5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
With its wide rolling plateau and monumental corrie system Scotland's third highest mountain is also one of its most interesting and impressive.
The corries of Braeriach are notable for snow depth, cornice size and the presence of snow patches famous for surviving through many summers; if there's ever another ice age it'll probably start here.
The mountain's inner recesses feel a long way from any road, particularly in winter, and the various walking routes are all pretty big days out.
The easiest and most popular route is a linear there-and-back from the Cairngorm ski road, which makes an excellent first taste of the hill if you've not done it before. Cross the road where at a hairpin bend, then take a path downhill through woods into the cutting of the Allt Mór.
Cross a footbridge and zigzag up the far side of the cutting.
This path now follows the edge of the bank, first south then south-west.
Descend slightly to cross a bridge over the burn, then continue uphill into the Chalamain Gap, an odd dry channel carved by glacial meltwater.
Clamber over boulders in the bed of the Gap, and having reached its far side descend an eroded path into the Lairig Ghru, a well known historic through-route that links Deeside and Speyside.
Pass the burn where it emerges from beneath boulders.
Cross the well trodden trail that heads into the Lairig Ghru and follow a path south-southwest for a gentle climb over heather slopes leading to the base of the Sron na Lairig ridge.
As it ascends this the path steepens and it's pretty eroded in places.
It gives a good view of Lurcher's Crag.
The angle soon eases as you reach the broad twin-topped summit of Sron na Lairig.
Skirt just east of the first top to reach the slightly higher second summit (the path also avoids this but why not climb it?).
Cross the saddle that separates Coire Ruadh and Coire Beanaidh, and continue up a shallow slope onto the short-but-well-defined east ridge of Braeriach (in wintry conditions this can carry a substantial cornice).
Follow it west over some minor tops to reach Braeriach’s summit cairn, poised on the edge of the impressive Coire Bhrochain crags (in winter the cairn may be buried, and again the edge could be heavily corniced). Unless you're up for a really long walk then go back the way you came.
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Sep 2011