walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Mind the (Chalamain) Gap


Postby londonwalker » Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:41 am

Route description: Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse

Munros included on this walk: Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, The Devil's Point

Date walked: 18/08/2012

Time taken: 16 hours

Distance: 36 km

Ascent: 1450m

6 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

A week after the Walk Highlands summer meet at Braemar I planned an overnighter down the Lairig Ghru then back over the 4 peaks on the western side.
The WH meet a week earlier had been a bundle laughs with not a small amount of alcohol consumed, a wee quiz, a munro or two thrown in for good measure and cracking company to boot. That’s where I first met Gavin99
It was Gavin who knew the whereabouts of most of the Plane wreckage scattered across Carn an t-Sagairt Mor. Some say he is a collector of plane-wreckage-part serial-numbers as each item has a number – like a full scale Airfix kit...... Cut part 564324C from the sprue and cement to part 342489A.... no wonder it crashed.
:crazy:

I left the car in a car park some way from the main Cairngorm base station, crossed the road to the track going down to a bridge over the Allt Mor then followed the path to the infamous Chalamain Gap. Living up to its reputation as a leg breaker, the heavy morning dew, heavier even than my pack, was still lying on the jumbled rocks and twice I slipped. The second time my shin crashed into the boulder in front with such force it turned the air blue
P1040570.JPG
Allt Mor

P1040572.JPG
Path to Chalamain Gap

P1040573.JPG
Start of Chalamain Gap


When I had finished my expletive rant I pressed on and coming the other way was Gavin99. We stopped for a chat, he offering advice on navigating by compass in poor visibility, I felt a bit like Paul on the road to Damascus. :lol: :lol: me nodding in agreement not daring to mention the GPS in my pocket to the outdoor Messiah!!

Gavin 99 is a wise sage knowing all. The font of outdoor knowledge, Scotland‘s equivalent to Ray Mears – only he eats fewer pies. It was quite early to be finishing a day’s walking but said he had something to do in the afternoon....mmmm.... most mysterious (I bet it involved a handful of Chinamen, a barrage balloon and a woman)

I was in no hurry but glad to be clear of the dreaded gap. A number of people were ahead of me all of whom headed directly up Braeriach, I was the only one going along Lairig Ghru - doing it goofy to their regular. Good I thought a bit of solitude but didn’t expect the stream of people coming the other way, a popular low level path it appears
[/attachment]
P1040576.JPG
P1040577.JPG
Lairig Ghru
P1040632.JPG
Lurchers crag from above LG ( taken on walk out)


The gentle climb up Lairig Ghru takes you passed the rugged Lurchers Crag and upwards to the Pools of Dee where the views open up down toward Devils Point and beyond. The slab of Granite on it’s face shining from a brief shower in the morning sunlight in a mesmerising way. So mesmerising it seems, that I failed to notice the rain cloud marching up the pass until it started dumping on me a few minutes later and didn’t stop until I had just donned my waterproofs :(
P1040579.JPG
Views from top of pass down to Devils Point
P1040581.JPG
An Garbh Coire


It is surprising how quickly the Dee becomes a good sized stream and could take a bit of crossing if you ended up on the wrong side.
I plodded on and couldn’t help thinking of the lyrics to Squeeze’s “Cool for Cats” – but there were no smoke signals in the rocks above this path The only things in the air were midges – quite a lot of them especially lower down toward the bothy.
The footbridge came into view and I cut across the boggy ground to the sturdy crossing and headed toward Corrour Bothy it is clearly well used and at somepoint after, an ensuite bathroom was added. This was required as the amount of users has caused a pollution issue and the notice even threatened that if the situation didn’t improve the bothy maybe demolished.
P1040586.JPG
Devils Point and Corrour bothy
P1040587.JPG
Bothy and Carn Toul
P1040588.JPG
Footbridge with Carn a Mhaim behind


I had considered a wildcamp here but having read the notice my imagination had conjured up the vision of a bothy full of dysentery-ridden walkers fighting for the bathroom. So now questioning the water quality of the downstream I decided I would find a spot on the plateau.
The climb up beside the stream didn’t take long and I was soon at the bellach where I dropped the bag and floated to the Devil’s Point summit. Stunning views all around. I could see some walkers approaching from Carn Toul and I convinced myself that they were going to rifle though my bag and nick all my Mars Bars. Of course they didn’t this wasn’t Croydon High Street :lol: :lol:
P1040592.JPG
P1040591.JPG
Views From Devils Point


I returned to the bellach to retrieved my rucksack and chocolate bars and set off up Stob Coire an t Saiighdeir who must be a bit peeved weighing in at a lofty 1213 metres and still not making munro status instead having to put up with being a mere top. :?
P1040593.JPG
Coire an t Saiighdeir the munro understudy


The climb was a tricky boulder hop made longer as I followed the edge rather than straight lining. I stopped at the summit for a rest as my feet where starting to ache and I noticed I was severely short of water. There was no way I could rehydrate my food and also have enough for drinks as well. I checked the map and saw the Falls of Dee, this was where I would replenish the Camelbak.
P1040594.JPG
Looking back at Devil’s Point
P1040596.JPG
Carn Toul


I continued round the edge soaking up the stunning views quickly clocking up numbers 63 and 64 Carn Toul and then Sgor an Lochain Uaine which is also known as The Angels Peak (easier to type, and say, and doesn’t send spellchecker doolally) :lol: :lol:



I again picked my way through the boulder field off The Angel’s Peak and round the impressive Choire grateful for a patch of springy moss on the plateau, a relief for my weary feet. The views were magnificent and I was feeling pleased with myself in waiting for the right weather before walking this route. People at home often ask when I go all the way to Scotland walking – this is why. :wink:
P1040599.JPG
Carn A Mhaim and ridge
P1040601.JPG
A view
P1040603.JPG
Falls of Dee From Angel’s Peak
[/attachment]
P1040613.JPG
Wildcamp by the Falls of Dee


I topped my water up at the falls and added a couple of puritabs just to be on the safe side. Half an hour later I had selected a camp spot had the tent up and a brew on. The menu had one thing on it mince hotpot for two from Adventure Foods. It looked a lot so I divided in two- just as well the portions were absolutely massive. The wine list was equally frugal. Jacobs Creek Merlot decanted into a plastic water bottle.
P1040614.JPG


I woke in the middle of the night and noticed I had drunk less than half the wine. I was clearly seriously ill. As soon as I get a phone signal back I must call NHS Direct, this has never happened before – managing less than half a bottle. I dozed on waking regularly to the sound of the wind and feeling more than a little unsnug in my cheap sleeping bag, (did see a nice one on Webtogs for about £59.95 though) :wink:
I rose, the sun rose, the clouds came over then the mist. It was sure to clear WMIS said so.
P1040615.JPG
Morning Glory


Breakfast was the remains of the hotpot. Didn’t taste quite the same as the night before but hey-ho. I sat for ages watching the mist roll in and out before the sun finally got to work and lifted it.

P1040619.JPG


After decamping I headed for my final munro of the summer- Braeriach and then down the path high above Lairig Ghru, the river crossing and to the Chalamain Gap. No dramas this time, the rocks were dry and slip resistant. I called NHS Direct and they agreed something was amiss and prescribed a quantity of beer which had me as right as ninepence :lol: :lol: :lol:


P1040623.JPG
summit cairn Braeriach

P1040633.JPG
looking down on the Lairig Ghru


Oh there's a bit of plane wreckage up there Gav
User avatar
londonwalker
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 135
Munros:282   Corbetts:64
Donalds:4
Hewitts:36
Joined: Jul 1, 2010

Re: Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Postby Border Reiver » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:03 am

Loved the report and pics. The Cairngorms are my favourite area and seeing any photos is a bonus.
I had to laugh at the Chalamain Gap bit - I once went through there with a girl friend who was quite petite and she took a bit of a battering. She was screaming and swearing in frustration by the time we were half way through. The best time to go through there is late winter or early spring when all the boulders are covered with hard snow and it's just a stroll.
User avatar
Border Reiver
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1307
Munros:202   Corbetts:7
Grahams:3   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:2   Hewitts:61
Wainwrights:68   
Joined: Feb 18, 2011
Location: North East England

Re: Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Postby PeteR » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:22 am

Great report and pictures londonwalker :D Glad NHS Direct saw you right with the beer prescription :lol:

I still have Braeriach to do and have had my eye on this route taking in the other three hills too :D Just started looking at the possibility of doing it before winter darkness descends - my late autumn "longer walk" perhaps :wink: I'll definitely be revisiting your report when I do get round to it

Thanks for posting :thumbup:
User avatar
PeteR
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1846
Munros:279   Corbetts:134
Grahams:76   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:120   Hewitts:2
Joined: Jan 27, 2010
Location: North Ayrshire

Re: Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Postby mrssanta » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:33 am

Really enjoyed that - you were up late last night! we did these four hills in June from Linn of Dee and also camped on the plateau but not as far round as you! it's a great place.
User avatar
mrssanta
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2789
Munros:223   Corbetts:10
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:44
Wainwrights:40   
Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Location: north yorkshire moors

Re: Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Postby londonwalker » Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:26 am

mrssanta wrote:Really enjoyed that - you were up late last night! we did these four hills in June from Linn of Dee and also camped on the plateau but not as far round as you! it's a great place.


Thanks Mrs S. I didn't intend to go that far round before a camp, but needed the water. I regret not taking in a couple on the east side now maybe Carn a Mhaim and Ben Macdui as the weather was so good. I got to learn to be a bit more flexible and not neceassarily stick to my planned routes, can always let someone now by text, you generally get a signal at the summits. I think this is the best way to do the Cairngorms, It is such a massive area you can go walking in there for days. Glad you enjoyed it. Been working nights recently so that's the reason for the late posting
User avatar
londonwalker
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 135
Munros:282   Corbetts:64
Donalds:4
Hewitts:36
Joined: Jul 1, 2010


Re: Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Postby londonwalker » Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:32 am

PeteR wrote:Great report and pictures londonwalker :D Glad NHS Direct saw you right with the beer prescription :lol:

I still have Braeriach to do and have had my eye on this route taking in the other three hills too :D Just started looking at the possibility of doing it before winter darkness descends - my late autumn "longer walk" perhaps :wink: I'll definitely be revisiting your report when I do get round to it

Thanks for posting :thumbup:


Cheers PeteR glad you enjoyed the read anc pix. If you are planning an overnighter - the plateau is pretty exposed, as I'm sure you know, so you may be better off a little lower down if the weather is unkind hope you have a safe one
User avatar
londonwalker
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 135
Munros:282   Corbetts:64
Donalds:4
Hewitts:36
Joined: Jul 1, 2010

Re: Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Postby jmarkb » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:58 am

I have posted this before, but it's maybe worth repeating on this thread(?):

It is possible to avoid the rocks in the Chalamain Gap by sticking to its upper edge on the Creag a'Chalamain (NW) side: there is a faint path and the extra height gain is only about 20m. Although it is somewhat less scenic, I have certainly been glad to do this when it is icy or snowy.
jmarkb
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 3223
Munros:238   Corbetts:82
Grahams:73   Donalds:26
Sub 2000:39   
Joined: Oct 28, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Postby Gavin99 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 3:34 pm

Nice to meet you again LW , glad the day turned out so well for you - it had been truly miserable,cold and wet on the tops earlier (maybe I should have stayed in bed longer! ) That looks like a grand trip , as you say one for a fine day , pity about your sudden Merlot allergy - I wish you a full and speedy recovery 8)
User avatar
Gavin99
Walker
 
Posts: 1117
Munros:279   Corbetts:128
Grahams:74   Donalds:67
Sub 2000:24   Hewitts:14
Wainwrights:16   
Joined: Jul 26, 2011

Re: Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Postby Scotjamie » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:10 pm

Nice one LW, a great report. Have a fondness for the Gap which I have done a few times, though may take jmarkb's alternative as I get older. Enjoyed your company at the Braemar meet (despite your London roots I still think you were better than me at Leithy's Aberdeen quiz :) ).
User avatar
Scotjamie
Walker
 
Posts: 1164
Munros:148   
Joined: Jul 27, 2009
Location: north berwick

Re: Mind the (Chalamain) Gap

Postby londonwalker » Sun Oct 07, 2012 6:27 am

Gavin99 wrote:Nice to meet you again LW , glad the day turned out so well for you - it had been truly miserable,cold and wet on the tops earlier (maybe I should have stayed in bed longer! ) That looks like a grand trip , as you say one for a fine day , pity about your sudden Merlot allergy - I wish you a full and speedy recovery 8)


Hi Gav hows it going? - fully recovered on the Merlot front :D :D

Scotjamie wrote:Nice one LW, a great report. Have a fondness for the Gap which I have done a few times, though may take jmarkb's alternative as I get older. Enjoyed your company at the Braemar meet (despite your London roots I still think you were better than me at Leithy's Aberdeen quiz :) ).


Cheers Jamie. Hope to seek you at the Glencoe meet in November. PS I actually only knew the answer to one question in the quiz :(
User avatar
londonwalker
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 135
Munros:282   Corbetts:64
Donalds:4
Hewitts:36
Joined: Jul 1, 2010

6 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 36 guests