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My first post - Macdhui

My first post - Macdhui

Postby chegp » Sun May 08, 2011 11:02 pm

Route description: Ben Macdui and Cairngorm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Cairn Gorm

Date walked: 15/04/2011

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 18 km

Ascent: 900m

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I have been meaning to get out in the Cairngorms for some time now, and now that I finally have, I thought it was a nice way to lose my 'walkhighlands virginity'. :lol: This report in itself is a month late - I'll get better! :) I have always marvelled at the stature of the Cairngorms when driving along the A95 towards Aviemore from Aberlour. I travel on this road several times a year when visiting my wife's grandparents (Betty and Jim) who stay in Dufftown. The last time we visited, 'the man above' decided to cover the mountains with a dark blanket of cloud, placing a firm barrier between me and the summits. But not this time! The travel up from West Lothian on Thursday 14th April was glorious - probably the nicest drive on the A9 ever. I was definitely heading for the hills the following morning. We (the wife and I, the sister-in-law and her boyfriend) arrived in Dufftown late on the Thursday and were greated with a lovely spread of snacks for a late supper; grandparents are truly wonderful. But, after the long and tiring drive, it was an early bed for all, especially since a couple of us were intending to wake early for a walk in the hills: I managed to drag the sister-in-law's boyfriend (Owen) out with me.

We got up reasonably early (around 8.00) and managed to leave at 9.15 for the drive to the ski centre after fending off large offerings of food from Betty. (Normally the hospitality is welcome, but a fry-up after porridge and toast is not the best for a long walk.) We arrived at 10.30 and were treated to excellent views of the Cairn Gorm corries and impressive cliffs, which we would get closer to later on in the day. I was actually surprised to see the ski centre still open, albeit with a very small run on coire cas. Once the boots were on, we were off to catch up with Mr Macdhui. We crossed the small bridge next to the car park and headed up the west shoulder of coire an lochain.
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The initial path

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Once the ground flattens out, the intimidating cliffs of Cairn Lochain reveal their true depth and grandeur. (Cairn Lochain should be a munro, right?) We meandered round the south slopes of Cairn Lochain and headed out onto the plateau. There was still plenty of snow kicking about, glistening from the might of the yellow fellow above. This being a week day, there were not too many people out and about and so the plateu was pretty deserted. We had past a group of hikers by this point and also a sole walker who was resting and taking in the views. It was onwards and upwards for us. We treked across the patchy-white expanse and scaled the last few bumps on our way to the summit of the second-in-command munro - Ben Macdhui. (in terms of spelling, I am going for the traditional 'h' version which matches the summit's view thingy ma bob.) To be honest, it was somewhat of an anticlimax standing at 1309 m. The gradual climb to the second highest point in Britain was remarkably easy and by far the easiest climb I have done, including the small humps of the Pentland hills. However, on the Pentland hills you are not rewarded with the stunning backdrop of mountains which are found on the other side of the lairig ghru. Breareich, The Angels peak and Cairn Toul all looked mighty and very inviting; I will definately be back soon for a traverse along that ridge. The wind was buffering at the top and so we sheltered near the cain and had some lunch and a cuppa tea. Following a few childish snaps we headed back down the slopes and took a bee line for stob coire an t-sneachda, stopping at Feith Buidhe to top up the water.
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The cliffs of Cain Lochain and stob coire an t-sneachda are so impressive. We hung around there for a while taking more childish snaps near the cliffs.
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Slowly, but surely, we made our way along the final stretch of the walk to reach the summit of Cairn Gorm. There were a few sight-seers who no doubt took the mountain railway to get there. Having taken forever to get from Macdhui to CG we headed down the fenced path the the 'shop at the top'. Coming across a cafe a short distance from the peak of your second mountain of the day is quite surreal. I couldn't resist grabbing a half-pint of beer and a deserved seat. After deciding that we were far too hard core to get the last train, we took to the slopes and headed for the car park. We set-off for Dufftown and arrived to a slap-up stew being dished out and a dram or two later in the evening - I love you Betty! :D :D Good day out. :clap:
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Re: My first post - Macdhui

Postby skuk007 » Mon May 09, 2011 11:08 am

Good report chegp, you chose a good weather day for this one, look forward to seeing some more. :)
I'm also hoping to walk some of the Cairngorm mountains for the first time this summer so can't wait.
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Re: My first post - Macdhui

Postby Scotjamie » Mon May 09, 2011 11:42 pm

Nicely done chegp
Great first report - reminds me of my own MacD report with traces of snow - will look forward to more from you
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