Train to Inverness and cycle down the west side of Loch Ness via Foyers; or train to Dalwhinnie and use the A86 to Laggan. If driving it use the A82 from Inverness or Fort William.
Very steep and rough at times, the summit of the path is 770 metres.
(O.S. Landranger Maps 34 and 35).
Fort Augustus Approach
The General Wade road now starts near the south end of Loch Ness, from a minor road connecting the A82 to the B862 (grid ref 373 072). At the south (A82) end the minor road is signed Ardachy, there is no sign where the minor road joins the B862.
The first part of the Wade road is badly eroded, there is a metal post to stop vehicles, but I doubt that most vehicles could get up it. After that the going gets better. The road climbs south-west at first, to get round the Culachy Burn, passing a fine series of waterfalls. After this it turns south-east and begins the first of the many zig-zags it uses to reach the summit of the pass.
The climb is extremely steep, and the surface is quite rocky. You will have to walk at times. There are brilliant views of the Great Glen and Loch Ness as you climb higher and higher.
Glen Tarff is quite pretty, with remnant pine woods near the river. Eventually you climb completely clear of the glen and the scenery is more forbidding. Finally you reach the summit at 770 metres.
You might think that the worst is over, for all the rest is downhill. Don't be deceived; the descent is very steep and rocky, with sharp zig-zags in the steepest sections, extreme care is necessary.
You get to Melgarve by taking a minor road from Laggan. This is a pleasant bike ride in itself. As you approach Melgarve the Wade road is clearly visible, climbing steeply up the hill. One of the Wade bridges is just north of the current bridge here and is worth a short walk to look at.
The first section is completely straight, after that the track begins a series of eleven zig-zags to get to the top. The fact that the course of these zig-zags is still in place indicates just how well the road was surveyed in 1730.
Look back and you can see right over Speyside to the Cairngorms with the River Spey far below. Again the descent on the other side needs extreme care.
The pass was used before the road by cattle drovers. Ironically the first actual army to use it was the opposition, Bonny Prince Charlie with his Jacobite army.
Once the road was completed the pass was crossed more regularly. One regular user was the minister of Laggan who was courting a lady who lived in Fort Augustus. She did eventually consent to become Mrs Grant so his determination was well rewarded.
Probably the most regular users of the road over the pass nowadays will be the engineers who service the line of electricity pylons. Their vehicles are exempted from the order that prohibits motor vehicles.
Where to stay:
Morags Lodge (hostel), Fort Augustus: 01320-366289. Fort Augustus tourist information: 01320-366367
Laggan Bridge, The Pottery Bunkhouse: (excellent place) 01528-544231.
Kingussie: The Lairds Bothy:
01540-661334. Newtonmore Independent Hostel: 01540-673360.
Kingussie Tourist Information: 01540-661297.
Where to eat & drink:
Laggan Bridge Hotel (Laggan junction) does good bar food, the nearby Pottery Bunkhouse is also an excellent tea room. Choice of pubs and eating places in Fort Augustus.
Bike hire only in Fort Augustus: Scottish Voyagers: 01320-366666.
Bike Shop in Kingussie, Service Sports: 01540-661228.