Braeriach Circular Walk from Whitewell
A long but varied route to Britain’s third highest mountain summit.
|27.5 km||1554 m||7-9 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Whitewell
Cafe at Rothiemurchus Centre at Inverdruie but no facilities on route
The route passes close to corrie rims with steep drops. Care needed in strong winds and in winter conditions.
Between June and September, the Highland midge can really spoil your day if you are not well-protected. There are various products available but Smidge seems to be effective for most people.
Buses operate between Aviemore and the Cairngorm ski area but there is no public transport to the start/finish of the walk.Traveline for UK Public Transport
Parking and Post Code for Sat Nav (where applicable): Not applicable
Free, limited parking at Whitewell. Arrive early.
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Braeriach Circular Walk from Whitewell Route Map and GPX Download
Braeriach Circular Walk from Whitewell Details
At 1,296m, Braeriach is the third highest mountain in the British Isles after Ben Nevis and Ben Macdui. This circular route reaches the summit via the Lairig Ghru and returns via the northern corrie rims and Gleann Einich.
Park at the end of the track at Whitewell. This is reached by turning off the B970 at Inverdruie and following the signs for Blackpark and Whitewell.
From the parking area, head downhill on the footpath marked with a Rothiemurchus sign and turn right onto the footpath coming from Coylumbridge.
Braeriach’s northern corries
Continue to Loch Deo and turn left, signed for Lairig Ghru. Cross the Cairngorm Club footbridge, turn right and continue through the Caledonian pine forest on a good path. At the next junction, turn right – again signed Lairig Ghru.
Caledonian pine forest
The path eventually emerges from the forest onto the lower slopes of Creag a’ Chalamain and rises and falls as it approaches the jaws of the Lairig Ghru. The path from the Chalamain Gap joins from the left and shortly afterwards the path crosses the river on a pile of boulders.
Entering the Lairig Ghru
Continue up the right bank and take the faint path on the right which soon broadens and begin the long, steep ascent to the twin tops of Sròn na Lairige. There are superb views across the Lairig Ghru to Lurcher’s Crag, a popular winter climbing crag.
Lurcher’s Crag from Sròn na Lairige
From Sròn na Lairige drop down to the shallow col and then climb south-west to reach the airy summit ridge of Braeriach. The views to the south across the Garbh Coire are jaw-dropping with Lochan Uaine nestled below Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochan Uaine (The Angel’s Peak). To the east, Ben Macdui rises imperiously above the Lairig Ghru and to the south, the eye is drawn along the Lairig Ghru towards Deeside.
Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochan Uaine
The summit cairn is on the edge of Coire Brochain which appears to have been gouged out of the mountain by a huge hand.
Most walkers return the same way but this route takes us to the northern edge of the Braeriach plateau before descending into Gleann Einich. From the summit, head north-west to the rim of Coire Ruadh and then traverse west, taking a line above the crags of Coire an Lochain. The views down into the Coire are spectacular, especially with snow still lying in the various gullies.
Loch Coire an Lochain
Descend the grassy slope to the west of the Coire and as the gradient eases, trend west to pick up a faint zig-zag path through the heather. The path descends the steep slope, crossing a burn twice before eventually disappearing. At this point head due north towards the Allt Easan na Bruaich and gradually lose height before descending south of the burn and crossing some boggy ground to reach the Gleann Einich track.
The Beanaidh Bheag crosses the track but can normally be crossed on the stepping stones. In spate it would have to be waded with care. Continue on the track crossing a bridge over Am Beannaidh and at the fork in the track, keep to the right. The path now runs parallel to the Am Beannaidh and rises and falls through the beautiful Rothiemurchus forest.
Eventually, the path reaches Loch Deo where tired feet can be soothed if necessary. From the loch, return to Whitewell via the outbound route.