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Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:36 pm
by Stretch
For most of the past week I'd been planning a route that would take in 4 munros and a corbett from the Linn of Quoich. I managed 4 out of the 5 summits I had hoped to do this weekend.

The forecast looked excellent for my first wildcamp of the year and I set off from the Linn of Quoich car park around 9:45 with the intention of camping high on Beinn a' Bhuird. I figured it would take me about 8 hours to get there doing this route. The first section is a simple stroll down the track through Glen Quoich. After an hour I broke left to climb the pathless, heathery eastern slope of Meall an Lundain. The going was tough here with a heavy 55l pack, but it was dry and offered good views to the east. The sun had yet to burn off the cloud and fog by the time I reached this top, but as I made my way over to Beinn Bhreac visibility increased and it got warm in a hurry. I made the summit of Beinn Bhreac at lunchtime, so I sat here for a while and took in the views. The only people I would see in this entire trip, 4 walkers from Aberdeen, showed up 5 minutes after me. After lunch and some photos I sat off across the Moine Bhealaidh. The path is good for about half of the way to Beinn a' Chaorainn, but then it gets messy with peat bogs and stream crossings. This part nearly killed me as I suffered under the weight of my pack. When I reached the lower slope of Beinn a' Chaorainn I dropped my pack and continued up to the summit. The views toward Beinn Mheadhoin and Cairn Gorm were superb, although hazy. I didn't hang around the summit too long - still had a long walk over to Beinn a' Bhuird to undertake!!

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Start of my day - forrest around the Linn of Quoich.jpg

Glen Quoich.jpg

Heading up Meall an Lundain.jpg

Summit of Meall an Lundain looking to Beinn Bhreac.jpg

Summit of Beinn Bhreac.jpg

Stretch with Beinn a' Bhuird.jpg

Seems like forever to Beinn a' Chaorainn.jpg

Starting the long walk across the Moine Bhealaidh to Beinn a' Chaorainn.jpg

Beinn a' Chaorainn summit looking to Beinn Mheadhoin and Cairn Gorm.jpg

It's still a long way to Beinn a' Bhuird.jpg

The walk over to the western side of Beinn a' Bhuird wasn't too bad - there were some boggy bits, but it was flat and I made good progress. There is a small ridge that drops down from the main bulk of the hill that I took to the top - it forms the edge of Coire Ruairidh. I reached the north top of Beinn a' Bhuird in 7 hours, around 5pm. After sending a few texts to Mountainstar and Gammy Leg Walker, I took some photos across to the south top and down into the coire before starting my search for a campsite. I crossed a few snow fields and made my way over to Cnap a' Chleirich. I read Kinley's report for this hill and saw that he found a spot out of the wind - I didn't have the same luck. There was no escaping the 30-40mph gusts! I found a low spot behind some rocks that seemed like the best chance I'd have of getting a decent night's sleep and set up my tent. It was just after 6pm when I finished and ate my dinner. It was a real challenge trying to put the tent up in the wind and the rinky-dink tent pegs that come with the Laser Comp were not helping. I walked up to Cnap a' Chleirich to take some pics of Ben Avon and see what was in store for me in the morning. If I could make it through the night in that wind I'd have a rather easy ascent to my 4th munro. But the wind really frustrated me and as I sat in my tent around 7 the gusts blew the sides in so much that I said the heck with it. At 7:15 I set a record for tent take down and repacked my rucksac.

Aiming for the western arm of Beinn a' Bhuird's north top.jpg

Ridge above Coire Ruaridh to Beinn a' Bhuird.jpg

Beinn a' Bhuird summit looking to Ben Avon.jpg

Looking over the coire to the south top of Beinn a' Bhuird.jpg

Coire nan Clach.jpg

Still a fair bit of snow on Beinn a' Bhuird.jpg

First campsite below Cnap a' Chleirich.jpg

Ben Avon from Cnap a' Chleirich.jpg

I thought I would drop down lower, to the bealach known as the Sneck, to see if I could get out of the wind. But that area was worse, it was like a windtunnel. So I was faced with a decision, just try to tough it out knowing I wouldn't get any sleep, or descend further into the glen between Beinn a' Bhuird and Ben Avon. My sheer exhaustion won out - I needed sleep - so I started down the glen. It took a long time to find a suitable place to pitch the tent where the wind was low. In fact, I walked all the way down the glen until I stopped below the top Carn Eas that connects to Ben Avon. At 8:20 I set up my tent again, happy to have found a more relaxing spot, but sad to be so far from Ben Avon. I managed to sleep off and on until about 5:20 in the morning. I got up and looked outside and I could see that it was going to be a nice morning. So, decision time again. Do I go back to try and bag Ben Avon, or do I just save it for another time and walk out. I knew I could climb straight up Carn Eas, as steep as it looked, and I'd be able to get to Ben Avon. But I still had a long walk out over the corbett Carn na Drochaide to complete. I was low on fresh water, although the fast flowing stream I camped next too had plenty. I figured it might take me 3-4 hours to go back up to Ben Avon and I just wasn't sure I had the energy to do that and then walk out. Had I camped higher I would have stuck to my original route, but this morning I decided to head home a bit early. Gammy was to hit the panic button if he hadn't heard from me by 5/6 and I didn't want to chance not being back to Braemar where I could get a signal by that time.

After enjoying the morning unfold across the coiries of Beinn a' Bhuird with a hot chocolate I packed up and headed down the fine track to Gleann an t-Slugain. Just before you descend into the lower glen where some ruins sit, I took a right onto a path that would take me up to the area between Carn na Criche and Carn na Drochaide. Much of this path was made by ATVs but it's easy to follow and there is a better path along the broad ridge to the top of the corbett. I sat and had a second breakfast (plum and Mars bar) at the summit and relaxed a bit before heading back down to the Linn of Quoich. The haze was thick and the wind was still pretty chilly and I began to wonder what it would have been like on Beinn a' Bhuird last night. The wind might have died down some, but there was no way of knowing that would occur. After the 2 1/2 hours it took me to get from my second campsite to the top of the corbett I knew my energy would have been totally zapped had I climbed back up to Ben Avon that morning before walking out. So in the end I think I made the right call, my legs certainly agree.

Campsite below Beinn a' Bhuird.jpg

A last look back to Beinn a' Bhuird.jpg

Path up to Carn na Drochaide - break right just before descending into Gleann an t-Slugain.jpg

Summit of Carn na Drochaide.jpg

This was a tough route with a heavy pack, but with a lighter pack and an earlier start I don't see any reason why the entire route I had planned couldn't be done in a day. It's perfect for anyone looking for an epic expedition! An average walker could get to Beinn a' Bhuird in 7 hours, another 45-60 mins to Ben Avon, and then about 3 to 3 1/2 back to the car.

Now, where did I put those ibuprofen? :lol: :lol:

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:48 pm
by gammy leg walker
Thats a fine report on your epic walk stretch,pity you could not bag Ben Avon,hope the legs feel better now mate.

PS do your legs stick out the end of your tent

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:02 pm
by ChrisW
Fantastic report stretch and some stunning pics, both decisions (moving camp site & saving Ben Avon) would seem to be the right ones - really enjoyed this :D

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:20 pm
by walk aboot
Brilliant report, stretch :D , looks awesome for a first wild camp 8) .

I thought that was a Terra Nova tent in the photos. I owned one briefly (bought it, never used it, sold it on). The pegs aren't great, suggest you buy some hardier and more trustworthy ones on eBay :thumbup:

Yup, me too, same your legs stick out of the tent? :lol: :D :lol:

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:26 pm
by davgil
Great report stretch, epic right enough and 4 out of 5 aint bad considering!

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:59 pm
by Alastair S
Great report again Stretch. Shame about that wind - and amazing how different it was a few miles to the west. I was in a tee-shirt most of Saturday and was grateful for the gentle breeze when I got near the 4,000ft mark on Cairn Toul. Must have been some funnelling of the southerly flow, but you would have thought that the same would apply to the Lairig Ghru.

And as Dav just said, 4 out of 5 ain't bad.

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:03 pm
by LeithySuburbs
Great stuff Stretch :D . There's nothing like trudging through bog with a full pack then getting blown to bits to sap the energy :lol: . By leaving Ben Avon for another day, you have the chance to do it from the north from Tomintoul, which is a route I've always fancied :) .

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:11 am
by mountainstar
I should have read this report 1st before saying you were a "wus" for abandoning your campspot up high on Facebook :wink: ( was only joking know what I'm like by now!)
Will get back to this one later, getting late now ( no yawning Smilie!).

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:28 am
by Stretch
Thanks all, for the record, I fit perfectly inside the Laser Comp. My feet just touch the other end of the tent but I have enough room in there. The only thing is that it's not exactly tall enough for me to sit up in while I eat or drink something. Just need to invest in some better pegs!

It's ok Alan, I called Gammy a 'wus' in a text msg after he said he did a Tesco walk that day :lol: :lol:

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:29 am
by mountainstar
Back again.....
Enjoyed that report, the addition of a wildcamp puts in into a new dimension, thats my type of adventure :D

I was also wildcamping on the same night in Snowdonia, when we arrived at the camping spot at about 6pm there was just a bit of a breeze, but that died to nothing in the evening, as can be seen by the lake in the picture taken the next morning.

Glyders, Llyn Caseg Fraith, Glyders.jpg

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:15 am
by monty
Excellent report Stretch. Thats a big walk well done. Shame on not bagging Avon too but its not going anywhere. Sometimes you just have to call it a day. Been there :lol: :lol:

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:03 pm
by malky_c
Wot no Creag Bhalg? You'll never make it round the Grahams like that :wink:

Top report, interesting route, great wild camp and nice photos 8)
I feel a bit annoyed to be missing these kind of conditions - good to see you made the most of them.

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:17 pm
by mountainstar
malky_c wrote:
I feel a bit annoyed to be missing these kind of conditions - good to see you made the most of them.

Are you away now Malky?

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:20 pm
by nathan79
Nice report Stretch. Definitely a good weekend to spend up the hills. Pity i was at a wedding Saturday (then too hungover).

You must be near enough completed the Cairngorms by now, no?

I'm eagerly awaiting the opportunity for my first wildcamp/ Banshee christening. Note to self-buy that stove and sleeping mat you've had your eye on.

Re: Eastern Cairngorm Epic

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:25 pm
by Stretch
Thanks Nathan, the MSR Pocket Rocket is perfect for a basic over-nighter and it's fairly cheap. The mat I used this time was the Pacific Outdoor Ether Elite 6. It's hard to find, but it was very comfy and lightweight. Let me know when you get all of your stuff together and at some point we can head out for an adventure.