This is the smallest of the four Cairngorms four-thousand foot peaks, but is the best known because it has given its name to the whole mountain group. In Gaelic, the range is known as Am Monadh Ruadh, 'the red mountainland'. Cairn Gorm is a rounded swell of a mountain, prominent in the view from Speyside. The Gaelic name is Càrn Gorm, 'blue mountain', because from a distance its top appears blue from atmospheric conditions. The change from càrn to cairn began in early writing, MacFarlane's 1670 manuscripts speak of Kairne Gorum. If you stay on the tops after Beinn Mheadhoin you can continue on to one of the original Munro summits - Creag na Leacainn (S. top) [Lurcher's Crag]. 

While you are watching your footsteps, keep your eyes peeled for Cairngorm Stones - smoky quartz crystals. The largest ever found is two feet long, it can be seen in Braemar Castle; it was found in the 18th Century on Beinn a' Bhuird after the Cailleach nan Clach, the 'old woman of the stones', had dreamed about it. A 50lb monster was found by the Feith Buidhe (stream flowing down into Loch A'an) by John Grant of Ryvoan, it went to Queen Victoria and Grant received £1 per lb for it, quite a sum in those days, and roughly £6,000 today.


Mountain name, how to say it, what it means   |   its height   |   Mountain region; closest town(s) [may be some distance away tho!]   |   the view-points

background image © Google Earth


  1. Loch Morlich beach: a long-distance viewpoint looking straight up Coire Cas past the funicular railway and ski lifts 
  2. Lochan Dubh a' Chadha: there is a better chance of getting a reflection shot from here than Loch Morlich, sunrise might be best for light
  3. Càrn Etchachan: offers a terrific view-point across the deep chasm of Loch A'an, should be possible with a 20-24mm lens, otherwise pano it 
  4. Beinn Mheadhoin: this hill is usually walked in a route with Cairn Gorm, offers a different perspective across the deep gulf of the loch
  5. A' Chòinneach: taking a hill-portrait from here means you also get to bag this 1891-list Munro too


Home to skiers and nature photographers; the former blight the north face with the ruinous tracks and ski lifts, the latter are entertained with ptarmigan and mountain hare. The mountain is known for making its own cloud - leave a camera on time-lapse while you shoot action with the skiers, landscapes and wildlife.


The ski lifts   |  Loch A'an dam  |  Loch Etchachan  |   Shelter Stone   |   Loch A'an waterfalls   |  Cairn Gorm  |  ski centre


Shelter Stone (it is just a shelter!)  |  Ryvoan 


m013 Beinn Mheadhoin   |  can include m002 Ben MacDui and x003 Lurcher's Crag


These links lead to the variety of walks, weather and maps to aid in planning your adventure to portray this hill.


McNeish "The Munros" 1999 p.120  |  SMC Hillwalkers 2013 p.134  |  Walkhighlands "The Munros" 2019 p.262  |  Bothy Bible 2017 p.201 + 193

Click the image to visit Walk Highlands profile