The Rothiemurchus Forest and Creag a’Chalamain
Six weeks ago in mid-May I travelled to the Cairngorms for a trip to take advantage of some rare good weather that was forecast. Upon arrival in the evening I camped overnight in an excellent site in the heart of Rothiemurchus Forest, only 45 minutes’ walk from the road at Coylumbridge but with a real feeling of being in a wild and remote area (see photo to the left). The site is well-sheltered on a flat piece of grass next to the Cairngorm Club footbridge that crosses the Am Beanaidh river and is surrounded by the Scots Pines of the forest.
Early the next morning I set out in excellent conditions walking through the forest towards Rothiemurchus Lodge. My aim for this walk was not to get to any difficult or high summits but instead to walk in a large loop through the area of the northern corries of the Cairngorms and to the north of Braeriach, to walk through some interesting locations that I have not been to before, and to spend some time investigating the flora & fauna and geology of the area.
I walked past the Lodge (where I saw a chaffinch in the branches of a Scots Pine) and headed up beyond the forest into Coire Bhuide, with great views across Glen More and Rothiemurchus. The conditions were excellent with blue skies, little wind, and great visibility. It was also not too warm, and it was too early in the season for midgies - days like this in May give the best walking in the Scottish Highlands.
I walked through the glacial meltwater channel of Eag a’Chait and up onto the 787m summit of Creag a’Chalamain, a relatively minor summit in the Cairngorms, but one which gives tremendous views of the Lairig Ghru and Braeriach (see photo to the right), and the Pass of Ryvoan. There was also great views of the northern corries and Coire an t-Sneachda in particular, with an unusually extensive snowcover for this late in the year.
I then descended into the huge glacially-scoured valley of the Lairig Ghru for a short distance before heading up onto the area to the north of Braeriach that forms a plateau at about 700m altitude, where I saw cloudberry plants (without berries) and a frog in the heather. I then descended into another glacial valley that runs parallel to the Lairig Ghru, Gleann Einich, where I walked alongside the large moraines at its northern end, and headed back to my campsite in Rothiemurchus Forest. Near Lochan Deo, there is a break in the forest that gives an astonishing view towards the enormous bulk of Braeriach. With the snow cover on the mountain, the blue skies and the savannah-like terrain in the foreground, this view reminded me of photos I have seen of Mount Kilimanjaro (see photo to the left)!
You can see all the photos from the walk on my website here.