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West of the Lairig Ghru

West of the Lairig Ghru


Postby jigglybones » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:34 pm

Route description: Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bhrotain, Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Monadh Mor, Mullach Clach a'Bhlair, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Sgor Gaoith, The Devil's Point

Date walked: 21/08/2019

Time taken: 18 hours

Distance: 56 km

Ascent: 2700m

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Having read and enjoyed many WH reports, but perhaps more importantly gained inspiration for some cracking walks, I thought it was about time I completed my first report.

It was my first vist to the Cairngorms and I thought I'd stay overnight, perhaps using Corrour Bothy. Whilst I couldn't guarantee that I'd reach the bothy with the time I had available, I decided to carry a tent, but kept weight to a minimum and didn't carry a stove. My plan was to start in Glen Feshie and head over the plateau via Sgor Gaoith to take in Braeriach and Cairn Toul.on Day 1, with Beinn Bhrotain/Monadh Mor and Mullach Clach a Blair on Day 2. This would allow me to complete all of the Munros west of the Lairig Ghru.

The forecast wasn't bad, but I didn't set off as early as planned from my home in Dumfries and Galloway.I often have 2/3 days to play with and sometimes I have to work out how best to use the time available. After the best part of a five hour journey,I parked up at Achlean and then I was on my way and made good progress up to Carn Ban Mor.

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on the way to Carn Ban Mor


From here, it was just a short trek up to Sgor Gaoith - a fine Munro to get me started. A splendid view could be had of Braeriach which just looked immense. The weather had been showery, but this meant I benefited from lovely rainbows above Loch Eanaich below.

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Braeriach - somewhere over the rainbow




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Braeriach from Sgor Gaoith



From Sgor Gaoith, I picked up a path which hugged the rim of the corrie initially but then disappeared as the ground became rougher.Braeriach was a peak that I had considered leaving for another day, but thought I had enough time to 'squeeze it in'. It was the trickiest part of the day and the slog up Carn na Criche was relentless.On reaching the summit plateau, I tried to keep to the highest (and driest) ground before climbing over boulders to eventually reach Braeriach. Now I have learnt Braeriach is certainly not a mountain you can 'just squeeze in'!

It was nearly 7pm when I reached the summit. but what a spot. There were views and significant drops all around. The Lairig Gru was miles below but Sgurr Nan Lochan Uaine, my next peak was also a long way away.

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Summit selfie - Braeriach


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Ben Macdui in the evening sun


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Cairn Toul


Whilst I could have spent longer at the top absorbing what was around, with limited daylight left, I knew I must crack on. A walker was pitching his tent near the Wells of Dee. A fantastic spot - it's not often you could camp above 4000ft. Although tempted, I knew this would leave me with a huge day's walk the next day.

I made good ground along the rim of the corrie to The Angel's Peak which had sadly misted over when I got there, just offering occasional glimpses to the valley below. It was then down and up to Cairn Toul as darkness approached. The decision had to be made - Did I race down to Corrour Bothy, arriving after 10.30 waking everyone and then have to do The Devil's Point the next day? Did I have time to take in the Devil's Point? Should I camp at the col at the top of Coire Odhar? I opted for the latter and plodded over Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir before descending down tothe col in pretty much darkness. With the torch now necessary, I started to try and find a suitable camping spot, but the ground was pretty wet. I could see the refelection of a herd of deer's eyes at the col, which was quite surreal. I ended up pitching my tent, on a bit of a slope which is never a good idea. However, within 15 minutes of zipping up the tent, I was probably asleep.

During the night, the wind picked up and the rain came, but my little tent stood firm, it meant that I was in no hurry to get going, plus the previous day's exertions had taken a bit out of me.

The next morning, I was able to go for a quick warm up to the top of The Devil's Point before striking camp and this was great as the clouds appeared to be clearing. It also gave me a good idea of where I was - and where I had to go.

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Accommodation for the night


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Glen Dee from The Devil's Point


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Corrour bothy below


Beinn Bhrotain looked only a ston'es throw away, but there was an enormous drop to Glen Geusachan below, and an equally big climb back up. I opted, rightly or wrongly, to traverse around to Loch nan Stuirteag which initially was fine, but then I found myself negotiating boulder fields. From the lochan, it was a plod up a pathless slope to Monadh Mor. Here I was able to pick up a path which headed south with just a 400 ft drop and a 600 ft climb. Although my rucksac was relatively light, (no stove or pans as I'd just got what could be described as an enormous packed lunch which was dwindling rapidly!), I decided to leave it which meaant the downs and ups were somewhat easier.

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Loch Stuirtaeg in the distance


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View back to The Devil's Point


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Beinn Bhrotain


I re-ascended Monadh Mor almost to the summit and then headed north west towards Tom Dubh. This marked a change in the walk. The exhilarating tops and deep corries had gone and the featureless moorland of the Moine had begun. It had also started to rain - hard!

Now Mullach Clach a Blair will not feature in my top ten hills, especially when ascended in thick mist and rain. I was pleased there was a huge land rover track which made navigation very easy and that it is pretty flat on the 4km trek to get there. However, once ascended, it is quite a rapid descent to Glen Feshie, albeit a long way fromn the starting point at Achlean.

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A rather wet Mullach Clach a Blair


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Heading back to Glen Feshie


I had to decide on accommodation for the night. I was wet and had more or less run out of food. The bothy was a possibility, but I decided to head back to the car which would give me the possibility of finding a hostel or bunkhouse to saty in. The walk along the glen was delightful, but there are a surprising number of uphill bits and a very eroded strtetch where it crosses a river. I arrived at the car at about 7.30pm and headed for Cairngorm Lodge which allowed me to have some food, a good sleep before tackiling Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui the next day.

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Glen Feshie


So that was it. My first taste of the Cairngorms, although I'd marvelled at them from all angles in the past. I look forwadr to a similar expedition of those peaks to the east of the Lairig Ghru soon...!
jigglybones
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 1
Munros:240   Corbetts:13
Grahams:5   Donalds:10
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:198
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Joined: May 27, 2015

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