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Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style


Postby Jaxter » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:27 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bhreac, Beinn Bhrotain, Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Carn a'Mhaim, Monadh Mor, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, The Devil's Point

Corbetts included on this walk: Sgor Mor

Date walked: 02/04/2017

Distance: 72 km

Ascent: 4000m

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Before you think I’ve learned to fly or become Superman (or both :crazy: ) this was spread over 2.5 day :lol:

I have never felt inspired by the Cairngorms. They just seem to lack the sharp ridges and rocky grandeur of the west. So I felt that the best way to appreciate them might be a “full immersion.” With the Easter holidays finally arrived and a window of decent weather, I packed my house into my new Osprey Ariel and headed for Braemar with a vague "I'll see where I end up" plan :lol:


Day 1 – Sunday 2nd April
37km, 2142m ascent
11 hours 40 mins
Beinn Bhrotain, Monadh Mhor, Braeriach, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Cairn Toul & The Devil’s Point


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Parking at Linn of Dee, I was disappointed to see the infamous self-decomposing toilets were out of order and replaced by portaloos :lol: Shouldering my heavy load I was envious of folk heading out on bikes (I'd figured a huge bag on a bike might not really help) so off I went, heading down the road and along the track to white bridge.

It was fairly overcast and there was still cloud on the hills ahead, but that was expected. A couple of kilometres in I was really starting to feel the extra weight I was carrying :shock: I pushed on, a cyclist passed me at White Bridge and I continued down the now smaller footpath on the west side of the Dee. It was easy walking and I was grateful for the good path.

White Bridge ahead
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After nearly 8km I reached the turnoff for Beinn Bhrotain, heading left up a path which soon turned into a swamp. The route was clear most of the way and after what felt like a long slog I finally made the peak of Carn Cloich-mhuillin.

My long route in with what could be Lochnagar behind?
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Carn a’Mhaim and Macdui
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I could see Beinn Bhrotain ahead (actually the top wasn't in view but fortunately I didn't know this at the time :lol: ) and a path leading most of the way.

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I found a wonderfully cold stream and had a long cold drink before heading upwards. There wasn't much of a path and it felt like hard work but finally the first summit of the day was reached in just under 4 hours. I was beginning to wonder if I'd overestimated what I could do.

I felt like I was flying with the pack off my shoulders!
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The Braeriach ridge
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Everything is clear!
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But on I went, boulder-hopping (this became something of a theme) down to the narrow bealach where I shuffled my way along some dodgy snow.

I didn’t realise at the time but this is the Devil’s Point side on :shock: The photo looks weirdly distorted because the glen is a weird shape!
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As I started heading up towards the minor summit of Leac Gorm I met my first person! Stopped for a brief chat and parted ways. The next summit was ambiguous; I visited all the cairns I could find just in case! I think it was the furthest on one that was the actual summit. Monadh Mhor wasn’t the most interesting of summits but it had some good views and although I didn’t realise at the time, it marked my 141st munro, half way for those counting.

Trying to stop camera case from blowing away :lol: and posing in front of what turned out to be Sgor Gaoith (more on that in a minute…)
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It was a beautiful day; I could see for miles but it was quite windy. Partly because I had a long way to go, and partly to avoid getting cold, I got going. This is where I made a silly mistake :crazy: I didn’t think I need to take a bearing because I could see, so started heading for a lochan. What I hadn’t noticed (because it was on a fold on my map) was that there was another such lochan, and a hill atop some big cliffs that were SW instead of SE… after a few kilometres in the wrong direction and crossing a river I didn’t need to :roll: I checked the map again and realised I was headed towards Sgor Gaoith; a very striking mountain above Loch Eanaich.

Sgor Gaoith…doh :lol:
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If it hadn’t been so windy this wouldn’t have mattered as I could have visited Sgor Gaoith and camped on the plateau but I had decided that getting to Corrour was pretty important given the ever increasing strong winds ripping across the plateau :shock:

Correcting myself, I was now headed in the right direction, walking diagonally up towards Carn na Criche. I contoured around to the final pull up to Braeriach which almost finished me off :lol: The views were tremendous but the wind was getting stronger (which I noticed after my camera blew over :roll: ) After assessing that it was fortunately only minor superficial damage, I admired the views and looked ahead. It was a long way along the ridge, 3 summits to go to get to Corrour. It was 5pm….it was going to be a very tired race against time.

The Angel’s Peak (Sgor an Lochain Uaine) and Cairn Toul ahead
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Ben Macdui, microscopic looking Carn a’Mhaim and Cairn Toul from the top of some big cliffs
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Braeriach cliffs
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Braeriach summit
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Think this was taken from the Falls of Dee
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Following the ridge up to Carn na Criche, I realised I hadn’t actually eaten since breakfast :shock: so grabbed some snacks to help me with the climb. There were some huge cornices and I was being careful to stay well away!

Looking along the ridge from Carn na Criche to my next targets
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The route was simple, there were paths some of the way but also so many boulders!! I think this may be a Cairngorm thing, but the whole damn place was strewn with them. Concentrating hard, I dragged myself to the summit of Sgor an Lochain Uaine, The Angel’s Peak. The views were just fabulous. But it was very windy and I was tight on my deadline.

Looking back to Braeriach, starting to turn golden in the evening light
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Sgor an Lochain Uaine summit
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Looking back towards Carn na Criche
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Another (mercifully short) boulder-strewn descent to the bealach and it was up again towards Cairn Toul. Although the distance was negligible, to tired Jaxter with huge pack it felt like a marathon.

Too tired to get my leg over :lol:
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Looking back from Cairn Toul. Sunset is imminent :shock:
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I visited the second cairn too, and headed off down towards the next bealach on yet more boulders. Before long I was ascending towards Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir.

I could see the Devil’s Point ahead. It looked small but it’s not all about size… :lol:
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Definitely time to get going….
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My route suggested heading SE after the cairn. The path was not visible and I’ve no idea what the reason for this is, but I was absolutely over the moon to be able to easily descend all the way to the bealach on snow fields!! Made my day :thumbup:

At the bealach, I looked up at the Devil’s Point. It was 7.45 and the sun was setting. I should head down to Corrour. But I would kick myself for not doing it… and I could see someone up there, a tiny black dot moving around on the summit.

I dumped my pack behind a rock, grabbed a camera and a muesli bar and ran up. I felt like I was floating without the huge pack on and was at the summit pretty quickly :lol: The guy up there was as surprised to see me as I was to see him – only my second human encounter of the day :lol: He was staying at Corrour and had popped up for the sunset.

Just caught it
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Down into the Lairig Ghru
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Some of today’s conquests
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Summit number 6!
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Jamie turned out to be excellent company and we headed down to Corrour together, arriving pretty much in the dark. The bothy was small and cosy and very welcome after a ridiculous day :lol:



Day 2 – Monday 3rd April
18km, 1140m ascent
6 hours
Carn a’Mhaim & Sgor Mor


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The next morning I was in no rush to get out of my sleeping bag but was still the first up at 8am :lol: Taking my tea making equipment outside I had a morning brew with a view, and was able to actually see my surroundings!

Corrour bothy
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Bit of fluff on the hills
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Another big day wasn’t on the cards – partly because of the previous day and partly because of some seriously high winds (it was blowing a hoolie down at Corrour :shock: ) After a leisurely breakfast and a quick tidy of the bothy, we all parted ways. Jamie and I headed down the valley together before I headed up the Carn a’Mhaim path and he headed for the Hutcheson Memorial Hut.

As I climbed higher, the wind became more and more difficult and although my legs were in better nick than I’d thought they might be, they were still complaining. Near the top I met another person who confirmed it was blowy up top. He wasn’t kidding. I could barely walk the 100m or so the cairn, where I hid behind it for shelter!

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The top few metres were in the clag and although it was blowing around, the view didn’t really clear.
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And I wasn’t planning on waiting for it either!! I visited the second cairn on my way down (because it was there) which added some more boulder-hopping (sigh) before rejoining the main path back down to the bottom. At least I’d climbed something today :lol:

But as I approached the valley path I started eyeing up the Corbett ahead. Why not? :roll: I could follow the ridge along to Bob Scott’s and stay the night there. Easily hopping over the burn and refilling my water supplies, I headed up across boggy slopes vaguely heading for the 678 spot before the steep climb to the summit or Sgor Mor.

Corbett ahoy!
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En route I navigated Scotland’s answer to the Mariana Trench…
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The best thing about this hill was its relative shelter from the winds. Even on the top it was bearable. I clearly hadn’t learned my lesson from the previous day as my camera blew over again :roll: again only a wee scratch on the side: roll:

The Devil’s Point – The Lairig Ghru’s answer to Glencoe Buachaille Etive Mor
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Blowy summit
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The trig on Sgor Dubh in the distance
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Given the bearable winds, I decided to stick to my idea and walk along the ridge to Sgor Dubh where there was a trig point. The ridge was great fun and although I was pretty tired, I was fine for time and enjoying myself. From the trig point I headed down the steep side of the hill, keeping to the left of the crags towards Bob Scott’s. Unfortunately I hadn’t noticed it was on the other side of the river :lol: In my defence, the writing and the blob of the building were on different sides…Doh…back upstream a wee bit I was able to deploy my secret weapon – river crossing bin bags, and got across dry :thumbup:

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I arrived at the bothy just as it was beginning to spit with rain and mercifully before dark this time :lol: A guy from Dunfermline was there with his son for his first bothy night, so we had an enjoyable evening together before agreeing that an early night wasn’t at all tragic and hit the hay shortly after 9 :lol:



Day 3 – Tuesday 4th April
17km, 700m ascent
4 hours 45 mins
Beinn Bhreac


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It was a wild night (outside, not inside :lol: ) and the next day I had planned to walk out but the sun was shining when I woke so thought I could have one for the road….

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After congratulating wee Finlay on meeting a crazy person in his first bothy, I headed towards Derry Lodge and up Glen Derry. A few sniffs and sneezes later announced that Hayfever season had arrived so dived into my pack in search of antihistamine :crazy:

After a few kilometres I left the path and scrambled my way up a wee gorge.
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From here I chose the direct approach. Heading straight up the hillside, the wind was picking up more and more until I finally topped out onto the ridge and an easy stroll to the summit. Hiding behind the cairn there was more wind even than comes out my backside :lol:

Derry Cairngorm
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Beinn Bhreac summit
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Cairn Gorm
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Lochnagar?
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Rather than return the same way (I wouldn’t recommend that ascent to anyone, least of all someone with tired legs and a huge pack :lol: ) I decided to visit the West Top and down the ridge. However at the West top I was hit by more wind than I’ve ever experienced and decided that the most important thing was to lose height quickly. Avoiding the steepest section I headed down across yet more boulders. There was a bit of snow in the air which was being pelted in my face and I was finding moving at all very difficult :shock:

Eventually I had dropped below the level of the ridge, and although still strong I could now at least walk in relative comfort. It was a long trot, a combination of bogs and hummocks before reaching the gorge, which I scrambled back down to the path. If I’d had another days’ worth of food I’d have been tempted to go up to Hutchy for the night. But I was tired and out of resources and decided that perhaps my poor knee had endured enough abuse for 3 days :lol:

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It was a long trek out, but the views more than made up for it. It was sunny most of the way and although it spotted with rain on and off it never amounted to enough to stop and Goretex up.

Looking back
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I met a lovely couple near Bob Scott’s and stopped for a chat (any excuse) before the long march out.

Last view back from the bridge
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The track magnified every ache and pain, and by the time I arrived back at my car, I was ready to collapse :lol:

In Braemar I was looking for a parking spot when who did I see but Jamie from Corrour! We exchanged stories before he got on his bus north and I had a lovely cup of tea and totally guilt-free slice of chocolate cake :D It was a very long drive home where I got to practise my emergency stops (stupid suicidal pheasant) and deploy my emergency Twix. After the best shower ever and a nice 11 hours sleep, plans are afoot for the next adventure :D

I think perhaps I like the Cairngorms afterall :thumbup:
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby dooterbang » Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:28 pm

Carry on Walking: Another rip roaring innuendo splattered epic from the"crazy person" :crazy:

That's some rucksack, looks like you have the car in there too :lol:

Glad you enjoyed the Cairngorms :D I also enjoyed them more than I thought.
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:46 pm

Ehh, it took me 9 years to finish the Cairngorms, at that pace you will catch up with me before WH Meet! :lol: :lol:
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby basscadet » Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:51 pm

Looked like brilliant weather - shame about the wind - really bad on Monday night - I bet you were glad of the bothy's! :lol:
I know what you mean about the gorms - always seem to be the last on the list of places I would like to go, but once you stop seeing them as a bagging fest, you realise there are some beautiful wee spots about. Dull hills, but bonny glens and lochs :D
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby PerthAlly » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:34 pm

72km? I'm more than a little impressed :lol:

I'm not tackling most of those hills "sans un velo"!

I did 13km in the Fannichs on Saturday and can still feel it in my legs .

Well done :clap:
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby Mal Grey » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:59 pm

Wow, that's some trip. Good effort!

Have only managed a few in the area, a bit like you I've never been quite as inspired by the area, but have grown to love the wildness as much as the more pointier stuff now. Well, mostly!


I was a little worried you'd end up on your back whilst "doing a Jaxter"pose, with your feet waving in the air, due to the weight of your pack, unable to get up like a dying beetle! :lol:
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby rorymch » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:27 pm

Epic report! I was in the Cairngorms (stayed at Bob Scott's and Corrour) a couple of days before you and we got horrendous weather on the summits of Cairn Toul and Braeriach so it's nice to see pictures of what it looks like on a clear day!

Hopefully you found Corrour nice and clean, we gave it a big spruce on Friday as it was in such a state...
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby Jaxter » Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:14 pm

dooterbang wrote:Carry on Walking: Another rip roaring innuendo splattered epic from the"crazy person" :crazy:

That's some rucksack, looks like you have the car in there too :lol:

Glad you enjoyed the Cairngorms :D I also enjoyed them more than I thought.

Would have been good if I'd had the car - would've saved me that painful walk out :lol: :lol:



BlackPanther wrote:Ehh, it took me 9 years to finish the Cairngorms, at that pace you will catch up with me before WH Meet! :lol: :lol:

Ha I doubt it :lol: It was a great adventure though :wink:



basscadet wrote:Looked like brilliant weather - shame about the wind - really bad on Monday night - I bet you were glad of the bothy's! :lol:
I know what you mean about the gorms - always seem to be the last on the list of places I would like to go, but once you stop seeing them as a bagging fest, you realise there are some beautiful wee spots about. Dull hills, but bonny glens and lochs :D

Yeah camping would have been a bit rough :lol: :lol: I'm with you on the glens though, they're lovely, and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the peaks but I think I've just done the most interesting ones :lol:



PerthAlly wrote:72km? I'm more than a little impressed :lol:

I'm not tackling most of those hills "sans un velo"!

I did 13km in the Fannichs on Saturday and can still feel it in my legs .

Well done :clap:

Thanks man - yeah it's one hell of a walk in for one day!!



Mal Grey wrote:I was a little worried you'd end up on your back whilst "doing a Jaxter"pose, with your feet waving in the air, due to the weight of your pack, unable to get up like a dying beetle! :lol:

:lol: :lol: I did notice that when I wobbled I wobbled further cos of the extra weight! Was like a sail in the wind :lol:



rorymch wrote:Epic report! I was in the Cairngorms (stayed at Bob Scott's and Corrour) a couple of days before you and we got horrendous weather on the summits of Cairn Toul and Braeriach so it's nice to see pictures of what it looks like on a clear day!

Hopefully you found Corrour nice and clean, we gave it a big spruce on Friday as it was in such a state...

I just seen yours - that was a good trip :thumbup: I arrived at Corrour in the dark but we left it tidy the next morning. Good on you for sorting it out :D
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby J888ohn » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:13 pm

You're mental! I feel the same about the Cairngorms and the only ones that appeal are the Devils Point ridge as they are all in the top 10. May hit a few of these with the aid of the bike this year.
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:13 pm

'S math a rinn thu ... grand stuff.

Aye can't beat the West but the Monadh Ruaidh are a fine set of mountains :clap:
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby jupe1407 » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:19 pm

Brilliant report and an absolute epic :clap:

Told you the 'Gorms would grow on you. You're even doing the Cairngorm Corbetts now :lol: :lol:
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby rockhopper » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:28 pm

Cracking walk for the time of year :thumbup: Certainly a great area with plenty of mix 'n match options. Did something not dissimilar for most of these hills but from Glen Feshie instead as we were staying in Coylumbridge - just didn't get the weather you had........and no way could I match the "posering" :wink: - cheers :)
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby Sunset tripper » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:50 am

Well done Jaxter that was a great trip. The cairngorms are different and are very close for me but I tend only to go there when the weather is poor everywhere else. I have never been disappointed though.
All the best. :D
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby Guinessman » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:33 am

Well done Jaxter. You have been bitten by the bug!
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Re: Enter the Cairngorms - Jaxter Style

Postby dogplodder » Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:47 am

We weren't far from you on Monday and wind pretty fierce but must have been worse where you were - so well done with that big pack! :clap:
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