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Our toughest Munro to date

Our toughest Munro to date


Postby railton22 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:47 pm

Route description: Beinn Mheadhoin via the Shelter Stone

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin

Date walked: 04/08/2013

Time taken: 8.01 hours

Distance: 19.5 km

Ascent: 1597m

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First attempt on 03.08.13 aborted in front of the Cairngorm Ski Centre weather report board. The words "severe", "blown over", "increasing strength" and "gale force" posted on the weather report for the day put paid to any attempt (particularly after our failed attempt at Bynack More earlier on in the year where we'd turned back at the very last section because of dangerously high winds).

Second and successful attempt the following day (04.08.13). Still pretty windy but not enough to put us off.
DSC08738sarahalcoirecas.jpg
Feeling perky during the first ascent of the day up into Coire Cas


Trotted out off up Cairn Gorm and wind was blustery increasing to wild when we crested the shoulder at the cairn.
DSC08747shouldercairngorm.jpg
Worryingly Al looks done in at this point...and we're only on the shoulder of CairnGorm

Did struggle to stay upright at this point but thankfully the wind was less intense as we dropped down into Coire Raibert.

The path down Coire Raibert was being spruced up and we follwed large white bags of boulders along the path until we met a dedicated team constructing a more robust path. We left the path builders behind and descended near Stag Rocks at the side of the stream. It was more a scramble down than a walk but dramatic and enjoyable looking at stunning Loch Avon far below us and the lofty barns atop Beinn Mheadhoin (which we hoped to reach).
After a very rocky descent we made it to the sandy shore of Loch Avon where we met a very pleasant older couple and their wee beige poodle. The chap had walked the area several times and said that Beinn Mheadhoin really makes you feel liked you've EARNED a Munro. We liked the sound of that and with a spring in our step we continued along the sandy shore and crossed at the fan of stepping stones in the water. The water level seemed pretty low and so the stepping stones were straightforward (even for Alice-she'll give me gyp if she reads this).

Loved spending time at Loch Avon, the water was the clearest I've ever seen and you could almost count the sand grains on the floor of the loch. A real turquoise fringed gem of a loch. The water was tasty too and very refreshing.
DSC08823steppingstonesavonbasin.jpg
Water levels were really quite low and some helpful soul had made two fan shaped sets of stepping stones at the mouth of the loch. Fun on the way out and fun on the way back

Now onto the serious stuff as we tackled the ascent on the rocky and shale-y path which was slippery in places. The Shelter Stone Crag was an imposing tower to the right of us and all around us were steep rocky sides, save for our narrow path heading upwards towards the shoulder of Beinn Mheadhoin.
DSC08763shelterstonecrag.jpg
The imposing shelter stone crag. The shelter stone itself was a little trickier to find.

Once onto the shoulder we were unable to find a clear path up the final steep ascent and made our way up the rocky sides until we reached the first of the impressive barns. Being a Derbyshire lass, the barns were very reminiscent of the gritstone edges around the Dark Peak, in particular the "Coach and horses" and the "salt cellar" which look down onto Ladybower, Derwent and Howden dams.
DSC08782summitbarn.jpg
After two pretty gruelling ascents, the VERY welcome sight of the flat-topped summit tor comes into view.

We struck out for the largest central barn (the picture on the WH route was helpful in identifying it) and by this point it was incredibly windy and wild but thankfully no rain.
DSC08789aldavidsummitbarn.jpg
Scarily blowy up here. Note how little size 6 Alice hangs back away from the edge!!!

David and Alice made the first ascent to the true summit, posed for photos before I then did the same. Struggled to stand upright and adopted an ungainly pose in an effort to remain vertical for my photo.
DSC08796sarahsummitbarn.jpg
I MAY look like I'm jumping up and down like a pixie here but in reality I'm bracing myself against the incredibly strong winds up there.

Back down again and we wedged ourselves against the side of the tor for lunch.

The views from here were incredibly far reaching. We could clearly make out Ben Wyvis on the far side of the Cromarty Firth and picked out the distinct shape of Ben Rinnes near Aberlour.
DSC08797benrinnesview.jpg
The distinctive long "ridge" leading up to Ben Rinnes with the rounded Convals beyond. As seen from Beinn Mheadhoin summit

Could even make out the pointed dome of Morven in Caithness. Really great to see so far.
DSC08803macduiview.jpg
A close up of imposing Ben MacDui (good to actually SEE the summit, given our last "view" of it in driving July snow!!)

On the rocky descent we got drenched in a fierce but brief shower and by the time we'd reached the rocky and very slippery path leading to the Loch Avon basin we were dry again. Did a bit of a detour here to try and locate the Shelter Stone. There were lots of pretenders with their blocked up sides and hollowed out bases under many of the large boulders but David discovered the true Shelter Stone (identified by the cairn on top of it).
DSC08806avonbasin.jpg
Spectacular Loch Avon far below and not so spectacular ascent awaiting us on the far side.

We made our way across the "beach" again and off towards the steep stony climb back up the side of the cascading stream. This was a proper scramble as we used all limbs available to hoik ourselves upwards. This was the toughest part of the walk and we were very chuffed when Coire Raibert was reached. We recovered enough to look sufficiently jaunty as we passed the path builders again and then the endless uphill trek back to the shoulder cairn on Cairn Gorm and back down via Coire Cas.
DSC08852beinnmheadhoinstorm.jpg
Grim rainclouds over Beinn Mheadhoin as seen from the shoulder of Cairn Gorm.

The funicular was running its last run of the day and we felt super smug and proud as we descended past people who had just got off the funicular car at the halfway station.
DSC08859jumpingcoirecas.jpg
Woo hoo!!!! We've done it!!! Can see the car far below too...and on the distant horizon the shadowy outline of Ben Wyvis across the Cromarty Firth

Made it back to the carpark in a time of 8 hours and 1 minute.

This was a brilliant walk and the sense of achievement for one Munro can not be underestimated.

Walked by David (41), Sarah (41) and Alice (30)
Last edited by railton22 on Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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railton22
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:55 am

Well done guys and yes, this is a helluva Munro. We did it in July in scorching heat... as a part of longer route, including also Ben MacDui and Derry Cairngorm... By the time we reached the scramble up Coire Raibert we already had over 20km and 1300m of ascent in our legs... running out of water... and baking alive. We grabbed grass and heather on the way up... At some point I regretted we didn't go back over Ben MacDui. But views down to Loch Avon - priceless :D
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby railton22 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:59 pm

Thank you BlackPanther and wow, you guys are obviously made of tougher stuff than us!!! I think we need to man up a bit!! Your walk sounds amazing; I would imagine that the sense of satisfaction and achievement cancelled out any aches and pains...VERY impressive :clap: :clap: . As for Loch Avon, agree, absolutely priceless!!!
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby gyles » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:22 pm

Fantastic report...

You've increased my appetite to get round to this one sooner, great stuff. :clap:
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby railton22 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:37 pm

Thank you Gyles. It is SO worth it I promise you. Just don't go on a windy day tho! :wink:
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby jonny616 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:43 pm

Well done. Great report and pics. I did this earlier in the year in the snow on a stunningly clear day. Getting out of the loch Avon basin twice nearly did for me. :lol:
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby railton22 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:32 pm

jonny616 wrote: Getting out of the loch Avon basin twice nearly did for me. :lol:


I have to agree with you on that Jonny616. The loch Avon basin is a beauty but an absolute killer too...can't imagine how tough it must've been in snow!!! The walking conditions for us were pretty much perfect underfoot. You are obviously made of sterner stuff than me. Way to go you :clap:
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby dogplodder » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:49 pm

Yep, you end up getting one for the price of three with this one! But there's something special about Loch Avon and those tors making it worth the effort. :clap:
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby railton22 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:26 pm

dogplodder wrote:Yep, you end up getting one for the price of three with this one!


Hahaha spot on, Dogplodder. It's a costly one that's for sure :crazy: . We did the Glas Maol circuit a few days after this, just to bump our Munros up a bit (and of course to boost our morale)
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby scottishkennyg » Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:44 pm

nice one, good read, Alice looked out for the count on cg, also liked the pose on the summit tor and well done to the camera user for the final image. :clap:
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby Bob the Dog » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:00 pm

Me and my mum loved this walk...in snow, patchy, but in snow. The Barns are truly stunning...feats of extrusive volanic activity, weathering and stuff. The corries the remains of the ice age...the place? Just wonderful. Truly wonderful. It makes you feel like a wee speck of fairy dust...and if you have the right company, it makes it seem like pure heaven, Bob the Dog does that for me :wink:
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby trekker53 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:46 pm

Good report there, you sure had a good time climbing those barns. Haven't done this one yet so you've whetted my appetite to get it done. By the way, being a Wicker, Morven is in Caithness. A fine wee mountain with fantastic views far and wide.
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby railton22 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:10 pm

scottishkennyg wrote: also liked the pose on the summit tor and well done to the camera user for the final image. :clap:


Thanks scottishkennyg :D the photos are courtesy of the Hubs. He'll be pleased with your comment especially as I'm supposed to be the "official walk photographer" I may now have to be demoted to "Water Carrier" :shock:
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby railton22 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:23 pm

Bob the Dog wrote:...the place? Just wonderful. Truly wonderful. It makes you feel like a wee speck of fairy dust...and if you have the right company, it makes it seem like pure heaven, Bob the Dog does that for me :wink:


Completely with you on this one. If there is Heaven on Earth then it will look someplace like this (even in the stark beauty of winter). As far as we are concerned there is nowhere more beautiful than the Scottish Highlands. We love walking for so many reasons but the almost spiritual buzz you get from it is something else....but unless you've experienced it you can't understand it. :-D :D My non-walking friends think I'm mental climbing up mountains. But those of us who've been out there; well we know the truth don't we? :wink:
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Re: Our toughest Munro to date

Postby railton22 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:31 pm

trekker53 wrote:Haven't done this one yet so you've whetted my appetite to get it done. By the way, being a Wicker, Morven is in Caithness.

Thank you trekker53, hope you enjoy it as much as we did (the sense of achievement far outweighed the pain of the ascents). :lol:
As for my Morven slip up...oops...so sorry about that.:oops: :oops: I'll amend it to Caithness! Thanks for letting me know.
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