Sunday 7 June 2020

Memorable Mountains 6: Braeriach

Braeriach from the Cairngorm Plateau

Back to the Cairngorms for the sixth memorable mountain I'm thinking about during lockdown. This is one I'll be returning to as soon as it's okay to venture a bit further. Braeriach competes with Ben Macdui for my favourite Cairngorm mountain. On balance, today, Braeriach comes out on top. But I might change my mind - probably the next time I climb Ben Macdui. They are both splendid.

Braeriach across An Garbh-choire

Like Ben Macdui I've been up Braeriach many, many times. Or rather I've been over Braeriach many times. Again like Ben Macdui it's not a pointed peak with a little summit that you go up and then down. Braeriach is a great sprawling mass of a mountain. The actual highest point isn't really significant, being only a touch higher than the surrounding area. Braeriach is about space and distance, about the vastness of this high plateau. It's also about the myriad dramatic corries biting into the mountain on three sides. Only to the south are there open slopes as the mountains falls away to the huge expanse of the Moine Mhor.

Camp near the infant river Dee

I love spending time up on Braeriach. Out in the heart of the mountain I feel in a separate world. The lowlands are far away, invisible. Camping here is magical. I especially like climbing the mountain in the evening and pitching camp in the dark with the stars above and black space spreading all around, then waking to the first sun and the beauty of the landscape coming to life.

One of the Wells of Dee

Also magical are the Pools of Dee. Surrounded by bright green moss these little bubbling springs are the source of the river Dee, one of the major rivers at Scotland. At 1220 metres the Wells are the highest source of a big river in the UK. From the Pools the infant Dee runs across Braeriach as a gentle little burn before crashing over the edge at the Falls of Dee into massive An Garbh-choire.

The Falls of Dee

Braeriach is a long walk from any direction, a full mountain day. I like the approach from Gleann Einich, via one of the ridges between the three corries on the north side of the mountain. There's a bit of an old path in places but mostly this is untracked, unfrequented ground. Once on the mountain the finest walk - one of the finest in the Highlands in my opinion - runs from the summit round the rim of An Garbh-choire, with a diversion to the Wells of Dee, to Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Cairn Toul. The grandeur of the mountain scenery on this walk is unsurpassed.

Braeriach from Sgor Gaoith

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Chris, that's got my juices running again! Hopefully the outdoor community will get the green light next time round and Braeriach will be part of a three day exped with wild camps.