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Braeriach Base Camp calling

Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby jwramsay » Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:51 am

Route description: Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse

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

Date walked: 13/07/2013

Time taken: 19 hours

Distance: 36 km

Ascent: 1450m

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The weather had been superb for the last week and this was forecast to continue over the weekend too, so I started planning for a big walk that had been on my mind ever since climbing Ben Macdui and Cairngorm a few years ago.

The walkhighlands.co.uk website calls this walk "Cairn Toul - Braeriach Traverse", a walk taking in 4 munros, 3 of which are 4000 footers (Braeriach, Angel's Peak & Cairn Toul), rounded off my the smaller Devil's Point.

It is recommended to split this over 2 days unless superfit, and given that we WALKED for 20 hours, this was a good move on out part and no I'm most definately not superfit!

The decision to be made was whether to complete the round from the Sugarbowl carpark near Aviemore by walking along the Lairig Ghru to the Corrour Bothy first, or gaining height and camping up Braeriach first.
We decided on the latter, as we thought it'd be best getting the main ascent out of the road first and we also wanted to camp at a height of 4000+ feet.

In retrospect, this may have been the wrong decision as our split in walking hours was 7 on the Saturday and 13 on the Sunday, but waking up at a height of 4000+ feet is a real buzz!

Peter and I travelled by car to the Sugarbowl carpark, stopping off in Aviemore for lunch first. There is plenty of spaces here and the charge is £2 for "all day". Not sure how that works for 2 days mind you, but as I didn't have a ticket on Sunday night we were OK

Pedro at the Sugarbowl carpark - he's tasked with carrying the tent:

The carpark is signposted "Sugarbowl" and is at the first hairpin bend on the way up to the Ski Centre carpark.
Definately a better best to park here as the path begins just across the road from the carpark, dropping down through some woods to cross a burn via a long wooden bridge.

A little ascent and then you are walking on open land on a great path (compared to what you get in the Lairig Ghru) which has superb views up to the Ski Centre at Cairngorm with the corries to the right.

The next obstacle is the Chalamain Gap, where there are two sections of boulderfield to traverse. I found this easy, Peter not so much. This is where me met a lovely older couple Gavin & Elaine and we accompanied them through the rocks onto the open land. We got some photos and then parted as they headed back to Rothiemurchus.

Really great path leads to the Chalamain Gap:

Boulder hopping in Chalamain Gap:

Almost done with the gap:

A downhill section now leads you in to the Lairig Ghru. Here there is a stream that appears from underground and the water is just delicious. Talking of water, we were there after a real dry spell and in 20 celsius temperatures and never had any issues with finding water, so there is no real need to carry too much. There is a waterfall from a stream on the plateau of Braeriach (wells of Dee) and there are the pools of Dee, to name but 2 more pitstops! It as just around this point that we met fellow Walk Highlander gavin99 who recognised by voice from Curved Ridge trip report video. Thanks for the airplane wreckage map Gavin, unfortunately we never found it!

Downhill section:

Lurcher's Crag:

Underground stream - best water ever!

Shortly after this the path splits, one way to the Lairig Ghru, oneway up Braeriach. We took the latter, which is steady climb up onto the shoulder, from where you get great views across the massive divide that is Lairig Ghru over to the Lurcher's Crag.

View back to Chalamain Gap:

The Lairig Ghru rising to 2800 feet:

It was on this shoulder that we scared our first (of 6 during the walk) ptarmigan families. This was majorly impressive as the mother bird almost attached us, slapping around at our feet as her brood of around 8 very young chicks scattered in all directions. (check my video!) She then did the broken wind thing along the path trying to lead us away from her clan.

Shoulder of Braeriach:

Mother ptarmigan attacks:

Distant tors:

After the drama we continued on and the summit cairn on the plateau is reached fairly quickly. This is the 3rd highest mountain in the UK at a height of 4252 feet, and must surely be the biggest! The corries and cliffs are amazing and the views in all directions just super.

We continued for a wee bit and found a nice sheltered grass section to camp with views from the doorway over to Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine (Angel's Peak), the 4th highest and 5th highest mountains in the UK at heights of 4236 and 4127 feet respectively.

Tors and Ben Macdui:

Lochan at Angel's Peak:

Braeriach Basecamp in the golden hour:

From here we anticipated photographing the sunset but those hopes were dashed when mist came rolling. The night was quite cold but thankfully very little wind. We awoke around 5am and retraced our steps to the summit of Braeriach, where a temperature inversion meant great swathes of the surrounding munros were above the cloud.

Braeriach sunrise:

Braeraich plateau:

Temperature inversion:

We returned and packed the tent away and we were on our way across the plateau of Braeraich, scaring more families of ptarmigan!

Wells of Dee:

Cliffs of Braeriach:

Purple shrub:

We ventured over to the other side to take a look at the very impressive Crags and peak of Sgor Goaith and then returned and descended to the beallach between Braeriach and Angel's Peak. The ascent of both this munro and the next - Cairn Toul requires careful traverse of boulder fields but the views from each are just magical.

Sgor Goaith from Braeriach summit:

Me on the summit of Angel's Peak:

Braeriach from Angel's Peak:

Lochan from summit of Angel's Peak:

Braeriach Waterfall:

Ascent to Cairn Toul from Angel's Peak beallach:

Carn a Mhaim and Devil's Point from Cairn Toul:

Angel's Peak summit and Braeriach from Cairn Toul summit:

Angel's Peak and Braeriach from Cairn Toul:

Closeup of Angel's Peak:

Finally a descent from Cairn Toul to the beallach between Devil's Point gives us a welcome break from the rucksacks as ascend/descend this relatively low munro.

Devil's Point ahead:

Cairn Toul from Devil's Point summit:

Ben Macdui from Devil's Point summit:

View to Linn of Dee from Devil's Point summit:

View up the Lairig Ghru to Lurcher's Crag from Devil's Point summit:

We then descend the path to the Corrour Bothy, cross the steel bridge and begin our ascent up the Lairig Ghru to the height of 2740 feet! This is much tougher than we'd expected and there are more boulder fields around the pools of dee.

Corrour Bothy with Devil's Point:

Cairn Toul and Corrour Bothy from Steel Bridge:

Cairn Toul and Corrour Bothy:

Devil's Point:

Devil's Point and Corrour Bothy:

Eventually we are out and we retrace our route up to the Chalamain Gap and back to the Sugarbowl,where we arrive around 7pm.

Devil's Point in distance, Cairn Toul middle and pools of Dee foreground:

And still a fair walk ahead to exit the Lairig Ghru:

The end is getting closer ...

The Cairngorm Ski centre bathed in lovely summer evening sunshine:

So, 2 days spent bagging 4 munros, 3 of which are over 4000 feet, a high camp at 4000+ feet and 22 miles of walking, what a GREAT weekend!

Youtube video:
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby kev_russ » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:11 am

Lovely report and pics :) Love the Gorms like
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby Gavin99 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:58 am

Nice to meet you JW and P , glad your high camp worked out well, you have some fine photos of your trip . It's a pity you didn't come across the plane wreckage but it is well scattered , at least you have an excuse to go back again :D
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby mrssanta » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:18 pm

Excellent stuff
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby gyles » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:06 pm

Fantastic pictures.

You've made me feel even more enthused to do this walk sooner rather than later. :clap:
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby ewarbrick » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:45 am

Awesome pictures!
Glad to hear you had a great time.
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby geoffcxx » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:46 pm

I did this walk a couple of years ago in the reverse direction, one of my favourite walks of all time. I found this photography site www.landandlight.co.uk/east/cairn-toul/ This photo covers all the route in winter, I just can't afford to spend the money on it at the moment but one day I will buy it, and amazing photo. Great account of your trip and some great pics!
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby dooterbang » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:59 pm

I ventured into the Northern Centre Cairngorms for the first time at the weekend and covered these from Linn of Dee. Fantastic mountains which give the feeling of being remote.

Looks like a nice couple of days you had in great weather, which eventually takes its toll.

The wells of Dee provided great relief from dehydration.

Some nice photos - well done.
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby MusicalHiker » Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:23 pm

Amazing photos,that looked stunning and I would love to do it! Also want to walk Lairig Ghru, but some of these walks are best done with a companion so it will have to wait. Sometimes I hate being stuck on the islands.... really enjoyed the report!
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby ilovescotty » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:03 pm

My fave Cairngorms report i've read so far! Just goes to show how much I missed when I went last year.

Nice to see pictures of them without a blanket of snow for a change as well. your pics give a really good sense of all the amazing shapes and sizes of the hills in the area.
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby monarchming » Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:54 pm

Fab report and pics! Well done for a fine effort :clap: After being on Ben Macdui and Cairngorm last November these 4 Munros are on my list for this year! :thumbup:
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby ancancha » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:21 pm

Great report and video, very helpful :clap:
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby teaandpies » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:55 pm

Some excellent images in this report. I'm glad it's popped back up.
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby gaffr » Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:57 am

The Red Mountains, monadh ruadh, show up well in many of the images :D
The purple shrub is the beautiful cushion of moss campion (silene acaulis)...always grand to see this :)
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Re: Braeriach Base Camp calling

Postby spiderwebb » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:37 am

Wow ! Missed this first time too....great report and pics. Looking through thinking when have we had this weather :lol:
I did similar from Glen Feshie excluding Braeraich but included Monach Mhor and Beinn Bhrotain with Angels, Cairn Toul and Devils. Found the ascent of Cairn Toul heavy going and then the suprise looking down on Devils Point thinking cripes that can't be 3000 foot :lol:
I think I did a report must have been around the same time of year as I too had the Ptarmigan experiences....had to watch out so as not to tread on chicks :D
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