The Chalamin Gap - You'll Love It - or Hate It.

Date walked: 29/10/2013

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 19km

Ascent: 590m

We parked at Glenmore in mid-morning and set off on the path that passes through the camp site.


The trees had lost a lot of leaves and the bracken was a pale brown, but it was a pleasant start to the walk, out of the occasionally strong wind.


We turned right just over the footbridge and after a short while I turned right along what I seemed to remember was a decent short-cut, but the loch was high and the path disappeared into a swamp. We backtracked a short way and found the path that led to the forestry road along the South side of Loch Morlich. There were quite a lot of other folk out enjoying the day, both on bikes and on foot and some of the Silver Birch trees were very colourful.

Along the South side of Loch Morlich



After about a mile, I felt the lace on my left boot go slack. One of the cast metal eyelets had snapped clean through – after only 3 miles walking in these brand new boots.


At the West end of the loch we turned left to Rothiemurchus Lodge, then bypassed it on the West side to head towards the Lairig Ghru. This isn’t a wonderful path, with a lot of boggy areas and exposed tree roots waiting to trip someone up. It’s obviously not well used as we only saw one other set of boot prints and dog paw marks. When we reached it, the Lairig Ghru path was a much better one, well made and with frequent drainage channels to stop erosion. The low October sun showed up many of the post-glacial features to good advantage and the grasses, bracken and birches were colourful.


Erosion caused by flash floods

The upper reaches of Rothiemurchus Forest



Further South we saw a group of walkers heading directly down towards us from the direction of the Chalamain Gap. We passed by before they reached our path, but soon met another walker who was returning down from the Lairig with his two Labradors. The dogs still seemed boisterous and full of energy, despite their long walk. The wind was starting to pick up strength by then and it was cooling off as the sun started to dip towards the horizon.
Where the Lairig Ghru path and the Chalamain Gap and Braeriach path meet, an aeroplane roared overhead, heading south and just as it seemed it was going to collide with the hillside at the March Burn, it turned away out of sight.

Where all paths meet, near where the Sinclair Memorial Hut was sited

The first short, steep climb out of the bottom of the Lairig Ghru is partly eroded old path and to it’s right, a newer stone-surfaced path that is laid to an angle that is slippery with loose sand, but one the path levels out, it becomes easier again.
At the crest of the hill the path enters the narrow defile of Chalamain Gap, which you either hate or love.

West Entrance to the Chalamain Gap

I love the huge boulderfield and the fun of picking out the most enjoyable way through, but I’ve been through there with friends who hated every minute of it and who took well over an hour to walk/scramble/crawl and swear at the few hundred yards of rocks. No doubt, if you’re not careful it could be leg-snapping ground.



Beyond the pass, there’s a great well-made path that follows high above the burn and passes close to the reindeer enclosure. They were being fed when we passed by.


After that we descended and crossed the bridge over the Allt Mor to join the new path that descends from the ski ground car park. There were plenty of autumn colours beside the burn, but the light was fading so they weren’t shown to their best.


The Allt Mor

This path has lots of “bike traps” (I think) along it, consisting of boulders set into the surface in awkward places. It’s certainly not deterring some bikers, as we could see metal scratch marks on some rocks and deep gouges in the path where riders had braked hard.


Even after reaching the Cairngorm road, it was still a long and tedious walk back to the car and it was starting to get dark as we sat in the car and ate the last of our food. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk, despite my new boots failure, but even though the rest of the walk was tough on them, they stood up to it well.

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Border Reiver

User avatar
Location: North East England
Occupation: Retired
Interests: Exploring Scotland on foot. Don't climb many mountains now, but enjoy taking the tent into the hills for longer walks like WHW, Minigaig, Lairig Ghru, Lairig an Laoigh, Tilt- Geldie - Feshie, Road to the Isles. Have also started adventure cruising, so I've now been to Greenland, Iceland and Norway. Greenland is amazing. Also like exploring Scottish Islands by bike and on foot.
Activity: Wanderer
Mountain: Braeriach
Place: Cairngorms
Gear: Swiss Army Knife
Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ8
Ideal day out: A wander through the mountains, just going where the mood and my curiosity takes me, with frequent stops to take in and remember the views.
Ambition: To visit Antarctica

Munros: 202
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 1
Wainwrights: 66
Hewitts: 58
Sub 2000: 2

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