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Creag Mhor & Loch Avon via Glen Avon - Frogs & Midges Galore

Creag Mhor & Loch Avon via Glen Avon - Frogs & Midges Galore


Postby GariochTom » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:05 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Creag Mhor

Date walked: 07/08/2012

Distance: 64 km

Ascent: 1229m

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It was time to see a different side of the Cairngorms. Until now I had entered the Cairngorm range from the Linn of Dee and from the northwest, but never from the northeast via Glen Avon.


tomintoul-to-faindouran-lodge.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


We set off on our mountain bikes from the car park near the Queen's Viewpoint just to the southwest of Tomintoul, and headed south up the track in the verdant and lush glen. The track was in good condition and relatively easy to cycle on – part of it is tarmac! We passed a collection of farm buildings and a derelict house, and after around 11km and 1.5 hours of cycling reached the immaculate Inchrory Lodge. It would have been nice to stop there for tea and cakes but we thought it was best to carry on towards Faindouran Lodge – which would be even more salubrious, for sure...

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P1050330 by GariochT, on Flickr

A short distance after Inchrory we crossed a bridge and started to head west, passing the Linn of Avon on the way. Then, after another couple of km we reached another bridge, over the River Avon. Here we were overtaken by a father and son on their bikes, although they started pushing their bikes as the track went up a steep hill on the other side of the bridge. Being a bit competitive I thought I would try cycling up... and within a few metres gave up and started pushing. The hill was relentless.

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P1050374 by GariochT, on Flickr

The next 7 km involved a mixture of cycling and pushing our bikes up and down the track as it wended its way towards Faindouran. A competent cyclist would have little problem cycling the entire way, I'm sure. But I am not so competent. There was one particularly hairy descent down a steep zigzag...

We stopped for a rest beside a ramshackle hut and from this stretch of the track we enjoyed excellent views of the 'back' of Ben Avon and Ben a' Bhuird.

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P1050365 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050346 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050375 by GariochT, on Flickr

Continuing up the glen, we passed a group of young German walkers – if they were planning to stay in the bothy it might be a bit cramped...

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P1050382 by GariochT, on Flickr

Finally, after cycling and pushing for a further few kilometres, we reached Faindouran. I set up my tarp and bivvy combo just beside the wall and boiled some water for a much-needed cup of tea. There were a lot of frogs around, and two hopped over my tarp like trampolinists...

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P1050384 by GariochT, on Flickr

We moved into the bothy to get away from the midges. Six other people were already inside, including the father and son who had overtaken us. Two had cycled in from Corgarff, two had biked from Braemar and two had walked in from Glenmore, taking in Cairngorm on the way. We had dinner in the bothy and had an enjoyable evening chatting to the others and drinking whisky (Caol Ila in my case). And I discovered that whisky tastes nicer after a strenuous cycle!

A dense cloud of midges had amassed just outside the door, and some had managed to get in. I went out to check on my tarp. The midges were bad. I soon saw sense, and moved my sleeping bag and mat into the bothy. Why try to sleep outside in a cloud of midges when there is space in a bothy right next door...? The group of German walkers had set up camp on a ridge, it turned out, so there was plenty of space in the bothy. I had a fairly good sleep but woke up very early in the morning so started reading the bothy book and my map to while away the time.


creag-mhor.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



After a porridge breakfast, I stowed away my panniers in a corner of the bothy then we set off up the hill opposite the bothy, to attain the ridge of Creag Mhor. The track we started walking up soon disappeared and we were soon walking over boggy ground, before reaching the broad ridge which with its short cropped grass was easier terrain. To the northwest was an excellent view of Bynack More with the Barns of Bynack. There were a few tors/rocky outcrops on Creag Mhor too, including at the summit, and perfectly circular potholes, the origin of which we didn't know.

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P1050390 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050408 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050415 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050461 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050472 by GariochT, on Flickr

And more frogs!

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P1050457 by GariochT, on Flickr

The cliffs surrounding Loch Avon teasingly peaked through the gap between the cloud-shrouded Beinn Mheadhoin and A'Choinneach.

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P1050480 by GariochT, on Flickr

We started descending the ridge before bearing right to join and follow the Lairig an Laoigh path to the Fords of Avon. It was good to see the rebuilt Refuge for the first time. Several people were hanging around a marquee-type structure on the other side of the river - perhaps some fieldwork activities...?

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P1050493 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050495 by GariochT, on Flickr

I had always wanted to see Loch Avon, and the Shelter Stone. Up until now it had remained elusive – I hadn't even seen it when up Beinn Mheadhoin, because of the claggy conditions. So this was my chance. We followed the north bank of the river to the loch, over surprisingly difficult ground (later we discovered that we had missed the main path).

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P1050514 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050580 by GariochT, on Flickr

I walked along the northern side of the loch for a short distance to gain a closer view of the grand natural amphitheatre at the western end. The map shows multiple routes up the crags – Shelter Stone Crag has Citadel, Haystack, Steeple, Sticil Face... Hell's Lum Crag has even better climbing route names... Hellfire Corner, Deep Cut Chimney, Clean Sweep, The Wee Devil, Brimstone Groove, To Hell and Back, and my favourite – Nobody's Fault. I must return to Loch Avon soon – not to climb the crags but perhaps to bivvy beneath these giants.

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P1050520 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050531 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050535 by GariochT, on Flickr

I retraced my steps and spent some time on the beach, then we headed back to the Fords of Avon, then down the narrow path beside the river to Faindouran Lodge, the glen gradually getting more and more expansive.

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P1050550 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050559 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050594 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050608 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050606 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050616 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050617 by GariochT, on Flickr

We stopped at the bothy to refuel with chocolate and hot chocolate and collect our bags, before heading back out. The return to Tomintoul seemed much easier than the outward journey – probably because more of it was downhill. Still, there was a fair amount of bike pushing, and I was absolutely exhausted by the time we reached the car. I'm still recovering now! A great weekend though, and it was well worth the effort to see a different side of the Cairngorms.

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P1050622 by GariochT, on Flickr

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P1050613 by GariochT, on Flickr
Last edited by GariochTom on Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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GariochTom
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Re: Creag Mhor & Loch Avon via Glen Avon - Frogs & Midges Ga

Postby Bod » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:34 pm

That looks wonderful, great countryside.......... :D :D :D
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Bod
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Re: Creag Mhor & Loch Avon via Glen Avon - Frogs & Midges Ga

Postby GariochTom » Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:07 pm

Bod wrote:That looks wonderful, great countryside.......... :D :D :D


It was, and it would have been perfect if there had been no midges! :D
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GariochTom
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Re: Creag Mhor & Loch Avon via Glen Avon - Frogs & Midges Ga

Postby hills » Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:55 pm

What a cracking trip, stupendous, lovely pics. :clap:
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hills
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Re: Creag Mhor & Loch Avon via Glen Avon - Frogs & Midges Ga

Postby malky_c » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:37 pm

Nice approach :)

Been up Glen Avon as far as Inchrory, and over to Loch Avon from Glenmore, but never done the middle stretch. Bothy looks worth a visit sometime.
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malky_c
 
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Re: Creag Mhor & Loch Avon via Glen Avon - Frogs & Midges Ga

Postby GariochTom » Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:58 am

Yes, the bothy is small but has character, and upstairs accommodation.

A bike definitely makes Glen Avon more manageable.
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GariochTom
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