Back in the Cairngorms: Garbh Choire Refuge and the North-East Ridge of Angel's Peak

Garbh Choire Refuge is a remote, rustic mountain shelter in Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. It's a place I've long wanted to visit (especially after reading Cairngorms guidebook author Ronald Turnbull describe it as somewhere that 'sleeps three in scenic discomfort').

The location of Garbh Choire Refuge is excellent - you'll find it on the south bank of the Allt a'Garbhchoire at the foot of the waterfall coming out of Lochan Uaine. It was a shame though to find the shelter in a somewhat neglected state (though it would still be a very welcome port in a storm).

In 2012, Neil Reid and Kenny Freeman published a comprehensively researched piece online that outlined their case for the retention and renovation of Garbh Choire Refuge (such an interesting blog). In their piece they detailed how the Garbh Choire Refuge was 'built in 1966 by members of Aberdeen University Lairig Club to facilitate access to the ice climbing potential then being opened up in the Garbh Choire complex' but 'for a number of years the building has been in a poor state of repair' with 'no structure in place to tend to repairs or maintenance'. It appears Neil and Kenny's words were designed to help support a conversation and decision on the future health of the refuge with the land owners, National Trust for Scotland (who I understand did plan to include the future of the shelter in a consultation) but, despite Neil or Kenny publishing a follow up to their blog post in 2014, it doesn't appear to be that a decision has yet been made by the National Trust of Scotland. (It would be interesting to know the current state of play if anyone was able to share).

After we left the bothy, we headed up steep slopes to reach Lochain Uaine, The hanging valley this remote lochan sits in, c.250m above the glen, provides access to the North-East Ridge of Sgor an Lochain Uaine ('Peak of the Green Lochan'), aka Angel's Peak. A very entertaining scramble up this rocky ridge leads you directly to the summit of Sgor an Lochain Uaine, the third highest peak in the Cairngorms National Park. From Sgor an Lochain Uaine, we visited Cairn Toul and then traversed around the lip of Garbh Choire and Coire Bhrochain to return home via the summit of Braeriach, Scotland's 3rd highest mountain.

I'll post more shots on my Instagram feed over the next few days.

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