Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
12th May 2012
A venture up the Lairig Ghru before traversing Carn a'Mhaim.
Driving up Royal Deeside towards the Cairngorms I listened to the radio whilst thinking about a walk for the day. I settled on a trip up Carn a'Mhaim but would vary previous visits by tackling it from the north. The car park at the Linn of Dee was almost full and a large coach party where heading out just as I arrived. Another guy set off on his bike a little before me but our paths met on the main track to Derry lodge. I had followed the path through the woods while he had taken a more circuitous route along the road running out to Linn of Quoich. We chatted as we headed up to the lodge and discussed plans for the day, he was heading onto Beinn Bhreac and then Beinn a’ Chaorainn. We parted company as he headed up glen Derry while I continued to Glen Luibeg.
Glen Luibeg & Carn a'Mhaim
I dropped my bike in the heather at the small plantation near the Luibeag burn. After wandering through the young pines I managed to find enough stepping stones above the water to cross the burn with dry feet.
The southern slopes of Carn a'Mhaim now presented themselves with my pathway off the hill clearly visible. Continuing around the hillside I headed over toward the Lairig Ghru. The craggy east shoulder of Beinn Bhrotain and the bulk of Monadh Mor filled the view ahead but my attention was soon drawn away as the top of the Devils point came into view.
The Devils Point & Cairn Toul
The path rose gently as it arced its way around to make a slight descent into the Lairg Ghru, one of Scotland’s most spectacular mountain passes. The Devils point dominated impressively as it stood sentry guarding a corner at the entrance to Glen Geusachan and the Lairig Ghru proper. Behind this conical bastion of rock lay the volcano like snow covered heights of Cairn Toul. My pace slowed here as I savoured the atmosphere of this special place and the truly wonderful mountain scenery
The Lairig Ghru
Today the pass provided shelter from the stiff breeze that was pushing the increasing cloud cover across the sky. It was relatively benign this spring morning but it wasn't too hard to imagine the difficulties that would lie in wait here during a testing winter storm. There seemed to be a bit of activity around Corrour bothy and although I’d seen a handful of walkers in the pass the surrounding hills seemed quiet. Just before the Tailors burn a small cairn signalled the start of the path heading upward onto the boulder strewn slopes Ben Macduii. The path, resembling more of a stream today, made a rising traverse until taking a more direct line upward as it neared the burn, Allt clach nan Taillear.
Cairn Toul from the Tailors burn
I was soon into the snow cover before gaining the bealach between Ben Macdui and Carn a'Mhaim. The chill wind had me pulling on another layer despite the prospect of being warmed by the climb ahead.
Carn a'Mhaim from the north
The windproof provided just enough protection and there was little danger of overheating despite the steady ascent. The ridge narrows in places along this part of hill and provides splendid views down into the Lairig Ghru and to the peaks opposite.
Ben Macdui from Carn a'Mhaim
Braeriach’s corries looked like they were holding plenty of snow most of which would have been absent just a couple of weeks ago.
Cairn Toul & Braeriach
I reached the top before two other walkers who were joined by another couple of friends a short time later. After piling on some extra layers I was entertained during lunch as my hilltop companions busied themselves making a snowman.
Cairn Toul & Braeriach
The skies had darkened and snow showers could be seen falling on some of the nearby hills around Lochnagar.
Cairn Toul & Braeriach from Carn a'Mhaim
Refuelled it was time to start heading back across the shale on the top then over some rocky ramparts before again finding gritty slopes down to the Luibeg burn. Crossing back over the burn was a bit more challenging than earlier as snow melt during the day had caused the level of the burn to rise. Back on the bike it was a bit stop go while trying to avoid the drainage channels across the path. Soon though I was on a good track which lead to the edge of the boggy moor across from Derry lodge. Over the boggy ground it was a swift final few km back to the van and time for a brew and the remains of my sandwiches before loading up and heading for home.
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