BRAERIACH, CAIRNGORMS

Braeriach has to be an all-time favourite “big” mountain. This is the third highest in Scotland but it is its huge corrie, reached at the end of a wonderful, long walk which grabs the attention.

From the summit the immediate sight, across a huge bowl of rock and scree, is of the pointed Munros of Sgòr an Lochain Uaine and Cairn Toul – if you filmed it in HD, people would think it was a clip from a big budget movie. Further afield you can gaze over the Cairngorm plateau and further, all the way to Ben Nevis, to the south of west, and Morven in Caithness, to the north.

If that’s not enough you begin the walk with a trek through the deep chasm of the Lairig Ghru, with Lurcher’s Crag looming above.

It is a long route but if you pack extra sandwiches you should be fine, and you won’t forget it.

DISTANCE: 15 miles.

HEIGHT CLIMBED: 3,500ft.

TIME: 8 to 9½ hours.

MAP: OS Landranger 36.

PARK: Take the B970 from Aviemore, through the Rothiemurchus forest to Loch Morlich and park at its western end – the first part you see. There is a £2 car park fee.

WALK: Go back to the road and turn left, then left again after a little more than 100 yards to cross a bridge. Follow a forestry track to a junction where you go straight on, following a sign for the Lairig Ghru.

Keep going on the main track, ignoring another signpost pointing right for the Lairig Ghru, to reach Rothiemurchus Lodge.

At the lodge buildings go right at a large bell, onto a path, then veer right just before a small reservoir.

The path is joined by a stony one from the right. Go left at the junction and continue high above the Allt Druidh, up the Lairig Ghru. Nearly a mile and a half further on, after you have dropped to the side of the burn, you are at the Chalamain Gap turn off, on the left.

Don’t cross the burn coming down the Lairig Ghru at this point. Instead, continue on the main path to cross the burn at the point where it comes from beneath rocks.

The path rises up and you should take a built-path to the right which leads to the bottom of Sròn na Lairige’s long north west ridge, which you follow up.

Bear left to avoid the very top of Sròn na Lairige then descend to a bealach. Start the final climb on a wide path up to the edge of the cliffs plunging down Coire Bhrochain. In poor visibility take great care to keep the edge well to your left and in snow beware of the danger of cornices.

Bear right and continue along the edge. The ridge narrows then continues up to the 4,252ft summit cairn of Braeriach with a huge plateau beyond.

Return the way you came.

NOTE: As with all walks be properly prepared and equipped if trying this in winter conditions.

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