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Ben Macdui via Carn a Mhaim + Derry Cairngorm

Ben Macdui via Carn a Mhaim + Derry Cairngorm

Postby Philwalker » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:45 am

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Càrn a' Mhàim, Derry Cairngorm

Date walked: 05/05/2012

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 21 km

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I cycled in to Derry Lodge, crossed the Derry Burn, and continued across the boggy flat to enter Glen Luibeg. I took the easy option and diverted upstream to cross the Luibeg Bridge to begin the long, steady ascent of Carn a Mhaim. Snow lay down to the 800m contour but the easy gradient posed no problems and I was soon on the summit. This entire ridge is uncharacteristic of the Cairngorms, being narrow with rocky precipices along the next 2k down to the col before the climb up Ben Macdui. The blue skies had disappointingly clouded over at this point, but I was still blessed with spectacular views into the Lairig Ghru and up to the Devil's Point, Cairn Toul, and Braeriach, with upper Glen Luibeg separating me from Derry Cairngorm on the other hand and Ben Macdui ahead - I can't think of a better location for appreciating the Cairngorm mountains.
Devils Point Panorama.jpg
The Devil's Point panorama from Carn a Mhaim ascent

Corrour Bothy.jpg
Corrour Bothy and Devil's Point from Carn a Mhaim

Ben Macduie from Carn a Mhaim summit.jpg
Ben Macdui from Carn a Mhaim summit

Ben Macduie from Carn a Mhaim descent.jpg
Descent from Carn a Mhaim towards Macdui

I stopped at the final rock outcrop of the ridge to find shelter from the wind to eat lunch before tackling that Macdui ascent. The sun returned intermittently creating that wonderful dappled lighting over the hillsides as I began the climb. Upon reaching the crest, the snow was topped with a frozen crust, so crampons were donned for the final kilometre across the plateau to the summit trig and view indicator. I continued past it to peer over the edge into the Lairig Ghru - what a view point; don't miss it if you go up there!
Carn a Mhaim Panorama.jpg
Looking back to Carn a Mhaim

Braeriach fm Carn a Mhaim.jpg
Braeriach across the Lairig Ghru

I am often amazed at people who do all the work to get to a summit, but just touch it and walk off again without bothering to search out the best viewpoints. It is those views that started me hillwalking in the first place, and I still refuse to climb if the cloud is likely throw down the blanket over the tops.
I waited here for a while as a large patch of blue sky swept the sun down from Braeriach towards me. Everything around me suddenly lit up with that incredible glistening luminescence that almost blinded me, even with the snow-glasses on, until the eyes adjusted. Shame it only lasted a couple of minutes.
I set off back down to the east as a couple of skiers were taken by surprise by the ice coating and sent legs out in various directions to maintain stability! I reached the top of the wall of rock that fell away into Coire Sputan Dearg as the snow began to fall. The corrie contains yet another green lochan, Lochan Uaine, but I only caught a glimpse of it through the thickening storm. I followed the rim, as close as was safely possible, towards Loch Etchachan, and was rewarded with improving views as the weather cleared once more.
Loch Etchachan Panorama.jpg
Loch Etchachan panorama

I now swung down to the south and began the ascent up the broad, rock-strewn ridge to the summit of Derry Cairngorm, where the snow decided I hadn't had enough of it and began to plaster my right side again.
Derry Cairngorm summit snow shower.jpg
Derry Cairngorm summit

I continued down a large snowfield to the south-south-east, then south to the col before Carn Crom. I turned down to the south-west here to drop back to the Luibeg Burn, passing waterfalls on the desent. Not the shortest route back, and with no path, but quiet and peaceful - and the sun now returned, mockingly! Red deer looked surprised to see me, giving me that, "no-one comes this way!" look before I rejoined the outward path back to the bike.
Descent to Luibeg Burn.jpg
Descent to the Luibeg Burn


An amazing walk that gives a grand overview of everything the Cairngorms have to offer; Pine woods, heather clad hills, some unique wildlife, a cracking ridge, and some of the best views anywhere.
Mountain Walker
Posts: 11
Joined: May 20, 2012

Re: Ben Macdui via Carn a Mhaim + Derry Cairngorm

Postby Graeme D » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:06 pm

Loved that one Phil, and totally agree with all the sentiments expressed within it. 8)
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Graeme D
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Location: Perth

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