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Cairngorms

The Lairig Ghru

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The Lairig Ghru

The Lairig Ghru - A walk to remember

One of our favourite walks in Scotland, the Lairig Ghru was once one of the main routes used for driving cattle and transporting goods through the Cairngorm mountains. This walk has everything, old Caledonian pine forests, stunning views and crystal clears waters. The sparkling waters of the Lui, Luibeg, Dee and Druidh travel with you as you journey along the route. The source of the mighty river Dee can be seen falling from its beginnings at the Wells of Dee beside the mighty Braeriach, down the falls and into Garbh Choire Dhàidh. The Garbh Choire being Scotland’s most remote Choire and up until the summer of 2018 held snow longer than any other snow area. 2017 and 2018 has sadly seen this snow melt consecutively for the first time in recorded history. These long lasting snow patches named Sphinx and Pinnacles can usually be spotted from Lairig Ghru, more info here.

As you walk a short while over the boulder field at the top of the Lairig the beautiful Pools of Dee appear. They are just small pools but the water is so pure and very transparent on a calm day. Brown trout minnows can sometimes be seen darting around or coming up for air. It’s worth stopping here for a moment to absorb your remote surroundings.

The Pools of Dee

The Pools of Dee

The Lairig also has some human history to share. There’s the sad story of Clach nan Taillear, the beginnings of Corrour and Bob Scott’s bothies, Sinclair memorial hut and the old archeological settlements along the route.

Corrour Bothy

Corrour Bothy

It’s a challenging walk and not one to be taken lightly, a degree of fitness is required and some long walks prior is a good idea, especially if your breaking in new boots! Snow can accumulate here well into late spring. The walk reaches an altitude of 835m at the high point where you will find a boulder field and the wonderous Pools of Dee. From Linn o’ Dee to Coylumbridge you’ll travel 32km!

The surrounding mountains on both sides of the Lairig Ghru tower above you creating a ‘V’ shaped gap, with the massive Ben Macdui on one side, Braeriach on the other. The pass gives a rich variety of woodland and mountain scenery. It had a wide variety of mountain flora too. It truly is the best mountain pass in Scotland.

We run guided walks throughout the summer months with return transport included. contact us to discuss and have a look at our events.

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Landscape and wildlife photography - venues, cameras and the know-how!

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Landscape and wildlife photography - venues, cameras and the know-how!

I sometimes take two cameras into the hills with me, I suppose if you count my emergency phone then three! My wee Canon EOS-M has interchangeable lenses which is great for some wildlife pics and I also have an adapter that means it can take almost any lens. It’s a great little camera but my one regret is it has no viewfinder eyepiece, so looking at the screen on bright days is useless. The newer version has a viewfinder, I can’t justify it though! The 200mm lens is good enough for my wildlife shots as I’m usually close enough anyway and with the other group kit I take in my bag, this camera and lens is heavy enough for me! 

Ptarmigan 200mm lens  

Ptarmigan 200mm lens  

I’ve also found out the Canon can also be used to carry water and still be used after it dries out. OK, this is not recommended but did happen to me during a guided tour of the coliseum, me being guided for a change and completely forgetting to look after my kit! (We bailed after 20mins of torrential rain and cold wind..) 

Views from Sgòr Mòr 

Views from Sgòr Mòr 

Frustratingly landscape photos are sometimes better on my IPhone which is fine as it makes it so quick and easy to share. I must take hundreds of photos so I guess I’m getting better at framing the shot and knowing what works. My Canon is good in low light conditions or for night shots, the phone is just not up to the task. I’ve been lucky to snap Aurora shots and weather ones too. 

Hopeman beach storms

Hopeman beach storms

Aurora in my garden

Aurora in my garden

My shots are mostly luck though....don’t ask me to explain an ISO or F number...but I could probably give enough advice to get you going! Luckily I have some friends that pass on tips and they will be joining me for a photography workshop next month as we head to the loch of Lochnagar for some landscape and hopefully wildlife photography. The #IGERSAberdeen team will be on hand to give advice and explain correctly how to take those perfect shots. I’ll be in the background with my IPhone taking snaps and trying to look as though I know what I’m doing! I will be able to point out the interesting features though and take them to an amazing place. If you’d like to join this walk get in touch, you can reserve a place here.  

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Ben Macdui and the Cairngorm Plateau

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Ben Macdui and the Cairngorm Plateau

There are a few ways to approach the summit of Scotland's second highest mountain, Ben Macdui.  The walk from Linn o' Dee, near Braemar, was recently voted as one of the best in Britain. I also like to approach from the Aviemore side, starting at the ski centre gives more time to explore the vast plateau of the Cairngorms. 

Ben Macdui summit

Ben Macdui summit

Either way you go, if you look closely, you'll be sure to see some rare wildlife and fascinating mountain flora. The views from the top of Ben Macdui can be vast on a good day. A short walk from the summit and you can peer into the Lairig Ghru and watch the river Dee start it's journey to the sea, passing the door of Corrour Bothy and heading down Glen Dee.

Mountain Bike heading down into the Lairig!

Mountain Bike heading down into the Lairig!

Nothing compares to strolling over a high plateau. As Nan Shepherd said, "these hills hold astonishment for me. There is no getting accustomed to them".  This is so true.  Anyone that's been on the Cairngorm plateau, the true summit of the hill, knows how it feels to walk up there.  On a summer's day you can wander over the soft woolly fringe moss and skip over the slabs of granite, looking down into the lochs and drink the fresh spring water from the burns. In winter, the hills turn to mountains and they can be unforgiving, not a place for the untrained.  Even a summer's day can be brutal, so pick your day carefully and know how to navigate if you go alone. 

If you'd like to join me on a guided walk of the Cairngorm plateau please get in touch.

Looking down into Loch A'an

Looking down into Loch A'an

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