On a drive up to Assynt, we decided to pull in and camp near Aviemore. On a beautiful day after a long lockdown, we couldn't resist wandering up Cairn Gorm before hitting the road. The original plan was to consider tagging in Ben Macdui as well, but time was against us, and the depth of snow still on the peaks...two days before the start of June!...was a surprise.
We headed up the windy path from the ski centre, enjoying the sunshine. Absolutely glorious day, very little wind, and not too many people. Lots of people obviously kicking off the tourist season by being disappointed that the cafe and visitor centre wasn't open- welcome to Scotland .
Just by the Ptarmigan restaurant, we hit the snowline. Not too deep and still nicely packed, although the rivers running down the path suggested that this may be the last chance to play in the snow until next season. This feels like a wonderfully cheating way to do winter hillwalking- in a t-shirt!
Short trudge up the piste to reach the summit, where we found several other walkers chilling out and enjoying the expansive views across the Cairngorms.
Ben Macdui seemed liked a step too far when we weren't properly prepared for winter hillwalking (didn't pack the crampons in the summer bag), so we decided to utterly rest on our laurels, spend an hour having breakfast at the summit in the sunshine, then wander back down and drive on.
Half the fun of walking in snow is running down the slopes...all the joy and very little of the upward effort!
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.