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Northern Cairngorms: Mheander to Mheadhoin

Northern Cairngorms: Mheander to Mheadhoin


Postby malky_c » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:23 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin

Date walked: 10/09/2016

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 19 km

Ascent: 1540m

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Munros: Beinn Mheadhoin.
Date: 10/09/2016.
Distance: 19km.
Ascent: 1540m.
Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes.
Weather: Breezy, mostly sunny.

I was hoping to go up Slioch this weekend, but the weather forecast looked much better in the East, so I went that way instead. I had decided to head up to the Cairngorm ski centre, but a lack of any particular plan the night before had made getting out of bed and on the road more difficult. By the time I pulled up in the ski centre car park, it had gone 11:30am. On the drive down, I had decided to head for an unvisited Munro top on the far side of Beinn Mheadhoin, by way of the Fiacaill ridge and my favourite spot on top of Shelterstone Crag. I didn't know whether I'd actually manage all of this, as I have a tendency to change my plans frequently when out on the central Cairngorms plateau; there are so many possibilities up there.


Mheadhoin.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


It was a fabulous day, if a little breezy at times. Not yet autumn proper, but the first hint of gold was just starting to creep into the grass and trees. The car park and path round to Coire an t-Sneachda were relatively busy, and there were a fair few folk around on the Fiacaill too, as I made my way up to the start of the scrambly bit.

Cairn Gorm from Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda:
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As ever, I enjoyed this route - an easy scramble with the illusion of being a lot harder and more serious than it actually is. Once I popped out on the plateau, I decided to skip out the summit of Cairn Lochan and make my way directly for the top of Shelterstone Crag.

Looking back along the Fiacaill:
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Coire an Lochain:
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Carn Etchachan, the Shelterstone, Avon Slabs and the Garbh Uisge Mor:
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Last time down here I had avoided the direct descent of the slabby crags on the south side of the Feith Buidhe, as a previous traverse had been awkward, traversing steep slopes of old snow. When I was up here last October, there were still a couple of significant chunks of old snow around, but today I could hardly see any. It was easy enough descending over the granite today, the key being picking the correct place to drop from one terrace to the next.

Loch Avon looking down the slabs:
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Once over the Garbh Uisge Mor, it only took a short time to get up on to the top of Shelterstone crag, with its memorial hidden away at the top of one of the climbs.

Garbh Uisge Mor with Hell's Lum behind:
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Shelterstone Crag and Loch Avon:
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Back to Hell's Lum from Shelterstone Crag:
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Memorial on top of Shelterstone Crag:
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Being a bit breezy today, this was a good spot to tuck away out of the wind and sit looking over Loch Avon for a bit, before continuing onto the summit of Carn Etchachan.

Loch Avon from Shelterstone Crag:
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Shelterstone Crag and Hell's Lum Crag, with Cairn Lochan behind:
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Next it was down to Loch Etchachan - a bit steep and scrabbly this, but heading down slightly further south seems a good bet. I certainly found it easier than last time I had tried to come down this way, when I had stuck too close to the north-facing crags.

Loch Etchachan and Derry Cairngorm:
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Top of Coire Etchachan:
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Down at the loch, the sun came out. This is one of the most scenic spots in the central Cairngorms, but almost every time I come here, it is grey and gloomy. Not today! Rather than head straight up Beinn Mheadhoin, I contoured across the southern slopes towards Stob Coire Etchachan, which had been my unvisited target. The going was tedious for a short while, with a couple of scree slopes to cross, but the views down to the lower Coire Etchachan, the Hutchie hut and back to Loch Etchachan were worth the effort, and better than those from the main spine of Beinn Mheadhoin.

Loch Etchachan and Carn Etchachan, with Ben Macdui to the left:
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Hutchie hut:
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Coire Etchachan:
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The summit of Stob Coire Etchachan was perched right on the edge of broken cliffs overlooking Glen Derry, and well worth another stop. I thought I'd spotted an eagle out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned towards it, it was a glider, twirling around in and out of the corries.

Sgurr an Lochan Uaine and Glen Derry:
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Ben Macdui and Loch Etchachan:
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An easy, grassy contour led me to the summit tor of Beinn Mheadhoin, which I went up briefly. I started following the etched path back towards Loch Etchachan, but Stacan Dubha had caught my eye, and before long I was descending towards it. I remembered it having views of Loch Avon which were second only to Shelterstone Crag, so it seemed well worth another visit on an afternoon as nice as this.

Summit tor of Beinn Mheadhoin:
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Glen Derry:
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Coire Etchachan:
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...and glider:
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Beinn a' Bhuird from Beinn Mheadhoin:
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Beinn Mheadhoin tors:
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Cairn Gorm and Loch Avon:
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Stacan Dubha:
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Another place for a quick break, before picking up the path down to the head of Loch Avon. I finally started passing people again down here, having seen a fair number of people in the distance, but not having spoken to anyone since the top of the Fiacaill.

Loch Avon from Stacan Dubha:
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Stacan Dubha from the descent to Loch Avon:
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I managed to get across the Garbh Uisge Mor without getting my feet wet, then it was time for the final struggle up Coire Raibeirt, which wasn't too bad really.

Carn Etchachan and Shelterstone Crag:
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Stacan Dubha from the head of Loch Avon:
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Head of Loch Avon:
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Garbh Uisge Mor and Feith Buidhe:
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Retreating up Coire Raibeirt:
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I crossed over the ridge at point 1141, resisting adding Cairn Gorm into the walk. Since I wanted to be home for tea, I just took the quickest route down the Fiacaill a' Choire Chais, which is built up into a stepped path now, and drops off the ridge and into the ski development before too long. Perhaps not the most exciting end to the day, but that's how you pay for the convenience of being able to get over to Loch Avon so easily.

Cairn Lochan and the Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda from point 1141:
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Last edited by malky_c on Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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malky_c
 
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Re: Northern Cairngorms: Mheander to Mheadhoin

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:21 am

Stunning photos - Saturday was a brilliant day to be in the Cairngorms, your report does it justice and tempts the reader to follow in your footsteps (we'll sort of in my case!!). Thanks :clap: :clap:
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Re: Northern Cairngorms: Mheander to Mheadhoin

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:50 am

Really enjoyed this.

While I've done most of the hills in this area and had a good wander around Loch Avon there were a couple of tops that I haven't been on that seem to have really good views.

Definitely a report to stick in the memory bank for the future. Because of my location I tend to always come in to these hills from Linn of Dee so I rarely see the plateau - maybe next time I should start from the north (I think I've done Linn of Dee to Derry Lodge enough times now).
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Re: Northern Cairngorms: Mheander to Mheadhoin

Postby litljortindan » Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:45 pm

You could write a book I am sure, your reports are really very good. Seems so far away for me just now but a spot of vicarious Cairngorm exploration is a good second best to the real thing.
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Re: Northern Cairngorms: Mheander to Mheadhoin

Postby skawt100 » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:53 pm

I did a similar route to this a few months ago and I am wondering why I didn't take the same route from Fiacaill Ridge to Mheadhoin as yourself. I descended east of Hell's Lum Crag down to the Shelter stone and back up the other side, I really begrudged having to head in and out of that corrie twice. We added Cairngorm on for some extra tedium.

Also, I feel like it's a crime to do Cairngorm without doing the Fiacaill ridge if you are bagging the munros and it's not your first hill!
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Re: Northern Cairngorms: Mheander to Mheadhoin

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:55 pm

We must have passed each other! When did you hit Mheadhoin?
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Re: Northern Cairngorms: Mheander to Mheadhoin

Postby malky_c » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:42 pm

Alteknacker wrote:We must have passed each other! When did you hit Mheadhoin?

I think this is a week before you were there? I glanced at your report to find out, but it looks rather interesting - I will need to give it some proper attention shortly :) .
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Re: Northern Cairngorms: Mheander to Mheadhoin

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:26 pm

malky_c wrote:
Alteknacker wrote:We must have passed each other! When did you hit Mheadhoin?

I think this is a week before you were there?...


I did 2 sallies in quick succession - the first on 7th September, and then, being so enamoured of the place, again on the 17th.

I forgot the date of the first one, and thought it was on the 10th (date report published)...

A senior moment... :)

Agree with everything you say about Etchachan though - I got it sans clag on the second trip, and it was everything I'd imagined! :D Wonderful place. :D
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