Braeriach camp, the next 3(for short!) and Lairig Ghru out.
by weemistermac » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:50 pm
Route description: Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse
Munros included on this walk: Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, The Devil's Point
Date walked: 28/06/2010
Time taken: 13 hours
Distance: 35 km2 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).
I stopped at the Esso station in Aviemore for 2 bars of Fruit and Nut and the obligatory Spar Mixed Berry Isotonic Drink (probably full of rubbish but I love them on a hill) and headed up Glen More, parked up, put the dog's harness on (on the dog, I hasten to add), and was spurred on to get walking by the biting midges in the car park. It was 1.40pm but, as I was planning on camping up Braeriach and it was going to be daylight till after midnight, I was looking forward to being on the hill on my own.
It was lovely and sunny and the walk up toward the Chalamain Gap had me in high spirits.
However, the Gap was a little more trying. I have a long 34" stride and normally have no problems with boulder fields (I positively bounded up Schiehallion!) but my four-legged companion had a lot of trouble with the heights and drops and gaps and hollows etc. So, I had to lift his 38kg writhing bulk over more rocks than can possibly be good for me, especially as my new pack had over 15kg in it as well. This mightily slowed me down - I think it took me half an hour to get through.
At the exit to the gap I found a wristwatch sitting on a rock with the engraving "To Sandy...Love from...etc". As it was obviously of some importance to Sandy "Doe" I tucked it in my pocket and headed off downhill to the Lairig Ghru. This was where I met the first group of descending walkers... "Anyone here called Sandy?" I asked. "Well, my middle name's Alec but naebody calls me Sandy onymare"..."er, well, are you married?"..."I think I'm bein chatted up here"... "OK, never mind". [Thinks "this is going to be a long walk if every encounter's like this"]
As I was about to start the climb up Braeriach I spotted another couple heading down the Lairig Ghru towards me. I decided to wait for them now that I was determined to find this Sandy bloke. They took their time. To my amazement neither of them were called Sandy! What are the chances?! However, they were suffering a bit, had to come off a hill due to bad knees and were asking the quickest way out. So, if I can't help Sandy I can at least help these guys and showed them my map. Some time later I start the climb, at last.
I then met 3 more non-Sandys followed by 3 blokes who were also not Sandys, then another, then a couple, then a Polish bloke and his girlfriend who were ALL not called Sandy. Although one did have Alexander as a middle name - not good enough.
Up to this point I was very happily sauntering along in my t-shirt but suddenly the clouds dropped as did the temperature so I donned my soft-shell and waterproof. The extra weight I was carrying, that I wasn't really used to, started to show itself inmy thigh muscles just as I reached the top of Braeriach. Actually, Barnie my chocolate labrador, saw the cairn first and bounded through the mist to beat me to it, scaring the bejesus out of 4 blokes who were readying themselves for the descent. "I just saw this beast coming at me out of the fog!" I had a chat with them (none called Sandy) for a while. They started their day at 5am heading for Cairn Gorm. They then did Ben Macdui, Cairn Toul Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Braeriach but missed out the Devil's Point. It was 6pm and they still had best part of 4 hours to the car.
We said our goodbyes and I wandered down from the peak to find the Wells of Dee and my campsite for the night. The clouds were down among my ears so I'm decidedly lacking in pix for a while. The wind was blowing an absolute gale too but I found a slightly sheltered grassy patch and made camp. Despite the wind I got my new tent up in a matter of minutes. With the tail end pointing to the wind I figured I'd be ok but it was so strong it was getting under the fly sheet and the tent's inner was billowing like a kite. Luckily, aforementioned 38kg quadruped and my rucksack weighted it down again. I'm glad to say the tent was big enough for my tall frame, the dog and my rucksack so nothing was left in the porch to get wet or swept off towards Sgor Gaoith.
I had a fantastic supper of venison and cranberry sausages (from the excellent factory shop at Stuart Grant's in Grantown), cold tatties and beans with a bit of spice thanks to HP BBQ sauce. It was only 7.30pm but I had no desire to go wandering around "the garden" so curled up and went to sleep. For three minutes. The wind was howling, and although the tent was secure the fly sheet was flapping about like a pterodactyl er... tied down on a mountain. So I didn't get much sleep and every time I opened my eyes Barnie was looking at me as if to say "WTF? What's wrong with our house?" At 3.30 I decided to get up, water "the garden" and check my securings. I managed to tighten a few straps but otherwise the tent was holding fast. Cairngorm gravel is great to stick pegs in, so long as you can find somewhere between the rocks. I got back into bed and think I fell asleep shortly after. The wind must've died down as, the next thing I knew, it was 8.30. I snoozed till 9, got up, breakfasted, struck camp and was on my way by 10.30.
The cloud was still very low but it was dry at least. Sgor an Lochain Uaine was on me in no time at all and Cairn Toul was conquered shortly after although I suffered horizontal hail hitting me on my right for a while. To my surprise my phone rang. Dad asking me if I needed anything from Grantown and "oh, you're still alive? Jolly good"
I saw my first human of the day as I descended to Corrie Odhar. Then a few more appeared out of the mist. I started my climb up the Devil's Point just as the clouds lifted and the sun showed its face. I had lunch in the shelter cairn looking out to Deeside and my family home. 1.30pm. That's 3 Munros in 3 hours There's something to be said for starting your day at 1200m.
I descended down the stalkers' path to the Corrour Bothy, getting hotter and hotter. I shed several layers and changed out of my wet t-shirt at the bothy and set off North along the Lairig Ghru. By now it was a stunning day and I have a bright red (Close Encounters type) left cheek to prove it.
Apart from a wee sit doon by the falls and Barnie having a roll in the snow, there's not much can be said about the long trek back along the Lairig Ghru. It was lovely though and a real joy to look up at the hills you've just climbed.
I met a guy who must've been knocking on his 80th birthday sometime soon who told me he was going to camp in the Lairig Ghru that night. Good on him. I hope I'm still fit enough at his age.
The last leg was fine, albeit a slog, and I still had the dog-lifting joy of Chalamain Gap to look forward to. As in the day before, this slowed me down a great deal and Barnie and I were suitably knackered when we emerged out the other side. It was then a pleasant saunter back to the car park. We arrived at 7.15pm after nearly 10 hours of solid walking.
At the Old Bridge Inn a pint of shandy hit home quicker than a German goal . I"m thankfully then just a half hour drive home.
A great couple of days. Anyone know a guy called Sandy who's lost a watch? He'll be the one with the black eye from the missus!
by Graeme D » Tue Jun 29, 2010 10:14 am
weemistermac wrote:every time I opened my eyes Barnie was looking at me as if to say "WTF? What's wrong with our house?"
I know that look on the face of a chocolate lab! Seen it many times myself.
weemistermac wrote:I met a guy who must've been knocking on his 80th birthday sometime soon who told me he was going to camp in the Lairig Ghru that night. Good on him. I hope I'm still fit enough at his age.
Me too - it's my ambition in life to still be getting up to these sorts of shenanigans when I'm in my 80s (assuming the hills don't do for me before I get that far!)
by weemistermac » Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:59 pm
Graeme Dewar wrote:I know that look on the face of a chocolate lab! Seen it many times myself.
I saw Lucy in your Ben Lawers post (unless that's your wife's name!?). She seems slightly more portable than mine. I'm thinking of trading Barnie in for a Jack Russell next time I tackle the Chalamain Gap! OK, maybe not. I wouldn't be without him really. He keeps the tent warm too.
Have you found Sandy yet Some excellent pictures too. superb
by walk aboot » Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:26 pm
Janet, not Sandy either
by kinley » Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:30 pm
by weemistermac » Tue Jun 29, 2010 9:06 pm
Congratulations on your 1200th post Janet!
by weemistermac » Tue Jun 29, 2010 9:07 pm
Great report - really funny. Extra great 'cos I'm reading it at work while the guys have got the boring fitba on (so I'm also blasting my ears off with heavy metal on my MP3 ). Some superb pics there too... just one query/quibble - where you say 'Sgorr an Lochan Uaine I think' - I think it's Cairn Toul...
Your dog doesn't half look p****d off in some of those shots
- mountain coward
by weemistermac » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:54 am
mountain coward wrote:I can be Sandy if you like if it's a nice watch!
No problem Sandy! Just send me £175 via PayPal for P&P and I'll pop it in the post
What job are you doing at 1.54am??!!mountain coward wrote:Great report - really funny. Extra great 'cos I'm reading it at work while the guys have got the boring fitba on
You could be right. When I was on top of them they were in cloud so the first I saw of them was from the LG!mountain coward wrote:Some superb pics there too... just one query/quibble - where you say 'Sgorr an Lochan Uaine I think' - I think it's Cairn Toul...
mountain coward wrote:Your dog doesn't half look p****d off in some of those shots
That's his usual hang-dog look. He loves being on the hills really.
by walk aboot » Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:46 am
weemistermac wrote:Congratulations on your 1200th post Janet!
...erm I think I maybe talk too much
Hey, forgot to ask first time, any new ptarmigan photies from your trip to share?
by weemistermac » Wed Jun 30, 2010 10:03 am
walk aboot wrote:Hey, forgot to ask first time, any new ptarmigan photies from your trip to share?
Nope, sorry. Barnie and I flushed out a brace of Red Grouse on Cairn Toul but I couldn't wrestle my camera out from under my waterproof quick enough! I can photoshop a ptarmigan into one of my pix for you though if you want. Or you can have a look at my Black Grouse carving on my website. Special discounts available to all Walkhighlanders!
by walk aboot » Wed Jun 30, 2010 10:57 am
Kidding! Just had a look, fantastic work there wmm
by weemistermac » Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:19 am
walk aboot wrote:...how much for a WOOD pigeon?
Or a STONE-curlew or a STONEchat? Or er, ok I think we're done.
I went through my pix again and found this one of a ptarmigan, after all!