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Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends


Postby BlackPanther » Tue Jul 09, 2013 4:46 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui, Derry Cairngorm

Date walked: 07/07/2013

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 26 km

Ascent: 1768m

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For everyone who lives in Inverness or nearby, climbing in the Cairngorms can be a logistical challenge. Some of the remotest Munros on the vast plateau can only be reached from Deeside, which means over two hours in the car to even reach the starting point (plus another two to return home). With raising prices of petrol, this can be a problem, so we are determined to reach as many Munros from Speyside, as possible. Last Sunday we added two more "tick-offs" to our list and had a truly magnificent day in the heart of the wilderness :D :D
I remember my first visit to the Cairngorms - Meall a'Bhuachaille in 2008, though it can hardly be called a proper adventure. Only next year I tasted the very flavour of this big mountain range, climbing Cairngorm and Ben MacDui, followed then by Braeriach and Glen Feshie duo. I must say, I always preferred the rocky, sharp edges of Western Highlands, but there is something about the rollin'-rollin' landscape of the east that makes me come back here... This time, I was aiming at Derry Cairngorm.

Kevin has just recovered from another dairy encounter (Milk proteins in salami sausage!! Who would suspect that???) and I was a bit concerned whether he was strong enough for a multi-Munro walk. Therefore, we agreed that we would climb Ben MacDui and then decide if we should continue to Derry Cairngorm or return the way we came. At the end of the day, he was doing better than me :lol: :lol: and we managed to bag Beinn Mheadhoin as well, walked 16 miles and ascended over 1700m :shock: My calf muscles almost fell off the next day :lol:
Our Cairngorms circuit:

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Started early, to reach MacDui before midday, and do most of the climbing before the noon heat wave. Coire cas was, of course, the starting point. The big car park at the Ski Centre is still free (donation boxes):
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The last patches of melting snow in Coire Cas:
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The day was fantastic, warm and sunny, blue sky, a bit of a breeze, perfect climbing conditions:
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Meall a'Bhuachaille and Loch Morlich:
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We chose the approach by the shoulder of Miadan Creag an Leth-choin rather than straight up Coire cas, simply because it is more scenic and a bit less steep. I remember, during our last visit here in 2010, the path was just being upgraded, now its a wide, comfortable ascent:
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We met a little furry friend:
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Vistas are superb, north to Loch Morlich, surrounding hills and forests:
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Coire an Lochain in the morning sun:
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The path continued along the side of Cairn Lochain, with fantastic views down to Lairig Ghru:
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Across the big gap, the Monsters of the Cairngorms, as I call them. Braeriach...
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... Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine with the blue eye of Lochain Uaine:
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The very summit of mighty MacDui came into sight...
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Snow patches still present, even in the summer heat:
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Weird, during my previous visit I felt like the climb up to MacDui was a never-ending trod, I was worn out by the time I got to the summit. What a difference a few years of experience (and fitness building) can make! This time, the route seemed... disappointingly easy. We touched the summit cairn in just about two hours since leaving Coire Cas.
Kevin sinking in the views from the trig point cairn:
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OK, we were here for the second time! Sadly, no Big Gray Man in sight...
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...just a Happy Black Panther :lol: :lol:
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Being the second highest mountain in Scotland and the highest of the Cairngorms, Ben MacDui simply has to be a good viewpoint and here comes the evidence.
Beinn a'Bhuird:
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Beinn Mheadhoin:
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Zoom to Devil's Point:
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To the south, vistas open up to the horizon:
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The massive mountain in the middle must be Beinn a Ghlo:
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Further to the east, Lochnagar is an obvious feature in the distance:
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If you are not sure about which hill is what, this indicator can be helpful:
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Cairn Toul and the distant hills beyond - Ben Nevis still holding some snow, I reckon:
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We didn't spend much time on the summit of Ben MacDui, just a quick refreshment break and we were on our way to Derry Cairngorm. Kevin was feeling good, aiming for Derry but non-dairy :lol: :lol:
To connect Ben MacDui and Derry Cairngorm, one has to descend NE towards Loch Etchachan. The route is easy to begin with:
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...but soon, as we reached steeper slopes, the path turned a bit tumbly:
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Our target hill was now only a short distance away:
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Walking down to Loch Etchachan, with Beinn Mheadhoin to the right of the loch, and more distant Cairngorm to the left:
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We walked as far as below the 1108m top above Creagan a' Choire Etchachan, where we turned south towards derry Cairngorm. Views from the higher ground towards the loch and surrounding cliffs were breathtaking:
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The reason why one cannot drop straight from Ben MacDui to Derry Cairngorm - it would be difficult to negotiate the cliffs of Coire Sputan Dearg:
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Derry Cairngorm looking very close now:
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The final ascent to this Munro is only about 140m, thought a bit rocky in places:
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The secretive Lochan Uaine:
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Having negotiated some rocks and boulders, we reached the summit, topped with two cairns. We didn't know which one was the true top of the mountain, so we touched both, just in case.
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It was time to take a longer break here - just as well we deserved it. Kevin mentioned something about Beinn Mheadhoin, but at the moment, I simply enjoyed it...
Wandering about the summit:
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Derry Cairngorm would be an insignificant pile of stones, but for the views. It is situated right in the middle of the vast plateau, like a raisin inside a piece of cake. Looking at the Cairngorm massif from Speyside, it is really hard to believe that it looks much more ragged from the inside...
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Back to Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin:
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Beinn a'Chaorainn, another Munro still to climb. On the horizon, the characteristic shape of Ben Rinnes:
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Looking south to Deeside:
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North to Lairig an Laoigh:
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It was only half past one, still plenty of time left and we agreed that we both had enough stamina to tackle another hill. To be honest, the mountain was on our way anyway, and it required only a couple of km detour with 250m of additional ascent.
We returned to Loch Etchachan path and descended all the way down to the loch itself, crossing the outflow, Coire Etchachan Burn:
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The path to the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin:
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It might look quick and easy, but the climb was indeed steep and in the boiling heat of the midday sun, it really squeezed energy out of us. Luckily, we carried enough water to keep us hydrated :D
Me struggling up Beinn Mheadhoin, with Derry Cairngorm in the background:
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Just as well, the fantastic panorama behind us was worth all the sweat and tears...
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We felt relieved when reached much less steep ground - we could now see the summit tors:
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Now only a stroll away to my Munro no. 104...
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A quick jaunt across the summit plateau and we were standing below the highest of the tors. Climbing to the top was an easy scramble - and the big rock is a good viewpoint.
Back to Ben MacDui:
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If there was water in this natural "bowl" , I would be taking a bath!
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View east:
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Cairngorm:
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Bynack More:
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Another break to give some rest to tired muscles - and the time has come for the return route. Going back over Ben MacDui was one option, but it seemed such a long distance now, that we opted fro crossing the Loch Avon dip instead. We knew it required an additional 400m of ascent, most of it steep, but we were committed - and stubborn enough to go for it!
On the descent, we took a shortcut on the grassy slopes of Stacan Dubha, which took us down to Loch Etchachan path, just above the beginning of the steepest part of the descent. Carn Etchachan looked imposing:
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Descending towards Loch Avon:
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The loch in full glory. The ascent path via Coire Raibert can be clearly seen on the slopes across the loch:
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The sun was behind Carn Etchachan now and we appreciated walking in the shadow of this big, rocky cliff:
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Stacan Dubha cliffs:
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There's more than one Shelter Stone...
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Stag Rocks:
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What a lovely spot for wild camping. One day, maybe, we'll come back here with tents, but as for today, we still had to climb over Cairngorm to return to Coire Cas.
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Loch Avon from the path below Stag Rocks:
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We reached the stream, Allt Coire Raibert, where we refilled our water bottles. The path from here is a mass of tumbling rocks, hard work and lots of loose scree, so we got angry and left it to climb straight up the steep slopes:
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Not the best path in the world!
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About 200m of steep push up grass and heather squeezed most of energy out of me, but I was still enjoying this experience - in a weird way, I liked pushing my body to its limits. Like a masochist, I didn't mind the pain I inflicted to my poor muscles... :shock: :shock: Is there something wrong with me? Or are these just symptoms of Munroclimbus Crazus? :wink: ?
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The pain was soothed by the beauty of the landscape around me...
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One last glance down to Loch Avon...
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The angle eased off, luckily, for the final 200m of ascent... We slowed down and walked at more relaxing pace to the 1141m lower top of the Cairngorm.
Looking back to the easier half of the final ascent:
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The forecast suggested some cloud arriving in late afternoon, but it only came in at about half past six, turning the cliffs of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda into a dark, moody place...
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We didn't bother climbing to the top of Cairngorm itself, as we had both done it before. The return route to the car park in Coire Cas was now a formality...
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What a day it was. Another epic adventure, lots and lots of meowing on summits/tops, walking, scrambling, tumbling, baking in the sun, drinking water straight from streams... Tiring, exhausting, painful - but I LOVED IT!!! At last this year we have a touch of summer :D :D :D
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BlackPanther
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby ballarat » Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:01 pm

great report as always fantastic pictures too well dones awarded
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby dogplodder » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:55 pm

Another great BP report and helpful to me as I've still Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin to do. :D How much time do you reckon it would save leaving out MacDui and going both ways by Corrie Raibert? I don't mind going by MacDui, but don't need to if it makes it longer. :wink:
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby rockhopper » Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:24 pm

A cracker of a trip, BP, and what a great day for it - love this area and usually get up at least once a year on holiday but won't be this year unfortunately.
Like you I also approached from the Aviemore side for the Cairngorms - though more because we were there on holiday - longish trips seemed appropriate to get properly immersed in the area - cheers :)
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:14 pm

Many thanks for the comments :D :D

ballarat wrote:great report as always fantastic pictures too well dones awarded

Just trying to give justice to this route, it's a truly magnificent mountain range, especially the hidden character of DC and BM. Most photos are taken by my second half, but thankfully, he allows me to take credit :wink:

rockhopper wrote: cracker of a trip, BP, and what a great day for it - love this area and usually get up at least once a year on holiday but won't be this year unfortunately.
Like you I also approached from the Aviemore side for the Cairngorms - though more because we were there on holiday - longish trips seemed appropriate to get properly immersed in the area - cheers :)


Don't worry, Rockhopper, the Cairngorms will be waiting for you :lol:
We still have Cairn Toul trio to do, before switching to Deeside - planning to approach them from Glen Feshie but it's a 30+km walk, need a good day for it, but hopefully this year...

dogplodder wrote:Another great BP report and helpful to me as I've still Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin to do. :D How much time do you reckon it would save leaving out MacDui and going both ways by Corrie Raibert? I don't mind going by MacDui, but don't need to if it makes it longer. :wink:

We were re-doing MacDui as well, but the circuit seemed a better option than up & down over Cairngorm. I had actually thought about climbing BM by itself via Corrie Raibert earlier this year, but never got around to it... According to SMC guide, it's 9km and 960m of ascent from Coire Cas to the summit of BM, time given 3h40min. From BM to Derry C it's an easy stroll, about 200m of additional ascent, but "well spread", easy ground and on an obvious path, so it shouldn't take more than additional hour. The problem is returning the same way - I really disliked climbing up Corrie Raibert, the path is eroded, steep and tumbling, as I mentioned in the TR, we left it to climb straight up the grass and heather. Not sure how good that rough slope would be on the descent. But I don't want to discourage you...
We left BM at 15:30, it took us 3.5 hrs to get back to the car park, but we were tired already after the long day.
Cameron McNeish in his Munro book suggests a circular around Loch Avon, traversing BM and returning over "the Saddle" and SE slopes of Cairngorm to the col with Cnap Coire na Spreidhe - don't know how steep that option would be?
Hope that helps :D
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby MusicalHiker » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:19 pm

Great pics and looks like a fabulous walk! Love the Cairngorms! :D
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby dooterbang » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:52 pm

Loch Avon looks fab :)

Another wunderbar report with the usual sublime photos.

I think I may have spotted yous guys on Sunday...I did Mor & Bhrotain :wink:
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby The Rodmiester » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:55 pm

Pics, weather, walk, views, report all Great! :D
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby old danensian » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:38 pm

Enjoyed the report and photos - despite doing them myself yesterday - well worth sharing - and those cliffs of Coire Sputan Dearg are just massive

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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby simon-b » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:44 pm

Great pictures, great route, great conditions :D. Another fine report, BP. I'm coming to Braemar soon, hoping to get a bit of that weather.
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby Sabbathstevie » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:09 pm

Great report and stunning pics. I'm desperate to get into the Cairngorms, but if you think the two hours from Inverness is bad, try reaching any munros from Edinburgh! :lol:
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Re: Derry but non-dairy Cairngorm and friends

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:24 pm

Thanks again, folks. Always happy to bring smiles to a few faces :D :D

dooterbang wrote:I think I may have spotted yous guys on Sunday...I did Mor & Bhrotain :wink:


Even if you didn't see us, I bet you must have heard a loud meowing sound coming from the direction of Derry Cairngorm :lol: :lol:

old danensian wrote:Enjoyed the report and photos - despite doing them myself yesterday - well worth sharing - and those cliffs of Coire Sputan Dearg are just massive


I read your TR, always nice to see a different approach to the same hill. We've had some fantastic summer weather recently, hope it lasts till next weekend... Fannichs planned...

Sabbathstevie wrote:if you think the two hours from Inverness is bad, try reaching any munros from Edinburgh!


:lol: :lol: Right, hands up, Edinburgh is further away. I'm just spoiled by the fact, that most hills are within less than 2 hrs drive from Beauly... or they would be if it wasn't for the narrow, twisty roads in some parts of the country. :lol:
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