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Walking in Cairngorms

on Sunday, 01 April 2012.

Background to the walking enviroment in the Cairngorms

This is a very well defined area of high mountains in the north-eastern corner of the Highlands. The main features of the  Cairngorms - its central massif containing five of the six highest mountains in Scotland, its vast area of high plateaux of arctic character and the extensive areas of Old Caledonian pinewoods round its perimeter - all combine to give it a unique quality among Scotland's mountains.

The southern and western boundary of the Cairngorms follows the line of the River Dee and its tributary the Geldie Burn up to the watershed beyond which the rivers Feshie and Spey flow northwards. The eastern boundary is not so well defined as on that side the high Cairngorms gradually give way to extensive moorland and lower hills in the direction of the River Avon and Tomintoul.

The easternmost mountain of the Cairngorms is Ben Avon, a vast plateau of several tops studded with granite tors. Going west, the next mountain is Beinn a' Bhuird, another high plateau with magnificent corries on its east and north faces. Next are Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a' Chaorainn, the high points of the Moine Bhealaidh plateau between Glen Quoich and Glen Derry.

Glen Derry and its continuation northwards is the line of the Lairig an Laoigh, one of the great Cairngorm passes. To its west is the eastern half of the central Cairngorm massif which includes Beinn Mheadhoin, Derry Cairngom, Ben Macdui, Carn a' Mhaim and Cairn Gorm. At the heart of this area is Loch Avon, superbly situated in a deep corrie between Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm and surrounded on three sides by huge cliffs.

To the west of Ben Macdui the deep straight defile of the Lairig Ghru cuts the Cairngorms in two, and on its west are the other high mountains of the range in a semicircle round the Garbh Choire - Braeriach, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Cairn Toul, with its lower but still very impressive outlier, The Devil's Point.

Finally, in the western and south-western corner of the Cairngorms there are four mountains surrounding the Moine Mhor plateau between Cairn Toul and Glen Feshie. Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor face Cairn Toul across Glen Geusachan, and the western outliers Sgor Gaoith and Mullach Clach a' Bhlair overlook Glen Feshie.

Also take a look at Walking In Scotland