The Sow of Atholl and the Boar of Badenoch are two prominent hills at the side of the A9 that offer a relatively easy hill day. At 803m the Sow (also known as Meall an Dobharchain) is a corbett (Scottish hill over 2,500 feet) while the Boar (An Torc) at 739m earns itself the title of a Graham Top or Simm (six hundred metre mountain).
The two hills can be combined into one circular route or each can be undertaken individually. Vehicle tracks ease the ascent / descent of the Sow but the Boar requires rough off path walking. If cloud shrouds the summits some basic navigation skills will be required to ensure you descend in the correct direction. Please ensure that you are properly equipped for a hill walk.
- Start / finish: Dalnaspidal, off the A9. Rough roadside parking at NN 645 732. If doing the Boar on it’s own there is parking on the A9 at a layby at NN 632 756 close to Drumochter Summit that could be used.
- Terrain: rough vehicle tracks and path-less walking
The Sow and The Sow & Boar
The Sow & Boar
- Distance: 11 km / 6.8 miles
- Ascent: 630 m / 2080 feet
- Distance: 8.8 km / 5.5 miles
- Ascent: 420 m / 1380 feet
Cross the railway at the level crossing (take great care) to reach Dalnaspidal Lodge. Keep right away from the lodge following the green footpath sign for Rannoch. Follow this landrover track for 800m to reach a second river crossing bridge. Take the right hand option at the junction before the bridge to follow a landrover track uphill for approx 900m
Bear right up the hill on a rather muddy vehicle track. If the track is very wet it may be easier to walk at the side of it on the rough hillside. The track provides an easy ascent up the hill alongside a series of shooting butts. When the track ends it is reasonably easy walking up the heather clad slope to reach the rounded summit topped with a small cairn.
Descend from the summit in a north north west direction. The gradient is steeper on this side of the hill but the springy heath underfoot provides pleasant underfoot conditions. A vehicle track is present on this side of the hill also, so aim towards it and use it to aid your progress over the rough lower ground. The track becomes a surfaced landrover track with bridged river crossings. After the second river crossing join another landrover track and decide whether or not to include the Boar on your walk.
Option 1 The Sow
Turn right on the landrover track and follow it around the lower slopes of the Boar.
Option 2 The Sow & Boar
Turn left on the landrover track and head up the glen for 300m until you are below the coll between the Boar and A’Mharconaich.
Head up the steep pathless hillside on the grass and heather clad slope to gain about 150m of height. Traces of animal paths can be used to aid your ascent. As you approach the coll bear right on to the south western shoulder of the Boar. Very soon the gradient eases off and a feint path puts in an appearance. Follow this path (and a line of fence posts) in a north easterly direction on gently rising ground. The summit is marked by a small cairn and views up and down the A9 valley.
Descend in a south south east direction, down initially thick heather. When a fence post line is reached keep well to the right of it to avoid the steepest and roughest ground. As you descend the hillside a rough path makes an appearance and can be followed across the lower ground to rejoin the landrover track where you turn left.
Both Options The Sow and The Sow & Boar
Follow the landrover track towards the railway and A9. After passing under the railway you have the option of following the track round to the left for 200m to join the cycle route or alternatively scramble up the steep bank in front of you for a short cut! Turn right on to the cycle track and follow it for 2.5 km back to Dalnaspidal.
- Distance: 6.5 km / 4 miles
- Ascent: 330 m / 1100 feet
The Boar of Badenoch on its own offers a short outing best started from the layby at Drumochter Summit grid ref NN 632 756.
From the layby walk south along the landrover track / cycle track for 350m, crossing a river, to reach the point where the two routes split. Keep right on the landrover track, passing under the railway line after 200m. Follow the track as it turns back north and then bears left around the foot of the Boar. Look out for the junction where a track on your left heads across the river to the Sow. Continue straight on following the information for The Sow & Boar above.
On your return stay on the landrover track after passing under the railway to return to the layby.