East of the railway cuttings above Soilshan are hut-circles in the birchwood.

At junction of unclassified road with the A9, follow the trunk road uphill to where it crosses the railway. To the eastwards the line of the Telford or Old Edinburgh Road is clear on the brae; and on the south-west heather slopes of Creag an Tuim Bhig are many small scattered clearance cairns, at least six hut-circles, and the 300ft. (91m) diameter stone wall foundations of a Bronze Age village enclosure (820268).

Return down the A9 as far as the road on the left leading to the first deserted farmstead at Drumbain, opposite which is the conspicuous tree-clad hillock of Raigmore (809271), crowned by a low circular stone dyke, surrounding what is believed to have been a fortified enclosure.

Continuing downhill, turn sharp left after the Trunk Road crosses the Findhorn by the unlovely concrete bridge of 1926, and follow the road up Strathdearn. Beyond Kyllachy House, a rough track to the right leads past a complex of hut-circle villages with clearance heaps and a cist burial on the heathery south brae of Carn na Seanalaich (7725).

Further along the Strathdearn road, and past the old school, visit, on left, Dalarossie Church (767242), built in 1790, and situated within a partially circular walled churchyard at a very lovely bend of the Findhorn: the site of an early Christian dedication to St Fergus (8th century). Inside the church is the old stone font, while at the porch is the holed "Bargaining Stone", now broken in two.

On high ground on opposite bank of the river is an earthern barrow with ditch and bank (767240), one of the few examples of such a monument in North Scotland: it can be seen only by making a detour, by the nearest bridge upstream at Dalmigavie.

Continue along road to a graceful little bridge over Kyllachy burn: at Garbole (756242), is the site of a castle, no trace of which now remains: after crossing bridge turn right along badly-surfaced road up Glen Kyllachy.

This road is single-track, and, twisting uphill through young plantations, has several unlocked gates, which must be opened (and shut); it is a splendid hill and moorland road as befits a route long used by drovers and their herds taking a cross-country route south to the Cattle Trysts of Central Scotland. Despite the ugly effects of the Hydro-'Electricity Board's overhead wirescape and pylons, good views are presented, as the road descends by the Allt Beag, of the mountains west of the Gleat Glen and Strath Glass, especially of Ben Wyvis in Easter Ross. After skirting Loch Farr on the left and Farr House policies on the right, the B851 road is reached. Turn right and continue northwards to the small village of Farr.

Behind Farr Post Office, and more easily approached from a short way along the minor road to Tordarroch, is Croftcroy Cairn (683332); very ruinous, a unique form of Clava-type cairn, the burial chamber evidently being long and narrow instead of circular.

Follow the B851, passing its junction with B861 at Inverarnie, until the point is reached near Scatraig (713376) where the line of General Wade Road crosses. Turn left first to visit the graceful single-arch Bridge of Faillie (712380), beyond which the military (or "Old Edinburgh") road climbs up over Drumossie Muir — footpath only — to reach Inverness at Hilton. See Inverness Field Club's Information Board (708384) where the old road crosses the Daviot-Balnafoich unclassified road.

Southwards from Faillie and Scatraig the military road crossed a small bridge (712373), now bypassed by access road to the extensive gravel-pit workings which have removed traces of the old road hereabouts; and have also obliterated the Clava-type cairn of Mid Lairgs — site at 713368.

Beyond the gravel workings, those with sufficient time and energy should, starting at the empty farmhouse of Mid Lairgs, walk southwards along the path of the Military Road, crossing the Midlairgs burn by a short-span, stone-arched bridge (715360); thence following the heathery track up the side of the burn until the recent forest road is reached. Across this new road keep up the hill, although the old track is difficult to trace; it takes a southerly course along the 950ft (290m) contour, becoming more easily identified as it passes through plantations After passing, on a bank to the left, the stone foundations ,of Badachreamh (729349), a drovers' inn in the 18th century, the forest road is again reached, and beyond is the watershed, and the pass, to Aultnaslanach and Moy, known as Stairsneach nan Gaidheal (The Threshold of the Gael).

Here, in 1746, before Culloden, while Prince Charles was at Moy, Lord Loudon's Redcoats from Inverness planned a surprise capture attempt: but they were foiled by a ruse when Donald Fraser, the smith of Moy, and four men, lay in ambush and gave the impression of a much larger force. This Rout of Moy resulted in a Hanoverian retreat. Nearby is Uaigh an Duine bheo ("Living Man's Grave"); a small cairn (727347) recalling a march dispute between Mackintosh and MacGillivray of Dunmaglass, one of whose followers was found guilty of falsely claiming the land he stood on was his chief's, having filled his shoes with earth from Dunmaglass: he was condemned to death by being buried alive there and then. From this point the quickest walk back is by the alternative route of the Forestry Commission road to the gate at Auchbain, thence along the farm road to the B851.

One mile (1.6km) along the B851 beyond Scatraig, the A9 Trunk Road is reached, providing the return route to Inverness.

Here, in 1746, before Culloden, while Prince Charles was at Moy, Lord Loudon's Redcoats from Inverness planned a surprise capture attempt: but they were foiled by a ruse when Donald Fraser, the smith of Moy, and four men, lay in ambush and gave the impression of a much larger force. This Rout of Moy resulted in a Hanoverian retreat. Nearby is Uaigh an Duine bheo ("Living Man s Grave"); a small cairn (727347) recalling a march dispute between Mackintosh and MacGillivray of Dunmaglass, one of whose followers was found guilty of falsely claiming the land he stood on was his chief's, having filled his shoes with earth from Dunmaglass: he was condemned to death by being burned alive there and then. From this point the quickest walk back is by the alternative route of the Forestry Commission road to the gate at Auchbain, thence along the farm road to the B851.

One mile (1.6km) along the B851 beyond Scatraig, the A9 Trunk Road is reached, providing the return route to Inverness.

(*) The route to Moy via Aultnaslanach has been significantly altered since time of writing following the construction of the new A9 trunk road through this pass. Aultnaslanach ruins were demolished during the construction of the new road.

 


 




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