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Cairngorm Walk
Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge)

Nat Park - Cairngorm

County/Area - Highland

Author - John Turner

Length - 21.0 miles / 34.1 km

Ascent - 2000 feet / 606 metres

Time - 12 hours 30 minutes

Grade - hard

Start - OS grid reference NH976098
Lat 57.167578 // Long -3.694962
Postcode PH22 1QY (approx. location only)

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge) Photo from the walk - Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge) Photo from the walk - Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge) Photo from the walk - Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge) Photo from the walk - Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge) Photo from the walk - Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge)
Click thumbnails for larger images.

A long distance route through the Cairngorms over an historic high pass that can be walked as a day-walk. Unless you arrange pick-up at the end of the walk, you will need to leave transport at the Linn of Dee car-park to allow return to Aviemore if required. The car-park has a machine charging £2 for parking, I am not sure if it is compulsory but as we were leaving the car overnight I was happy to pay for the privilege. The walk into Braemar for public transport adds about another 7 miles onto your day. The route should be treated as having tough mountain terrain and it is not unusual for the higher parts of the pass to hold snow well past Easter. There were four in our group and including the detour to Corrour Bothy it took us 10 hours and 15 minutes.

Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge) Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge) Lairig Ghru (via the Chalamain Gap and White Bridge) 
Click thumbnails for larger images.

Having deposited a car at Linn of Dee the previous day, we drove around to Aviemore and stayed at the Cairngorm Lodge SYHA overnight. After an early breakfast, we were off on this epic day. We walked up the road towards the Ski Centre until grid ref. NH984073 where our path towards the impressively named Chalamain Gap led off.

Crossing the footbridge we passed the barn (grid ref. NH982071), which allowed us to see the reindeer herd accommodated there. The path gradually gained height towards the Chalamain Gap. On entering the gap the terrain changes to boulders with the potential to snap some ankles. It is easy enough but care has to be taken. On leaving the Gap, a lot of the previous work to gain height seemed to be negated. We had started the day at the hostel at 340m, gaining the high point of the Gap at 700m - we now lost 110m dropping down to join the Lairig Ghru path proper (grid ref. NH958037) and 590m.

The Lairig Ghru path again gradually climbs up to its high point of 835m (grid ref. NH973012). The weather seemed to worsen as we gained the height to the top, this was an effect of the pass acting as a wind funnel - focusing the wind, cloud and driven rain directly into our faces. Near the summit we used the walled shelter to take a deserved break, shelter and lunch.

After lunch we braved the elements again to drop down to the Pools of Dee, the mountains each side of us remained unseen all day due to the low cloud. Ben Macdui to our left and Braeriach and Carn Toul to our right would have been visible on a nicer day.

Over the high point we gradually descended down the other side of the massif, the walking at times seemed endless but eventually we passed 'The Tailors Stone' (grid ref. NN983965), a group of large but not very high blocks of stone forming an inner sanctum. This was where (the story goes) that two blokes tried to find shelter from a snowstorm when caught out in atrocious weather - they died. Shortly after we were able to deviate off the path to visit Corrour Bothy, we just wanted to have a nosey as some of our group had never seen inside one. The bothy is set near the foot of The Devil's Point or Penis depending on your mood at this time - and was full of people and quite cosy. After its refurbishment it now has an adjoining toilet (for poo only).

When leaving the bothy, do not be tempted to retrace your steps all the way to your original path, this path will lead you to Glen Luibeg (another route to Linn of Dee but not ours). There is a very faint and intermittent path through the boggy ground, yes there is some bog jumping and soggy sections but the path then improves near grid ref. NN984948. The path continues to follow the winding Dee down to the Chest of Dee, a series of small waterfalls and whitewater through narrows. Next you arrive at White Bridge. Do not cross this bridge. You pass it and then follow the paved private track road the 4.7 km or so to Linn of Dee and the finish. A drink in the Fife Arms Hotel bar was called for before driving back round to Aviemore.

Please maintain social distancing - keep at least 2 metres away from other walkers. Travel restrictions for exercise in Wales and Scotland will be lifted in early July.

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