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Baking on Braeriach!!

Baking on Braeriach!!


Postby edinburgh36 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:31 pm

Route description: Braeriach, circuit from Whitewell

Munros included on this walk: Braeriach

Date walked: 18/04/2015

Time taken: 9.3 hours

Distance: 25.5 km

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Another weekend up from London in search of the last snow of the season. Based on some posts during the week on various forums we opted for Braeriach as our first objective. Not only did some of the facebook posts show a lot of snow on top, hopefully offering us the last chance to put the new axes and crampons to some use, the WH reports made it sound like a really good day (if long and committing!) day out.

Vanessa (Nesa) and I were up at 4:30 and on the 5:34 train to Dundee to meet Siobhan (Shivy88). It was a beautiful morning and despite the early start we were really excited about the day ahead. We met Siobhan and headed up the A9 and before long we were parked at the end of the Whitewall road. On the road at 10 past 9, sun already blazing, we knew this was set to be a great day. It was by far the easiest start point and track to find of any walks I’ve done to date – always a good start :D

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Setting off for our big day...


The walk starts in the Rothiemurcus forest near Loch Eilan which is beautiful, even more so on a day like Saturday. For several kilometres we were walking in the shade of the pine trees but even so it wasn’t long before the layers were coming off and we had to have a few water stops.

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Emerging from the end of the forest line the views down to Lairig Ghru opened up, the rugged scree slopes a real contrast to the alpine forest we’d just emerged from. We continued along the path following the stream, getting warmer and warmer and generally all quite overwhelmed by the rugged beauty of it all.

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Lovely views up Lairig Ghru


Then we reached the crossing… After a quick assessment of the situation, we decided the only way to cross was to get the boots of and wade!

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Assessing the situation!

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Decision made - boots off it is!


The brief paddle through the freezing stream was actually quite welcome and the rocks just at the other side provided a great re-fuelling & view admiring spot before starting the climb to Sron Na Lairige. In hindsight there may have been a crossing point a bit further up that could have been done with boots on – but that would have been way less fun!

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Perfect spot to change my boots and refuel

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Looking back down towards Whitewall


The path was really good up this section but the 400m or so of ascent after a pretty gentle climb to this point was a bit of a shock to the legs & lungs. Also I was experiencing a new ache – something just under my knee which hurt more with every step up. All I was thinking was ‘noooooo!! This can’t happen 2 and a half hours into a 9 hour hike!!!’ It was a struggle to the top but miraculously as the day went on the ache pretty much disappeared as quickly as it had first come on :clap:

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The pull up...


As we made our ascent to Sron Na Lairige we spotted our first fellow walker coming at a fair clip from the other side of Lairig ghru (he’d come over from the Sugar bowl car park). Before long we ended up having a stop at the same point and had a wee chat, it was his first outing after some bad health and he was keen to see how he did. There was absolutely nothing wrong with his pace!! He probably put us ‘youngsters’ to shame!
The next section was quite pleasant after the climb we’d just done. Following the ridge up crossing grass / boulders and admiring the views all around. Cairn Toul ahead, just the top of Coire an T-sneachda to the left. We also spotted a few Ptarmagin around here, just starting to change colour.

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amazing views

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And more!

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Spot the Ptarmagin


Once up on the ridge above Coire Bhrochain the views were even better!! All 3 of us are pretty excited at the sight of cornices (obviously from afar and at a very safe distance!) and there was no shortage of fantastic examples up here.

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Cornice spotting

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Amazing!

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and more cornicing :-)


It was a fantastic walk over the plateau to the summit with amazing views in every direction, not a bit of wind and pretty much shorts and T-shirt weather. Munro number 15 :D And thus far one of the best days out on the hills ever. It had taken us about 4 and a half hours to get here, but every minute of it had been amazing.

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Yeah - Number 15 (although it looks like 51 from this angle)


We stopped for lunch & suntan lotion reapplication here – Siobhan a wee bit close to the edge for my liking. After 20 minutes or so it was time to head down.
The descent started pretty gently and pleasantly – watching ski tourers come over the plateau. We followed round the top of Coire an Lochain looking for a good line of descent to Gleann Eanaich – there wasn’t a ‘good one’ in my opinion!! Recovering from a sprained ankle and trying to pick your way down a very steep slope of heather is not a good idea. The ground kept disappearing from under us or what looked like lovely soft heather was actually concealing a big rock! It was an unrelenting slog of a descent for me. Vanessa on the other hand leapt down like a gazelle! Siobhan had the right idea and headed for the huge long patch of snow on her rescue bag. I followed to the snow and side-stepped my way down as opposed to sliding (still getting my confidence levels up on the snow).
Once down at the glen it was just a case of following, and wading across, the stream all the way back to Rothiemurcus.

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slow and steady Laura

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Siobhan almost out of the heather and bogs...


It’s a long walk back but the views were stunning, especially back to Braeriach and Loch Eanaich. At this point I was pretty happy to have carted a pair of trainers around all day as the B2s make the long walkouts a bit more tough going, so with somewhat happier feet, we made our way back to the car.

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Back to the Coire

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Braeriach in the distance


Just less than 9 hours later we passed Loch Eilan – stunning in the evening sun, which meant we only had a few minutes to go. 9 hours and 20 minutes after we’d started we were back at the car. Sunburnt, all aching somewhere, hungry, but very very pleased with our route choice and our day!

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Almost back to the car...


The following extract from the WH route description is spot on: Braeriach is the third highest mountain in Britain, and its remote position ensures it is a tougher proposition and far less visited than its higher rivals. In good conditions this is a magnificent circuit taking in scenery from Caledonian pinewoods to a storm-swept plateau high above dramatic corries. Definitely worth the effort!!
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edinburgh36
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Re: Baking on Braeriach!!

Postby larry groo » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:28 pm

Great fun... summer's definitely closer now eh!!

Sunburn in April!.

Fine report & pics.... thanks for sharing.

:clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Baking on Braeriach!!

Postby The Rodmiester » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:33 pm

What a Day! Lucky you and me, I was just a few miles away to the North of Derry Lodge :D That must have been a pleasant change getting some Scottish Highland Air into your lungs. Wonderful photographs of the cornices, thanks for sharing.
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Re: Baking on Braeriach!!

Postby hooter2014 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:28 pm

Canny trot, wor kid. keep it up. :D
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Re: Baking on Braeriach!!

Postby dogplodder » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:41 pm

Fabulous day with great photos. Sounds like the recovering ankle coped pretty well. :D
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Re: Baking on Braeriach!!

Postby Mal Grey » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:59 pm

Superb. Still not done that one.

You could walk across the river without getting your feet wet in March...if you trusted the snow bridge!
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Re: Baking on Braeriach!!

Postby JimboJim » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:27 pm

Great report and pictures. Enjoyed that!
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