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Hiking

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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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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A day out hiking with Viewranger

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A day out hiking with Viewranger

I went up Bennachie last November to take in the sunset, it was one of those days where a warm south westerly wind was bringing over beautiful lenticular clouds, with plenty of visibility, so great for photography. I took a few photos that day, in all directions and I also took one using ViewRanger's new Skyline addition.

Not long after I posted the picture I was contacted about the possibility of ViewRanger doing a story on Hillgoers, which I was delighted to accept. I've been using the app for a few years now but it's not a replacement for good navigation skills (see my previous blog, don't get lost). I use the app every other day, for route planning, marking points of interest, occasionally checking position during navigation practice and I do like the Skyline feature.

I asked Jack from the team what he would like to see during our hike and he said a stag would be nice. Having picked Jack up from the airport, we only had a few hours to film the story and I didn't want to take Jack anywhere too technical, so opted for the trusty Loch Muick where stags are a plenty. And true to form, right in the middle of the dog walking area in the car park, stood a majestic Royal Stag!

Jack working his magic

Jack working his magic

We had a leisurely walk round the loch then up to Glas-allt-Shiel and the falls. Walking back the same route apart from going up to the old lodge, then back to the visitor centre to do more of the video (I was pleased it was leisurely as I was nursing a broken rib from a bike fall two weeks before, meaning little sleep, you can see it in my tired face on the video....).

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It was a cold December day with a bit of a breeze which made the sound recording difficult but Jack did a great job editing the video. I'm still a little embarrassed looking at it though...I hope you like it!

If you'd like to learn more or join me on a walk get in touch!

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