Cairngorms August 2011

Some might say this was a grudge match, after my June trip ended in rain, cloud, & me catching a cold. August saw a return to the Cairngorms, this time with Daniel, in an attempt to tick off a few more Munros (and introduce Daniel to the pleasures of wild camping). We leave his car in the car park at the ski centre and set out up the well engineered and well trodden path up Caringorm. Its another dry but cloudy day. Passing the top station for the train we join the path up which train people are guided to the summit, fenced in on both sides. We pass a man sweeping this path. Truly Cairngorm must be the most ‘tamed’ of any Munro. It reminds me of Snowdon. At the summit (1245m) the clouds are rising and falling around us, creating windows onto the world below.

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We head south west, via Stob Coire an t’Sneachda to join the wide path leading in the direction of Ben MacDui.

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The summit of Ben Mac (1309m) is high enough that we are back in the cloud, a ghostly world of white, out of which other groups loom suddenly & then vanish.

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as Derry Cairngorm is our next objective we descend east and then north east, towards Loch Etachan, emerging from the cloud base as the lake comes into sight.

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Hanging a right before we reach the lake takes us in the direction of Derry Cairngorm.

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We pick up a path as we approach, then lose it in the rocks.

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At the summit (1155m) it is really obvious that the weather is coming in, we have had the better part of the day

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Retreat into the coll between Derry Cairngorm and Carn Crom and then west down alongside a stream brings us to Luibeg Burn, and then to the same campsite my sister & I used in June. Note that this time around I have a tent, not a tarp, just as well, as the midges are fierce now.

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Up bright and early with the anticipation of a long day ahead, we head around the corner to Corrour, via the splendid bridge.

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Then its up the hill behind Corrour, to the col between Carn toul and the Devils point.Heading south first we ascend the Devils Point (1004m) from which we are treated to splendid views of everything we walked the previous day and everything we hope to accomplish today.

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Retracing our steps to the col we head for Carn Toul. Its a very long haul up to the 1213 spot height and thats not even the ‘real’ summit! Eventually reaching the summit (1291m) we can see the beautiful triangular peak of our next objective, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, also known as Angels Peak.

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Sgor an Lochain Uaine (1258m) proves to be a long rocky section, quite rough underfoot & with some scrambling on the descent.

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From Sgor an Lochain Uaine we head around to Braeriach, traversing several ups and downs en route around the head of An Garbh Choire. The wind is getting up, making stopping unpleasant, and we start to tire… there is a summit cairn at the spot height 1235 in the centre of the Braeriach summit plateau, but the true highest point seems to be on a little rocky outcrop on the east edge (1296m), from which we are afforded a stunning view back the way we have come, and also of the darkening sky.

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With some haste we descend, only to find ourselves climbing again, for one must traverse the length of Sron na Lairige before one reaches a place where the angle of slope will permit a descent into the northern end of the Lairig Ghru. The wind fairly howling now, we have no choice but to get on with it. Arriving into the Lairig Ghru we spot another group pitching camp on the best looking patch of ground. Seduced by thoughts of reaching the car rather than a night wild-camping in a less than ideal spot, we trudge on, through the gap, and follow the path down to cross the river and then the short distance back up to where we left the car.

Daniel will have it that this was my attempt to kill him off, as we finished in the dark having started at around 7 am, and after walking some ~25km. I maintain that as he coped far far better than I with the following days climbing, he was no-where near as dead as he’d have me believe!

Super trip, in mostly good weather. The views on the second day were suburb! I walked in my approach shoes, as my boots had been really hurting my ankles on the previous trip (I think due to the padding breaking down with age/ use) and on boggy ground I seem to have wet feet even in the boots. At least my approach shoes drain easily even if they do leak like a sieve! I wasn’t uncomfortable in approach shoes but I’m not sure they are a long term solution on uneven ground with a full pack.

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