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Four Cairngorm Munros in a day from Deeside

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:45 pm
by Border Reiver
A review of a walk I did in 1997- it might be helpful to some of you who fancy a longer walk to bag a few Cairngorm Munros. These appear to be the only few pics I took.

I was camping at Braemar and the forecast for the following day was fairly decent, so I thought I would tidy up a few loose ends in my Munro log for the Cairngorms by having a look at Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a Chaorainn, the two Munros at each end of the Moine Bhealaidh on the East side of Glen Derry.
Next morning at about 8.00am, I parked the car at Linn of Dee and set off on my bike up the track to Derry Lodge, one of my favourite approaches to the mountains. The bike isn’t a great deal of help to me going up any kind of a slope, as I only use it occasionally and it’s less tiring to push it up hill and freewheel downhill at the end of the day when I’m really tired.
It was a decent day with some sunshine and I soon got one of my favourite views, of the Cairngorms beyond the pinewoods at Derry Lodge.
Carn a'Mhaim seen through the Derry Pinewoods
I left the bike lying on the grass at Derry Lodge, I was quite happy with that as although it was mechanically good, it’s very tatty and I never have to worry about it being stolen. The guide book had suggested going about a mile North from Derry Lodge, then cutting uphill to the East. There were no signs of paths at all, so I climbed the fence where the trees seemed most easy to find a way through. The heather was deep and made walking difficult, but once over the second fence, as I gained height, the heather became shallower and the angle of the slope eased a fair bit. I always hate the first bit of ascent, everything after that seems easy in comparison and once on the tops, I could walk all day. There was no path, so I more or less took a line directly towards Beinn Bhreac and I was able to have a look down the narrow valley of Poll Bhat, towards upper Glen Quoich. After that, the slope steepened for a while, but the going was quite good as I easily avoided small boulder fields. At the summit, I could see Beinn a’Chaorainn to the North and it seemed a very long way off. Glen Derry was pretty much hidden from view, but I could see Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin , while to the East, Beinn a Bhuird was huge, but didn’t seem like a separate mountain, rather a higher part of a huge plateau. The walk over the grassy, but reasonably dry plateau to Beinn a’ Chaorainn was easy, on short grass and heather, with only slight diversions needed to avoid small pools and cross small burns. From the plateau, the Southern corrie of Beinn a’Chaorainn seems almost symmetrical and I walked up the centre of it to the summit. Beinn a’ Chaorainn isn’t a wonderful viewpoint either, too crowded in by other hills, but the distant views are OK. I just had a brief stop to eat and drink and set off towards the Lairig an Laoigh, more or less following the County Boundary. It’s a steepish descent into the pass, but quite easy. At the pass, I checked the time and it was still late morning, so instead of heading down Glen Derry I contoured round into Coire Etchacan and had a look into the Hutchison memorial hut, there was no-one in residence, but there was some gear on the floor.
I then continued up the steep path to Loch Etchacan, with a thought of climbing Derry Cairngorm again, but there was loads of time, so I decided to go over Ben MacDhui to Carn a’ Mhaim, which I hadn’t climbed yet. It’s a pleasant walk up the path to Ben MacDhui from Loch Etchacan and there were some small patches of snow left and also, the first people I‘d seen since Derry Lodge.
[b]Loch Etchacan and Beinn Mheadhoin from Ben MacDhui path[/b]
I had a look over into Coire Sputan Dearg but there was no snow in there. By then a bit of cloud was building up, but it was pleasant and warm with little wind so I visited the top of Ben MacDhui where there was what seemed like a busload of Spanish schoolchildren milling around and a few walkers who didn’t hang around. The walkers did the same as me, we went over to the edge of the Lairig Ghru to take in one of the best Cairngorm views and get away from the noise. That’s one good thing about preventing access to the mountains from the Ptarmigan station on Cairngorm - the Cairngorm plateau is much quieter now than it was then.
The view to the West was good and clear and despite it being July, there were some sizeable patches of snow in the Garbh Coire and on Braeriach.
It was mid afternoon by then and I still had a bit of walking left to do, so I followed the Tailors Burn steeply down to the col of Carn a’ Mhaim’s North ridge and set off up towards the summit. It’s not a steep slope to ascend and there were some decent views from the ridge, of the Lairig Ghru, Braeriach and the Devil’s Point as well as Glen Geusachan and Beinn Bhrotain.
The Devil's Point and Glen Geusachan from Carn a'Mhaim
Looking North towards Braeriach from Carn a'Mhaim North ridge.
The view from Carn a’Mhaim is extensive, but the best views are to the West and at that time, directly into the sun. I got a good view of the Sgorr Mhor - Sgor Dubh ridge, which is apparently a good place to view the Cairngorms from and a walk I want to look at in the future.
I only stopped briefly at the top before setting off down towards the Luibeg crossing. The path that was decent on the ridge, petered out and never appeared again. From the bridge, it was a long, but pleasant stroll back through the pinewoods back to Derry Lodge. The bike, as always, was still there and from Derry Lodge, it didn’t take long to cycle back downhill to the car, at about 6.30pm.

Re: Four Cairngorm Munros in a day from Deeside

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 10:13 pm
by Graeme D
It's always intriguing to see old pics of a place that you know so well, but from a time before you knew it at all. Cheers! :D

Re: Four Cairngorm Munros in a day from Deeside

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:09 pm
by monty
Thats a big walk Border reiver. Hoping to do the four to the right of Glen Derry this summer so nice to see a few pictures of the terrain. :D

Re: Four Cairngorm Munros in a day from Deeside

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:40 pm
by Border Reiver
monty wrote:Thats a big walk Border reiver. Hoping to do the four to the right of Glen Derry this summer so nice to see a few pictures of the terrain. :D

It's not that big a walk when you've got a bike to help at the end of the day when it's most needed, it cuts the walking bit down to just over 20 miles.

Sorry I didn't have too many pics, but here's a website that I like, it has loads of top photos of pretty much anywhere in the country and I've used it in the past to have a preview of terrain.

Good luck with your plan, looking forward to seeing you report on here.