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Ben Avon and Beinn a' Bhuird from the Ski Centre.

Ben Avon and Beinn a' Bhuird from the Ski Centre.

Postby Shevek17 » Sat Nov 12, 2022 8:14 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a' Bhùird, Beinn a' Chaorainn (Cairngorms), Beinn Bhreac, Ben Avon

Date walked: 18/07/2022

Time taken: 18 hours

Distance: 47 km

Ascent: 1750m

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Monday 18th July 2022.

This week saw us based up in Grantown-on Spey with friends. I'd climbed my 250th Munro at the start of July (Sgaith Chuill) and had Munro itineraries of different size and scale ready for a few regions of the country, tailored to correspond with various longer and shorter periods off work, often a bit anomalous and focused on the hills of the round I had left to do. Not being a car driver the final rule was the plans had to realistically take into account public transport times for the beginning and end of the hikes.

Sure enough on the first day in Grantown a good weather window arrived so I got ready and prepared my pack.The forecast was for a scorcher before thunderstorms moved in by the afternoon of the next day.

I would catch the bus to the Ski centre car park. Walk over the east side of Cairngorm and down to the Fords of Avon refuge. Cross the river and ascend up the north side of Beinn a Chaorrain, walk to Beinn Bhreac then turn back north and east for Beinn a Bhuird. East again to summit Ben Avon where I was minded to camp for the night. Then back to the Avon and a walk along its north bank cutting up through rough ground at Faindouran Lodge to gain the path below Bynack Mor where it was a simple enough walk back to pick up the bus at Glenmore.

In comparison to some previous hikes the ascent and distance involved for this one seemed manageable.The biggest issue would be the excessive heat on one of the years hottest days. I arrived off the bus as planned at the ski centre around 8am in good spirits, hat and sunglasses at the ready and duly loaded up with the provisions and camping gear. After studying the map I concluded that I'd have little or no water filling opportunities between the Fords of Avon until after Ben Avon summit so I knew I'd have to collect my supply once over Cairngorm's shoulder down at the Loch..

It was still fairly comfortable morning air and I was soon up and over staring at a snow patch
Snow patch

That view of Loch Avon. It never disappoints
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Loch Avon

Upon reaching the Fords I duly filled my bottles up with as much as I could muster knowing It would be essential later in the day despite all the extra weight I'd have to haul.
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Fords of Avon

..and so the first bit of really hard work began clambering up the rough side of Beinn a' Chaorrain with a maximum load of food, water and equipment. I'd estimated that this part should be over before the real heat hit and in the end I made steady progress up to the summit.
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Beinn a 'Chaorainn summit

All Munros are worthwhile but some Munros are more charming than others and I knew from being close to B a''C and BB previously these two would most probably fit into the former category. Not that it really mattered on a day like today and by virtue of their being lower than the surrounding hills I was treated to a 360 degree Grahams-eye-view panorama of the neighbouring high tops. Beinn Meadhoin's Tors were visible to the west.
Looking North West to Beinn Mheadhoin
Ben MacDui

Beinn Bhreac lay a fair way off to the south, I wanted to find a suitable place to dump the pack so I could do a brisk up and down onto its summit.
I found a spot nicely by the side of the path and on a clear day like today there was no chance of losing it in the mist. A risk never worth taking.
View south from Beinn Bhreac summit

The view to the south from BB was of a prominent Lochnagar. Beinn a 'Ghlo always seems to stand out when looking from this area of the Cairngorms. Hard to believe it really is the same group of hills viewed from Blair Atholl the profile is so different.
A distant Beinn A'Ghlo

After walking back down and collecting the gear I veered off north-east over rough ground to start the walk up the eastern shoulder of Beinn a' Bhuird aiming directly for the true summit. It was now mid afternoon and this section proved to be the most demanding of the entire hike despite a total elevation of only 300m to negotiate. One blessing was I encountered a couple of small streams where I took off the hat and poured large amounts of water over my head and down the back of my neck. It seems to work fairly instantly every time in cooling the body temperature down and worked a treat again here.

After this slog under the glare of the mid afternoon sun I finally glimpsed the Munro cairn which over the final stretch I arrived at in no time. I was pleased to be on my third summit of the day and absorbed in the trip. I knew that the main character of the hill lay to the south of this point so I dumped the bag and spent an hour or so sauntering around those cliffs and crags. If I'd made an orthodox ascent then this would have been part of my route. I was rewarded with stunning views below and to the east as well as catching the first proper glimpse of Ben Avon's Tors.
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Beinn a' Bhuird Munro summit

Those couple of hours were perhaps the highlight of the trip. Real 'great to be alive' stuff and I shook my head to myself at the beauty of it all.
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Dubh Lochan
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Dividing Buttress and A'Chioch
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Garbh Coire
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Back at the Cairn I snacked and once again collected the pack to head east again amid the first glint of late afternoon sunlight.

It was easy going and I contoured round to the north of Cnap a' Chlierich to reach the south rim of the Garbh Coire. Another spectacular sight. Some rock climbers looked over from a few hundred feet away, my first encounter with people since the morning. It would get a bit busier up top as the evening wore on. No surprise for such a sunny day in July although I had met no-one since Loch Avon. I started my descent down to The Sneck
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The Sneck

A clear path then led me up onto the great plateau of Ben Avon with the summit Tor looking imposing straight ahead.
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Avon Summit Tor

The scramble up to the top was no trouble and I was rewarded with fantastic views over this unique Munro. You often get a sense in the high Cairngorms that the whole coast from Inverness to Dundee is visible framed by a faint blue North Sea line in the background.

I nipped back down the smooth rock and checked for phone messages. I had been sending a few pictorial updates during the day back to HQ in Grantown to prevent worry the last of which was of Avon summit Tor. The recipients demanded some proof of the scramble in the form of a selfie so I undertook the short hop up once again.
Ben Avon summit selfie

..and back down.. the eastern sides were now well shaded alongside the incredible views in the evening light.
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Summit Plateau
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Avon summit

Despite the day being a scorcher a fair wind had been forecast and I had tailored the route to let this westerly help me up the inclines. By now it was definitely whipping up a bit. It had been my original intention to explore some more Tors further east and find a spot on the sheltered side of one to pitch. But I didnt quite fancy it despite the surroundings. As I've camped more often I seem to prefer slightly lower ground. Spots that are a bit less exposed despite the function and weight of the tent being geared to allow a summit camp.
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Leaving the summit

Weighing things up I decided to try and head north off the Sron na h-Iolare shoulder, cross the River Avon and make my way west where hopefully I could find a suitable spot. I wasn't quite ready for bed yet and if I did start to feel really done I could just pitch at any point. Keeping going seemed like the right thing to do in the cooler evening walking conditions and I had a nagging sense that I should press on just in case the storms came in earlier than forecast the next day. I was a fair way from journeys end yet. It did feel a bit futile to have hauled a tent around all day only to descend and camp by a river but sometimes thats the way, the freedom the tent gives on a hike seems worth it alone!

I descended easily enough at first into remote territory. The deer were aware of my presence above and did their usual bolt to break our mutual line of sight. Further down and to the east of The Bruach things were much rougher and it was a slog until I finally reached the marked footbridge and Shelter Hut at the River Avon.
The Bridge over the River Avon

In what felt like the dodgiest part of the whole day I gingerly made my way over the wooden slats and gaps swaying from side to side a fair bit and feeling my weight test out the structure for what seemed like the first time since before the Millenium Dome. Looking at the Corrugated Shelter Hut cladding I was grateful for the tent.

Drama over I turned left onto the good track along the north bank of the Avon and started walking in the direction of Faindouran trying to balance walking in the fading light against holding out for a decent camp spot.

In the end it was almost dusk and another 4km tramp at a sharp bend in the river below Cnapan a' Mheirlich that I finally found some flat grass and trees that seemed practical and picturesque enough to pitch.
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Camp Spot by the River Avon

I got the tent up and settled down no problem tired enough to sleep after the days considerable effort. I can often be too weary to boil up the stove so I lazily made do with the last of my rolls,oatcakes and cheese before drifting off.

Tuesday 19th July 2022

I awoke fairly early and attempted to estimate the time it would take to get to Glenmore for the 1135 bus back to our holiday house and a pleasant cold beer in the back garden. About 4 hours should do it.

After about a kilometre I arrived at Faindouran. I'd walked before on the Corbett above (Creag Mhor) but never here..and was unsure what to expect, a ruin, or some kind of working lodge, an irrational thought in the middle of a National Park. In the end there was only a nice refurbished Bothy and flat area of grass. Another decent spot to camp if daylight hadn't run out. I took a sharp turn north and hit some expected rough ground. I'd wagered that this was shorter and preferable to the extra kilometres involved in following the River west and back round the Fords on clearer tracks.
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The Deer stared over again before scampering.

I dipped sharply down and up to cross the Glasath and before long I could see the path curving north past the east side of Bynack More.
Bynack More

Once on the path it made for good fast going north towards Glenmore. I started to encounter some morning walkers heading for Bynack More, my 2nd Munro back in 2015 . The Corbett Gael Charn could have been mistaken for Meall a Buchaille from this direction and I had to convince myself the latter was further away and to the west. Ryvoan Pass, the scene of some of my first ever walks in the Highlands, eventually appeared below.

The trees always stand out here and it felt good to be back in familiar territory. I walked briskly past the Lochan Uaine on my left without stopping to visit this time.
Green Lochan

Next came Glenmore Lodge and then a very busy road with cars parked for about a mile on either side to reach the bus stop and the journey back to Grantown and a refreshment.

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