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7 Munros and 1 Graham

7 Munros and 1 Graham

Postby Gareth M » Sat Oct 15, 2022 8:31 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Braeriach, Cairn Gorm, Cairn Toul, Càrn a' Mhàim, Sgòr an Lochain Uaine, The Devil's Point

Date walked: 11/08/2022

Time taken: 20 hours

Distance: 50 km

Ascent: 2946m

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A good enough forecast for camping in the mountains happened to coincide with my brother being back from California. Having been spoilt with loads of mountains over 10,000 foot for most of the last 15 years he had no interest in climbing small hills, so, despite being called Graham, it was the highest Munros or nothing. Being used to the bone-dry Californian paths he also has a severe phobia of bogs and gives every walk we go on a bog rating. So, we headed for the Cairngorms with the promise of lots of sunshine, mountains high enough to keep the spoilt Californian reasonably happy, and plenty of good dry paths. The plan was to get to Coire na Ciste car park early afternoon and climb Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui before camping somewhere high up then the next day make our way to Braeriach via Carn a’ Mhaim and Devil’s Point. Camping near the top of Braeriach would allow for what seemed, on paper, to be an easy mornings decent on the last day.

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I’m a big fan of panicking about things that probably won’t happen, so when I saw signs for ‘beach parking full' and cars everywhere I started to worry that the preferred car park, and every other car park, would be full. Like many of my worries it turned out that it was all fine and, even on a sunny Thursday afternoon in the summer holidays, Coire na Ciste car park was fairly empty.

Rather than the direct path to Cairn Gorm we set off towards Lochan na Beinne and then ascended Sròn a’ Cha-no to avoid the worst of the ski centre paraphernalia, get some different views to the east, and more importantly ease the steepness of the assent with our large packs. My pack turned out to be significantly heavier than my brother’s, who seemed to have ultra-light everything, whereas, as he reminded me repeatedly, I had ultra-heavy everything. There was a good path to the ridge and a decent path for some of the way up the ridge until it disappeared, but the going was easy, and we soon reached the top of the chairlifts. From here the summit of Cairn Gorm was a simple walk away.

zIMG_7439 Lochan na Beinne 2.JPG
Lochan na Beinne

zIMG_7450 Beinn Mheadhoin 2.JPG
Beinn Mheadhoin

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Top of the ski tows

At the top of Cairn Gorm the views to the west opened out as did the view of Ben Macdui which looked like a short hop skip and jump away. Appearances can be deceptive on this vast plateau and the walk over to Ben Macdui was long, but reasonably easy.

zIMG_7496 Loch Etchachan and Derry Cairngorm 2.JPG
Loch Etchachan and Derry Cairngorm

zIMG_7511 Ben Macdui 2.JPG
Ben Macdui looks quite easy from here but it was still a fair way to go

zIMG_7527 Ridge of Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir looking to Schiehallion and Ben Lawers (I think) 2.JPG
Ridge of Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir looking to Schiehallion and Ben Lawers (I think)

Near the top of Ben Macdui we sat down for a bit of food and Graham heard a strange noise, I said it was probably me chomping on a banana, but he was convinced it wasn’t. Thinking that spending all day with his elder brother had driven him mad we carried on. Soon after we heard the noise again and looked to the right of the path to see a heard of reindeer, turns out he wasn’t going mad. We stood for a while and the seemingly tame reindeer ambled between us close enough to smell them. They did have a musty smell, probably similar to us at the end of the three days!

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After spending a bit of time on the fairly empty summit of Ben Macdui we wondered down to the southeast and found a perfect patch of grass to pitch our tents next to a small stream amongst a sea of uncampable rocks. Graham pitched his ultra-light tent and I pitched my ultra-heavy tent and we had a bit of a wonder around to take in the views. The weather was still perfect with clear air and blue skys that faded to orange and then purple as the sun set on the far side of Ben Macdui. Just after sunset a big orange ball appeared to be hovering over the hills to the east, this turned out to be a Sturgeon super moon apparently.

zIMG_7599 The Devils Point looking towards Beinn A Ghlo 2.JPG
The Devil's Point and Beinn A' Ghlo in the distance

zIMG_7600 Beinn A Ghlo 2.JPG
Beinn A' Ghlo

zIMG_7619 Lochan Uaine 2.JPG
Lochan Uaine

zIMG_7620 Beinn Mheadhoin 2.JPG
Beinn Mheadhoin

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Spot for the night

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Shaky picture of the supermoon rise

I was up bright and early to watch the sunrise, Graham was less keen and said he’d wake up when he wakes up. For the first five minutes I was above the clouds and could see the shapely summits of Cairn Toul and Sgòr an Lochain Uaine emerging from the cloud. My hopes of the cloud dropping were short lived and soon I was engulfed. I still climbed Ben Macdui once again to have the summit all to myself, although I couldn’t see the outstanding views we’d seen the night before. Eventually my brother emerged from his tent to witness the inside of a cloud and get packed up ready for the hard day of walking.

zIMG_7664 Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine 2.JPG
The cloud looking like it may drop for a spectacular sunrise

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It didn't drop and soon the views were gone, at least it had been clear the night before

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What I can only describe as a moss glacier

We descended the steep bouldery frog (and fog) covered slope towards the start of the ridge to Carn a’ Mhaim and dropped out of the cloud. As we climbed the unexpectedly narrow ridge the cloud base slowly ascended meaning we never went back into the cloud and surprisingly had views from the first summit. From here there was a slightly demoralising descent, not because it was hard, but because every step down meant a step up on the other side of the Lairig Ghru. However, the walk up the Lairig Ghru to Corrour Bothy was spectacular compensation, with the view of Devil’s Point becoming more and more spectacular. Ever wanting to lighten his super light load, Graham was delighted to discover toilets at the bothy and make his total weight even less for the tough climb ahead.

zIMG_7669 The Devils Point and the Dee 2.JPG
The Devil's Point looking down the Dee

zIMG_7674 The Devils Point 2.JPG
An atmospheric looking Devil's Point

zIMG_7696 The Devils Point and up the Lairig Ghru 2.JPG
The Devil's Point and the Lairig Ghru beyond

zIMG_7698 The Devils Point 2.JPG
The Devil's Point... again

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Toilets for friends

zIMG_7705 Corrour Bothy 2.JPG
Corrour Bothy

The climb from the bothy to the bealach wasn’t as bad as it looked from a distance, and we were soon there. The climb without our bags to the top of Devils Point was even better, and the views, particularly down to the Dee, were spectacular. Back down at the bealach we grabbed the bags and then found a spring near the top of the path from the bothy to fill up our bottles and set off on the massive climb up Cairn Toul. We grinded our way up to the spectacular summit, slow and steady as we had plenty of time. From here the views were spectacular with expansive views to the west and amazing views of the mountains to the east, so large are the views of the nearest mountains that I found my 18mm lens on my camera just couldn’t fit it all in and I was reaching for my phone’s wide angle. However, no photos I had seen of these mountains do the scale of them justice, they are just so massive. Even my Californian brother was slightly impressed by the scale of it all.

zIMG_7709 2.JPG
As someone who measures rivers for a living, I liked the view from The Devil's Point

zIMG_7731 Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Braeriach 2.JPG
Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Braeriach

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We enjoyed the long walk around the rim of the massive corrie towards Braeriach. Up near the top spots to camp are in short supply as it is littered with rocks, but we found a decent area on some gravel. In the distance there were some other people camping on the grassy hills on the west of the plateaux, which also looked an excellent place to camp, and also some around the Wells of Dee, which looked quite midge infested to me. We set the tents up and headed the short distance to the summit, which we had to ourselves, to watch the sun go down. Graham had his can of beer that he’d carried all the way around, I’m sure the thought of carrying the extra weight was eating him up inside so he was probably glad to get rid of it. Sunset was decent, but cloud on the horizon to the west and north obscured the best of it.

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zIMG_7769 Just above the falls of Dee 2.JPG
Just above the Falls of Dee

zIMG_7772 Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine 2.JPG

zIMG_7782 2.JPG
Gravelly home for the night

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zIMG_7807 Sgor an Lochain Uaine with Beinn A Ghlo beyond 2.JPG
Beinn A' Ghlo beyond the pyramid of Sgor an Lochain

I was up bright and early to watch the sun rise from the top of Braeriach, while Graham again insisted he’d get up when he gets up. Sunrise was much more spectacular than sunset and unlike the previous day I was glad I’d set the alarm. Eventually Graham emerged and we packed up to head down. In my mind I had written the walk out off as all downhill and not too far. Compared to the other days it was mostly downhill and it was only around 8 miles, but after a big couple of days it felt a lot further.

zIMG_7857 2.JPG
Sunrise over Braeriach

zIMG_7865 Looking NW 2.JPG
View NW with turbines emerging from the cloud far below

zIMG_7869 2.JPG

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The walk down to the north side of Lairig Ghru was fairly long but straight forward, then came a steep little climb up the other side to the Chalamain Gap. After reading much about the gap I was fearing the worst for my weary legs, but I found it enjoyable and a nice bit of a change hopping over the boulders. The other side of the gap the scenery was still spectacular, all be it not quite as wild, with the views of the road, car park and ski centre, but also the northern corries of the plateaux. Eventually we made it to the last grind up the road to the car.

zIMG_7957 2.JPG
Golden Eagle patrolling the cliffs of Braeriach

zIMG_7968 2.JPG
The long way down

Even my Californian brother conceded that it had been a great walk, with the caveat of ‘for Britain’. He must have enjoyed it though as he headed to Fort William to do the rest of the 4,000 footers a few weeks later.
User avatar
Gareth M
Posts: 27
Munros:24   Corbetts:11
Fionas:5   Donalds:7
Joined: Apr 5, 2022

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