Spring 200, 2 adults, 2 kids, 1 four-pawed friend-to-all.
We did the walk pretty much as described, but in reverse. A'Bhuidheanach Bheag first, then back for Carn na Caim.
Since the access laws, the forestry style gate at the foot of the walk seem to have been open (as in wide open, not just unlocked) and vehicles are parking in the approach to the gate (room for 3 - 4 cars without blocking) AND up in the "car-park" area about 300m up the park used by the estatee for Grouse shooting - suitable for all vehicles. from the North, this is just after the snow gates south of the Dalwhinnie turn off.
We picked a fairly crisp, clear day for this walk with some snow in the hollows and a cold strong breeze from the South, and arrived "first" at the parking. The initial climb is all on a very well kept landraover path, that only gets loose three quarters of the way up after a very tight bend. For much of the way, there is a parallel foot track just up to the south (right hand) side. There are some beautifully built grouse butts to the South of the path on the way up - real works of art.
The route description mentions a quarry but the path gets very sketchy here, and you could (like us) are going "the other way round" you too may veer south of it entirely, knowing you're turning that way anyway. We did see it on the way back. As you push on over this first rounded top you suddenly come to the landrover track along the tops to A'Bhuidheanach - not quite where you want, so pick a point to strick off accross the dip. We, I think, turned off too early looking for a short cut, and found ourselves in very, very wet ground, with peat hags and small pools making progress slow. Also didn't help that fluffy four paws tried to run off and make friends with a mountain hare. Or three. Much embarrassed by the noise "Here! Come! Heel!, with dog back under control, we plowed on, but I'd lost my bearings, and the rocky water course I'd selected turned out to rise onto, not a false summit, but A'Bhuidheanach Mhor. And more mountain hare (but now we knew, dog remained under control). Facing revolt, we lay down out of the wind in amongst the quartzite boulders to eat lunch, then left our sacks while we zipped up to A'Bhuidheanach Bheag for a photo call. This was an easy contour + climb over simple slopes, and we saw our first humans, a couple of older gentlemen coming off the summit to our right - by the time we got to the summit and looked back they'd vanished! Photo call (quick!) and on, on, on.
We backtracked to our packs, and I pointed out our next point of call. My chosen route was fairly much direct compass bearing march tied to obvious ridges (helps me stay awake to follow features), and on this basis we set out down the slopes, watching out for the hares - if we see them first, we can control dog - if he sees them first and is too far out, he doesn't hear us... The bearing worked well although our general progress on heathery tracks and trails was slightly east of bearing towards the right hand slope of the re-entrant (well, stream side) ahead, which took us down to a very simple stream fording, and up onto an obvious trail going... the wrong way. There is no human trail here - just lots of deer and sheep tracks which you can follow for a while, them abandon when they go too far off bearing. As we got up onto the shoulder of this hillock, I corrected our course, and it was back into peat hags and bogs as we crossed the very wet ground leading up to the base of Carn na Caim, which was drier and rockier than below. And covered in mountain hare again. Big guys too. The bearing proved out slightly, and as we ascended the big soft dome that is the top, we veered slightly southward to come up to the hulk that is the cairn. There is an excellent view from here over the Glens below (the A9 route) and out west, and across some rolling ground towards Meall Chuaich to the NNE. But freezing in the wind, we didn't linger.
From the top, you can see the landrover track abandoned earlier, and we pressed on generally southwards after the photos following in the steps of the two men we'd seen last coming off A'Bhuidheanach Bheag - they must have taken a completely different route, as we'd not seen them since, and they set a cracking pace (i.e. pulled away from us!). this track goes up and down a few times, but is worth following, as there are still wet boggy bits all around. Halfway along this track, to my amazement, a mountain (oh yes!) biker went whizzing by on his steed heading for the summit behind us. Nutter!
We followed the track over some snow bridges which I guess would be gullys/ford later in the year, into the quarry and down hill on the outward track. In several place on this descent there are obvious tracks cutting accross the zigzags that the adventurous could use to avoid some of the nasty loose sections of track, but for the most part, the track is worth following as you descend back towards the A9.
a very simple walk in summer, was made slightly more challenging in the damp conditions following snow melt!
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.