Scotland: Through the Lairig Ghru

Dad & the Lairig Ghru, a massive glacially-carved canyon through the heart of the Cairngorm Mountains

Dad & the Lairig Ghru, a massive glacially-carved canyon through the heart of the Cairngorm Mountains

After peering down into the depths of the Lairig Ghru from Lurcher’s Crag, my dad and I decided to return the next day for a long trek through the glacially-carved canyon to the fabled Pools of Dee, the headwaters of the River Dee, one of Scotland’s famous whisky rivers.

In Nan Shepherd’s ode the Cairngorms The Living Mountain she says, “I can conceive of no good reason for trudging through the oppressive Lairig Ghru, except to see [the Pools of Dee].” But I loved the long, rough rocky trek through the deep, narrow valley, about 7 miles, one way, a good long day in these fantastic mountains!

This time we parked at the Sugarbowl parking lot, on the way up to the Cairngorms Ski Area.

This time we parked at the Sugarbowl parking lot, on the way up to the Cairngorms Ski Area.

Chalamain Gap

Chalamain Gap- the trail ran through this pit of unstable rocks, all coated with a thin film of ice. The rockyard was less than a quarter-mile long, but it took us over half an hour to negotiate it safely. Wearing gloves helped a lot on the rough, cold, icy rocks.

dscs

Through the Gap, heading into the Lairig Ghru

Creek Crossing

Creek Crossing at the bottom of the Lairig Ghru

Remains of a memorial shack

All that remains of a memorial hut in the Lairig Ghru. The Cairngorms are notorious for wicked weather and many hardy souls have lost their lives in these mountains.

In the Lairig Ghru

In the Lairig Ghru, Lurcher’s Crag, where we were the day before, on the left

Rock Shelter

Rock Shelter Self Portrait

One of many cairns in the Lairig Ghru

One of many cairns in the Lairig Ghru

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About 7 miles in on a very rough, rocky  trail

To the Pools of Dee

Ahoy the Pools of Dee!

At the Pools of Dee, the headwaters of the Dee River

At the Pools of Dee, the headwaters of the River Dee. Amazing that a whole river flows from this point. 

Pools of Dee Self Portrait

Pools of Dee Self Portrait

Return through Chalamain Gap, now thawed out

Return through Chalamain Gap, now thawed out and slightly less dangerous.

Reindeer

Surreal Parting Shot. Ah, Scotland, this is Love. 

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in Big Sky, Montana. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
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12 Responses to Scotland: Through the Lairig Ghru

  1. ritaroberts says:

    What a wonderful country Scotland is Mary. I love its rugged rocky mountain terrain. I was only able to spend two weeks there but I loved every minute of it, and so did my two boys when children. These photos bring back great memories so thanks for these lovely photo’s

  2. Donna says:

    What is the animal in the picture?

  3. chris339 says:

    So cool that you get to share it with your dad.

  4. Reifyn says:

    Of all the years I lived in Scotland, I never saw a single reindeer—you’re fortunate. Perhaps it was because it’s close to Christmas that that particular one was there and coming up to visit with you. I did see wild horses though—the only wild horses I’ve ever seen in my life. They were wonderful companions—really quite nice if you just walked up to them real slow or stood waiting for them to come up to you eventually.

  5. annathrax says:

    I just adore Scotland, must come back! Awesome photos!

  6. Beautiful!! And how cool is that to meet a reindeer!! It is so neat that you are able to experience this with your dad!

  7. Tiffani says:

    Thank you for sharing all this with us. I love that beautiful reindeer !

  8. All this and a reindeer,too. You are definitely living right.
    Nice one with the unstable rocks in the Gap. Lovely shapes and shadows.

  9. Pingback: Scotland: The Cairngorm Mountains & Lurcher’s Crag | Travels with the Blonde Coyote

  10. robyck says:

    Very nice!

  11. Pingback: Following My Father | Travels with the Blonde Coyote

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