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Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby nathan79 » Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:42 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Carn a'Mhaim, Derry Cairngorm

Date walked: 22/08/2011

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 32 km

Ascent: 1691m

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Had my eye on this long route for a couple of weeks, never managed it on days off i had last week, so thought i'd take advantage of a good weather report and a Monday off.

Day started off badly, slept through my 3am alarms. I'm almost certain i shouted some profanity in my state of semi-slumber. No matter, plenty of daylight so i set off at 8am, arrived in Braemar about 10, porridge and a coffee then along to park up at the Linn of Dee.

Fair few cars in the car park. Soon as i stepped out of mine the midge horde attacked. slapped on some smidge and got moving asap to escape them.

Pleasant walk in. Nice breeze to keep the midgies away.Walked in with a guy who was camping up by Derry Lodge. A knowlegdeable guy who'd spent many years the mountains. He cut off the path to find a sppot to pitch while i continued on my way. Derry Lodge is such a waste of a nice looking, big building sitting there boarded up and unused.

Good view of Carn a'Mhaim on the walk in, the path up is clear to see. A few bikes at various points by the path. I think cycling in the first 3 miles or so may be a preferable option to the walk.
Carn a'Mhaim

Carn a'Mhaim and the Luibeg bridge.

Already aware of the prospect this young greying man may have to face Ben Macdui's old grey man, i was met with the sight of this ghostly frog carcass as i approached the ascent to Carn a'Mhaim.
Ghost frog!

Sat down with the intention of enjoyng lunch where the path for Carn a'Mhaim cuts off from the one leading to the Lairig Ghru. As soon as i did, the breeze disappeared and the bloodsuckers were at me again. Abandoned my lunch plans and continued on up to summit number 1, hoping to find a windier, midge-free spot.

Nice high cloud level was giving fantastic views all around when i stopped for lunch.
south of Carn a Mhaim.jpg
southern pano

today's trio of targets

I thought i'd almost missed the CaM summit carn initially but of course this was the 1014m cairn, south of the actual summit cairn. Reached the first summit of the day in just over 3.5hours.
pre-summit cairn

CaM summit cairn

I'd been looking forward to getting a good view of the Devil's Point. The view over it just get's better as you get higher. I've never been attracted by the prospect of long flattish treks, but i think teh Lairig Ghru would be a fantastic walk now i've seen the sights it passes by. I wondered what the bothy at it's base was, i didn't realise that was where Corrour bothy was.
Devil's peak

Got myself a fancy new phone and i've been checking out a free HDR app i downloaded to see if it's any good.
2011-08-22 14.21.48bright.jpg
Devil's peak HDR

Onwards over the ridge towards big bad Ben Macdui. It's a nice enough ridge, not narrow by any means. Not looking forward to what looks like a fairly steep ascent.
CaM ridge towatrds Ben Macdui

I guess the ascent up tio Macdui wasn't too bad, although it required careful going over the boulder field. I met a couple doing the reverse route. I think i had the better lot heading up this than they did going down. Took some pics of Cairn Toul and it's neighbours for a pano.
Cairn Toul group.jpg
Devil's Peak, Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine

Glad to reach the plateau and be within spitting distance of the top.
Knew i was nearing the summit cairn when i passed the Sapper's bothy.
Sapper's bothy

At last. Summit of the big boy reached at about 16:35. Happy to sit here for a bit to eat and take in the views and the knowledge i was on Britain's number 2 summit.
Ban Macdui summit

Spent a good half hour or so refuelling and savouring the views before heading towards Derry Cairngorm. After 5 now so i needed to get shifting.
Awesome looking crags at the wall of Coire Sputan Dearg.
CSD cliff

Derry Cairngorm through a gap.

Continued on down towards Loch Etchachan. Met a guy ascending back up Macdui way where he was camped out (brave man). Still air on this section so the midgies were dining out again so after a brief chat we continued on out respective ways. Looked like there was a tent over by the NE side of the Loch. I'd been wishing i'd brought my tent, but the bloodsuckers had me glad i didn't.
Down towards Loch Etchachan

Missed the path to skirt around Creagan a'Choire so i had to head up and over the top. Damn and blast.I'd felt i was on the home stretch descending Macdui but i was feeling the fatigue at this point and i didn't have much food or water left.
Found it strange heading towards Derry Cairngorm. Looking over at Cam it looked so small in comparison to the massive Ben Macdui and it felt weird still being so high above Munro height yet still looking up at Macdui.

Glad to reach the summit at about 10 to 7, but still a good few miles to gobefore i could sit in my car and enjoy a coffee and the half a muffin i'd left from the morning.
Derry Cairngorm summit.

Finally time to start heading back to the car. I'd seen Ptarmigan dropings all day, but hadn't caught sight of any, but on the stretch between Derry and Carn Crom i spied 10. All i had left to eat was a bag of nuts and my water supply was done.

A bit of exposure along the route i took along past Coire na Saobhaidh, one bit where i had to down poles and use my hands just to be safe. Nothing major though. I was more concerned on what the path down through the crags was like, glad to find my worries were unnecessary. It's a good path all the way down back to Derry Lodge. I'll admit to emitting a groan or two as i climbed over the two styles.

Down low at glen level, the midge horde immediately found me. I had to stop to get some more smidge on and stick a hat on. They were a blessing in a way, powered by midge rage i kept up a good pace along Glen Lui back to the car park. About 8.45 by this point and light was fading, but there was no need to break out the head torch just yet. A guy cycled past me making his way back along towards the Linn of Dee. I was tempted to ask him for a lift! Kept my eyes peeled for any dusk-loving wildlife, didn't see too much though. A few toads hopping across the path and the bats were out feeding as i crossed the bridge over Lui water.

At last! The path into the woods and i was almost there. Donned the head torch through the trees and after a long day i was back at my car just after 9:30. Gear dumped in the boot and drove along to Braemar where i had the other half of tha muffin and finished my flask of coffee.

My route ended up being just over 20 miles and i was disappointed that i just missed beating the 11hour mark. So glad to get some fluids down me, and as a bonus i'd forgotten i'd left an apple in my coolbag.

10:15 when i set off on the 2 hour drive home, the odd car coming along the opposite direction along the A93 and at one point a daredevil/idiotic sheep nonchalantly chewing away on the northbound side of the road. Home after midnight. I'd been looking forward to beer and a bath, but there was no way i was having the latter at that time of night. Shower, pizza and beer then mich needed sleep.
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby soulminer » Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:15 pm

A cracking big walk is that 8) Such a fantastic place to walk about in, except for bloody midges. Some recent reports from that particular area- Cairngorms,giving rise to me worrying about them in a planned two-day camping trip :shock: :) Hope they die out before then. Can of Lynx and a lighter required if not :lol:
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby gammy leg walker » Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:15 pm

Thats a looooong day Nathan,great report once again,your fitness must be good now
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby malky_c » Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:48 pm

A good long way if you don't cycle to Derry Lodge :)

This remains one of my favourite days out ever in the hills, and went a long way to ensuring that the Cairngorms are one of my favourite ranges. We did it on a stunning blue sky day in March, when there was plenty of snow left on the plateau, but it was essentially summer walking. Good memories 8)
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby Stretch » Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:51 pm

Excellent report my friend. I don't remember the scrambly bit around Derry Cairngorm though, I just remember a pretty straightfoward path from down near the lodge all the way up.

By the way, was that a large Pizza Hut pizza? :lol:
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby pigeon » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:03 pm

Nice one Nathan,was up there recently and also suffered the midge,it's a great area though and looking forward to getting back up there soon with my new midge net in the pack :lol:
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby Graeme D » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:05 pm

Big day Nathan. Well done, although it still pains me to read Derry Cairngorm reports after all these months. One day! Is this you getting into full training mode for Kintail in a couple of weeks??? :D
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby rockhopper » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:18 pm

Good one nathan with some very nice photos :thumbup: It's always great when the tops are free of cloud in this area. Not sure about your HDR though - might need a wee bit of practice :? :wink:
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby nathan79 » Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:41 pm

The fitness still isn't where i'd like it to be, but it's clearly okay. One thing i'm noticing is that it's not until about the 9/10mile mark where hints of cramp start appearing. The Kintail meet has definitely been in my thoughts.

This is one area i'd definitely like to visit under a blanket of snow(and ideally clear blue skies!). I'd definitely like to camp up there in midge free conditions.

Stretch, i wouldn't call it a scramble, just maybe about a 3 foot slab of rock that you can't really just stroll across. And i wish it was a pizza hut pizza. I kept thinking f what my post-walk feast would be be, unfortunately getting home after midnight meant i just had to raid the fridge. It just wasn't the same.
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby ChrisW » Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:17 pm

Fantastic walk and report Nathan and some beautiful pics (HDR needs work though :shock: ) I laughed so much at the "powered by midge rage " comment - 20 miles is a hell of a jaunt, still out of my range and working the last few weeks hasn't helped - kudos to you and your extended energy - maybe you should start walking with Kinley, he likes a long wander :D
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby Alastair S » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:03 am

Nice report on this super walk. Cycling to Derry Lodge is the definitely the way to go - did exactly the same route in Feb & it took me a tad over 9 hrs.

I had a crackin' day & took some of my best photos that day + I hit the 50 mark on Ben Macdui (50 on Macdui). I entered a couple of the photos from that day in the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition but sadly didn't get short-listed :(
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby nathan79 » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:16 pm

Some great shots in that report Alastair, that's the kind of weather i'd like to make a return visit in.

Yeah, so far i wouldn't say that HDR app's delivered a snap that looks anything like an HDR image! It did add some jazzy colouring to one shot i tool whilst simultaneously reducing the image quality. :lol: I think i must accept there's no shortcut.
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby JGKES » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:31 pm

Magnificent walk,great pictorial record, and enjoyable and inspiring report.I made just Carn a'Mhaim, from which the view was stupendous, on July 13 2011.But I'd love to be able to do your expedition.Hope you have many more epics like this in your future wanderings.Classic stuff.
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Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby monty » Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:05 am

Excellent walk Natan. Its not great when you run out of water and still have a way to go. I have been there :lol: :lol: Some nice photos. Not so sure about the HDR :D

Re: Carn a 'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Postby iainwatson » Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:11 am

well in Nathan,your certainly racking up the hills now and the 'madness' of long walks has caught up with you now :lol:
i'm eyeing the south ridge for the saturday in kintail if you fancy it?
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