The Angel and the Devil – [# 137 – 139]

The Devil’s Point (Bod an Deamhain) (1004m);
Cairn Toul (Carn an t-Sabhail) (1291m);
The Angel’s Peak (Sgor an Lochain Uaine) (1258m)

  • Pronunciation:                 The Devil’s Point; Kayrn Tool; The Angel’s Peak (Sgor un Lochan You-annya)
  • Translation:                      Devil’s Point is a euphemism of the original Gaelic meaning: ‘Devil’s Penis’; Peak of the Barn; Pinnacle of the Green Lochan (better known as ‘Angel’s Peak’)
  • Total distance:                 37km
  • Total time:                        8hrs 34mins
  • Total ascent:                     1584m
  • Weather:                           Mainly grey, overcast and cloudy. Very windy with some sharp, heavy rain and hail showers.
  • Start / end location:        Forestry car-park at the Linn of Dee. [OS Map Sheets 43 – Grid Ref: NO 063 898]
  • Map:                                   A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.

Lochan Uaine with The Angel's Peak (L) and Braeriach behind from the west ridge of Cairn Toul

Approaching The Devil's Point from Luibeg Bridge direction

Our route this morning took us once again on our mountain bikes from the Linn of Dee car-park to Luibeg Bridge just 2.5km west of Derry Lodge (see blog on 5 May for details on getting to this point). As we’d done previously, we locked our bikes to a sturdy fencepost and proceeded along the path through the young forestry plantation and across the Luibeg Burn. This plantation was an extremely small area and after only 500m of walking we exited it at its west end. A further 300m brought us to a fork in the path with the right hand one climbing up the SE ridge that extended down from Carn a’ Mhaim: this was the path that we’d taken on the 5th of May.

From left to right - The Devil's Point, Cairn Toul south top, Cairn Toul summit from the south entrance to the Lairig Ghru

Today, however, by continuing left at the fork we traversed around the southern flank of Carn a’ Mhaim and then began to veer NNW to enter the southern entrance of the Lairig Ghru. [The Lairig Ghru is a long, imposing looking glen that slices north-south through the Cairngorms massif from Coylumbridge near Aviemore to Glen Dee east of Braemar.] As we entered the Lairig Ghru we were confronted by the shapely and dominant peak lying in guard across the other side of the glen: The Devil’s Point, or Bod an Deamhain.

At the foot of The Devil’s Point, and directly below Coire Odhar, was situated the tiny Corrour Bothy, and from our vantage point on the other side of the glen it looked diminutive against the vastness of the Lairig Ghru and the dark boiler-plated cliffs of the peak behind.

The tiny Corrour Bothy standing below Cairn Toul at the southern entrance to the Lairig Ghru

We reached the bothy by taking a path from the main Lairig Ghru route. This path negotiated its way through some peat hags on the glen floor up to a bridge built in July 1959 which crossed the River Dee. At the bridge we stopped to chat to a couple of foreign (European) chaps who’d stayed overnight in the bothy as a convenient stopover as they made their way southward through the Lairig Ghru from Aviemore en route to Blair Atholl – perhaps heading for the beautiful Glen Tilt. Only a few hundred metres beyond the bridge we arrived at the bothy to be greeted by a group of five lads who’d also stayed last night after also walking south from Aviemore carrying 20kg of coal between them for the little cast-iron stove inside. It was the birthday of one of the chaps and I suspect that they had a brilliant time as it looked like they were only just getting up! They offered us a bacon roll, which indicated that breakfast was probably still underway inside.

Crossing the River Dee to reach the Corrour Bothy with the Devil's Point in the background

Just behind the bothy we climbed up another excellent path that led west up into Coire Odhar. It started out steeply and then the gradient relented as we entered the floor of the corrie before steepening again as we climbed the corrie’s back-wall. Once at the rim of the corrie we turned south and then shortly afterwards arced around to the southeast to climb a boulder field to reach the summit of The Devil’s Point at 1004m or 3,294ft. Here, we sat on The Devil’s Point (possibly best not to translate this literally from the original Gaelic name!) and enjoyed some excellent views towards Ben MacDui in the north and down into Glen Dee in the south.

The little Corrour Bothy standing below the The Devil's Point

[The tall sharp peak of The Devil’s Point rising out of the Lairig Ghru was originally called Bod an Deamhain or demon’s penis. However, early writers and cartographers ducked the issue of putting the literal translation into hard print by referring to it simply as “the devil’s *****”. According to Scottish Hill Names [Drummond07] a particular early dictionary “blushed” in Latin by translating bod into membrum virile [i.e. the male member]. The problem was finally solved by those ingenious Victorian’s who translated bod into point – perhaps, as folklore has it, so as not to offend Queen Victoria’s sensibilities when she asked the name of the tall shapely hill that stands guard at the southern end of the Lairig Ghru!]

Looking SSE into Glen Dee from near the summit of The Devil's Point

From the summit of The Devil’s Point we headed back to the top of Coire Odhar from where we continued NNW up a moderately inclined slope to reach the southern top of Cairn Toul. To the south and southwest of this top the terrain comprised broad slopes of grass and heather with the occasional bands of boulder scree. To the northeast and looking down into the Lairig Ghru, however, the landscape was in complete contrast as it was formed from the steep craggy cliffs of Coire an t-Saighdeir and its smaller neighbour of Coire an t-Sabhail.

From the south top we continued north, dropping 50m to the col with Cairn Toul before climbing again to reach the summit at 1291m or 4,236ft. From the col we were hit by a pounding hail shower that was driven hard by the gale force winds. This shower obscured our view from the summit cairn and so after the obligatory photograph we quickly departed WNW towards our final Munro of the day.

Elaine at the summit of The Devil's Point with the south top (L) and main summit (R) of Cairn Toul in the background

Almost as quickly as the hail shower had arrived it had passed over and we were left with the biting wind, which in fairness had been blowing all day. When we reached the summit of The Angel’s Peak at 1258m or 4,127ft the views were beginning to return and we could see clearly across the summit of Braeriach only 2.5km away to the north. This view was quite pertinent because Braeriach is the Munro that we have chosen to be our last one of our challenge: it was good to see it at close quarters.

Ben MacDui from the summit of The Devil's Point

Our route homeward began with us descending back to the col with Cairn Toul but instead of climbing back to the second Munro’s summit we traverse around its SW flank to reach the col below the south top of Cairn Toul. We could possibly have also traversed around this top as well but as the terrain consisted mainly of large boulder fields it was easier to simply climb back over the top and then pick up the path down the grassy SE side to reach the col above Coire Odhar.

Looking back SE to The Devil's Point from the slopes of the south top of Cairn Toul

Once back on the path in Coire Odhar it was easy going all the way back to the Corrour Bothy where we stopped and popped inside for something to eat. The bothy was in good condition and must have been quite cosy with seven people sleeping inside last night. After our snack we crossed the River Dee once more and began the long walk back to our bikes followed by our cycle back to the Linn of Dee car-park. It had been another lengthy but rewarding day in the Cairngorms.

Still smiling on the wet and misty summit of Cairn Toul

Elaine ascending the ESE ridge of The Angel's Peak with Cairn Toul's west ridge in the background

At the summit cairn of The Angel's Peak

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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