Geology and scenery
Viewed from the surrounding hills and valleys, the Cairngorms appear as a high, rounded hills incised by deep valleys. The Cairngorm Granite is associated with the largest continuous area of ground above 1000 m in Britain. The surrounding metamorphic rocks tend to be lower in elevation, although individual summits such as An Sgarsoch reach 1000 m OD. The contact between the granite and schists is often marked by a major break of slope, such as south of Beinn Bhrotain and Sgor Mhor but this break of slope also occurs within the granite on the north side of the hills and represents the inner margin of a former regional erosion surface (Linton, 1950).
The granite hills tend to be smooth and rounded, with dome-like summits studded with tors. The schist hills are more craggy, reflecting the fissile nature of these rocks and the plucking action of ice. The folded Dalradian metamorphic rocks, in particular, give striking ridge and valley terrains east of the Cairngorms, where weathering and erosion has picked out differences in rock resistance over many millions of years.
Southern Cairngorms from Carn Bhac © Gavin Shaw