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A Cairngorm epic - day 2, Derry Cairngorm and Carn a'Mhaim

A Cairngorm epic - day 2, Derry Cairngorm and Carn a'Mhaim


Postby Flo-go » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:44 pm

Munros included on this walk: Carn a'Mhaim, Derry Cairngorm

Date walked: 16/07/2013

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 25.5 km

Ascent: 1146m

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Here's to day 2 of my Cairngorm adventure. I woke up with the tent still in one piece. The wind was still howling and there had been a change in the weather for the worse (so much for the front moving away). The cloud was right down and there were intermittent short showers. I stayed in the tent drifting in and out of sleep till 9am hoping for better weather. It didn't appear to be on its way so I got up and packed away. Down to the ford at the head of Loch Etchachan for a water refill and a breakfast of flapjack.

Back up to the bealach above Loch Etchachan. From there I followed a faint path towards Derry Cairngorm, the first target of the day. The cloud base seemed low and was just skirting the top of Derry Cairngorm with the occasional short light shower washing across. The path I had been following petered out as I reached the boulder field, but it wasn't hard to find the top, just kept going in the same direction and the summit plateau was soon reached. After this is was only a matter of some more boulder hopping to get to the summit

dreich at the Loch
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at the bealach with Ben Macdui obscured by clouds to the right
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summit cairn of Derry Cairngorm
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I descended to a second top along a path and then left it to head cross country to a third lower top. From there I headed south and descending steeply down along rocky ground to meet the burn heading down to the valley. On the last section next to the burn the ground was quite rough and boggy in places. Would be much worse after a wet spell but it still took a surprisingly long time to reach the path along the valley floor next to the Luibeg burn. I followed the path until the bridge over the Luibeg burn was spotted and I made a beeline towards it. Soon the steep but very good path up the Carn a'Mhaim was reached and I headed up it. Towards the bottom I saw a tent and some dry bags stowed, so looked like I was heading towards fellow walkers at some point (hadn't seen anyone since the start of the ascent up Derry Cairngorm). I was gaining height quickly but my stomach was soon telling me it was food time. I happily obliged and handfuls of trail mix seemed to do the trick nicely. After food the climb seemed much easier and the path soon flattened out. I saw several mountain hares and a couple of ptarmigan but didn't catch any on camera. Near the summit I bumped into the couple who had stowed their stuff. They were heading back down to pick up their stuff and then heading to Corrour bothy. This was also my destination, but I was doing it via the Carn a'Mhaim ridge. Wished them a good day and wondered if I'd see them again. It was gusty up the top of Carn a'Mhaim and I headed to a sheltered spot for the rest of my lunch.

looking back up Derry Cairngorm from the 3rd top
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views towards Braeriach
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Plenty of fresh water - wee waterfall in the burn I followed
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baby trees by the Luibeg burn. The deer fence has recently been removed so fingers crossed they survive
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view from halfway up the Carn a'Mhaim
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devil's point
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Carn a'Mhaim ridge towards Ben Macdui
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Headed along the ridge which was wide enough not to feel too exposed despite the buffeting wind. It was a fun, easy walk to the bealach. Just as I was approaching the bealach I met a man and his son coming the opposite way. They were pretty tired after doing Cairngorm and Ben Macdui and wanted a quick way off the mountain but the only visible path was up the ridge. I told them about my planned descent along the Taillear burn mentioning that it was a well known route. He didn't seem too convinced initially - perhaps as a girl who appeared not to be carrying a map isn't a confidence inspiring image :lol: (I did have a map and compass, but my map case is no longer weather proof so didn't come on the trip and my map was safely stowed within easy reach in my pack).

However the promise of a quicker way down won them over and they came along. Once we'd reached the path down and the descent was clear I went on ahead and towards the bothy. Corrour bothy was soon reached and even though it was only half 3 it already seemed busy. My initial plan had been to push on and camp somewhere on the plateau on the way to Braeriach, but the weather had other plans and I didn't fancy another gale with minimal sleep. Half an hour later father and son arrived at the bothy and set up camp. I decided that I would camp here too so set up on a nice flat spot a little way away. Pretty much as soon as I'd finished the weather started to clear, typical! It was still far too early for dinner and my legs felt good so went for an early evening wander down the valley following the river Dee.

Got back at half 7 and had my dinner (more chorizo and oatcakes). In the meantime yet more people had arrived including the couple I had met earlier on Carn a'Mhaim although they had decided to camp about halfway up to Devil's point. It was a lovely calm evening and I was reasonably pleased with my pitch.

Suddenly out of nowhere a huge crosswind gust came rolling down Devil's point. You could hear it approach but I only had time to grab onto my food bag and hat before it hit. Then everything went flying. 10 seconds later things calmed down and we looked around to scenes of devastation. The guys just up the hill from me were searching round for most of their gear which had been laid out in front of their tent (which was upside down but otherwise fine). My tent fared a little worse. It was on its side with half the pegs ripped out and the carbon fibre pole snapped right in the middle :( . I may have been able to do a rough fix in the field and if needed I had walking poles to help, but as the bothy was only meters away and had space I thought I'd just sleep there instead. At least that was going to make getting away very quick and easy tomorrow night. The german guys staying in the bothy helped me with all my stuff and we all helped look for the scattered stuff belonging to the other guys. I reckoned it was time for some whisky and we passed my hipflask around until it was empty. the rest of the evening seemed calm and we sat outside and chatted until I retired to bed at half 9.

towards devil's point
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the tent still happy
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the bothy and Ben Macdui
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Carn a'Mhaim in the evening sun
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further down the glen, part of the Beinn Bhrotain complex
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Flo-go
 
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Re: A Cairngorm epic - day 2, Derry Cairngorm and Carn a'Mha

Postby mrssanta » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:04 pm

that was a wierd thing about the wind blowing all the tents over. Hope you were able to get a new pole easily enough
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Re: A Cairngorm epic - day 2, Derry Cairngorm and Carn a'Mha

Postby Flo-go » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:22 pm

Yup, should have the parts tomorrow to fix the pole and a few spare bits (ferrule and alloy pole section) should anything like that ever happen again when I'm not near a bothy. I'd rather fix things for now than buy a new pole (at £30 -50)
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Re: A Cairngorm epic - day 2, Derry Cairngorm and Carn a'Mha

Postby Caberfeidh » Sat Jul 20, 2013 2:55 pm

That area may be prone to freakish winds due to the topography - I once saw a whirlwind coming down the glen, from the Lairig Gru toward the bridge near the bothy. It was like a small tornado about twenty feet high, visible because of the detritus from the moor - blades of grass, bits of moss and heather, dust etc. It hit the burn (the infant Dee) and splashed about in the water, drawing water up into the air. As it approached me (standing by the burn with my mouth hanging open, watching its approach with some trepidation), it widened out, lost impetus, and faded to nothing but a slight buffet of breeze, leaving me astonished in the sudden peace, with dead grass falling gently like snow around my head. :shock: :?
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