- Pronunciation: Bray-ree-erch
- Translation: Dappled Neck
- Total distance: 22.2km
- Total time: 7hrs 16mins
- Total ascent: 1337m
- Weather: Dull, damp with low cloud. Increasing wet as the day progressed.
- Start / end location: Aviemore Ski Centre access road. Car park on the left hand side of the road 2km further up the glen from the Reindeer Centre – see map link below. [OS Map Sheet 36 – Grid Ref: NH 986 074]
- Map: A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window.
We could hardly believe that the time had come for us to tackle our 283rd and final Munro of our eleven-month long Highland odyssey. As we travelled to Aviemore the day before our ultimate climb we had mixed emotions – excitement for a job well done and a tinge of sadness that the adventure would be soon be coming to an end.
After a late night socialising with our family and friends at the Glenmore Lodge we headed back to our campsite for a good night’s sleep. Thankfully we had prepared our rucksacks earlier in the day so that there was less preparation to do in the morning.
We rendezvoused with friends and family in the morning at the car park a couple of kilometres from the Glenmore Lodge on the access road to the Aviemore / Cairngorm Ski Centre.
At around 08.15 the eight of us who planned to tackle the ascent of Braeriach got organised, whilst a few family well-wishers got ready to wave us off. Joining us today on the walk were our good friends Neil and Laura, Robin and Lara (both couples live near us in the Midlands) and Laura’s Mum and Dad, Anne and Dave (who came out with us back in May when we climbed our 150th & 151st Munros: Sgor Gaoith (1118m) & Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair (1019m)).
We crossed the ski access road from the car park and immediately descended into a pine-tree lined little ravine. The visibility was poor in the low-hanging mist, but the temperature was quite warm and so we were all walking without our jackets on. At the base of the ravine we crossed the Allt Creag an Leth-choin burn by a sturdy walkers’ bridge before we climbed directly up the opposite (west) side of the ravine onto the sloping plateau above. We followed an excellent footpath along the rim of the ravine, which then veered round to the west for 400m as it by-passed the base of the north ridge of Creag an Leth-choin (Lurchers Crag – 1053m). Once we got beyond the ridge the path turned to the SW and we slowly climbed an easy-angled glen towards the Chalamain Gap.
The Chalamain Gap, which is formed between the north ridge we had just by-passed and the little peak of Creag a’ Chalamain, is a long narrow ravine littered with a random jumble of huge rocky blocks and boulders. The steep sides of the “Gap” were very craggy but not too high, although we couldn’t really see their true extent because of the low mist. In our direction of travel the floor of the Gap ascended slightly, which made our passage through it a bit easier (generally more straightforward ascending rocky crags than descending them). That said, crossing the Chalamain Gap boulder field in either direction is a tedious affair even for the most able bodied. Unfortunately, Robin had a bit of a lower limb injury and the “Gap” proved to be just a bit too rough for him. He and Lara, therefore, decided that it was best to retire and turned back … but not before he’d succeeded on getting all the way through the “Gap” – only to turn around and do it all again!
After exiting the “Gap” we descended across a short expanse of gently sloping ground before we then descended in a diagonal traverse into the Lairig Ghru – perhaps the most famous pass (glen) cutting north / south through the Cairngorm massif. We reached the base of the Lairig Ghru, crossed the burn and immediately ascended the opposite side, which brought us out at the base of the NNW ridge of Sron na Lairige. In deteriorating wet weather we followed a reasonable path up this ridge and only had a few boggy sections to negotiate before we arrived at point 1025 (m). We continued to follow the path upwards where the ridge began to broaden out above the rim of Coire Gorm – a rather shallow little corrie. We passed just to the east of the subsidiary top of Sron na Lairige (1180m) and then climbed a little further to reach unnamed top at 1184m before we dropped a little to the col beyond. We crossed the col and climbed a little to the SSW before we turned due west and ascended a narrower ridge to reach Braeriach’s summit cairn at 1296m or 4,252ft. We had succeeded in reaching our 283rd Munro summit!
Despite the rain, Elaine and I took off our waterproof jackets and rummaged through our rucksacks to find T-shirts that we had specially designed to commemorate climbing our last Munro and hence completing our challenge. As we wrestled to put them on in the damp conditions, Laura presented us with two brilliant medals that she’d commissioned for the occasion. What a fantastic surprise it was for us.
I had carried up two bottles of bubbly wrapped in wine cooler bags and bits of old foam mats and so we all enjoyed a couple of glasses of bubbly and some of my Mum’s homemade shortbread. Neil then managed to set up a self-timed photo of us all in the less than ideal weather conditions. The rain got steadily heavier and looked set for the day so we didn’t linger longer than necessary on the summit before we gladly retreated back down the east ridge.
We retraced our steps to the Chalamain Gap, where we found the slightly descending course through the soaked and lichen-covered boulders to be fairly treacherous and care was definitely needed. After exiting the “Gap” and rounding the base of the Creag an Leth-choin we came across a large herd of reindeer. The reindeer are managed but, like sheep, are left to roam freely across the high moors of the Cairngorm National Park. Unlike our native red deer the reindeer appeared very friendly and inquisitive and a few even walked quite nonchalantly between Dave and me.
As we neared the car park we were all welcomed back by the rest of the team – it was a great feeling knowing that we’d completed the full round of the Munros. The only disappointment was that the rain hadn’t let up and we were all absolutely soaked and fairly hungry. So we didn’t hang about at the car park for too long but decided instead to save further celebrations until we all met again in the evening at Glenmore Lodge.
We went our separate ways, some back to a chalet in Dalraddy, others to a chalet by Glenmore, and Elaine and I back to our ‘van. We met again at Glenmore Lodge after hot showers and refreshments and had a lovely meal and a great evening.
Elaine and I agreed that we’d had a fantastic end to our mammoth journey and really appreciated being able to share our last day with our friends and family. It is now time for us to look forward to our next adventure …