Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
17th October 2009
A journey into the centre of the Cairngorm national park, to explore the corries of Braeriach.
The starlight was fading and hints of blue filtered through the pines as I lifted my bike from its carrier on top of the car. After working through the trees that surround the car park I reached the land rover track that would take me along side the grassland in Glen Lui. I decided to take the bike further but was almost regretting it while negotiating some boggy patches on the flat moor beyond the Derry lodge. Back on a vehicle track I followed the river course heading toward the Luibeg burn before leaving the bike beside an old tree stump and continuing on to the fenced plantation.
Carn a' Mhaim and the Luibeg burn
After crossing the burn via some stepping stones it was a short pull up through the heather to reach the path that contours the lower slopes of Carn a' Mhaim and goes around and into the Lairig Ghru. The splendid site of the Devils point soon came into view, emerging from the shadows cast by the mountains to its east.
The Devils point
It is always an impressive sight but its stature is somewhat diminished when neighboring Cairn Toul appears towering by its side. My last trip to Braeriach saw me dropping down the hillside toward Corrour bothy on the other side of the Dee but this time I decided to continue up the pass of the Lairig Ghru. The path continued on in the shade, ice still covering any pools on the ground after the sharp overnight frost. I eventually emerged into the warmth of the sun as my way started to rise towards the pools of Dee.
The Devils point and Corrour bothy
After failing to locate any kind of path I picked a line of attack at around the 700m mark and started to work my way over the rough and watery vegetation toward the inner corries of Braeriach. I decided to take a look at the splendidly located Garbh corrie refuge and found it secluded beneath the small waterfalls caused by the out flow of Locahin Uaine as its slides down a steep rock wall. Inside the refuge a wooden pallet would have provided a reasonably dry platform for an unscheduled overnight stop.
Sgorr an Lochain Uaine (Angels Peak)
While following Allt a' Gharbh-choire I took the branch that emanates from Gharbh Choire Dhaidh and is fed by the falls of Dee.
Falls of Dee in Garbh Choire Dhaidh
After enjoying the scene for a while I headed up onto the ridge on the corries west side before detouring to take a closer look at Garbh Choire Mor, this corrie holds some of the popular climbers routes up onto the plateau.
Garbh Choire Mor
Returning across a bolder field I started up the steep ridge that separates the two corries. The rocky hillside turned to grass and the climb upward proved remarkably straight forward.
Route up from Garbh Choire
I was a little surprised to see some remnants of an early October snow fall still hanging around this part of the corrie rim.
Ben Macdui from Braeriach
I followed the cliffs around toward Braeriach for a while before wondering over to the wells of Dee. Water appears to bubble up from nowhere in particular from this flat-ish tableland before snaking across to fall down the steep face of Garbh corrie. It was now time to head for the top and sit admiring the views eating lunch and deciding on my return route.
Cairn Toul from Braeriach
I had previously taken ridge on the south side of Coire Ruadh to descend to the Lairig Ghru but found it a bit rough going near the bottom so I decided to keep to the high ground and leave the hill tops by the path that leads down to Corrour bothy. This would mean a climb over a couple more Munro's but hay it was a beautiful day and I should make the most of it. So after retracing my steps to start with I headed west before working my way around and then onto Sgor an Lochain Uaine. I was now opposite Braeriach with grandstand views of the corries I had visited earlier. The line of my ascent route from this perspective now looked impossibly steep. The sun was now beginning to sink a little and this added some nice tones to the hillsides. I wasn't the last person to be leaving the hills, there were still one or two others about but all starting on that long journey out.
I could have contoured around Cairn Toul but decided to go over the top and along the fine airy summit ridge. After a slight drop and rise onto another top I was now looking down on the Devils point feeling a lot higher up than the 200m difference in elevation suggested. It was wearying legs that carried me down to above Coire Odhar and then on for the final decent to Corrour bothy. Dusk was now beginning to settle in as I pushed on across the Cairngorm club bridge that fords the Dee.
The Devils point from Cairn Toul
The path that leads out from the Lairig Ghru to Luibeg burn always seems so much longer on the way out. The clear night sky just about provided enough light for me to pick out some stepping stomes to get across the burn. Another kilometer and I was back at the bike and glad I'd brought bike lights as well as my head torch. Negotiating the boggy bits on the moor leading to Derry lodge was even more fun in the dark! It was then a swift ride back down Glen Lui to arrive at the car park at the Linn of Dee a mere 12 hours after I had started this fine but very long day.
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