Monday, 21 September 2020



We've been enjoying some fine weather these last few days. High pressure over much of Scotland. Warm (even hot) sunshine, very light winds and virtually wall to wall sunshine since last Wednesday. Certainly higher than average temperatures on the mountains for late September. An Indian Summer? Well for a short time anyway. Here's a summary over the last few days of my activities in the hills, work and play.


With a great forecast for the entire day I decided on a good leg stretch on the Braeriach plateau. The finest route up to the Munro of Sgor an Lochain Uaine is via Angels's Ridge. This easy grade 1 scramble is one of the remotest scrambles of this grade in the UK. It's a long approach, full of wild scenery and almost guaranteed to have it to yourself!

Any kind of day on Braeriach and its surrounding summits will be a long one, whichever way you approach it from. I always bike in from my house which knocks off at least 3 hours of walking time. There are various routes to take. For Angels Ridge I bike up to the edge of the Larig Ghru

Angels Ridge lies directly below the Munro of Sgor an Lochain Uaine. To reach the foot of it requires walking into the wonderfully wild and remote Garbh Coire Mor. Access to this magnificent coire is up the Liarig Ghru, to it's highest point. This long pass that dissects the Central and Western Cairngorms plateaux is of truly immense scale. Surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the British Isles.  I only saw a few folk whilst walking through here. I chatted to a couple of guys who were heading back the way they came having missed the junction of paths for their intended  ascent of Braeriach. Shortly after the highest point there is a vague, seldom trodden path that leaves the lairig and heads into the Garbh Coire below Braeriach. Another person behind me started following in my footsteps. I think he meant to stay on the Lairig Ghru path, he realised after 10 minutes then waded the burn to get back on his route.

This trail leads to one of the remotest 'shelters' in the Cairngorms. The Garbh Coire Bothy. Not only is it the remotest, it is one of the smallest! Last time I was in the area the bothy was undergoing major restoration. It's now finished.  looking very smart and weathertight. From the bothy it's a steep walk up into the coire that is nestled below the ridge. One of the gems of the Cairngorms lies here in this 'Hanging Valley'. Lochain Uaine. The name given to the Munro above it. The renamed 'Angels Peak' is one of the most annoying and incorrectly named Munro summits.  'The Devil's Point' being the second most annoying. Apart from them being anglicised they are not even a direct translation, 'Angels Peak' is actually a completely different name! Sgor an Lochain Uaine. It's not that difficult to pronounce! It's also beautiful Gaelic wording.

The start of the scrambling starts shortly above the lochan. At first their are some huge boulders that give way to more solid rock and the ridge becomes narrower. Much of the scrambling is very easy and any harder steps can be mostly avoided. The views behind and to the right are beautiful with big open spaces and grand mountain scenery.

The scrambling is all too soon finished and finishes directly on the summit. I had a liesurley day and reached the top at 3pm. The afternoon light and sun were just beautiful. I saw a handful of folk but  they soon disappeared, going different directions and speeds. The summit of Braeriach lies some distance away across the huge plateau. All the way along there are magnificent views across to Ben Macdui & Braeriach. Some grand views are also enjoyed into the upper reaches of the Garbh Coire Mor. Here lies one of only 2 locations were snow patches can linger for an entire year and not disappear. Now in the shade there is every chance 'The Sphynx', as it is named, will survive.

I noticed there were 4 separate tents pitched up near the highest spring in the UK, the Wells of Dee. Here, above 1200m. the infant River Dee begins its long journey. The gentle burn flows across the Braeriach plateau and suddenly plunges in a beautiful waterfall down into the Garbh Coire and into the Lairig Ghru, eventually forming the wide River Dee running East. Braeriach has many 'highest' records. This is the highest waterfall in the UK too! 

It takes around 1 hour of walking from Sgor an Lochain Uaine to Braeriach. This afternoon I took longer. Enjoying the sunshine and views. Hardly a breath of wind. A t-shirt only required. Don't forget to keep looking back, a magnificent sight and a good profile view of Angels Ridge. Mmm, I think I want to just call it the NE Ridge of Sgor an Lochain Uaine!

Eventually I reached Braeriach's summit in the late afternoon sun. Just a few folk still lingering but they soon left and I had the summit to myself for 30 minutes of 
peace, solitude, views and warm sun. There really is nowhere like these mountains in the UK. Some folk say the Cairngorms are 'rounded and boring'. They need to delve deeper and appreciate the enormous sense of space and huge corries. 

Finally it was all down hill walking in the late afternoon. Fabulous watching the light changing has the sun went down. I reached the bike just has it got dark and a fabulous down hill bike ride back to the house, with headtorch of course. Have you packed your headtorch? Mine is in the rucksack all year round.

Another hot day in store. More wall to wall sun, some cloud drifting around mid day then a gorgeous afternoon with beautiful light. My usual few days a week visit up on the Monadhliath to photograph the mountain hares. There is one wee chap who I have now identified and a regular 'poser'. When you see and are able to photograph an individual on a regular basis then it's only right and proper to give him or her a name surely? So this lovely, friendly chap I have given the name of Fionn.

Photographing the hares is not just about 'capturing a good image' for me it's the whole mountain day and experiencing other wildlife, plants plus stunning scenery with a few hours walking thrown in. 

Colours are looking just stunning at the moment. The bracken starting to turn and the first leaves falling off the Birch trees. 


A day of work back up in the Cairngorms. I was running a 1 day Navigation Course for a couple from Edinburgh, Caz & Jamie. They have some good mountain days already but use mainly GPS and downloaded maps/guides for their mountain walking. Today it was all map and compass. 

I left Aviemore to travel up and meet my clients. There was dense cloud low down in the Strath and Glenmore. I stopped off at Loch Morlich. The loch was ghostly looking with the cloud all the way down to the water. Travelling up to Coire Cas carpark and I came out of the cloud into sparkling clear skies above about 500m. A stunning Temperature Inversion. These are special moments. Mother nature at its best. 

On the hill we quickly got onto pathless terrain and covered plenty of vital map and compass skills. Timing sections, taking bearings, contour interpretation and some pacing towards the end of the afternoon. It certainly wasn't poor visibility but the Cairngorms can still be a confusing place even in clear conditions. Rounded plateaux, featureless and pathless terrain can get you thinking a lot!

Inbetween all the navigation and brain power, we had time to explore and enjoy some of the finest viewpoints in the Cairngorms. Many of which do not have paths or internet sites giving directions to! Great banter and lunchtime views to die for.

A beautiful bike ride back down and home from Coire Cas. Late afternoon sun beautiful and you could now see Loch Morlich and the Northern Corries now that the morning cloud had melted away.


Same old story, hot and sunny and hardly a breath of wind again. It was a chilly night, that meant no midges! We set off for a couple of Munros around Loch Laggan. Beinn a' Chaorainn & Ben Teallach. The morning drive was stunning. Some cloud hanging in the glen and corries. Instead of the usual 'trade route' up Beinn a' Chaorainn we opted for the far more spectacular way onto the top of this Munro, via one of it's Easterly ridges. Far more exciting and brilliant views into it's impressive East facing coire, the mountains finest feature.

The choice of an easy, steep walk one of these ridges leads to the mountains South top. Alternatively the adjacent ridge which leads to the mountains Central summit requires some scrambling. There are fabulous views over to Creag Meagaidh's vast Western slopes if you look back. 

From the top we had fab views. The air very clear. Aonach Mor, Beag and the Grey Corries easily identified. Further West and North there were unlimited views of many other mountains. 

Easy slopes lead down to the bealach between the two Munros. It's only 300m or so to the top of Beinn Teallach. Before heading up again we visited the lonely Spudaig Lochan. Beyond the loch our first roar of the Red Deer stags could be heard. Earlier in the day we spotted a Raptor soaring below us but were not sure exactly what bird species. Other notable sightings  were a flock of several Golden Plover and a few Mountain Hare on the descent from Beinn Teallach. 

Indian Summer? Well a mini one. Wednesday onwards and snow is forecast on many high tops. Winter is coming!

No comments: