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Return to the Cairngorms

Return to the Cairngorms


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jun 28, 2021 10:09 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a' Chaorainn (Cairngorms), Beinn Bhreac, Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui, Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Derry Cairngorm, Sgòr an Lochain Uaine, The Devil's Point

Date walked: 28/06/2021

Distance: 81 km

Ascent: 4500m

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My instructions for this weekend were that we go somewhere with paths and no big pack for Allison. I'd managed to find a way of getting all our overnight kit into my rucksack meaning that she could just have her day pack and hopefully spare her back any more trouble. Paths - well the Cairngorms would fit that bill - she had a number of Tops to do again there and I needed five of the Munros. Only blot on the horizon was the forecast for Friday - winds of up to 50mph and rain/clag. I'd drawn a route from Linn o'Dee which would traverse Braeriach, spend the necessary time on the Tops around Macdui then end up on the eastern hills.


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We headed up to Braemar on Thursday evening in the rain - my weather app said it was to be dry from 6pm in Braemar but as we passed through Glenshee it was still raining at 7.30. Luckily it did dry up by the time we got to Linn o'Dee and we set off to camp at Derry Lodge in cool but dry conditions. No-one else around, which was a bit of a surprise - we camped near the river and had a peaceful night.

The morning didn't seem too bad - it was windy but the cloud level was above the tops. I'd already decided to reverse the route given the winds as a full day up at 1200m in this wind wouldn't be wise. We headed up towards Beinn Breac, finding the path that we missed the first time we were here.It wasn't much fun at the top, stumbling over boulders in very strong winds and it was a relief to drop down over the moine and get a little respite from the worst of the wind. We found a spot in a peat hag to have some lunch and even managed to get the Jetboil working to have some coffee.

This was about the only photo I took today...
ImageCCA2CD1B-A502-48E3-BE37-49E4A69E25BA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Beinn A'Chaorainn was more boulders, especially when heading over to Beag. From here we headed off into Coire nan Clach in clag, aiming for the Fords of Avon. As we dropped below the clag level we could see the Refuge - it did look a little tempting to head for that rather than climb Beinn Mheadhoin in the wind and now lashing rain. But we went on...round the nose of Sron Gorm, past glistening slabs and onto steep pathless ground up the northern shoulder of Mheadhoin. We eventually picked up a path that wound between crags and tors and delivered us to the summit. There was still the small matter of getting to the top of the summit tor, which was very wet and windy. I scrambled up, Allison - mindful of her recent back problems - was more circumspect, but in the end did make it, somewhat gingerly.

Our plan was to head over to Stacan Dubha and then down to Loch Etchechan, where we would have to camp for the night. By this time we were both soaked through and very cold - the Met Office suggested the wind chill was -7 up high. We started to descend to Stacan Dubha but it was rather steep with slabs of snow - um let's not bother...we continued along the top of the mountain and met the track down to Etchechan, delighted to find that recent works have left a stone staircase down parts of it. At the lochside we hunted around for a flat, sheltered, dry spot - not easy in today's conditions. We eventually discovered an adequate pitch in the lee of a boulder, not too soggy on the ground and struggled with the tent - both of us were really cold by now, I was chittering uncontrollably and could only think of getting out of the weather. By the time we did get the tent up and sorted out the sleeping bag, everything was wet...us, the tent, the bedding. A meal was had and we retreated under soggy covers, trying to coax feeling back into out extremities. Luckily the wind was reasonably tamed by the position we'd found and we survived until morning.

Breakfast at Loch Etchechan
ImageD7F23EC7-9B9E-4FF1-B532-D0FDB6E3DC6F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We didn't get up til quite late, after yesterday's awful conditions. Clag was down, with visibility about 10 metres. I suggested to Allison that she nip up Stacan Dubha from the tent, whilst I packed up - it wasn't far, as I'd done it from Loch Etch once before. Off she headed into invisibility while I got the wet things together. I walked back and forward whilst waiting to try and keep warm until I saw her shadowy figure returning through the mist. Off we set upon the path towards MacDui, noting that yesterday's wind had dropped away. First up the Tops of Reagan a Coire Etchechan and Sgurr an Lochain Uaine, both in clag. We continued on to Derry Cairngorm where we left our kit at the first cairn and walked over to the summit, where we met a uy taking pictures of wildlife, including a hoverfly... Lunch back at our packs and a bit of girding of the loins for the next Top, Sron Riach. We left our kit at the 1249 top, putting the sleeping bag out to dry in the watery sunshine while we descended to the Top. And back.

Image78602985-0499-497E-84D7-B63B12217BA9_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Derry Cairngorm
ImageF93D18E0-1983-4209-877D-37D3E7F62CC3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Drying off...
Image8346421E-785D-4303-93DA-220F130D6A5C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageEAF7D636-7CC9-4480-B54A-029D9BF7339E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Next was MacDui, which was busy as it usually is. We had to head out to Carn Etchachan, which is about 2km from the top of MacDui. Although I've climbed it twice before, this was the first time I'd actually seen what I was walking towards :lol: And visibility did help the journey over pass more quickly - on previous occasions it's been a case of stumbling through clag. Quite a lot of snow patches still around up here, we walked over those we reckoned were safe to do so. Top achieved, our next target was to return to the main path and get to Cairn Lochan. Not that we needed to - we later found out that Allison had done that particular Top twice before...and it seemed to take forever to get to the summit. From here next port of call was to be Lurcher's Crag. My hopes had been to continue on towards Braeriach and high camp there...however time was getting on. When we got towards the summit of Lurcher's Crag I realised we'd the choice of camping here, or having to continue until we reached at least Sron na Lairige- which was about 8km and a lot of ascent. It was now after 6pm and I reckoned we'd need at least two and a half hours to get up there... High camping on Braeriach has been a long time wish of mine and part of me was keen to push on, but then I saw the clag coming down over Braeriach, the sort of evening cloud that doesn't usually lift again. And lets face it, camping in clag you could be anywhere. I decided we'd pitch where we were, despite knowing that it would make Sunday a long, long day.

Sron Riach
ImageDE06C9AE-F446-4D7B-9862-68295A41CB6E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image20BD2CED-F092-41DC-9A28-93AE12A13C18_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image893520EF-4108-4D14-AD47-85B3BFD7AA56_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

On the way to Carn Etchechan
ImageBE85A563-07BE-4505-85C5-BCE8D7440D7F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image55251A49-0359-46E3-8F75-8A12F3A9175D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Loch Etch
Image6270FFBD-AFB9-46EC-92A5-4BA10EE04C7D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Still some snow around
ImageA7B25DA1-2C37-4A4A-B0FD-ED04BDCAE2B0_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

One of the reasons to be wary of crossing a snow filled gully...
ImageA7AFAD6E-E4E6-4CF4-8305-350C241AA180_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Lurcher's Crag
Image87ADE96C-6523-40AF-AD52-360C38C00E28_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Clag down on Braeriach...for now
Image561AF674-45C6-4374-80A4-4BCB0C741542_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We did get a nice pitch and I found some water out of a pool, which was OK when filtered and boiled. There were a pair of ravens up on the crag giving it laldy. Later on we heard barking - I thought deer, though Allison insisted it was a dog - maybe the ghost of the Lurcher? Lying in the tent, after a relaxing meal, with a newly dried sleeping bag, reading Chekhov short stories and sipping whisky, well life was much better than 24 hours previously. We could leave the tent flap open all night - and guess what? The clag lifted on Braeriach about 9pm and it remained cloud free all night, with not a breath of wind. That. I think, was my chance for a high level pitch.

6am...not a trace of clag there
ImageCD52977A-28E4-4C49-83B6-74352C893665_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

...but a wee inversion in the Lairig Ghru
Image8EB884DC-95B3-4446-A7E5-BE47417F807F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Clear and quite warm in the morning, despite up being camped at 1010m. Up at 6 and off we headed by 7. One of today's problems, in addition to the distance we needed to cover, was that we had no lunch...I'd made up the sandwiches on Thursday, putting 2 days worth in my pack and the remaining day in Allison's. At least I thought I had until searches revealed that it wes not to be found (and turned up later on my settee at home)...well we had a spare bag of crisps and Nine bar each...we'd be fine :roll:

Over Lurcher's Crag we went, then down, down to the Lairig Ghru, 400-odd metres lost. Filled up with water and washed my face in the river then started the long climb up towards Sron na Lairige. At least it's on a stone staircase much of the way. And really there's not much option for camping (despite the one peachy spot just after you start climbing up) until you get to the bealach between Sron na Lairige and Braeriach. Maybe just as well we chose as we did last night. It was turning out to be a fab day though - sunshine, light breeze, good visibility- what's not to love? We met a couple who were out to do just Braeriach - the chap complained that the walk in was "a bit boring" On a beautiful morning in the 'Gorms?

Image599BAC94-A6C1-4764-9338-8FAB793333A7_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Lurchers Crag
Image0F542E25-1D9B-41F7-96F9-608FBF86B60F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Been here twice before - how come we've never noticed this aircrash debris on the path?
Image557CA439-1C30-4129-9ED7-EA5FC554162D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Lochan Uaine - one of my favourite high lochans
ImageF2BFA097-D4A3-4F21-8F2A-5C3BDB74C400_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageED2BFD5E-5766-4627-A9BA-D2C907D27AE1_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We continued along the traverse, meeting quite a few folk coming in the opposite direction. We paused for lunch at the cairn on Carn na Criche, it was now hot enough to put suntan lotion on (and some coconut oil on my newest bit of ink work) Views were great. Next came the up and downs of Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Cairn Toul and the Soldier's Peak - we met a bloke dressed in black who had come up from the Lairig Ghru and was really feeling the heat - dressed in black thermal leggings under black shorts...um I might have lost the leggings. However he was happily looking forward to a can of Tennants after getting back to Aviemore. We wandered down towards the Demon's Penis, noticing that the folk who were coming p from Corrour were not heading up there before starting the traverse. It's possibly the Munro with the smallest drop - just 90 metres from the bealach...not even a HuMP :shock: Anyway, we did walk up to the top before beginning the long walk out...we could see the track wending around the southern end of Carn a'Mhaim and off into the far distance towards Linn o'Dee.

Cooling down at Carn na Criche
Image5450A1F7-95B5-4B32-9F2F-5527E9AB68BA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Fine day for a high level walk...
Image5F41C346-815C-4E7E-9E22-2356C7263CE7_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image0B640D20-7BE2-4CDF-A30C-FE69E5FA74B4_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Descent was alright, apart from a badly eroded section just above the first crossing of the Allt. Past the bothy, with was closed, but didn't look locked and had a smell of woodsmoke coming from somewhere nearby (or inside). Then onto the track. And on. And on. I reckoned it would be near enough 7pm by the time we got back to the car, almost 12 hours of solid walking. Allison was feeling the effects of the sun, her exposed parts glowing a mild radiation red :wink: But back to the car we got, and a short drive took us to Braemar, where the Co-Op was still open - food! Falafel sandwiches, crisps and a cherry lattice pie and ice cream made the memory of no lunch recede. It was a beautiful evening for a drive down the road, hardly any cars about, a fantastic sunset and still 18 degrees by the time we hit Inverclyde at 10pm.
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weaselmaster
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Re: Return to the Cairngorms

Postby nigheandonn » Mon Jun 28, 2021 10:26 pm

Wow - I didn't know you were the Decorated Man!

(Scenery pretty good too)
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Re: Return to the Cairngorms

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Jun 29, 2021 3:38 pm

We are planning to revisit Braeriach this summer, mainly because of the two plane crash sites! The parts you photographed are from Airspeed Oxford HM724, crashed on 12th October 1943, but there is also a Bristol Blenheim Z7356 close nearby, crashed in 1945.

Weather was great this weekend, we went to Ardgour for two days to chase remote Grahams. Actually, I should say thank you, we used two of your GPS routes, they proved very helpful, especially the one on Sgurr nan Cnamh. :D
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Re: Return to the Cairngorms

Postby rockhopper » Tue Jun 29, 2021 4:08 pm

Nice route. Back up at Colyumbridge in a month or so - but this would be far beyond my current state of fitness :roll:
Hope Allison's back gets better soon - cheers :)
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Re: Return to the Cairngorms

Postby Knuttus » Tue Jun 29, 2021 6:32 pm

Nice trip i want to come back too but from germany in this times :?
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Re: Return to the Cairngorms

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Jun 29, 2021 9:13 pm

BlackPanther wrote:We are planning to revisit Braeriach this summer, mainly because of the two plane crash sites! The parts you photographed are from Airspeed Oxford HM724, crashed on 12th October 1943, but there is also a Bristol Blenheim Z7356 close nearby, crashed in 1945.

Weather was great this weekend, we went to Ardgour for two days to chase remote Grahams. Actually, I should say thank you, we used two of your GPS routes, they proved very helpful, especially the one on Sgurr nan Cnamh. :D


You’re very welcome 😄. I remember that as a steep wee hill, but then it’s in Ardgour😉
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Re: Return to the Cairngorms

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Jun 29, 2021 9:16 pm

rockhopper wrote:Nice route. Back up at Colyumbridge in a month or so - but this would be far beyond my current state of fitness :roll:
Hope Allison's back gets better soon - cheers :)


It’s been helping me build my fitness back up doing walks like this. Managed to get my weight down below 70kg for the first time in 8 months and slowly managing more ascent. Have to say I have some way to go to get near to the way I felt and functioned when I was doing these Tops the first time in 2015 😳. Hope your fitness picks up.
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