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Bynack, More than just a Meall

Bynack, More than just a Meall


Postby Driftwood » Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:47 pm

Route description: Bynack More from Glenmore

Munros included on this walk: Bynack More

Corbetts included on this walk: Meall a'Bhuachaille

Date walked: 19/06/2016

Time taken: 23.6 hours

Distance: 29 km

Ascent: 1350m

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With wind, cloud and rain forecast, I had decided on a gentler day, but still wanted to fit in a night of bothying. Bynack More looked ideal, especially starting just up the road from Glenmore where I'd been staying at the hostel for several days.

There was a notice at the carpark about a footbridge being unavailable due to flood damage. I think it's the alternative to this crossing (about 1km into the walk), but it was fine to step between stones at the ford, though burns were still fairly full due to a lot of rain earlier that week.
DSCF3585.jpg
Ford of Allt Ban


Keeping on the main track (passing at least one track on my right, as well as paths on my left), I soon joined the main route to Ryvoan pass. I'd walked this little over a year before, at the time in pouring rain. The morning was clouding over, but holding dry so far.
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Track towards Ryvoan pass


I also paused briefly at the green loch, which was a deep emerald under the overcast skies.
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An Lochan Uaine


Then through the pass and turning right, aiming for the Lairig an Laoigh rather than Nethy Bridge. A vast area here falls within the RSPB Abernethy reserve and there are signs asking for dogs to be kept on lead during this season to protect ground-nesting birds. One of the groups that I met along the path had two free-roaming dogs, causing me a twinge of guilt as I didn't point out the signs.

There was some water laying on (and flowing across) the tracks lower down, but more of a splash-through for any vehicles that may pass than an obstacle to walkers, who could use the verges. The track and path makes the long approach easy walking, especially with the gentle gradient.
DSCF3593.jpg
Approaching Bynack More


There were a few slight showers, more a warning than any significant rainfall but enough to get me putting on waterproofs. Most of the others sharing the route did the same, at which the rain stopped - I suspect to go fall on someone less prepared instead. A strengthening wind wreathed Bynack More in cloud as the paths split and I separated from the route to the Lairig.
DSCF3597.jpg
Paths split north of Bynack More


I paused soon after this, finding a fairly sheltered boulder-seat to stop for some lunch. The weather wasn't shifting, so I left the main path (which looked loose and eroded not far ahead) to a fainter path traversing southwest. Turning west, then northwest, brought me up to the Top of Bynack Beg, just beneath the cloud ceiling.
DSCF3612.jpg
Sculpted tors on Bynack Beg


Then it was an about-turn and steeper ascent of the Bynack More by its west flank. There are traces of a path, maybe no better than the main path had looked before, and I was soon wrapped by the clag. I took a wander along the summit ridge and a brief break sheltered by the cairn, but the weather seemed more likely to get worse (wetter) than to clear any time soon.
DSCF3615.jpg
Bynack More in the cloud


Having come this far, with tolerable conditions, I wanted to continue at least to the second Munro Top nearby. So I started southwards along the ridge. 500 paces brought me close to the Little Barns, several tors that loomed through the blowing clag. Their larger siblings were presumably very close nearby, but I decided to save them for a better day, perhaps to combine with Creag Mhor.
DSCF3617.jpg
Little Barns of Bynack


Instead, I took a bearing and started pacing my way towards A' Choinneach, the second Top (and once a Munro in its own right). There was a moderate descent of open ground with scattered stones, then a wide and boggy bealach before gaining height again. I was moving fairly slowly, needing to check the compass and pick a new feature to aim for every few dozen paces, but reached the ridge in sight of the cairn. It's not obvious whether this is the highest point (at least, in the reduced visibilty of the time), so I did a little wandering to satisfy my conscience.
DSCF3618.jpg
A' Choinneach


I chose to descend northwestwards into the upper Strath Nethy (if it can be called that when it's still so steep and narrow). In hindsight, back across the plateau to the Bynack More path would have been easier going and probably quicker despite the additional height and distance. But I tend to stray from even the best of paths and it hardly feels like a hillwalk if I'm not teetering down some steep heathery slopes at some stage :lol:
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Descending towards Garbh Allt


This particular descent had plenty of steepness and heather, combined less welcomely with wet stretches where the hill drained towards the Nethy burn far below. Once I was past those damp, slippery slopes, the steepness persisted with a delightful mixture of stones and heather that demands concentration. I did use a few deer-paths for a while, but they were traversing more than descending, so most of the work needed doing myself.
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Heathery slopes and the Saddle


Once down into the glen, or Strath, I found the path shown on my map. At least, most of it; a few sections seemed to have been washed away by the Nethy and others faded into the heather. Some of the ground was wet, in parts running with water where the burn couldn't cope with the amount of previous rainfall trying to drain through the valley.
Further on, someone has taken the effort to set down some large stepping stones, making for better progress (though there are still gaps between them). These brought me back to the outgoing path just before a bridge over the Nethy.
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Stepping stones by the Nethy


From here, I lengthened my stride and relished the track much more than I had done during the morning. I repassed some of the same groups of walkers before taking a right-turn and heading the short distance further to Ryvoan. It was only 4:30 in the afternoon, but I was glad to settle in the bothy and find shelter from a shower that fell soon afterwards.
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Ryvoan bothy


This is my second stay at the bothy and both times a DofE group has camped nearby and used the shelter to cook. There were also several much later arrivals, but I headed off (as quietly as possible) the next morning without finding where they were headed.
That morning started dry and bright, so I decided on a slight diversion rather than returning straight to the car.
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View through Ryvoan pass


I'd already walked Meall a' Bhuachaille the previous year, but it is a good viewpoint, pleasant walk and well-pathed.
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Meall a' Bhuachaille


Even the brief ascent was time enough for clouds to gather and showers begin nearby. Not great for the views, but another factor to help convince me that this shorter route had been wiser than a more ambitious trip. So I descended west, then south, before the weather could reach me.
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Gathering clouds and showers


An easy path passes some information posts, forestry and cleared slopes, as well as some more ancient pine trees. I found my way past the reindeer centre, followed the road for a short distance, then turned left onto a path back to the carpark.
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Caledonian Pine


Walking time 6 hours 10 to Ryvoan and then 1 hour 25 back to the car.


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User avatar
Driftwood
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 310
Munros:205   Corbetts:43
Grahams:19   Donalds:24
Sub 2000:19   
Joined: Jun 9, 2011

Re: Bynack, More than just a Meall

Postby Driftwood » Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:59 pm

RTC wrote:Nice report and photos.

"Instead, I took a bearing and started pacing my way towards A' Choinneach, the second Top (and once a Munro in its own right). There was a moderate descent of open ground with scattered stones, then a wide and boggy bealach before gaining height again. I was moving fairly slowly, needing to check the compass and pick a new feature to aim for every few dozen paces, but reached the ridge in sight of the cairn. It's not obvious whether this is the highest point (at least, in the reduced visibilty of the time), so I did a little wandering to satisfy my conscience."

I've been up Bynack More a couple of times but not A'Choinneach. Had a check on the Hillbagging website and the cairn is the highest point. Your conscience is clear! - At least when it comes to hills!


Thanks! I do also use Hillbagging, in particular to check just what is a Top or not, but I'd never remember their notes. So there's usually a moment, or minutes, of uncertainty on a hill while I prod, kick or stand on anything that might be the highest bit. Pity anyone sitting down having their lunch when I arrive.

With all respect to A' Choinneach, as I'd gladly risk a guilty conscience to have it moved down here to Norfolk, I suspect that those who prefer to head for the Barns instead get a more varied walk.
User avatar
Driftwood
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 310
Munros:205   Corbetts:43
Grahams:19   Donalds:24
Sub 2000:19   
Joined: Jun 9, 2011

Re: Bynack, More than just a Meall

Postby Driftwood » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:20 am

RTC wrote:You've always got Beacon Hill, near Sheringham. Jonny Muir ["The UK's County Tops"] reckons its a stiff 5 minute walk. Being serious, I take my hat off to folk like yourself who are prepared to drive such long distances to go hillwalking. You've managed to bag a lot of hills in Scotland.


Ah, the mountainous north of Norfolk. I tried some walking there back in the Spring, but there are sustained ascents of 40 metres or more. I plan on working up to Beacon Hill; maybe it should follow the Lomond hills, then Ben Lomond.

More seriously, I believe in spending more time on the walk than the journey (drive) to get there. So my hill activity gets crammed into a short intense spell each summer, I'd guess in common with many of us southerners hooked on the Highlands. Meaning, in my case, weeks of planning before - and weeks of catching up with photos and walkreports afterwards.
User avatar
Driftwood
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 310
Munros:205   Corbetts:43
Grahams:19   Donalds:24
Sub 2000:19   
Joined: Jun 9, 2011

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