The Devil & The Angel & Cairn Toul Too
by Alastair S » Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:15 am
Munros included on this walk: Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, The Devil's Point
Date walked: 09/04/2011
Time taken: 10 hours
Distance: 38.6 km
Ascent: 1644m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Cycling: 1hr 40min, 17.0 km
After my brief set back on Braeriach I headed back to the Lairig Ghru to continue my campaign on the Cairngorms. Cairn Toul has figured on my radar almost from day one of my hill-walking career. Its distinctive almost volcano like appearance made a big impact on my first ascent of Morrone and I've admired it from many a view point since. I settled on this route in February while walking along the ridge from Carn a'Mhain.
With the forecast for early cloud to lift by mid-morning an early start wasn't needed and I was on my bike from the half full Linn of Dee car park by 9:30. Rather than leaving my bike at Derry Lodge I crossed the bridge & carried on up Glen Luibeg. The law of diminishing returns kicks in here – the first 200m is through a bog-fest & you are as well pushing your bike as riding through the energy sapping mush. The next km is on a good path that's crossed by several well made V-shaped drainage ditches. Quite fun going over these. But for the next km the ditches are the more usual U-shaped affairs. I dare say a more accomplished MTB'er would hop over these with nay a problem, but it was feet down for me. The goal was the deer fenced bit of forest around the Luibeg ford & bridge, which I got to after 50 min (8.5 km). Into the forest to hide & lock my bike only to find out that the wee under seat pouch that contained my cycle lock (& tools & spare inner tube) had un-zipped itself & deposited said lock in the country side somewhere! So further into the forest & removed the spindle to the front wheel. Wasn't too concerned as the bike was well out of sight.
I was more concerned about the weather as the forecast burn off was well behind schedule, with cloud still down to around 800m. But at least it was warm & still. Having started off with 2 layers I was sweating buckets after my cycle ride & was now to tee-shirt. It stayed that way for most of the rest of the day.
Over the Luibeg bridge (rivers still high with snow melt) and along the quagmire beside the deer fencing before the path turns firm and westwards again. A couple I'd chatted to briefly before dumping my bike avoided the quagmire by simply climbing the deer fence and heading up Carn a'Mhain from there. Further along I saw a party of 4 or 5 taking a more conventional route up Carn a'Mhain.
It was a fairly wildlife lite day but in the morning there were lots of gaggles of geese flying all over the place. The low cloud seems to have confused some gaggles. As I made my way towards the Lairig Ghru the first gaggle I saw turned east here amid much noise and chaos. Later as I made my way up the side of The Devil's Point I say one gaggle going north while another were heading south. I didn't see or hear any geese in the afternoon when the cloud had burnt back above the peaks.
The Devil's Geese
So round the bottom of Carn a'Mhain and the bottom half of The Devil's Point looms into view. Even without the top in view it's a pretty impressive (not to say intimidating) view. By the time I got down to the foot bridge over the Dee the first glimmer of sunlight appeared up the Lairig Ghru and my spirits started to lift as my dark mutterings about the MWIS began to fade. No one at the Corrour bothy but I stopped for my lunch anyway.
Bridge To The Devil
By the time I'd finished the cloud had lifted further and I could see that the path up to the bealach looked fine with no wall of snow at the top, so off I set. Caught up with a Mike half way up. He was heading for Carn Toul only, having previously done The Devil. He also had a policy of only doing one at a time. Said I'd probably see him later as this was his first of the year and he'd be taking it slowly. Turned out to be quite correct.
So up onto the bealach without any problem and the burn that you follow up the corrie (Allt a'Choire Odhair) just turned into a mass of melt water running all over the grass. A most peculiar sight. Made it easy to wash & cool my face though. Then just a short way over a few boulders to The Devil's Point, arriving at 1pm. Even with the remaining haze the views were spectacular with massive drop off's to the east & south. A five starer IMHO.
The Lairig Ghru & The Devil
The Devil's Point summit shot
View South From The Devil's Point
Carn Toul next. Easy walk across the bealach then I made for the rim of the corrie as I wanted to see the views and it was also snow free (bar the corniced rim). However this route turns into a real boulder-fest. The cloud came back for a while but cleared again by the time I made the top of Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir. At 1,213m (3,980ft) this is the fourth highest Munro Top – which is very appropriate as its parent is the fourth highest Munro – and it felt like it. While I rested & refreshed at the cairn Mike joined me. Chatted for a bit - turned out that he'd had enough, having started an hour & a half before me (also MTB'ed the first bit).
Bid farewell and back to more of the same: boulder hopping. This mountain is very deceptive. From the bealach it doesn't look that imposing (unlike the just bagged Devil) and starting from over 900m you think it must be a doddle. But with the decent from the intermediate top its 436m (1,430ft) of ascent. And there are a lot of boulders. The scale of it is immense. The neat little corrie that you can spot from afar is a huge bowl over half a k across. And it was hot. I was very grateful for the gentle breeze that appeared once I'd got to 1,200m.
First View Of Cairn Toul
Cairn Toul Final Approach
Flopped down at the cairn at the top at 2:50pm and started to get out refreshments. Then saw that this wasn't the top - there is another cairn 150m further north. Just as well it was cloud free again. So relaxed, enjoyed the views where I was and sauntered over to bag #53 when I'd recovered. Another five starer despite a bit of cloud obscuring the view across the Lairig Ghru.
Cairn Toul & The Angel
Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir
The Angel's Peak From Cairn Toul
The climb down was just a bouldery but now I had super views over to Braeriach and the still frozen Lochain Uaine. Although it was 370m below me this lochain is higher than half a dozen Munros. Should have been called the little pale blue loch today. The Angel's Peak (Sgor an Lochain Uaine) was a easy half hours walk with no boulder fields to worry about. Again super views despite the persistent haze.
Snowy Falls Of Dee
Lochan Uaine & Ben Macdui
Full size version over here. BTW the photo above this pano is one of the 7 that went to make up the pano.
Did briefly think of returning via Cairn Toul in the hope of more stunning views but I was sick of boulders by now so stuck to plan A and contoured round the boulder free back. Made do with the views from Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir instead and then took a more direct line to the bealach. This is a much easier route (i.e. no boulders - you may somehow be getting the impression that I don't like boulders much) and even better there were large patches of snow on this way that made things even easier.
Cairn Toul From Its Southern Top
Carn a'Mhaim Ridge
The Corrour bothy now had a resident who had been there a few days but this was the first day he'd seen anyone. The bike was still there and as I started cycling back I was thinking that the price of a new cycle lock was a small price to pay for a great day (certainly a lot cheaper than ChrisW's £150 Pirellis!). And then there was my lock, on a stone on one of the V-shaped drainage channels. Someone had probably placed it in a more prominent position, so many thanks to whoever you are
As I was about to start off again a couple of young women were coming the other way so I waited for them to pass. After a hello they asked if I'd seen a couple of mountain bikes by the path. As it happened I had (they were pleased to hear). They explained they had gone for a walk but hadn't come down where they had expected... Two minutes latter I'd shredded my laces in my chain wheel. A grand day out for the price of a pair of laces - bargain in anyone's books
A long but satisfying day. I'd never have attempted this without the MTB. 25km walking is probably my limit now but cycling doesn't place nearly so much stain on the knees. This is a longer (in distance) route that the Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse (& doesn't include Braeriach) but with bike its shorter in time. Lots more bike-walk-bike options for me and a viable alternative to camping/bothying (not that I've got anything against those activities - I just haven't got round to trying them yet).
Flickr set over here.
360° pan from the first cairn on Cairn Toul's summit
by Bod » Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:31 am
by ChrisW » Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:50 am
by davgil » Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:51 am
by Alastair S » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:37 am
by Border Reiver » Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:41 am
by Caberfeidh » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:01 pm
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by malky_c » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:48 pm
Looks like a truly enjoyable day. Love the photos of Lochan Uaine and the Falls of Dee.
by Caberfeidh » Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:25 pm
malky_c wrote:Love the photos of Lochan Uaine
Me too - these wee high hill lochs intrigue me; a lot of them carry a stock of Arctic Charr, a relative of trout and salmon which colonised the hill lochs when the British Isles were part of the Arctic back in the Ice Age. As the climate and thus the land changed around them, they were stranded in these little oases of Arctic habitat. A lot of these wee hill lochs are surprisingly deep too. I had a patient once who was part of the team tasked with a bathymetrical survey of highland lochs back in the 50s and 60s. Sounds like a good job to me...
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by mgmt! » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:15 pm
- Posts: 540
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by tomyboy73 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:56 pm
by gammy leg walker » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:08 pm
by LeithySuburbs » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:08 pm
by IainG » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:28 pm
Done the same trip a couple of years ago, walking in from Linn of Dee, up and over the three munros, and then walking back out. The weather was stunning and it was a very long day.
We were so weatherbeaten that we had to stop off at Tesco in Blairgowrie for emergency after sun cream!
by rockhopper » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:23 pm
Hoping to get to this area in summer - will keep your report in mind as some of the photos will be very helpful