Ben Avon and Beinn a Bhuird the first snow

Munros: Beinn a'Bhuird, Ben Avon

Date walked: 04/10/2014

Time taken: 9 hours

The original plan for this weekend was a trip to Knoydart to complete the 3 munros there, with Electricfly and the springer pack, but monitoring of the forecast in the west meant that plan had to be cancelled, these would be too good to waste on poor weather.

I poured over the map and hatched a plan to walk Ben Avon and Beinn a Bhuird weather permitting of course and the forecast suggested a poor start to the day but brightening later in the day, the key question being how late and was it accurate at all. For once, unlike me, I trusted in it and decided to go a unilateral decision, easy on your own.

I had put off these two hills over and over, not sure why, maybe the long walk in, the long day as a whole, cannot explain it.

I set off, the usual early bird in me, somewhat slower that morning, but once up, I was motivated and set off for Braemar around 0615hrs, bike loaded in the car.

The drive over was, well, wet and on arrival at the car park raining steady. I took one picture en route to try and capture the atmospheric rain clouds, but basically it was pish !

Now not being too keen on the biking bit, I was faced with a cycle in full waterproofs, not looking forward to this. It took several coffees and a couple of fags before I left the comfort of the car.

I cycled up beyond the woods, probably could carry on much further but I had had enough so bike parked.

A short while after leaving the bike the rain stopped and I turned the corner to head into the range and Bhuird to the left, Ben Avon behind on the right all in clag, but a visible snow line.

Further into the glen, snow appears to be a little more than a dusting.

The ascent up to the Sneck was the first time this day that I felt I was actually climbing something and arrival at the top revealed a good view north, but both sides up to Bhuird and Ben Avon were cloaked in clag.


The ascent of Ben Avon didn’t look to difficult and it passed fairly easily

But soon I was above the snowline, the walk in through the clag but clearly not completely a thick envelope. At one point I thought I glimpsed the summit tor, but it happened so quickly I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, until it did appear through the murk.


I dropped my sack and climbed the tor for the summit and was rewarded by a view, which disappeared as quickly as it came, a pattern that repeated itself while I grabbed some food in the shelter of this massive rock feature. It was cold, my hands in gloves were cold, I wished I had my mitts.


But things appeared to be improving as more views opened up to Ben Avons multitude of tors.


The cold was getting to me it was time to go, and as I walked back to the Sneck a turned and now the summit tor was revealed.


And a pano of the same


The clag was certainly lifting but even at this point looking back down to the Sneck with Beinn a Bhuird beyond I could not have believed that with 15 minutes I would be bathing in sun.


View down the route taken up to the Sneck.


Beinn a Bhuird now clear too


The Sneck and Bhirds northern spur.


Pano of the same


Ben Avon as I ascended out from the Sneck, within a little over half hour I had gone from freezing hands to a hot ascent.


Look back to Ben Avon revealing most if not all of its tors.


Now to Beinn a Bhuird across the plateau. I had originally plotted aroute that would take me in a semi circle, on the basis of bad weather, amd hence some tick off features to aid navigation…I still like to use the compass.

But with visibility so good I headed direct.


Beinn a Bhuird summit looking back to Ben Avon


The entire Cairngorm range beyond…that’s me in front


I kept to the edge as I departed from the summit to take in the superb eastern corries that I had only glimpsed from below in the mornings weather, so a serried of shots taking in this stunning scenery.





The start of my descent afforded a stunning view of Lochnagar


My route of descent takes a line to the right flank of that final bump, somewhat disconcerting given I was aiming for the glen to the left but it is a detour worthwhile for it is easy walking.


But I was in no rush to leave this place, time was my own.


A small burn crossing, well small today, no mishaps and a slight ascemnt back to the main track. One last look back at the day…. Do I have to leave



I reached the bike and it started to rain as if to carry on from where it left off earlier. I was not for putting on waterproofs now and cycled off into the sun…Someone was trying to have the last word :lol:

This is a day I will not forgot for many reasons. It was the end of a journey, the Cairngorms complete. A journey I started on my birthday whilst on Winter Skills at Glenmore Lodge back in 1984, a journey that began that day with navigation training across the plateau to Ben Macdui.

Conditions were not good that day, but the journey had begun and a love for which has never died.

This was my first walk that looking back I had not thought of my dog Holly, I felt guilty for that when I arrived home.

So a journey or at least a part of it complete, and a fitting end to this part that I was blessed with a day where I viewed each and every one of those hills that I had set foot on, through all those years, many more than once :)

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Location: Miltonduff, Elgin
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