Devils’ Points and Angels’ Peaks

I’M treading carefully for fear of lowering the tone of this website. My last article concerned toilets and that’s as low as I intend to sink. But this post commences on a mountain called the Devil’s Point, and I’ve a feeling I’m about to descend to saucy seaside postcard levels . . .

The Devil’s Point is known in Gaelic as Bod an Deamhain, which translates roughly – very roughly – as “point of the demon”. Only the Gaelic is more specific. It’s not a “point” as such – it concerns a bit of the Devil’s anatomy that could, I suppose, be loosely described, and with a degree of imagination, as a point. The Scottish Mountaineering Club’s Hillwalkers’ Guide, The Munros, Volume I, is more explicit:

. . . Bod an Deamhain, the Demon’s Penis.

Queen Victoria gets the blame for the censored version that appears on Ordnance Survey maps and has fallen into common usage. And whether she’s guilty or not, she deserves the blame anyway for immersing Britain in a duplicitous morality where women were encouraged to wear false, protruding bottoms while table legs were covered to prevent sexually-repressed men ogling them. What sort of message did that send out? You can fantasise about the vicar’s wife’s derrière but for heaven’s sake don’t fiddle with her furniture.

Queen Victoria was taking the airs in Glen Dee with her favourite gillie and secret lover, John Brown, when she asked him to translate the name of the fine mountain rising spectacularly above the river. Slightly abashed, Brown coughed politely and produced the euphemism we have come to know and probably love. Apparently, this was immediately prior to their romance abruptly ending. Later that day, on discovering her legs weren’t made of wood and there were no castors on her feet, Brown gave her the heave-ho and went drinking with his mates. Just kidding.

So here I am, a small and pretty insignificant dot of humanity among the toes of the Devil’s Point. I’ve left the bike at Derry Lodge, tramped over a heathery ridge beneath the southern slopes of Carn á Mhaim, and crossed the ice-carved trough of the Lairig Ghru to Corrour bothy. The Devil’s Point rises above my head in great shiny slabs of dark rock. It’s a fine mountain, sure enough. It certainly doesn’t look like an appendage, so I don’t know where those Gaelic chaps were coming from.

There then follow several hours of desperately hard and sweaty work in blazing sunshine and scouring wind during which I climb to the very point of the Devil’s Point (1,004m or 3,294ft), traverse the summit of Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir to Scotland’s fourth-highest mountain, Cairn Toul (1,291m or 4,235ft), and continue to the fifth-highest mountain, Sgor an Lochain Uaine (1,258m or 4,127ft), which also rejoices in the poetic title of the Angel’s Peak.

And the views are spectacular. To gaze out across open vistas from the Devil’s Point and behold the confluence of the Dee and Geusachan Burn far below is to view the landscape from the wings of an eagle. And from Cairn Toul, looking east – ridge after ridge of spiny mountains rippling to the horizon. And north – the magnificent crest of Braeriach, Scotland’s third-highest mountain, dominating the skyline. This is what it’s all about, this mountain climbing thing. This is one of the reasons we do it. Great rocky hills that are usually hidden in mist or skulking in clouds, momentarily caught in sunshine beneath a cloudless sky and waiting for us to tramp over them.

I complete this truly awe-inspiring traverse in the company of two blokes who have, like myself, been attracted to these fine mountains like sad lonely moths. One of them continues on his way from the Angel’s Peak to Monadh Mòr, Beinn Bhrotain and a long, weary slog down Glen Dee. I return with the other – a chap called Ray – to Derry Lodge and the bike.

It’s been a long, hard day. But the mountain views have been spectacular and uplifting, the wind fierce and dry, the ridges a pleasure to traverse, the company engaging.

Now all that remains is a short drive to Braemar and a visit to the Hungry Highlander chippie, where the haddock are so big that both ends flop over the edge of the plate, the chips are crisp and golden and the tea unexpectedly refreshing.

The table legs are a bit on the plain side, mind. So it’s just as well I’m a man of simple tastes and pleasures.

MORE pictures below in the high-resolution gallery. Just click on an image:

About these ads

About McEff

Alen McFadzean. Journalist. Recently made redundant from The Northern Echo when my job was transferred to Wales to be done by people on lower wages. Former shipyard electrician. Former quarryman and tunneller. Climb mountains and run long distances to make life harder. Gravitate to the left in politics just to make life harder still.
This entry was posted in Camping, Climbing, Environment, Hiking, History, Mountains, Walking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Devils’ Points and Angels’ Peaks

  1. jcmurray1 says:

    Sounds like a really great day out. I’m sat here skiving at work and I think I’m feeling a twinge of jealousy! It’s been many years since I’ve been up there, (we did it from Rothiemurchus to Braeriach first since we were based in Inverness at the time), and it’s one of the best, most scenic places in the country. You even got the weather. Yes that feeling is definitely envy! Keep up the good work…………………..J

    • McEff says:

      Now then. Get some work done.
      The truth is I was very lucky to have such good weather. It makes all the difference. I’ll take a look at your route, John, because I’ve yet to climb Braeriach. Later in the year perhaps, when it stops raining. IF it stops raining.
      Cheers, Alen

      • jcmurray1 says:

        I went in from Rothiemurchus along Glen Eanaich as far as the loch then cut up Coire Dhondail and eventually to Angel Peak and Cairn Toul before retracing my steps for a while and following the cliffs around to Braeriach. It was a long, long day in the hills. I went back to Braeriach with one of my sons many years later but we followed the route from the Munros book, so shorter but busier and less to see!……………J
        PS too busy looking for a walk for Friday to work!

        • McEff says:

          That’s a long walk. I’ve just been looking at your route on Bing maps. I bet it’s spectacular though, because I looked down on Loch Eanaich from Sgor Gaoith about ten years ago and I remember thinking how impressive it was with all the cliffs around. Perhaps there’s scope for a round trip – in by the Loch Eanaich route and out by Lairig Ghru. I’ll have to weigh up that one. Hope the weather improves for your walk on Friday. It’s like winter down here.
          Alen

  2. OM says:

    As Billy Connolly would say, you’re looking “windswept and interesting” there, Alen.!

  3. Hanna says:

    Awe inspiring surroundings in beautiful weather, you’re lucky. Something of a story, the one with the table legs! You must be in pretty good shape you and your boots -

  4. JohnJ says:

    Thanks for that. It’s given me food for thought. I was planning to climb Cairn Toul and Angels Peak from Glen Feshie but this route looks more interesting. The loch route looks good too.

    • McEff says:

      Hi JohnJ. My guidebook gives the Glen Feshie route as an alternative, but having been up that way as far as Sgor Gaoith I wouldn’t have thought it was anywhere as near scenic. But not having done the full route I can’t say for sure. There’s a lot of high flat ground so I would think route-finding would be a problem in bad weather.
      Best of luck, Alen

  5. Mick says:

    I was up there in March during the warm weather and as you say stunning scenery, your lucky you had your bike, that walk out from Linn of Dee to Derry Lodge is a killer after a long days walking. Back up there in Sep can’t wait

    • McEff says:

      Hi Mick. I reckon I’ve cycled up that track four or five times now and had a hard day’s walking nearly every time. I wouldn’t like to do it without the bike. I bet it was great on the tops in March. The weather was fantastic.
      Cheers, Alen

  6. beatingthebounds says:

    Marvellous stuff.
    Looks like you were exceptionally lucky with the weather.
    The route from Corrour up the Devil’s Dick is exceedingly steep. Went up there one winter in a borrowed pair of crampons during a hard week of freezing bothy nights. Scared me silly to be honest.

    • McEff says:

      Ha ha. It was jolly hard work coming down as well. I was very lucky with the weather. It was one of those one-off days. I must say, I’ve had one or two freezing bothy nights but I wouldn’t fancy a week of them.
      Cheers, Alen

  7. Paul says:

    Hi Alen,

    A fantastic post accompanied by jaw dropping ruggedness & beauty.

    “This is why we do it”

    Paul

    • McEff says:

      Hiya Paul. Thank you for that. And yes, it’s why we do it. Having read a great deal of your thoughts on the subject, I think we’re both coming from the same direction on that one.
      All the best, Alen

  8. northernfall says:

    Just come across this blog, stirling stuff from what I’ve read. It’s nice to know what the views round there actually look like. When I was up on the Devils point in April all we could see was a white out all along the ridge to Braeriach.

    Charlie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s