Cross the UK: Trail Running in the Cairngorms Part Two – Lairig Ghru

After a good nights sleep at Glenmore Lodge we were ready for action on day two.  Stoney taped up his toe like an hero and squeezed back into his Inov-8’s.  As part of our preparation for our first mountain marathon we had decided to take on a two day run in the Cairngorms.  The first day saw us running up the Lairig an Laoigh as we ascended to the Glenmore Lodge from Linn of Dee car park.

Day two started with the forecast looking more ominous.  Couple that with the famous Lairig Ghru and it was going to be an interesting climb up Castle Hill.

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Our route brought us through the woods at the back of the Glenmore Lodge.  The route can be a little difficult to find at first but once you hit the correct path and bridge over the stream you’re fine!

We then climbed up Castle Hill opposite the Glen More Ski Centre which was just visible through the low cloud.

The ascent was fairly quick but steep as you went alongside the Allt na cuile (The burn which runs down the pass).  We passed the usual bus load of tourists who were unprepared for the weather but looked happy to out and off the bus and made our way on to a flat section near Lochan Dubh a’ Chadha on Castle Hill before taking on the famous Creag a’ Chalamain (or Chalamain gap)at the head of the Lairig Ghru.

Stoney was looking less than comfortable at this point as his recurring rub was increased by uphill running.

The ‘gap’ is a boulder filled ravine which is nearly impossible to run on (although I’m certain some pro’s can) but in wet weather the boulders did not combine well with my X-talons and we had to take things very steady.

We knew once we up through the gap we we’re basically on the down hill stretch and whilst our pace was slower than we’d of liked we soon picked things up on the descent to the Pools of Dee.

We started to see familiar territory as we rounded Ben MacDuibh and approached the River Dee.  We even stopped to briefly take in the view and for Stoney to have one more go at apply a plaster to the old toe!

Despite the injuries we arrived safely back in to the Linn of Dee car park feeling tired but proud.  The route was fantastic and we’d both highly recommend this for those wishing to push a good distance multi day run on tough ground.  The added luxury of the Glenmore Lodge makes the two days more bearable and its always important to have something to look forward to after your hard work.  In our case it was a night at the Braemar Lodge where we could spend some time in the whisky heaven of ‘Scotch Corner’, a bar dedicated to malt whisky.  And in case you didn’t know malt whisky is perfect for toe recovery and I’m glad to say at the end of the evening Stoney definitely couldn’t feel his toe!


Mick Fenwick

Mountain Leader, D of E Co-Ordinator, Deputy Headteacher

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