We were counting the laybys down as we whizzed in convoy past each one down the A9 towards our destination, Layby 77. The idea was to park one car there and then take one car back to Layby 79 - so that we avoided the need to walk a few kilometres on the busy trunk road after doing a loop of 4 munros.
Then... oops! We drove past Layby 77. We found a turning place and headed back to the aforementioned layby, where we left one of the cars. Then drove on to Layby 79 by Drumochter Summit. Only to realise, on checking the map, that Layby 77 was in completely the wrong place... We should have left the car in a layby further to the north of Layby 79, not to the south
The Pass of Drumochter by GariochT, on Flickr
Anyway, enough of the layby talk. Time was moving on, and we decided that rather than spend all day shuttling cars we would just do a properly circular route of 3 munros. Missing out the most northerly of the 4 - Geal Charn - meant that we could avoid any road walking.
So, we set off up the footpath up Coire Dhomhain, and soon were away from the traffic noise and in the peace of the hills.
Starting the walk beside the Allt Coire Dhomhain by GariochT, on Flickr
The Sow of Atholl by GariochT, on Flickr
Shortly we crossed the new bridge over Allt Coire Dhomhain and continued up the track, only to quickly realise that it was heading up the Sow of Atholl, so we went off-piste and headed towards the col between the 758m point and the western shoulder of Sgairneach Mhor. Underfoot conditions were surprisingly easy, and there were only a few boggy patches, where butterwort was thriving.
Common butterwort by GariochT, on Flickr
Southeast towards Loch Garry and Glen Garry by GariochT, on Flickr
We then continued up the shoulder, to the summit of Sgairneach Mhor, admiring the impressive Coire Creagach along the way.
Coire Creagach of Sgairneach Mhor by GariochT, on Flickr
At the top we enjoyed excellent views including over to the massif of Ben Alder and the closer bulk of Bheinn Bheoil.
Ben Alder Massif from Sgairneach Mhor by GariochT, on Flickr
It was then time for a descent, avoiding the boggy ground at the top of the coire. Then to the base of and up the southern shoulder of Beinn Udlamain. Loch Ericht looked very metallic and picturesque.
Ascending the southern shoulder of Beinn Udlamain by GariochT, on Flickr
Loch Ericht from Beinn Udlamain by GariochT, on Flickr
We had a second lunch in the shelter at the summit of this second Munro before continuing broadly northeast along the ridge towards A' Mharconaich.
There wasn't much wind and the air felt quite warm for a change, so we had a lie down for a while, on the grassy ridge, enjoying the sun and the sound of golden plover. Almost tempted to have a nap!
It was an easy meander to the third Munro, which was marked by a nondescript pile of stones on the flat plateau. After bagging the top we retraced our steps slightly before heading down the quite steep, burnt-heather-clad slopes to the southeast, back to the Coire Dhomhain track.
Ben Alder Lodge on the other side of Loch Ericht by GariochT, on Flickr
Sgairneach Mhor by GariochT, on Flickr
Fence remnant by GariochT, on Flickr
Alien-looking plant by GariochT, on Flickr
On our descent we compared the Sow of Atholl with the Boar of Badenoch and both decided we much preferred the Sow. The Boar of Badenoch didn't seem to have much going for it, really. Not nearly as shapely as the Sow, and it isn't even a Corbett... Good name though.
The Pass of Drumochter between The Boar of Badenoch and The Sow of Atholl by GariochT, on Flickr
Once we had almost reached the track we noticed that there was a new track just to the west of us! Walking down that might have been easier, but perhaps not as it was very gravelly and steep. It had clearly been constructed to provide easier access for the 'guns' to the brand new grouse butts.
New grouse butt by GariochT, on Flickr
We reached the track and headed back down to the road, and our favourite Layby, 79.
Train passing over the Pass of Drumochter by GariochT, on Flickr
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