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At last, the Braeriach Traverse

At last, the Braeriach Traverse

Postby GillC » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:42 pm

Route description: Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse

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

Date walked: 21/07/2016

Time taken: 13.5 hours

Distance: 36 km

Ascent: 1820m

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Following our epic trips of last week, we had taken some time out, 4-5 days in Ullapool and the surrounding area. Campsite on the shore, pretty much in the town, thunderstorms, scorching heat, heavy rain and glorious sunset. Trips to Gairloch, Lochinver, pies, books, ice cream,, this was the holiday part of the holiday lol

Always keeping an eye on the weather, we considered heading to Fort William on the Tuesday and maybe the Ring of Steall, but with Tuesday being the hot day, we opted to stay in Ullapool one more night and headed off instead for a day in the sun on Achnahaird beach near Achiltibuie. Gorgeous,,,but the impromptu packed lunch only consisted of 4 cans of Tennents lager,,not good planning!

The forecast East again gave us a window of opportunity to try again for Braeriach, but from the North this time. ( I was quite relieved as this was not only shorter than from Linn of Dee but cut out another wild camp and heavy load day)

We tried several campsites in and around Aviemore, two were not allowing any more tents due to flooding caused by recent rains, and one was simply full,,so, off to Dalraddy again and booked in for 4 nights.

The campsite gate is shut between 11pm and 7am,,so we had all packed up and left the car outside as we would be for the off way before 7am. Arrived the Sugar Bowl carpark, booted up and headed off at 6am.

A fine old tree on the path in

After following a path into the trees then crossing the road, the path descends towards the Allt a Choire Chais and crossed on a good footbridge before climbing swiftly up through the trees to a marked, fenced enclosure, with a sign saying not to enter. Ok, we wont. Took the right hand fork in the narrow path and headed off following the river below us to the left with great views up to the many ski lifts, funicular railway and Cairn Gorm itself above.

A fine wee path, dotted with smallish trees and clear skies above. We could now spot the notch in the hills that was the Chalamain gap. With the path steepening slightly we reached the mouth of the gap in around 45 mins from the car.

Up to the notch of the Chalamain Gap

Aviemore in the distance

Once in, its a daunting sight, steep sides of split rock descending into a sea of really huge, squarish boulders as far ahead as you could see. Obviously there is no path, only the odd worn section so we drifted across the rocks, finding the best way we could, theres a small respite a little over half way then back to the big stuff. We climbed out the other side after only 15 mins to be met with views of the Lairig Ghru below and the track up Braeriach above.

Looking back through the Chalamain

Braeriach and our descent down to Lairig Ghru

While coming up through the Gap, we spotted a couple behind us, wasn't long before they too were out and heading down the track behind us. As we reached the L Ghru they caught up with us at the rock bearing the plaque to someone (Sinclair OBE??) who had perished on the slopes of Cairn Gorm in the 1950's. We let them pass after a brief chat, they too doing the round of 4 from the South.

I was anticipating crossing the Allt Druidh here but on following the path, you reach a point where the burn simply appears from under the rock, amazing to hear the relatively fast flowing burn just appear below your feet, but it also meant we simply walked over the rocks to the other side. Our return path off Braeriach rose above us as we headed left and down the Lairig Ghru.

This is very well defined path and passes under the mighty Lurchers Crag, an amazing high crag on the lower slopes of Macdui. The boulder fields a little further on were picky, not huge stuff like in the Gap, but a little time consuming. We could still see the couple from earlier not too far ahead, considering the speed with which they passed us earlier,,was surprised they weren't half way up Devils Point by now lol

The path criss crosses the extensive boulder fields and rising high at times to avoid heavier going. Having been in the lower stretches of "the Ghru" a week before in horrendously wet conditions, this was a joy. We could now see the steep sides of Macdui that we had scaled last week, rising from the Glen below.

The Devils Point coming in to view

John spotted the herd of reindeer over on the slopes of Braeriach, all lounging around have a chew, not fazed in the slightest by our presence, unlike their cousins the red ones.

Reindeer having a lazy breakfast

Passing the Pools of Dee and heading down the Allt na Lairig Ghru, we could see the full Glen ahead, and passed where we reckon we had left the path last week,,,it looked a long way up, something to be said for when the tops are hidden in cloud lol you don't know how far you are climbing lol.

Looking back up the Lairig Ghru from the Pools of Dee

Devils Point, Cairn Toul and Angels Peak

We were over taken around here by a girl running the track,,carrying a fairly large and loose pack for a hill runner but defo running when she could. A bit further down, we passed an older lady, accompanied by a younger on, heading North. Exchanged pleasantries on what a lovely day it now was. Blue skies and EVERYTHING lol

Looking back up to Braeriach

With Corrour Bothy now in sight, we could see tents, at least one other person on the track ahead and some around the bothy itself.

We took a slight shortcut from the track over to the high footbridge,,not worth the effort as it takes you through some rough bog, short, but rough enough.

Corrour both under the path up the falls

High footbridge over the river towards the bothy

Headed for the bothy and stopped in for a spot of munchy.

3-4 tents outside but no sign of any life,,all either still in bed,,,or up the hills already. Had a look the bothy book, spotting an entry from last night, mother and daughter had a night there as part of a tick list before mum turned 70, must have been the pair we had just met. Game old bird.

The ensuing zig zag up the Choire Odhair and over the falls looks more daunting than it is. We saw 2 near the top, and two single people not so far up. 1, a female had been sitting with a guy just above the bothy, as we approached, he bounded off under the crags of the Devils Point,,,never to be seen again. Indeed, as the we reached the top of the falls ourselves, we had lost sight of the girl too, not sure where they went.

Heading up the zig zags

...and crossing the falls near the top

Turning left, headed up over the last hundred meters or so, over boulders to the summit. Met a couple of folk on their way down, quick hellos and a chat and off again. So, after last weeks soggy endeavours, I was finally on Devils Point. Was a lovely day, fab views to Macdui and Carn a Mhaim so we could see all of last weeks route, epic.

Summit of Devils Point

Across to Carn a Mhaim

We had seen two guys heading off , who said they were doing the next two then off. But as they got down to the falls, one headed off down the path to Corrour and the other,, headed way West of the path and on up the broad shoulder of Stob Coire an t-aighdeir. We figured he was just cutting out the dog leg up to Cairn Toul. We considered following suit but I preferred to stick to the coire edge and head on round. We diverted slightly West and on round the easy ridge to the summit of Cairn Toul.

Summit of Cairn Toul

Turning sharply to start our descent, we spotted the guy coming up, surely he hadn't taken all that time to come round the side??? No,,he had gone directly over to Angels Peak and was doing Cairn Toul on the return. Had a longer chat here before heading off and passing yet someone else we had seen on their way off Devils Point, too far away for more than a wave.

From Cairn Toul, you only lose about 150 mtrs over a short distance, before climbing again, just over 100mtrs to the summit of Sgor an Lochain Uaine (Angels Peak) and following the crags down to the right, this was a pleasant walk. Stopped at the summit for a little more food then headed off again, no hanging around today.

Summit of Angels Peak

We were making fairly good progress, roughly over 8 hrs at this point. Looking across the coires at some snow left at the top of An Gharb Choire, I made a mental note to be there by 4pm, (slightly after 2pm now) but the route round is fast going, passing such great names as "Great Gully", Sphinx Ridge" we were level with Gharb Choire by just after 3pm. With the promise of a hot chocolate on Braeriach,,on we pushed.

Rescue copter on its way round Braeriach

Passing Gharb Choire, the path leads away from the crags for a time before heading towards the West Buttress. We had seen a small helicopter earlier and heard what sounded like something bigger, moving around below summit height,,but now we heard the big guy. Looked over our right shoulders to see the rescue copter rounding on us and heading out of sight under West Buttress. It seemed to go further then round back and we could hear it hovering, for quite some time, under the buttress itself. It then pulled away unseen below. Not sure if there was a rescue or perhaps training going on.

The broad stretch now up to Braeriach lay ahead. We could see the top of the buttress and some people on the summit. It was deceiving in that it looked like there was a drop after the first,,then rising to the actual summit, leading me to think we could be better skirting left and up to the summit. On reaching the top of The Great Couloir(!!!) the summit cairn was pretty much "over there" lol very close and just round a slight bend over West Gully. Fab.

Falls of Dee pouring off Braeriach

Old snow lying in the coires

Impressive crags and gullies

Munro number 4 of the day, on a lovely day, stove on and a messy hot chocolate with another food stop. munching dried polish sausage, sausage rolls etc, we remained for a while enjoying the fruits of our day.

Summit of Braeriach, 4th Munro of the day and leaving 4 more 'til compleation :-)

Now for the return. Simple, meander down the long shoulder of Sron na Lairige,,easy, yes,,it was,,,but it was a lot longer than I anticipated, reckon it took around 2 and a half hours to get back down to the Ghru.
Impressive rock runs on the side of Macdui

Then the long haul up to the Chalamain Gap.

John crossed over and ready to head up towards the Chalamain Gap after a looooonggggg descent from Braeriach

This time round, I could have sworn it took us twice as long to get through the Gap, but , it must have been the tired legs making it feel longer, only 15 mins, just like on the way up. I knew from here it was under an hour to the car. With continuing great weather, we bounded down the path, over the river and back to the car, arriving at 19:30, 13.5 hrs on the hoof,,not too shabby.

Thankfully we were still camping at Dalraddy so were debooted and back at camp in no time, stopping off at the Hungry Haggis in Aviemore for a HUGE fish supper. Campsite, beer, wine and whisky, all well earned.

Now,,,4 more to go,,,,,,,watch this space :shock:
Last edited by GillC on Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: At last, the Braeriach Traverse

Postby Tomsie » Thu Jul 28, 2016 6:23 am

Some dodgy photos in these reports (all of me) will have to add some of you. :lol:

Glad you got the views for this one as its a classic, would have being nitemare previous week. Cant wait for your last one, really cant wait :lol: :lol:
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Re: At last, the Braeriach Traverse

Postby Gordie12 » Thu Jul 28, 2016 6:00 pm

282's not far away now Gill.

Found this really interesting as these are the 4 Gorm's I have left to do (also, some useful timings).
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Re: At last, the Braeriach Traverse

Postby GillC » Thu Jul 28, 2016 6:02 pm

Gordie12 wrote:282's not far away now Gill.

Found this really interesting as these are the 4 Gorm's I have left to do (also, some useful timings).

Cheers Gordon. ..282 in the diary for 27th Aug...check the meets forum lol. Just need to squeeze steall in before then :shock:
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Re: At last, the Braeriach Traverse

Postby Mouse1903 » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:39 am

Excellent report, I think I would be happy doing this in 13.5 hours
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Re: At last, the Braeriach Traverse

Postby GillC » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:54 am

Mouse1903 wrote:Excellent report, I think I would be happy doing this in 13.5 hours

Cheers! Made me re read that..was a fab day indeed. Might do it again lol. :D
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