The classic way to climb Scotland's second highest mountain, this long but relatively un-taxing route provides a huge hit of scenery for the leg work investment, with a great variety of craggy corries and sprawling plateau that between them define the character of the Cairngorms. Among the snow patches and gurgling ptarmigan of these high table-lands, you feel as close to the arctic as it's possible to get in Scotland. On a wild winter day this is a serious place to venture, while in the mist your thoughts might turn to the ghostly Big Grey Man said to haunt these heights. Save it for good weather, and savour the surroundings. It's a route open to variation. Snow conditions permitting, mountaineers might ascend to the plateau via a winter gully in Coire an t-Sneachda (0.5 Gully at the west side of the coire may be a good rope-free option), while the Fiacaill Ridge is a popular scramble in any season. The route described here is more walker-friendly, but does still include a path-free leg across the plateau to boost the scenic impact and the challenge. In poor visibility it'd be better to stick to the clear paths.
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Distance: 10 miles (16.10 km)
Total ascent: 880m
Time: 6 – 8 hours (Walking)
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SummitsCairn Gorm - Fiacaill a' Choire Chais 1130 m
Cairn Gorm - Stob Coire an t-Sneachda 1150 m
Ben Macdui 1309 m
Cairngorm Mountain ski centre car park, NH988060
A mix of clear paths and open plateau. Generally gentle inclines, and nothing particularly rough or wet underfoot.
In winter the Cairngorm plateau can be a very demanding place, with difficult navigation, no respite from the wind, and plenty of corniced cliff edges to stray over in a whiteout. At this time of year the route is best enjoyed on a calm and sunny day. In a winter storm it's no place to be.
Weather and Hill Conditions: mwis: Cairngorms & Monadhliath – Met Office: East Highlands
Bus from Aviemore to the ski centre
OS Explorer 403 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 36 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 43 (1:50,000) Directory Listings:
Find more Listings near this route Tourist info:
Aviemore (0845 22 55 121); Braemar (01339 741 600); Tomintoul (01807 580285)
by Dan Bailey UKH
I far prefer a route from the south. From Linn of Dee along Glen Lui to the Luibeg Burn, a steep climb up Carn a' Mhaim and a pleasant high-level horseshoe to Ben Macdui, Creagan a' Choire Etchachan and Derry Cairngorm, and back down into Glen Derry or Glen Lui. Bike into Derry Lodge is an option.
I'm afraid the mess that is the ski centre and associated infrastructure is not what I want from a pleasant day out.
Thanks, we'll do that another time Harry. There's more than one way to skin a cat