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Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm


Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:08 pm

Route description: Ben Macdui and Cairngorm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Cairn Gorm

Date walked: 31/07/2013

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 932m

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Our main objective for our visit to the Cairngorms was to climb to the high point of the range Ben Macdui. Wednesday looked to be the best weather for the week so Wednesday it was that we drove to the ski center/funicular railway on a fine morning. As a lover of wild places it’s hard to view the railway and ski paraphernalia with anything other than a degree of distaste but given it enables a start from over 2000 feet and several miles closer I’ll not complain too much.
We set off along the well-made path in a very comfortable temperature for walking. The difference between Macdui and Nevis may only be a few feet but thankfully the difference in foot fall is immense with numbers of other walkers measured in the tens and not the hundreds.

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Looking back to Loch Morlich by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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Onwards and upwards by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

For the only time during the day the sun came out as we enjoyed the easy going and impressive views of the crags of Cairn Lochan. Onwards and upwards we went soon getting views of the Cairngorm giants of Carn Toul and Braeriach as well as a sunlit Lurcher’s Crag. The recent warm weather had melted much of the snow but there was still a few isolated patches near to the path as we walked above the impressive Larig Ghru.

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Cairn Lochan by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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The Great Slab by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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Ptarmagain and chick by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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A sunlit Lurcher's Crag by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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Walking above the Lairig Ghru by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

The boulder field enlivened proceedings a little but soon enough we were on the final pull up to the summit. We’ve certainly never been to a place quite like the Cairngorm plateau; just how creatures scratch out a living in this place is remarkable. The Snow buntings and Ptarmigan appear to like it however and we several of each species with fledglings. On a fine day like today navigation is very simple but in poor visibility the potential for getting lost all too obvious, I was certainly glad to be visiting in such benign conditions.

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Hughie checks out a colourful cairngorm pool by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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Dappled sunlight on Brearach by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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Carn Tool, Braeriach Panorama by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

follow link for bigger version http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnkaysleftleg/9531893406/lightbox/

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Ant Hill by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

We reached the summit in just about three hours which for us was quite good going. The view from the summit might lack depth but the sheer number of summits visible is quite something. Clearest views were to the north with what could only be a very distant Morven clearly visible.

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Hughie admiring Grace on Ben Macdui by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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In Ben Macdudi summit shelter by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

We had lunch in the shelter watching the bold little Snow Buntings wanting our scraps and discovered it was quite chilly once you stopped walking. We had the summit to ourselves for a while, which was nice but it was soon time to head off towards our next target of Cairngorm.

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Looking towards Shelter Stone Crag by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

The way was very clear as we dropped back down from Ben Macdui and headed for the highway of a path heading behind Cairn Lochan. Some fine views opened up looking east towards Shelter Stone Crag and Loch Avon but the best was saved for reaching the edge of Coire an t-Sneachda, a real wow moment.

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Fiacaill buttress by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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Coire an t-Sneachda by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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Crags of Coire an t-Sneachda by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

We had a rest taking in the stunning rock architecture before making our way over the minor top of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and onto the final ascent of the day up Cairn Gorm. It was a bit of a slog given the miles already in our legs but we got there soon enough. It was incredibly still a top Cairn Gorm, hard to believe that wind speeds of over 170mph have been recorded here when today there wasn't so much as a breath. We took in the considerable view (ignoring the weather station that recorded that wind speed) before heading down towards the ptarmigan.

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Cairngorm view by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

Follow link for big version http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnkaysleftleg/9531911350/

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Grace and Hughie on Cairngorm by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

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Moody cairns on Cairngorm by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

All was left was to descend past the ski runs, signage, railway station etc and back to the car. It had been a surprisingly straightforward walk but enjoyable and a fine first experience of the Cairngorm plateau.

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Looking back to Cairngorm by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

Unfortunately we were unable to get a second walk upon the plateau as the wind and rain returned in force on the Thursday and washed it out completely before a bright and very breezy Friday was spent walking around the Morrone birkwoods.

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Morrone Birkwood by johnkaysleftleg, on Flickr

All in all a fine two week holiday spent in two very differing areas of Scotland. We will certainly be returning to both areas in the coming years.
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johnkaysleftleg
Mountaineer
 
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Location: County Durham

Re: Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Postby simon-b » Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:59 pm

Good stuff, JK and family, I'm glad you got such good views. This was my very first Munro walk, with both summits in cloud.
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simon-b
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Re: Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Postby ChrisW » Tue Aug 20, 2013 4:47 am

Beautiful photos JK, some of the very best I've seen from the gorms. What a cracking day for the whole family, shame about the day after but you certainly made the most of the good weather :D
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ChrisW
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Re: Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:41 pm

simon-b wrote:Good stuff, JK and family, I'm glad you got such good views. This was my very first Munro walk, with both summits in cloud.


Thanks Simon, have you been back to get the views?

ChrisW wrote:Beautiful photos JK, some of the very best I've seen from the gorms. What a cracking day for the whole family, shame about the day after but you certainly made the most of the good weather :D


Thanks again Chris, over the two weeks away we had plenty decent weather with only two days totally rained off, can't complain. :wink:
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johnkaysleftleg
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 3188
Munros:25   Corbetts:10
Grahams:10   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:166
Wainwrights:214   Islands:8
Joined: Jan 28, 2009
Location: County Durham

Re: Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Postby morag1 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:09 pm

You make it all sound easy :problem:

I've walked Cairn Gorm and around the Northern Corries but never been to Ben MacDhui. I think I might go back sometime and follow your route when I do.

Did you not meet Am Fear Liath Mhor then?
morag1
 

Re: Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Postby simon-b » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:13 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Thanks Simon, have you been back to get the views?

I did go back to the Cairgorms this July, and got plenty of views, this time climbing from the Braemar side. There are enough Scottish mountains I haven't climbed to last a lifetime, so for the foreseeable I'll always be climbing new ones, rather than doing revisits.
User avatar
simon-b
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1934
Munros:282   Corbetts:30
Grahams:7   Donalds:12
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:156
Wainwrights:214   Islands:4
Joined: Jan 2, 2012
Location: Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Re: Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:07 am

morag1 wrote:You make it all sound easy :problem:

I've walked Cairn Gorm and around the Northern Corries but never been to Ben MacDhui. I think I might go back sometime and follow your route when I do.


It's a surprisingly easy walk in good conditions Morag, nice steady pull up to the summit.

morag1 wrote:Did you not meet Am Fear Liath Mhor then?


No sign of him, I think he only comes out when it's misty :wink:

simon-b wrote:I did go back to the Cairgorms this July, and got plenty of views, this time climbing from the Braemar side. There are enough Scottish mountains I haven't climbed to last a lifetime, so for the foreseeable I'll always be climbing new ones, rather than doing revisits.


Really fancy Lochnagar next time we're up there, I know what you mean about the Scottish mountains but we did re-climb Ben More on Mull (got views both times)
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johnkaysleftleg
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 3188
Munros:25   Corbetts:10
Grahams:10   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:166
Wainwrights:214   Islands:8
Joined: Jan 28, 2009
Location: County Durham

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