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Why You Have To Visit The Cairngorms

Winter in Scotland can be an unforgiving place. We took a five day trip into the Cairngorms to pit ourselves against the elements and everything this iconic place could throw at us.

By: Richard Smith + Save to a List

Over the years the Cairngorms has been a right of passage and a millstone for many on their journey into winter mountaineering. I'm just starting out on that path, and the majority of my Scottish winter adventures lay ahead. So far my trips have taken me to many places in Scotland, each as indescribable and as brilliant as the next.

Driving north to get to Scotland is a pilgrimage, following in the foot steps of so many before you to seek the rewards that only these places can hold. Mountains, ridges, crags, routes, roads and bothies that are steeped in history. Their very names conjure tales and mythology bigger than themselves.

The Caingorms national park is in the eastern highlands of Scotland and is home to a whole world of monumental glens, expansive plateaus and mighty summits.

Heading up recently on a five day trip we set out to visit two classic bothies, small mountain huts hidden away in the mountains that act as a shelter to walkers and climbers.The true beauty of these buildings is usually their remoteness, and of course the lure of possibly a warm fire and a glass of whiskey after a long day on the hill. We walked up onto the plateau in a flurry of wind and spin drift eventually finding refuge as we dropped down to Glen Avon. A seemingly infinite valley which came to a head with the foreboding shelter stone crag covered with snow. As the light disappeared we put on our head torches and decended once again towards Hutchinsons bothy. We shared the bothy with two walkers and enjoyed a glass of whiskey as they lit the fire for the night. The next day the weather was once again real Scottish winter conditions.We set off towards the summit of Ben Macdui, the second highest peakin Scotland. Navigating through the wind and snow we eventually dropped down into the Lairig Ghru and our home for the second night, Corrour Bothy. Sadly no firewood this time but tired from the long walk we slept soundly in our sleeping bags.

The next day we set out up the Lairg Ghru. After having to turn back due to bad weather on a previous trip I was keen to reach the summit of the mountain pass. We scrambled from the summit back onto the plateau and navigated in the poor visibility back down to the calm of the car and a warm meal back in Aviemore.

The more time you spend exploring the Cairngorms the more it opens up to you and gives back. There's a lotto choose from in Scotland but make sure you choose to spend sometime here. You won't be disappointed.  

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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