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A Cairngorm epic - day 1 Cairngorm to Loch Etchachan

A Cairngorm epic - day 1 Cairngorm to Loch Etchachan


Postby Flo-go » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:49 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui, Cairn Gorm

Date walked: 15/07/2013

Time taken: 5.5 hours

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Needed an excuse to test some gear. With the weather set to remain ok (especially further east) I decided on a 3 day trip in the Cairngorms. Planned some potential routes taking in the Cairngorm 4000s and off I went on my first multi-day solo wildcamp.

Had a huge big cooked breakfast on Monday morning. Not taking a stove this was to be my last hot meal for 2 1/2 days. After a quick detour to the decathlon to buy a cheap new tech t-shirt I left Glasgow at 10 am. Got to the long stay carpark at the Cairngorm ski centre just before 1pm. Faffed about changing tops, booting up and letting the ranger station know where I'd be going. The weather was clearing nicely and Cairngorm was free of cloud :)

Set off up the 'windy ridge' path at quarter past 1. No chance to get the legs warmed up with a gentle access track, just straight up immediately. I found this quite hard going as I'd not had a chance to get used to the pack yet and I was soon sweating buckets. I thought I was going painfully slowly, but still passed a family on the way up. After that minor victory the going seemed much easier suddenly. At the Ptarmigan station I took the path straight up the mountain. navigation was easy - in fact it was impossible to go the wrong way with the cobbled path cordoned off with blue rope on both sides. After only an hour I reached the summit. The plateau was really windy. This was to be a pretty constant feature of the next few days. It was also really busy - not so much a feature of the next few days. I found a little windbreak just south of the summit and had my lunch in relative peace. Consulted the map and went on my merry way towards Ben Macdui. The walking was easy and the path clear so I happily dawdled along soaking in the scenery.

not the most inspiring start
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views from the summit
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tonight's destination - Loch Etchachan
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clouds starting to roll in
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the norhtern corries
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still plenty of snowfields
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windy lochan Buidhe
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Braeriach looking imposing
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Soon the boulder field up to Ben Macdui was reached, the way was easy to follow and well marked with cairns but it was the first section without a proper path. As I reached the summit clouds were rolling in over Braeriach and Cairn Toul and looked to quickly be bridging the gap across the Lairig Ghru. The whole area suddenly looked a lot wilder and more remote. I took some quick snaps at the summit, located the direction for the way down and stopped for a rest and celebratory flapjack at the 'ruin' when the path down had been found.

clouds rolling over the Angel's Peak and Braeriach
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viewpoint
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looking down glen Dee flanked by the Carn a'Mhaim ridge and the Devil's point
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the ruin, what is it with people building stuff on top of Britain's highest mountains?
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coming round to Loch Etchachan below, with Beinn Mheadhoin and its barns in the distance
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The walk down to the loch was great with steep crags on the right and plenty of snowfields remaining on the left. On reaching the Loch it was only quarter past 5 which seemed a bit early to break camp for the night. Clouds were continuing to gather and I didn't know whether to climb Beinn Meadhoin or leave it till tomorrow. Had a wander along the path to Loch Avon while deciding. About 10 mins along I met a girl coming off the hill. Asked her what it was like up there, 'windy' was the answer. She had a big pack too and was planning to camp somewhere around Loch Etchachan. I knew it was a popular spot and suddenly had visions of hundreds of us all vying for space. Even so I decided to risk a climb up the Beinn Meadhoin. Trudging cross country up the hillside towards the saddle. About 3/4 of the way up Loch Avon suddenly opened up below me, beautiful! Reaching the plateau/saddle it was indeed very windy. I was being blown sideways slightly and was using both walking poles to stay on track. Luckily the terrain was easy and there were no steep drops. I reached the summit area and wasn't sure which of the barns provided the highest point, so climbed both. Followed the more conventional path down the hill and back to loch Etchachan.

loch Avon
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Barns of Beinn Mheadhoin
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looking across to Derry Cairngorm
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the wind not easing across the loch
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I found a relatively sheltered relatively flat spot some way above the shore and pitched the tent. Had my dinner of whisky with chorizo and oatcakes - a great combination. Sat out watching the wind and clouds streaming across the loch wearing pretty much all my clothes. I retired to bed at about 9pm for a very windy, tent flappy night in my lovely warm sleeping bag.

A great half day to start the adventure :D
Days 2 and 3 in separate trip reports
Flo-go
 
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Re: A Cairngorm epic - day 1 Cairngorm to Loch Etchachan

Postby Tomsie » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:53 pm

Nice tea. Loch Avon area is nice spot
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Tomsie
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Re: A Cairngorm epic - day 1 Cairngorm to Loch Etchachan

Postby mrssanta » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:07 pm

I wouldnt like to go without something hot, but it does save weight!
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mrssanta
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Re: A Cairngorm epic - day 1 Cairngorm to Loch Etchachan

Postby Caberfeidh » Sat Jul 20, 2013 2:32 pm

That ruin would be the Sappers' Bothy - see this link:
http://theuplandofmar.squarespace.com/sappers-bothy/
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Caberfeidh
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