Monday, May 26, 2008

Scotland in the Spring: The Cairngorms, Braeriach and The Lairig Ghru

In the Lairg Ghru
(looks a lot better if you click on the photo and get it full size)

The path from the Sugar Bowl Car park, leads away from the skiing area and skirts the central Cairngorm massif, around the the Chalamain Gap. It's a good path which speeds progress through the hummocky moraines, the streamlined shape of which show the direction the ice which formed them was moving.

The Chalamain Gap is a bouldery canyon through which to scramble in order to gain entry to the Lairig Ghru. The Gap ought to be renamed the Chalamain Funnel, because even in Spring icy winds blast through this notch in the hillside. I climbed through this bleak chasm early this morning in complete isolation, and was strangely aware of how treacherous these mountain passes are in winter, and the parties of folk who have perished in these hills.

The Chalamain Funnel path leads right down into the Lairig Ghru, that famous gash that runs deeply through the centre of the mountain range. The walk through it from Deeside to Speyside is one of Scotland's classic treks and one I have not yet done completely. The walls of the pass tower above the glen; Lurchers' Crag leading to Scotland's second highest peak to the west, Braeriach the third highest to the right. If Glen Tilt a fortnight ago was a gentle, pastoral landscape full of wildlife, houses and grazing sheep - these Cairngorms are big, brutal and demanding mountains.

The Lairig Ghru looks wonderful from deep within its confines. Gazing directly down into it from Sron na Lairidge is even better!

The Cairngorms are such a glacial environment that they do not have sharp angular peaks like the west-coast mountains. What they do have though, is spectacular cliffs. and corries. This photo is from the summit of Braeriach.


Anonymous said...

Larry who?

lynn said...

Gorgeous photos.

I took school parties up Aonach Mhor several times as preparation for "H" Geography and I was always shocked at how many pupils (i.e. nearly all of them) had never been out of the city. It was a school in a mixed catchment area i.e. they weren't all puir wee souls who had never been on holiday. On the contrary, they had been to Magaluf and Benidorm etc but never any further north than Maryhill.

And yet they had been learning about ice and water as processes of erosion and deposition for two years, in their Standard Grade course. How can you do this without seeing it? How can you appreciate landforms and contours on a map without even being out there even once?

Ooooh, getting frustrated all over again!

That Hideous Man said...

Whereas when I was a kid, my Geographical father (F.R.G.S!) made every holiday a field trip...

We travelled up dips and down scarps, prodded rocks, examined bedding planes, watched rivers meandering accross their flood planes, waterfalls retreating upstream carving gorges and spotted unusual land-use patterns.

Other kids were cruelly made to go to Butlins.

Noddy said...

Found your blog via AD's site. A revelation (sic).
Your mountain pix are smashin'. Love the latest Trossach posts.

I recall walking through the Lairig in the late 70's north to south being stripped to the waist and consequently eaten alive by midges at Rothiemurchus and drowned by the rain by the time I got to the Linn. The vagaries of a Scot's summer!

The walk was illuminated by our friend and Gaelic speaking guide, local to Rothiemurchus, who regaled us with the story about one of the western peaks.

Will link you.