Cairn Toul and Braeriach
Key information: Cairn Toul and Braeriach
- Perhaps the greatest of all the Cairngorm Walks, these mountains rise from the same plateau to the west of the giant cleft of the upper Glen Dee and the Lairig Ghru.
- A hugely dramatic area of high moorlands gouged at their edges into vast cirques and cliffs.
- Walkopedia rating88
- Natural interest16
- Human interest6
- Negative points0
- Total rating88
- Length: variable but all long
- Maximum Altitude: 1,296m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.
Cairn Toul and Braeriach loom at each end of the vast Garbh Choire cirque and gaze directly across the deep glen of the Upper Dee and the Lairig Ghru. These two great mountains sit on the same high plateau/ridge, and can be walked together, so we are writing them up on the same page. That said, Cairn Toul (1,293m) is more accessible from Deeside (albeit a long walk) and Braeriach (1,296m) more so from Speyside, and they are 5+ km apart, so don’t lightly plan to do both in a day walk.
This is a hugely dramatic area of high, ice-scoured moorlands gouged and scraped at their edges into great cirques and cliffs. You can imagine it being ground away under its ice-age icecap.
While there, try to get to Angel’s Peak on the cliffs between the peaks, and, from Cairn Toul to the Devil’s Point.
To their west is the high moorland of the Great Moss, and if you come at them from that direction you will have the impression of large, relatively smooth and gentle, ridges rather than the vast cliffs and visual drama of their eastern sides.
Walking both peaks along the high ridge around the huge abyss of Garbh Choire must be the greatest of all Cairngorm walks, but for most mortals this will involve a night in the Upper Dee valley.
Both can be walked as day walks.
- Braeriach can be approached in long day walks through the great Lairig Ghru or up Gleann Einich from Speyside, or from the west across the Great Moss. A minimum of 24km/11hrs, although some walk-ins can be reduced by mountain bike. It can also be approached up the steep ridge between Garbh Choire and Choire Bhrochain from the south-east, or, best of all, along the high ridge above the great cirques from Cairn Toul and Angel’s Peak, in a very long walk from Deeside.
- Cairn Toul is mainly approached from Deeside, from the Corrour Hut, either up Choire Odhar, taking in the Devil’s Point, then turning northwards up the ridge, or by a scramble up its east ridge. You can also scramble up Angel’s Peak from the depths of the Garbh Choire and then head south-east along the ridge. It is a long day’s walking from Deeside (more than 30km/13hrs return). Many will camp en route, be it near the Corrour hut or more wildly, or hope to sleep in the Corrour hut or Garbh Choire refuge. Cairn Toul can also be approached from the west across the Great Moss, or along the high plateau ridge from Braeriach (an even longer day). (Devil’s Point was known as the Devil’s Penis until its name changed somewhat precipitately at the time of Queen Victoria’s visit to the mountains.)
If you spend a night en route, whether camping or in the Corrour hut or the Garbh Choire refuge, you can definitely plan to walk both peaks and the marvelous high ridge between them.
This is demanding walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather. It can be very dangerous in bad weather, as it has great cliffs and crags to its east, and the plateau has more of them at its other edges. Come fully prepared, including to descend quickly if the weather deteriorates.
The Cairngorms: Walks, Trails and Scrambles – Cicerone. As usual, a brilliantly researched book covering 102 fantastic walks of all shapes and sizes, including numerous approaches to these mountains. And written by the at times poetic Ronald Turnbull.
Find relevant books on Amazon.
This page is at an early stage of development. Please help us by making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!
For further general and practical information and photos, please go to our Cairngorms page.
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Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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