Settling scores in the Cairngorms (Part 2) - Beinn Mheadhoin
by Graeme D » Tue May 27, 2014 10:47 pm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin
Date walked: 10/05/2014
Time taken: 7.1 hours
Distance: 31.8 km
Ascent: 955m3 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I think I have well and truly lost count of the number of times this one has thwarted me. To tell the truth, it has been a real thorn in my side since early 2011.
My first dalliance with Beinn Mheadhoin was in January of that year when I did an epic Friday night walk in from Linn of Quoich to Bob Scott's. The intended targets were Mheadhoin and Derry Cairngorm. It was freezing - minus God knows what - and the track up Glen Quoich was rock hard with huge expanses of glass-like ice covering the track. By the time I reached the turn off for the Clais Fhearnaig I had been on my arse a half dozen or so times and was black and blue. The walk by starlight over the Clais Fhearnaig into Glen Lui was a truly spectacular and spine tingling experience, alone in the high, cold, dark defile below the blanket of stars. By comparison, the night I spent in Bob Scott's could not have been further removed. A group of climbers from Aberdeen were in residence, two of whom appeared to be passed out, and another of whom later spilled a bottle of red wine over my sleeping bag. The fire was roaring hot and the language was too. When morning came I did what I could to clean up my sleeping bag and opted to head for the Corbett/Graham combo of Sgur Mor and Creag Bhalg rather than the Munros - http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=9404
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was back in the neighbourhood again. This time the plan was to walk in as far as the Hutchison Hut and launch my assault on the two Munros from there the following morning. With considerable snow having fallen in the previous few weeks and a considerably longer walk in to my bed than the previous time, I had started from Linn of Dee. The lights had been blazing in Bob Scott's as I passed but in the interests of a dry sleeping bag, I marched on. However the snow became increasingly deep and hard work the further I walked into Glen Derry and shortly before the footbridge across the river at the start of the flats, I called it a day and pitched the tent I had sensibly carried in as a precautionary measure on a relatively snow free patch of ground below a gnarly old Scots Pine. In the morning I battled bravely against the at times waist deep snow in Coire Etchachan and the chronic fatigue in my sleep deprived head and limbs but eventually had to admit defeat by the shores of Loch Etchachan and make the long retreat to Linn of Dee - http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=9908
Fast forward again to July of the same year and with a Sea Kayaking course booked at Glenmore Lodge, I headed up a few days early for a 2 day route beforehand. I had spent the night camped below the Barns of Bynack before going over Creag Mhor to the Fords of Avon from where I hoped to climb Mheadhoin. However the River Avon was uncrossable that day and by the time I reached the loch, I scrapped any ideas about Mheadhoin and headed up Coire Raibert onto Cairn Gorm from where I headed for Glenmore Lodge - http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=14052
Since then there have been a few attempts scheduled that never got beyond the doorstep due to the weather, so this one was eagerly awaited.
As I drove up to Braemar to meet Kev, I wondered what natural disaster might befall us that would scupper my plans once again - plague of locusts, tsunami, bird strike, earthquake.......... ?????
I quickly stocked up in the Co-op in Braemar before Kev and I headed for the Hungry Highlander and their promise of fusion cuisine. This place used to do a fantastic fish supper, but since it was converted into a curry house, the fish suppers have gone to the dogs. The chips (the few that there were at least) were not too bad but the pieces of fish they served up had about as much flavour, succulence and nutritional value as one of Ghandi's flip-flops. After bumping into my brother and his partner who were staying in the Fife Arms ahead of a friend's wedding the next day at Mar Lodge, we headed for the Linn of Dee and the long trudge out to the Hutchison Hut.
Derry Cairngorm from near Black Brig
Up Glen Lui
Carn a'Mhaim from the Bob Scott's turn off
Crossing the bridge at Derry Lodge
A short distance over the bridge we met a guy walking out and stopped for a blether. He was rather "animated" for a chap at the wrong end of a long route in the Gorms, one possible reason for which would become clear as we chatted. We told him we were headed for the Hutchy and he informed us that there was another bloke in there tonight as he had met him earlier in the day. I blithely assumed that our chap had stopped off at the bothy and found this other geezer already in residence. In any case, he informed us that the bloke had cycled in with a 10kg bag of coal. Excellent, we said - if it gets a bit nippy, we can share his coal in exchange for some of our whisky and beer. It was at this point that the guy said his preferred tipple was a bit of the wacky baccy and that he had partaken of a spliff in the company of the coal man a short while ago. That might explain the wired manner! Anyway, we bade one another farewell and Kev and I headed into Glen Derry.
I was uncertain whether we currently had a school DofE Bronze assessment group out, and so it was with some trepidation and weighing up my options for evasive action if need be that I approached the bridge at the start of the Derry flats. I needn't have worried as the place was deserted. What was more of a real concern was the prospect of getting to the Hutchy and finding the door and windows taped up and the coal man listening to Bob Marley!
Approaching the bridge at the Derry flats
Zoomed up Glen Derry to tomorrow morning's target
Looks like this one has taken a severe beating!
Deeper into Glen Derry
Crossing the footbridge into Coire Etchachan
First sighting of the Hutchy
Nearly there! Why is there no smoke coming out of the chimney?
Again, we needn't have worried. When we got there, the place was deserted. No bloke. No bike. No whiff of ganja. No coal. No evidence that the stove had been fired up anytime recently. We wasted no time in cracking open a couple of cans and pouring a couple of drams of Kev's Japanese malt. Kev then popped out to the "grassy knoll" where mobile signal is reputedly to be had round these parts.
Wasting no time in cracking open a can!
Nightfall over the Hutchy #1
Nightfall over the Hutchy #2
Nightfall over the Hutchy #3
When the door opened a wee while later I fully expected it to be him back. As it happens, it was a bloke with a bike, a bag of coal and a rather mellow disposition. So our chap from earlier hadn't been hallucinating after all! I'm not sure where the two of them met and shared their spliff, and our new bothy mate didn't seem to clear on the matter either.
When Kev returned, the beer and whisky flowed, the rum didn't, the fire roared (totally unnecessarily considering how mild it was but I guess if you've carried a 10kg bag of coal in then you're damn sure you're going to burn at least some of it!) and the conversation revolved largely around the topic of public health and a fellow by the name of Dick Bush. Well, Richard Bush to be precise but we couldn't resist the puerile gag, which didn't seem to go down very well.
When it became clear the rum wasn't coming out, there was nowt else for it but to turn in and set the alarms for 4 o'clock. This was one bothy night where the cold was not an issue at all and we woke at 4am feeling that the sleeping bags had been a waste of space in the packs! We decided to skip breakfast until we returned to the bothy and head straight for the hill in the hope of seeing a sunrise of sorts. We left Richard (not Bush - he was someone else!) on the floor and headed off at 4.15 up into the higher reaches of Coire Etchachan.
Back down the coire in the morning shortly after leaving the hut
Looking back from almost at the outflow of Loch Etchachan
Loch Etchachan, Macdui rising behind
It looked doubtful that we would get much in the way of a sunrise or views but as we laboured up the path from Loch Etchachan onto Beinn Mheadhoin, it didn't stop us speculating that we might eventually get about the cloud cover and see something. The back of 4.30 on a Saturday morning, no coffee or breakfast, and still the eternal optimists! The going was hard. Even without packs, the lack of sleep and breakfast on top of a couple of beers and whiskies was taking it's toll. Fortunately however I soon got through this and began to feel things ease off before we reached the massive lump of rock marking the 1163m spot height. We walked on past said lump of rock before realising that something was awry and a quick check of our bearing revealed that we had done a sling shot manoeuvre and were now retracing our steps. We quickly rectified this gaffe and proceeded a little more carefully through the clag until we reached the summit barns.
Saturday, 5am, somewhere on the high Cairngorm plateau!
The summit barns loom out of the mist
The last few steps
We were clambering all over the highest point by just after 5.30. Oddly enough we had the summit to ourselves. The views had stubbornly refused to show themselves but we clambered down and took shelter in amongst the massive tors in the hope that things might lift. After 10 minutes or so though we were encouraged to leave by an increasingly persistent sleet and baltic temperatures.
Kev on the big rock
Gotcha at last ya bugger!
Kev down climbing the barns
Once again, the 1163 spot height rock bamboozled us and sent us off on entirely the wrong trajectory. That thing must have more magnetism than CERN!
We returned to the bothy to find Richard still on the floor, before enjoying a leisurely breakfast to set us up for the long walk back out to Linn of Dee, from where Kev headed homewards and I scooted half an hour or so up the road to Geallaig Hill.
by Collaciotach » Wed May 28, 2014 7:23 am
by dogplodder » Wed May 28, 2014 12:28 pm
Like you, it took a couple of goes to nail this one.
by pigeon » Wed May 28, 2014 6:28 pm
by Fife Flyer » Wed May 28, 2014 7:41 pm
Love the fish supper description in Braemar, take it you won't be leaving a glowing report on Trip Advisor
by kevsbald » Sat May 31, 2014 3:33 pm
by londonwalker » Sat May 31, 2014 3:40 pm
Is there anywhere decent to eat in Braemar?
by Graeme D » Sat May 31, 2014 6:36 pm
londonwalker wrote:Jolly good report G. Had a few chuckles over this most enjoyable read
Is there anywhere decent to eat in Braemar?