A gap in the walk

Route: Chalamain Gap circuit

Date walked: 04/10/2019

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 18km

Finding a good walk around Aviemore is like shooting fish in a barrel, there's just so many to choose from. We had this one on our list for our visit at the start of October and decided to go for it since the biggest tops were shrouded in cloud - I ain't climbing up all that way and not getting a view :) (we'll get up you one day, Ban Macdui...). Was slightly concerned by how hard the scramble through the Gap might be but the day was dry enough, despite the heavy cloud, so no wet rocks to negotiate thankfully.

So to start. Got parked up at the Sugarbowl car park no bother (the ticket machine was out of order, free parking I guess!) and off we went. Although the WH route has this spot as the start I would recommend a slightly different start point, for reasons that became apparent and the end of our walk.

No wet feet crossing the Allt Mor

The road is quickly left behind as the path leads over the Allt Mor via Utsi's bridge, then up the other side and into open country.

We did notice a sign on the noticeboard in the car park reporting that part of the path was closed. This caused a wee bit of confusion as to what part of the path was shut. Thankfully not our way, so we could press on, but once over the bridge and up the glen side we could look back and see the path that was closed. Fair enough! :o :


It's a good, well maintained path from here with terrific views in most directions. Made good progress as the path slowly rose up towards the Chalamain Gap ahead.

Path ahead

The Gap approaches

And so the Gap is reached. It's quite an unusual and dramatic cleft between the hills, we certainly haven't been through something like this before. I thought it was like something from Lord of the Rings, especially with the whisps of cloud blowing around.

Nearly there

It's scrambling time! Not too difficult as long as there's no rush, there's a lot of ankle-breaking potential in the next 100 yards or so. Mrs s_d_p has to employ the 'bottom sliding' approach once or twice, but made it though OK in the end :D

In the Gap

We made it though in good order, thankfully no serious injurys or orc attacks, so all good. The path starts again at the other side and starts to descend, with fantastic views of Braeriach.

The Sron na Lairige ahead

This part of the path seems to be quite new, so the going is quick until the Allt Druidh burn is reached and we turn right heading towards Rothiemurchus.

Path to Rothiemurchus, alongside the Allt Druidh burn

Aviemore in the distance

After a mile or two the open country gives way to pine forest - walking on a bed of pine needles is a nice comfy change from the previous rocky paths! There's a very pleasant few miles of descent through the forest, parallel to the burn to begin with then into the Rothiemurchus estate proper.




Eventually the path flattens out and Loch Morlich appears through the trees. This is the only part of the walk we've done before, as the path runs along the south side of the loch. It's also a return to civilisation, the lochside walk is popular!

Meall a' Bhuachaille from the south side of Loch Morlich

And so the route comes out at the road to the Cairngorm Mountain and the walk is finished. Well, not quite! To get back to the Sugarbowl car park requires a sharp, steep uphill trek, which I found was a real pain after an otherwise lovely hike. Personally I would recommend parking at the Hayfield or Allt Mor car parks, and starting the route from there. The short steep section would be at the start rather than the end of the walk, so that Loch Morlich is the natural end point.

That's a minor gripe though, the walk itself was terrific and quite straightforward in most weathers. The varied nature of the landscapes passed though was a real treat too - hills, forest, loch-side, it had it all. Already looking at another visit to do it in reverse :)

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Activity: Mountaineer

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Trips: 1
Distance: 18 km

Joined: Sep 24, 2019
Last visited: Aug 05, 2020
Total posts: 3 | Search posts