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ben Macdui via loch avon

ben Macdui via loch avon

Postby paul2610 » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:38 am

Route description: Ben Macdui and Cairngorm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Cairn Gorm

Date walked: 18/07/2011

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46 years years ago on a bright sunny morning at about 04.oo I came screaming into this world in a little town in dorset. Others having a sort of celebration may treat themselve to a dinner out, fly a plane, a massage even with chest wax! but no on the 18 of this month I decided to brave the wonders of cairngorms - again - and have a tad of a stroll around the parks higher points - in the rain and low cloud. I had tried the week before to get to macdui via tomintoul on a bike but after a few miles past faindouran lodge the romantic allusion of flying down slopes over rocky terrain, sort of dimished!!!

Right now that its clear the sort of nutter I am, lets get on with the route bit. I have attached a GPX file of the route which can be used in OS new and improved getamap for all those important statistics, plus 4 photos.

I don't know why I still bother checking weather reports before a trip up here its either persistant cloud cover or persistant tourist weather, as always looking out the car window tells all you need to know and then just hope the cloud and rain clears and the old man goes'nt get you. Yes as I left the ski centre I was glad I'd remembered the map and compass as after the initial climb upto the top of fiacail choire chais, I definitly needed it (the paths now maintained near enough to the top - good news for the knobbly knees department).

Taking a bearing to the steep crack down into loch avon may not be totally needed as from the map you can see you should be heading down walking next to a small river, but safer then sorry plus I aimed off slightly to try and avoid the sogging wet peat fields near the river (did'nt work). As I neared the steep desent the cloud played with me a clear a few times to reveal a view only to cover up again the second I tounched the camera - its so annoying wwhen it does that!

The recent constant rain (which is'nt usual!) does have one great redeaming feature and that is the waterfalls it produces and their are a few beautys on the walk down to the loch and seeing as your right next to it and are offered plenty of large sharpe rocks, its a great place to get those all important slow motion water pictures, as long as you have a camera allowing for a low shutterspeed and high aperture setting.

Once near the bottom of the river, it is customary to cross it and head towards the shelter rock, but on this occasion I stayed on left side of the river and followed it down to the loch - along this section is where you can get the best photos of loch avon (in my opionion) especially of the flat top down to the shelter stone - reminds me of certain scenes in the alps.

The path around the loch from here to the saddle and back round on the other side to the start of the climb to loch etchachan can be decribed as quaint with parts of differing potential to infuse a feeling of almost awe like wonder at - how the hell can their be so much bog in as small an area! well.. only in certain parts; from joining the loch to the junction of tracks to the end of the loch or to the saddle, the path is quite good and there's also the option of walking along the shore line (as long as the croc's don't get ya) but after they split it does get very boggy and then you have the river crossing to endure which in leaner dryer times is a hop skip and a jump but that day it was a slodge (I got wet feet). On the south side of the loch the path was remarkably good with a few boggy bits but this was countered by the views of the end of the loch which as stated I love so much. its just the line of shear faces that gets me like in yosemite and the flat top reminds me of old prehistoric films of lost worlds.

But on and up now after eaching the end of the loch using the very defined path from the shelter stone to etchachan loch where these shear rock faces end just above this wide deep dark loch - a wonderous sight to see - but not for long because as is usual high winds were forcast for today and lo and behold they started around here just as I circuled the loch and started up the final push to the ben - this wind did seem to push around the clouds as I started to enter them and gave a variety of those wonderous opportunities where your given odd glimspes of near and far peaks and mountains and make them look all the better for it.

I decided to gain some shelter from the growing wind to have my ala carte lunch date just off of the path down a steep coire - not the most sensible of things to do but heck was I gonna try and have dinner in 55 mph winds - blows the napkin all over the place!

Continued up the path during odd periods of dark to tantelising sunshine until the surveyors ruin appeared before me like some apparition and then the main cairn surrounded by its bivvy city (just like above glen brittle) - stayed awhile taking shelter from the wind by the cairn and then started my route down. Again a bearing was needed to keep me on the right track but again it probably was'nt needed as their seemed to be loads of small cairns marking the way of the path at 20 feet intervals right down to loch buidhe - good idea in the winter perhaps but in summer it tends to attracted the tourist like the jeans wearing and totally lost foriegners I met on the way down - not that I'm saying anything, everybody to their own, Of course one day our resue helicopters might start charging like evry other counytry but til them......

NOw where was I... ah yes, just above loch buidhe the cloud started to clear and the tracks either back to cairngorm summit or (the one I took) leading round the west side of cairn lochan came into view - this loch has always given me fond memories from a time a spent camped their during august last century sometime, nothing special about the camp but on this occasion the cloud desended onto the tent trapping in all the days warmth and it was one of the most comfortable nights I'd spent out in the scottish wilds - did'nt get wet either which is always a plus in these parts!

The track I took has a slight climb but after that it involves a gradual desent down to the ski centre plus it is also well maintained (parts still being worked on as I used it) plus in clear weather, which the cloud always seem to do as I'm leaving (I do hate that) offered great views towards cairn toul and its shear rock face glistening under the sunshine plus down the lairig ghru and north towards loch an eilein - a wonder I never can get over - like looking through the ages - here I stand on the highest plateau in the UK and can see from rocky exposed top down to ancient woodland, to glen bottom of sweet waters pull of salmon and civilization and comfort in the form of aviemore - apparently from munros above glen avon you can also see the moray firth - have to try that one later during clearer skies!

Down near the ski centre the hordes of tourist had turned up to buy their ticket and experiance the wonder of not having to walk upto the plateau - its like a hate love relationship I guess, in one way they fuel the local economy and jobs and when your at the end of your long walk and you see them all covered in their brand new outfits strieght from outlets in aviemore, all nice and clean - you have to feel some achievment; all it takes is money to look that good, but to smell of sweat and be covered in peat you have to endure the might of the cairngorms.......Til next time.
me on macdui.JPG
me on macdui - chuffed to bits about the high winds!
ford of avon shelter.JPG
ford of avon - two weeks before refurbisment
'lost world' sort of feeling - watch out for rex
wet feet river crossing
down to loch avon

loch avon circular.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Hill Bagger
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Joined: Jul 11, 2010

Re: ben Macdui via loch avon

Postby monty » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:50 am

Great report paul,
Its certainly is a hidden valley. Superb location. Even has sandy beaches hahaha but thats only to be enjoyed when the sun comes out. Nice walk. :D

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