Walk: Fungle & Firmounth - ancient Cairngorms highways

[Forest of Birse]

The Fungle and the Firmounth are just two of several ancient highways criss-crossing the vast bulk of the Cairngorms. These once-important trade routes have long since fallen out of use but old inscribed stones line the sides of both drove roads. The Tinker's Cairn is one such place. Apparently it marks the spot where a tinker murdered his wife during passage across the hills here - look out for the inscription W.E. 1814. Also look out for St Colm's Well near Gannoch summit: besides its water source, it has its own carved message and also marks an ancient parish boundary. These human influences amidst seemingly desolate terrain are the things that make this walk from the (nearly treeless) Forest of Birse interesting - in contrast to an average hill walk. Unfortunately the hill of Tampie is everything that Gannoch isn't - scarred by monstrous new tracks and metal fences covering the old route - but at least it provides an easy route to the Fungle Road descent.

[The "new" Firmounth Road is an eyesore, but makes progress easy]

Name: Walk: Fungle & Firmounth - ancient Cairngorms highways ★☆☆
Length: 16 km / 10 miles
Ascent: 610 metres
Main summits: Gannoch (731 metres); Tampie (723 metres)
Points of interest: Birse Castle (private); St Colm's Well; Tinker's Cairn; Firmounth Road; Fungle Road
Start / finish: Car park at minor road end 4 miles west of Finzean, G.R.: NO 532906 / twit walked animates

Route: Car park - Ballochan - cross Burn of Corn at NO 514903 - Gannoch - St Colm's Well - Firmounth Road - Tampie - Fungle Road - Ballochan - start
Terrain: Mostly tracks ranging from old and grassy to modern scars. Short wet or pathless sections skirting Birse Castle grounds.
Wildlife today: Lapwings, rabbits and sheep in the valley. Grouse and furry caterpillars on the hills.
Weather today: Sunshine, although cloudier above the summits; moderate wind.

[Inscribed stone on the Fungle Road descent]


Route credit: Scotland off the beaten track

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