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Ben MacDhui - October

Ben MacDhui - October


Postby Border Reiver » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:55 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui

Date walked: 06/10/2002

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 32 km

Ascent: 1100m

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Not a proper report - just my thoughts during a great walk a few years back.

Braemar at 7.15, it's dull and misty - it was forecast for sunny spells. What do I do? Put everything on the car and decide later.

Arrive at Linn of Dee car park at 8.45, its a lot brighter now, but which walk? Short one to Glen Quoich or long one to Ben MacDhui. The weather looks set good, but what if it rains. I can always turn back. Right, its Ben MacDhui!

Where's my emergency inhaler? Find it in the glovebox in the car. Check rucksack, food, flask, maps, everything there OK. Torch! - must take that, I'm already late. Lock car & make sure the keys are in rucksack compartment.

I set off on the bike, ouch! the cattle grid is bumpy, onto tarmac, this is easy - a long downhill to the start of the track up Glen Derry. First part of the track easy as well until a slight slope & oh my poor legs! I haven't been on the bike for months. I'll have to push, but it's a nice day for October. Back on bike, a pair of walkers on the track ahead, they're using both sides of the road. Should I ring the bell or hope they hear me? They hear me and both move aside.
The sky is almost clear now and there's my hills in the distance. Heck, they're a long way off. What time does it get dark at this time of year? I pass the path to Glen Quoich, it looks interesting. Some other day perhaps.
I catch up with a walker, he speaks and we have a chat. He's going to climb the Devils Point. “See you later!” he says. No chance! I'm on a bike and he isn't.
Keep going, pushing and pedalling to Derry Lodge. It's a shame it's boarded up, what a nice place it would be to live.
A sign says that Luibeg bridge is closed. Is that the one I have to cross? Is there another way? Panic!
I lay the bike against a fallen tree, no-one will pinch it. The bike isn't worth checking out anyway.

I set off walking, some relief for my bum which is sore from the bumpy road. There are tents down in the wood by the burn and people cooking breakfast. I wonder if they were cold last night, it was frosty. The footbridge should be just around the corner. Yes, it's still there, no worries now. Cross the bridge and turn left up Glen Luibeg.
It's a nice walk through the pines, the National Trust have made a good job of getting rid of the road. You can hardly tell it's ever been there. The new path is a bit sandy and soft in places & walking is getting to be hard work. Gosh, it's warm! The rucksack heavy and I'm hungry. I'll have to stop and eat something. I can drink soup cos it's heavy to carry.
Nice view. Check map for junction in the path, it's about 200 yds from the burn. Take shirt off, pack up and set off, I wish I'd brought shorts. Turn around & see that the man I chatted to has almost caught up, but I bet he hasn't stopped to eat yet.
I check out the fenced area where the young trees are growing out of reach of the deer. They've grown a fair bit over the years, there should be a nice little wood in 50 years or so.
A cairn marks the junction in the path. Turn right, uphill, following the stream. The other walker catches up and passes by below. A group of brightly-clad young people wind their way through the small trees, laughing and talking. I wonder where they spent the night? Corrour Bothy? Maybe, but they've got tents.
The path is easy going, high above the stream. There's the footbridge down below for the main Lairig Ghru path. I wonder why people drown trying to cross the burn when it's in spate, rather than walk a few hundred yards upstream to the bridge?
The south ridge of Ben MacDhui, it seems to go on up for ever. There's a small patch of colour high up, it's probably walkers, but they're not moving and I cannot be bothered to get out the binoculars to see. They've moved, no need.
Image
View over Lairig Ghru to Devils Point and Cairn Toul
Image
Cairn Toul and Braeriach from Sron Riach

At the the last stream before the ridge. I throw off the rucksack and have a long drink. Should I finish my soup and fill up with water? No, the water is just as heavy and it's not as tasty.
Only 100 yds or so up the wide ridge and my legs ache for a rest, so stop and look around. No-one following. Derry Cairngorm & Carn Crom on my right, grey and unappealing. They were superb under snow at Easter.
Onwards and upwards, stop-start, aim for that rock ahead before the next rest. No good, legs and lungs cannot do it. Breathing is difficult & wheezy, I'm not usually this bad. Check the altimeter, I must be well up by now. It reads 750m. There's about 500m or 1,700ft to go. That's another couple of hours and I've been away 3 hours already. It'll be about 2.00pm when I get to the top, what time does it get dark?
I spot an eagle! up there, soaring high above. I wonder where it nests.
This steep bit seems to be near the top, but why does the path veer left when straight ahead seems more direct.
I'm in a boulder field and it's hard work! & some of them move when I stand on them and I'm thirsty. That's why I should have followed the path. I'm desperate for a drink, not soup though, it's too salty. Where am I going to find water up here? The slope has eased off a lot, and I can see Cairn Toul and Braeriach.
I spot a hollow in the plateau, it must be the Tailor's burn. I didn't realise it came this far up. I hope there's water in it.
There is water, it's icy cold and I drink loads of it because I've got a headache and I'm getting fed up, with sore legs, bum, head, and now hips. I grope around, it's the buckles or something under my hip belt. Why? it's never done this before. It's getting chilly so I put shirt and fleece on.
Surely the top must be near. I can see the old Sappers Bothy ruins. There's someone standing by the wall. He's having a pee & he hasn't seen me yet. He has now & he's left in a hurry.
At last! the summit trig point, I go and touch it, probably for around the 10th time.
I can't come here without going to the edge of the Lairig Ghru. It's a good place for a bite and a drink of soup, was food ever tastier? What a fantastic view! Cairn Toul, Devils Point, Angels Peak, Falls of Dee, Braeriach. I remember climbing out of the Garbh Coire and camping out up there, after crossing the Lairig from Glenmore. Happy days, but I was younger then and could do it with less effort.
Image
Garbh Coire and Braeriach from Ben MacDhui
There's still two small patches of snow left high in the Garbh Coire, I wonder if they'll melt before it snows again?
Check the watch, better go, not as late as I thought, but better go anyway. I haven't time to see Loch Avon, but I could follow the Garbh Uisge Allt and drop down to Loch Etchacan. I've never done that route before, is it possible? If it's too steep, it's a long way back up to the path.
Over the edge and I see the blue of the stream with small pools and lochans. There's a sandy beach by one small lochan, I go to have a look. The burn tumbles ever downwards, small waterfalls and sandy-bottomed, still, crystal-clear pools, fed by countless springs from mossy, multi-coloured hollows. There's no mistaking the Cairngorms.
Image
Garbh Uisge Mhor, with Cairngorm, Bynack More and Beinn Mheadhoin
Image
Garbh Uisge Mhor
It looks as though there's been a huge explosion on the mountain side. Acres of huge boulders strewn around, crags all over and no vegetation. I'm sure I've walked over that area in the snow once. All that must have been covered because I never noticed it.
That's the route I sent that woman walker, 10 or 12 years ago. She was looking for an alternative route back to Cairngorm from Derry Cairngorm, rather than drop down to Loch Avon. I didn't know it was like that. She must have hated me by the time she found her way through.
Never mind, down to Loch Etchacan. Just over the rise there's another tiny lochan in a small corrie & I can see part of Loch Etchacan over the next edge. Scramble carefully down, the rocks are wet and greasy, past the small lochan and go carefully to the edge. Will it be a steep drop, crags or what?
It's very steep & wet grass, with occasional rocks and about 300ft down to the loch. I wish I had better soles on my boots. If I slip, I'll either be killed by the fall, or drown in the loch. I really wish I didn't have to go down there. I sit down to work it out. If I try and go straight down, I'll slip and fall. If I go down at an angle to that boulder-field, it'll be safer. I can hang onto the grass tussocks.
Down at the boulder-field with only a couple of slips and a wet bum to show for it. Scramble in and out, over and around boulders. There's some metal, a bit of aircraft. Did it come from those American jets that collided a couple of years ago?
Level ground at last, no ups and downs along the loch side. There's a couple of walkers on the other side of the loch, where are they going? They turn to go up Beinn Mheadhoin. At this time of day? they must be mad, they're not carrying tents. Ah! the Hutchinson Hut, they could be staying there.
On down the path towards the hut, I wonder if that poem about having a shite is still on the back of the door? Arrive at the hut and peer through the window, a pair of shorts lie on the floor. Can't be bothered to go in to investigate.
Image
Notice in Etchacan Hut
The path's an easy slope now, mostly level and I stride out - aargh! agony, my foot! I've come all this way, down all the steep bits and I've slipped on a pebble on a nearly flat path. Sod it!
Carry on, limping, to the bridge, I'm thirsty again, more water needed.. Gosh, the bridge looks dodgy, no hand rails & well worn timbers to walk on. I wonder how old it is? Ah, there it is, in the concrete - 1959 - I suppose it's done alright.
The path hides in the heather now, deep scratchy stuff, I'm glad I've not got shorts on. It looks a long way down the glen, but it's almost flat. Everything hurts now - legs, foot, hips, bum & head. Why do I do this? Cos I enjoy it, thats why. The pain will go and I'll remember the rest & I'll laugh a bit.
Stags are roaring up on the hill. I know what they're up to, but would they attack me? Some walkers were attacked a few weeks ago - but by reindeer. Can I outrun a a stag to the enclosure of small trees? I bet I can't.
Into the enclosure and I need a rest. Anything left to eat? Dig around in the rucksack - yes, some soup and a flapjack, they'll do. I dig out the binoculars to try and see the deer. There's two lots of about 20 - 30 hinds, each with a big stag in charge of them and a few smaller stags hanging around, hoping for leftovers. How can they keep making that noise all day and all night?
There's an ants nest, a big one, how do they manage to move all that material.
At last, back to the first footbridge at Derry Lodge. Will the bike still be there? A couple of dogs run to me growling, I reach out and they jump back and growl some more. Someone shouts and they go.
The bike's still there, with the computer on it. On to the bike and pedal, I can't, my legs hurt. I'll have to push it up this gentle slope, glad no-one's around to see.
Downhill now, no need to pedal, the bumps hurt my bum, but I can visualise a soft car seat and it doesn't matter. 3 bikes speed past me, with a panting spaniel just managing to keep up. I bet it doesn't want walkies tonight.
A couple of walkers ahead, blocking the road, they must hear me, I feel it's rude to ring the bell. They don't hear me, so I go slowly between them & ask if they've had a nice day - they have.
Cut into the woods on the walkers path, I should follow the road, but I'm tired and I don't care. I don't meet or pass anyone anyway. A great fast downhill, across some duckboarding and then.....steps!! Who put them there? There aren't many but they seem endless when pushing a bike up them.
Back to the car! I've been away 9 hours. Take off rucksack & boots - instant relief. Bike onto carrier & settle into seat - sheer luxury!! Am looking forward to a nice hot shower back at the camp site.
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Last edited by Border Reiver on Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:46 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Border Reiver
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby Caberfeidh » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:12 pm

[quote="Border Reiver"]Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui
Date walked: 21/03/2011
Time taken: 9 hours
Distance: 32 km
.quote]

And its not even tea time yet ! This time portal in the Cairngorms is wreaking havoc !
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby Paul Webster » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:17 pm

Enjoyed it - it's like a Peep Show version of a walk report, hearing from inside your head 8)
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby monty » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:25 pm

A very entertaining read. Excellent. Pictures would have been nice but text only fires the imagination :D
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby Border Reiver » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:20 pm

Caberfeidh wrote:
Border Reiver wrote:Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui
Date walked: 21/03/2011
Time taken: 9 hours
Distance: 32 km
.quote]

And its not even tea time yet ! This time portal in the Cairngorms is wreaking havoc !


Sorry Caberfeidh, I left the date blank and todays date was put in automatically. I've changed it to keep things right.
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby Caberfeidh » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:23 pm

Border Reiver wrote:I left the date blank and todays date was put in automatically.


Rats! That explains the time-portal. I was all set to take advantage of it and make a killing at the bookies... :(
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby morag1 » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:50 pm

i enjoyed reading your post, your description was so good I almost felt i was there with you :wave:

If you cant get out and about to places you really want to be then its good to remember them instead. I bet you have a whole lot of great memories to keep you going, maybe you should write them all down or store them in your walks diary. Memories are precious, you dont want to loose them :)
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby Border Reiver » Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:47 am

I've found some pics and inserted them - I thought I'd lost them.
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby Border Reiver » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:04 am

morag1 wrote:i enjoyed reading your post, your description was so good I almost felt i was there with you :wave:

If you cant get out and about to places you really want to be then its good to remember them instead. I bet you have a whole lot of great memories to keep you going, maybe you should write them all down or store them in your walks diary. Memories are precious, you dont want to loose them :)


Thanks

If it's a walk i really want to do rather than just bagging a peak, I take a small notebook and a pen with me. Then I've got pics and notes and they are all stored on my computer back home. My short-term memory is shocking, but when I see one of my photographs, I can associate it with quite a few memories.
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby ChrisW » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:55 am

Different, great, almost like being inside your head - really enjoyed this report and the pics - thanks for sharing :D
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Re: Ben MacDhui - October

Postby SouthernUplandKing » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:09 pm

It reminded me of reading Trainspotting -the idea of being in your head and seeing exactly what you seen- except without the drugs, sexs and edinburgh accent :lol: Really interesting read mate :D
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