Cairngorm 4000ers Record

There were two factors that both worried and excited me in equal measure as I set out to attempt the Cairngorm 4000ers record. The first was the weather: it was fairly blustery and a familiar wall of cloud hugged the plateau around Braeriach, as it often does. Cairngorm itself was clear and despite a few very light showers I hoped the cloud would blow off before I got across the Lairig Ghru. The other factor was that I didn’t know exactly what Ally Beaven’s 2017 record was, having been unorganised and then suffered in the morning from the frustrating technological calamity known as “the internet is broken”. So I set off with Paul Raistrick’s split times and the knowledge that Ally had broken this 2007 record by several minutes, exact quantity unknown!

I last ran the route in April 2017 when there was a fair bit of spring snow still around. This made several parts slow going, and some sections of whiteout navigation from Cairn Toul onwards had augmented this. Still, I felt pretty prepared for a fast attempt when I next had chance, and Ally’s breaking of the four hour mark last year was a good reminder.

Running from Glenmore Lodge I took a reasonably good route up to the Coire Cas car park and then a direct line parallel to the funicular track. From Cairngorm I glimpsed Ben Macdui, almost entirely cloud free across the Loch Avon basin. From the head of Coire Domhain I cut almost directly south, crossing the Feith Buidhe to reassend to the highest summit of the day. Boulder hopping southwest it wasn’t long until I was across the Lairig Ghru and tackling the big steep climb up into Coire an t-Sabhail and then to Cairn Toul’s summit. There was a fairly strong breeze from the northwest as I rounded the multiple corries of Braeriach, but I could hardly complain as this had blown away the cloud entirely, giving me clear visibility throughout.

Approaching the final 4000ft summit, Braeriach, I was over ten minutes up on Paul’s splits. I felt reasonably confident but there was still a lot of running to do. Grabbing some more water as I crossed the Lairig Ghru again I was pleased it wasn’t any hotter given the unusual heat Scotland has had for much of this summer.

The short-lived boulder field through the Chalamain Gap broke up the faster running but then it was full speed ahead down the good track to cross the Allt Mor, and along the final kilometres of fast trail back to the lodge.

Finishing a hair’s breadth under 3hrs 53minutes I was delighted to look up and confirm that this was a new record, Ally’s time having been 3hrs 57minutes 52secs.

Cairngorm 4000ers route

Record: 3hrs 52minutes 59 seconds
Date: 4/8/18

GPS track:


Glenmore Lodge
Ben Macdui
Lairig Ghru
Cairn Toul
Sgor an Lochain Uaine
Glenmore Lodge


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