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Back to the Cairngorms again :)
by PeteR » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:04 am
Route description: Beinn Mheadhoin and Derry Cairngorm from Deeside
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui
Date walked: 11/03/20125 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
So for me, another trip into the Cairngorms to pick off a couple more hills. Third week in a row in this neck of the woods. Today it would be Beinn Mheadhoin and weather, time and legs permitting, Ben Macdui. Then it would be a decent down of the Sron Riach into glen Luibeg and the long walk home from Derry Lodge.
Arrived at the Linn of Dee car park just ahead of 7 a.m. and had intended to take a quick nap on account of having to get up when most Glaswegians would be heading home from a night on the raz Thankfully though another walker arrived in the car park and started to ready themselves for their day and so I thought I should show some willing. Got chatting for a short while to this chap, who I would latter discover to be Ian from the Pigeon, Chris, Ian and Jake the dug fame
I set off toward Derry Lodge at a little after 7 a.m. on what was looking to be a grand day weather wise. I think I’ve described this walk in before............it’s long But not as long as it feels on the way back
I was setting a reasonable pace for myself and was at the Lodge in no time at all It was a tad windy even at this low level so I thought I should put my jacket on so as not to get too cold. Heading off over the wee bridge and the path into Glen Derry I soon realised this might have been a mistake as I ended up out of the wind and at the same time the sun was warming up nicely. Couldn’t be bothered to stop though, so just decided to sweat a few pounds off
The walk into Glen Derry is nice, easy walking on a good path. I enjoyed the first section through the Scots Pine, but then I think they are magnificent looking trees I know......weirdo
Eventually arrived at a footbridge across the Coire Etchachan burn, where the path divided and I headed off to the left. Again nice, easy walking, with a view opening up to my first target of the day Beinn Mheadhoin I was able to keep a pretty good pace going all the way to the next path divide where my route again was on the left fork and the walk into Coire Etchachan and the steep climb up to Loch Etchachan.
I know such opinions can be very subjective and cause many a heated debate (a bit like the merits or otherwise of goal line technology ), but the walk into Glen Derry while nice, lacked in mountain splendour for me. I’m certainly not slagging it, as given a choice of that or Sauchiehall Street I know where I’d rather be I think it was more a case of the view not really developing much once out of the trees and into open ground.
Things did change though as the path headed up into Coire Etchachan This was more like it Another footbridge (without handrail ) and the path wound it up into the Glen, gaining height gradually. Then the final climb up to Loch Etchachan came into view
I took a bit of time out at the Etchachan shelter to take a quick look around. I think this is the first (and currently only) bothy I have ever stepped into to date Had a read through some of the comments in the note book, but it was pretty wet so I chose not to leave a message of my own. I have got to say though........that is one hell of a position, with the backdrop of the cliffs of Creagan a Choire Etchachan in one direction and the view back down Coire Etchachan toward Glen Derry in the other Stunning on a good day, like the day I was having. But I’d probably rather not be there in foul weather
After my short rest stop it was onwards and onwards up the steepish path to the Loch. Another “wow” moment for as I arrived at the lochside Great views to Carn Etchachan ahead of me, as well as toward the Macdui in another direction
The wind, which had been blowing on the way up to the Loch was most certainly blowing now and there was a fair bit of buffeting as I made my way up the side of Beinn Mheadhoin. The initial path is not only a bit steep, but was also very soft and loose, so I had a few moments of slipping and sliding about a bit. Head down though and I was soon arriving at a levelling before hitting the main summit plateau and the view toward the summit tors.
It was a quick walk across the plateau and I was there. Munro number one for the day. And all to myself
The only thing left to do was to get myself up onto the tor and claim the summit proper. Before I could do that a young couple had arrived from somewhere and bounded to the top. My approach was a tad more cautious – wizened old age and arthritic limbs meant I took my time. You see I’m not that confident in the scrambling department. Sometimes it’s a doddle, while on others I’m not happy. Actually, despite my initial caution this was easy enough and I was happy to be standing there taking in the views from the true summit.
Stopped for a quick chat with the young couple, who were sheltering from the wind just off the top and taking in some food. I then left them to the rest of their day and executed a probably less than graceful bum shuffle off the tor and back onto more familiar surroundings
Now for Macdui. Early sunshine in that general direction had been replaced by cloud and the wind definitely seemed to be strengthening. Attaining Macdui was still in the balance at this point, as I was fully expecting the wind to really get up as I gained height in that direction.
Heading off Mheadhoin I was approached by three shady looking characters and their dug Turned out it was Pigeon, Chris and Ian with Jake the dug, out enjoying their own Cairngorm Cracker So, not shady characters at all Stopped for a brief chat with them before we headed off in our different directions. It’s always good to meet fellow Walkhighlanders out on the hills and put faces to some of the names. I’ve been an avid follower of Pigeon and Co and the homemade soups for a while now, so it was a pleasure to have that chat, however brief.
The walk down off Mheadhoin wasn’t that bad – the soft gravelly path was probably a blessing on the way down. I was soon back at Loch Etchachan and contemplating the next part of the journey. The wind here was probably at its strongest and I was having serious doubts about continuing to Macdui. In the end I decided to take the path as if I was going to do the hill and then decide as I went whether continuing to the summit was sensible. If I wasn’t happy then I would simply drop down off the Sron Riach, which was my intended descent route anyway.
As it happened the wind eventually died down – well enough to remove any lingering doubt from my mind. So it was decided. Time to Mcdo Macdui
The path was, as it had been all day so far, excellent. I was enjoying great views back toward Mheadhoin, the Cairn Gorm and across the saddle ridge to Creagan a’Choire Etchachan and Derry Cairngorm
Just below the final, short, push up on the Sron Riach I arrived at what I assume was Narrow Gully where a man, madder than me seemingly, was heading down what appeared to me to be a sheer drop
Once on the featureless saddle between Sron Riach and Macdui I lost the path, but even as the clag rolled in and out it was an easy hike up passed the ruined shelter and onto the summit plateau, where there were plenty of shelters as well as the summit trig point to let me know I had arrived.
And I had it all to myself
Trigger a bit of frustration at this point. Clag rolled in Clag rolled out Then back in And then out again And repeat Quite a few times actually But it never seemed to clear long enough to allow me time to get my camera ready to take the pictures I decided to hang about and eventually managed to get something on film (or should that be SD card ), by which time two chaps had arrived on the summit behind me. Stopped for another brief chat before heading off back toward the Sron Riach and the descent down to Glen Luibeg and the long walk home.
At this point I still had a bit of a spring in my step. So far I had maintained a pretty god pace and was making good time overall, despite my legs feeling it slightly (quite a lot ). For the initial drop down I stayed away from the path and instead stuck to the edge of the ridge, with some nice views both up and down
This section of the day involved a bit of clambering over rocks, which started to take its toll on my legs, which were showing signs of cramping up a bit. So from a good pace being set up to this point things slowed quite a bit – ok, quite a lot
Despite the slowing of the pace it was still a good walk down the ridge. A great route off Macdui Even a damp foot gained crossing the Allt Carn a Mhaim couldn’t dampen my spirits Finally I made it back to the main path back to Derry Lodge, the sight of which couldn’t come soon enough by this point. Only another 4 miles or so to go A case of head down and head for home.
Yet another great day in the hills I just wish MWIS could give me some hope that the west was going to deliver some good weather soon, as I'm keen to get a bit of variety. Otherwise it’ll be back to the Cairngorms to do Braeriach via the Chalamain Gap, taking in the Angel, Cairn Toul and the Devil and then back via the Lairig Ghru
Hang on......what’s that? Oh.......the legs say “no”
But I say “aye”
by andyfitz » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:21 am
by Valerie » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:27 am
by Bod » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:34 am
by PeteR » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:46 am
Bod wrote:Oops Pete! That was me on Valerie's laptop forgetting it was her goodself logged on, but I am sure she would love to follow you round too.........
Should I be getting worried about stalkers now?
Thanks all the same though Bod. These are long walks in this area, but I've not been disappointed yet I hope you all get great weather for the Kintail meet coming up soon. Would have loved to have been there too, but I'll be checking out the MWIS forecast and thinking of you all while I'm entertaining my two lads
by PeteR » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:48 am
andyfitz wrote:Superb Peter. One of my favourite walks. Love the photo of the Etchachan shelter.
Cheers Andy. I think that photo was one of those lucky snaps I take from time to time (I take dozens of pictures, so at least a handful should be half decent ). It was up there as my picture of the day
by kev_russ » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:22 am
by ChrisW » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:07 am
by jonny616 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:31 am
by quoman » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:35 am
A very informative report thats a long dayout you had.
by PeteR » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:23 pm
kev_russ wrote:Cracking photaes Pete, yi just cannae beat mucking aboot in the Gorms
Cheers kev_rus. Certainly some great hills in the Cairngorms, but I'm hankering for the west of the country to settle down and brighten up a bit at the moment. I think it's time for a change of scenery But I could well be back in the Gorms this weekend too and I won't complain about that
by PeteR » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:25 pm
ChrisW wrote:Absolutely brilliant Pete, a really great report - loved it .....but 20 miles man not without an engine
Cheers Chris. I think I have a bult in engine Might not high performance and I certainly don't have "go-faster" stripes down my side, but I love to chug out the miles on these walks
by PeteR » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:27 pm
jonny616 wrote:Great report & pics Peter. I know what you mean about MWIS & hope for the west. With one exception all my trips this year have been east. We need the west to come good by 1st April for the meet.
Cheers jonny Let's hope you all get cracking weather for the Kintail meet I would have loved to have been there, but it clashes with my two young boys paying me a visit. I'll certainly be thinking of you all thoughand watching that all important forecast
by PeteR » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:31 pm
quoman wrote:Excellent stuff Peter
A very informative report thats a long dayout you had.
Cheers quoman Yep, it was long. Especially if I add on the drive back afterwards. Didn't take long to nod off that evening, that's for sure. On a good day this is a great area to walk, but I'd not fancy it in bad conditions. Ideal territory to get lost when the cloud descends
Still, legs are rejuvinated and plans being finalised for this weekends trip More miles on the clock hopefully
by pigeon » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:58 pm