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Creag Mhor & Cairn Gorm but foiled again by Beinn Mheadhoin

Creag Mhor & Cairn Gorm but foiled again by Beinn Mheadhoin


Postby Graeme D » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:00 pm

Munros included on this walk: Cairn Gorm

Corbetts included on this walk: Creag Mhor

Date walked: 22/07/2011

Time taken: 9.2 hours

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 985m

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It's taken me a wee while to get round to posting this - the second day of my Cairngorms overnighter in July ahead of my Glenmore Lodge sea kayaking course. I had driven up on the Thursday, leaving the car at GL before circling up and over Meall a' Bhuachaille and then down past the Ryvoan Bothy and on up the traditional ascent route of Bynack More, before pitching the tent tight in against the Barns of Bynack for the night.

I awoke on the Friday morning to a fairly grey and skanky scene. A quick brew and hot breakfast later and things had actually taken a turn for the worse with the rain on fairly persistently. I sat feeling sorry for myself in my little Light Wave Tent.......5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15, 20 .....No sign of it going off. Slackened a bit maybe, but still coming down. I was resigning myself to another wet decamp when it went off and I seized my window of opporchancity.

I picked my way through the Barns and more or less due east down the rough slopes of Bynack More to the track below. I had taken a bearing for the wonderfully and mysteriously named 848 metre spot height of Dagrum, about 1km north east of the Corbett summit of Creag Mhor itself.

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Approaching Dagrum


I can't say that Dagrum quite lived up to the name, but I guess it's all about the name. It was certainly a decent little warm up act for the Corbett itself, with the same sort of lumpy, rounded granite slabs and tors pockmarked by little punch bowls scoured from the rock.

A typical tundra-like Cairngorm high level walk then had me at the summit of Creag Mhor, the huge mass of the granite tor looming ominously out of the clag ahead. Shades of Ben Avon last summer but without the good weather!

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Approaching Creag Mhor


Despite the lack of views, Creag Mhor is a special summit and I spent a good 10 minutes or so rummaging about amongst the nooks and crannies of the large rocks. I even spied a very decent looking camping spot right amongst the tors on a little flat piece of grass, although I imagine getting the pegs down might pose some problems! :lol:

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Corbett summit


From there I headed south west through the clag, faith in my map and compass abilities and that alone reassuring me that I was indeed going to pick up the Lairig an Laoigh path just north of the Fords of Avon.

The path was performing a more than passable impersonation of an allt, and the Allt Dearg itself was only crossed after a moment of hesitation and the careful location of an appropriate crossing place. As for the stepping stones across the River Avon, well I didnae see them anyway. Well and truly under water they seemed to be! :shock:

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Beinn Mheadhoin behind the Fords of Avon Refuge


This was my first inkling that the Curse of Beinn Mheadhoin was about to strike again, the second time this year! The plan had been to cross the river and do a direct ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin from the north east, but an alternative line of attack might be required. I decided to follow the river upstream towards Loch Avon, my way back out to Glenmore Lodge being over Cairn Gorm anyway. With a bit of luck, I'd find a place to cross before I went too much further.

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Mheadhoin from a little further upstream

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River Avon in full flow


Despite a lot of probing and humming and hawing, I never did find that spot, not even at the very outflow of the loch, by which time I was well beyond the optimal attack line for Mheadhoin in any case. Sure, I could have tracked back round had I managed to get across, but I was feeling strangely lethargic and the trip seemed to be taking longer than I had anticipated. I also suppose that if I had really wanted to, I could have got across the river, but somehow both options (a full-on wade in boots and a trickier barefoot crossing) did not seem to appeal today and I was strangely reluctant. I even tried to tell myself that I was going to spend the next two days getting wet in a sea kayak anyway, so where was the harm in a hard river crossing now, but it didn't wash.

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Reaching Loch Avon


At the north eastern end of Loch Avon, a glance at both the map and the time had me ruling out the creeping notion that I might be able to skirt round the head of the loch and up towards Loch Etchachan, grab Mheadhoin from there before retracing my steps back to the Loch and then up into Coire Raibert. Beinn Mheadhoin had evaded my grasp yet again.

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Stacan Dubha and Shelter Stone Crag across Loch Avon


Already my mind was plotting serious revenge as I elected not to head up to the Saddle but instead continue along the northern shore of the loch and up onto Cairn Gorm via the long climb through Coire Raibert.

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Up into Coire Raibert

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Back over towards Loch Etchachan

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Stacan Dubha, Creagan a' Choire Etchachan and Carn Etchachan


I hadn't seen another soul all day until I reached the path coming in onto Cairn Gorm from Fiacaill a' Choire Chais, where the throngs descended upon me - well three groups of between 2 and 4 people each. As I passed the woman at the back of the group of four, I bade her a cheery hello and was met with stony silence and a blank stare :?: :silent: :wtf: . Welcome to Cairn Gorm! And a good day to you as well!!! You've got to wonder what some folks are doing out here! :?

Again, as had been the case over the last 24 hours, the summit views were somewhat obscured by cloud but there were occasional fleeting glimpses in most directions.

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Cairn Gorm summit in the clag

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Quick self timer shot before the masses arrive

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Fleeting glimpse of Loch Etchachan


There was no way I fancied a descent off the hill through all the ski and funicular clutter and I opted instead for the long wending ridge walk above Strath Nethy over Cnap Coire na Spreidhe and around the massive scree slopes of Stac na h-Iolaire. Needless to say I had the place to myself again and this really is a fantastic way off (or onto) Cairn Gorm.

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Beinn Mheadhoin, Beinn a' Chaorainn and Beinn a' Bhuird from descent off Cairn Gorm

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Beinn Mheadhoin and a distant Derry Cairngorm behind the just visible Loch Etchachan

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Bynack More across Strath Nethy from Cnap Coire na Spreidhe

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Looking back to Cairn Gorm summit

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Down into Strath Nethy

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Loch Morlich and Meall a' Bhuachaille

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It's a long old gradual ridge descent

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Bynack More

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Stac na h-Iolaire and the Abernethy Forest beyond


It's amazing how the nature of the ridge changes through the long, gradual descent, culminating in a fantastic little hidden valley like something out of Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which then disgorges you out onto the track by the Loch a' Gharbh-choire.

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Final descent down into the hidden valley and onto the track beyond


Then it was a straightforward walk back along the track to the car and into Glenmore Lodge to get booked in to my room, jump in the shower, quick change and then up to the bar for dinner and a well deserved pint or two. :D 8)


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Graeme D
 
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Re: Creag Mhor & Cairn Gorm but foiled again by Beinn Mheadhoin

Postby kevsbald » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:05 pm

G, I ain't done Mheadhoin yet - a high Autumn camp interest thee?
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kevsbald
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Re: Creag Mhor & Cairn Gorm but foiled again by Beinn Mheadhoin

Postby Graeme D » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:12 pm

Surev does Kev. I'm going to get that bugger if it's the last thing I do ....... :lol:
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Graeme D
 
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Re: Creag Mhor & Cairn Gorm but foiled again by Beinn Mheadhoin

Postby malky_c » Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:20 am

Looks like you'll need to save Beinn Mheadhoin for last :lol:

Nice route off Cairngorm. Only done that once - definitely worth doing again as like you say, it's a great ridge.
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malky_c
 
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Re: Creag Mhor & Cairn Gorm but foiled again by Beinn Mheadhoin

Postby Alastair S » Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:26 pm

Nice report Graeme. Shame about not bagging Beinn Mheadhoin. Its a fine hill so worth saving for a good day. Also like the decent back to Glenmore Lodge. I once returned from the lower ski centre car park via the clearly marked (on the map) path only to find the path expired many years ago and had a km of boggy forest hell to end my otherwise fine day.
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Alastair S
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Re: Creag Mhor & Cairn Gorm but foiled again by Beinn Mheadhoin

Postby rockhopper » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:05 am

Just back from holidays up this way with some reports to do. Pity about Beinn Mheadhoin Graeme - I tend to carry flip-flops or wetsuit shoes to aid river crossings as they're much more comfy than bare foot. Good excuse to go back though.
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