Braeriach - 'Brindled upland'
Sgor an Lochain Uaine (Angels Peak) - 'peak of the small green loch'
Cairn Toul (Carn an t-Sabhail) - 'the hill of the barn'
The Devil's Point (Bod an Deamhain) - 'penis of the demon'
I've wanted to complete this round of Munros in winter in a day for a long time, so with the day off and a good forecast what was I waiting for? I gave a few folks a call and asked if they fancied a big day on the hill, promised with a late finish! Liam was on board. We decided to have a sharpish start, meet 6.30 to be walking for 7, we chatted through some options of where to start, the sugar bowl to gain some height or to pedal in from Rothiemurchus. We decide to try biking in so headed for Upper Tullochgrue to make use of the good paths into the Lairig Ghru 'The Gloomy Pass'. We pedalled in as far as we could before it started to get a little icy on the track, stashed the bikes while remembering a V-shaped tree as a reminder of where to pick them up on the way out.
We made good time up the remainder of the Lairig Ghru before cutting onto the NW ridge up towards Sron na Lairige, as we made our way up the ridge the sun broke over the mountain tops, always a great start to your day! We marched on, knowing we had a lot of height and distance to cover. As we made our way towards Braeriach the cloud came in, concentration and solid map skills were in order as we had entered the 'white room', walking over the corniced edge and dropping into corie Bhrochain wasn't an option! It was tough going under foot, moving at around 2km/h at times and it took us 4.5hrs to reach the summit of Braeriach. Time for food and water, small and frequent stops to top up fluids and energy was the name of the game today while taking in the breathtaking views along the way of course. What a sense of remoteness, standing on the summit with great views into Coire Bhrochain & Garbh Coire, just stunning!
It was looking a lot less snowy across the plateau so we moved fast where we could, at times we were walking on the clean granite grains and making real progress, at other times we were detouring the wind blown drifts which were soaking up energy and time. With a big day in the mountains 10min here, and there can make a huge difference at the end of an already big day, so we chatted through lines to help us along the way. We took in the remaining peaks quickly, only stopping to top up on food and water. From the summits I could see into the south side of the Lairig Ghru, it looked hard work with drifted banks of snow, and a long way to break trail... we hoped that someone had broke trail but we adopted the mindset of we would be breaking trail the whole way! I mean who would be mad enough to walk through the pass?? We stood on The Devil's Point just after 3 pm, rationed some food and drank the rest of our water knowing we could top up at corrour bothy.
Did you know?
The tale behind The Devil's Point (pronounced pot-in-john 'The Devil's Penis') was when Queen Victoria had asked her ghillie John Brown the name of the striking mountain she was looking at, knowing that if he said the Gaelic name she would ask for a translation, to save embarrassment he told her it was 'The Devil's Point'. Unfortunately, the name has stuck, but it makes for a good tale!
We made our way to the bothy, topped up water and food and came across some footprints outside which looked fresh, we checked inside but just came across someone's overnight kit. We hoped that the trail had been broken, but as soon as we crossed white bridge the footprints went south! Heads down, not much chat and one foot in front of the other as we marched on for the next 4km. As we approached Allt a' Gharbh-choire confluence, we came across some fresh footprints of someone who had descended from Ben Macdui and went north through the pass, a little saving of time and energy but it still took us 3hrs to walk the 7km to the Pools of Dee from the bothy. The light was fading, head torches on we plodded on towards the col where we finished our food, topped up with water and made our way down some hard patches of snow. It felt good to be on a firm surface and we could feel ourselves moving fast again until we came across the crusty breakable crust! again! Back to one foot in front of the other it was, but not for too long, as we descended the path came back and we were moving as fast as we had all day. We just had to find the tree that marked where we had hidden the bikes. Surely we wouldn't have a mechanical?
We found the bikes, tyres still inflated (thank god!) we freewheeled down the rest of the Lairig Ghru, as my headtorch started flashing telling me the batteries are going flat! It felt good to make so much ground up so fast, the bike ride went off without a hitch, and before we knew it our tired legs had pedalled our hungry bellies back to the van. It was time to get home for food & a wee glass of wine!
For our full range of expeditions, courses & trips, check out:
Scottish Rock for our land based trips & courses
Scottish Water for our water based trips & courses
Scottish Winter for our winter walking, mountaineering & climbing courses
If you would like to keep up to date with our blog and special offers please feel free to join our mailing list.