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Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!


Postby Stretch » Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:15 pm

Route description: Beinn Mheadhoin and Derry Cairngorm from Deeside

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin, Derry Cairngorm

Date walked: 26/09/2010

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 31 km

Ascent: 1211m

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This past weekend brough a couple of anniversaries for me. First off, I've now been living in St Andrews for three years, and have managed to fight off a few attempts at abandoning my PhD and so far I've avoided jumping off the pier :lol: . Secondly, last weekend marked my two year anniversary of my first hillwalking trip. I didn't know much about hills or munros or summit cairns two years ago when I clambered up Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm wearing jeans and trainers. Two years, 80 munros, and nearly 1000 pounds in kit later, I made my return to an area of Scotland that I truly love, the Cairngorms. Might as well celebrate your 3 year anniversary in Scotland and your 83rd munro from where it all started right? This time minus the jeans and trainers.

I had had a really nice weekend up to Sunday: Ben Vorlich near Loch Lomond on Friday, and the MCoS nav skills course in Braemar on Saturday that included the corbett Morrone. I could see snow on the Gorms from Morrone and felt something calling me back there. So I scrapped my plans to do Ben Cruachan and headed back to Braemar Sunday morning bright and early. Left the Linn of Dee car park at around 8:45 and headed down the track to Derry Lodge. Fifty minutes later I was making my way through the pine forest on a path that takes you up through the crags below Carn Crom. I decided to do Derry Cairngorm first as I knew the sun would be behind me, which would pay off as far as photography matters were concerned. This is an enjoyable path to follow with views to be had in all directions.

Crossing Lui Water on the way to Derry Lodge.jpg


Moon over Carn a'Mhaim.jpg


Creag Bad an t-Seabhaig.jpg


Overlooking Glen Derry.jpg


Looking toward Beinn a'Ghlo.jpg


Path up to Derry Cairngorm.jpg


Pretty soon Derry Cairngorm came into view, and once I made it to its lower slopes I could see across to Carn a'Mhaim and Cairn Toul. The weather was superb and it had been improving all morning - this was going to be an amazing day I thought.

Cairn Toul.jpg


I reached the summit of Derry Cairngorm in under 3 hours and took 15 mins to take pictures and soak in the unhindered views of Ben Macdui, Cairn Toul, Beinn Mheadhoin, and the hills back toward Braemar. Ice had been blasted onto the rocks on the summit as well as on the two cairns that mark the top. I found a little spot out of the breeze and enjoyed some coffee and my lunch. I had only passed 2 walkers all morning and I had the summit to myself, excellent.

Icy summit of Derry Cairngorm.jpg


Ben MacDui Pano.jpg


Ben Macdui and Cairn Toul.jpg


Can you spot the helicopter.jpg


I took time at the summit to reflect upon the last three years - what a ride I've had so far. Better yet, I could see the summit of Ben Macdui, my first munro, and the memories of two years ago all came back. The excitement of heading into the hills for the first time, the view at Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, the thick fog at the summit of Macdui, and the laborsome steps up Cairn Gorm - all magical to a hillwalking newcomer.

As three walkers approached the summit of Derry Cairngorm I packed up and headed down the north slope to find the path over to Beinn Mheadhoin. Anticipation at this point was building, as I knew I would eventually rise over the ridge to see Loch Etchachan for the first time. I was certainly not disappointed in the view. What a spot to have some more coffee!

Loch Etchachan Pano 3.jpg


Ben MacDui to Cairn Gorm Pano.jpg


Next I headed down to the shores of Loch Etchachan to get a closer look. A few walkers were having their lunch where the path crosses over to the lower slope of Beinn Mheadhoin, but I took a slight photography detour . . .

Beinn Mheadhoin over Little Loch Etchachan.jpg


Beinn Mheadhoin from Little Loch Etchachan B&W.jpg


Loch Etchachan Lower View Pano.jpg


After exchanging hellos with the other walkers I started the ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin - I wouldn't see another person for nearly 4 hours! The path up Beinn Mheadhoin looked steep from Derry Cairngorm, but it was actually pretty easy going. When I reached the upper end of the hill and things began to smooth out I stopped again to survey the landscape. To me, I think that the spot in the pic below is one of the best viewpoints in Scotland, at least from what I've seen in 3 years time.

Ben Macdui over Loch Etchachan.jpg


Great viewpoint on slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin.jpg


It's easy going up to the barns on Beinn Mheadhoin. Snow had been blown onto every patch of grass around the top and especially on the rocky tors that look as though they fell out of space and landed on Beinn Mheadhoin. I walked around the main tor and found that scrambling up it might prove difficult as it was slick and parts of it still had plenty of ice on it. What the heck, up I went. There was one tricky move, but being tall I managed to stretch safely over to the ledge and continued to the top. 360 degree views for me!

Approaching barns on Beinn Mheadhoin.jpg


Barn on Beinn Mheadhoin.jpg


Cairn Gorm from Beinn Mheadhoin.jpg


Stretch and his fabulous view.jpg


Snow on Beinn Mheadhoin.jpg


Loch Avon Pano.jpg


Knowing I had a long walk back to Derry Lodge and the car park I headed off Beinn Mheadhoin, leaving the excellent views of the larger Cairngorm hills behind. I passed the memorial hut and made my way around Sgurr an Lochan Uaine where the entire view of Glen Derry came into focus. Yikes that's a long way back. No matter, I knew the reward would come. I love the smell of pines, and when I reached the forest around Derry Lodge it was magical. Fresh pine air and the light trickling through the trees made the end of the walk just as good as the beginning. (Final pics to be added in another post).

So after three years in the UK and two years after taking on my first munros, I had an amazing day. It was one of those rare days where everything goes exactly as planned, it was perfect. During the long walk back to the car I debated with myself which area of Scotland was my favorite location so far, Glencoe or the Cairngorms. It's a tough call really. I've had amazing days in each place. My favorite hill is still Bidean nam Bian and I had a great time on both Buachailles. On the other hand, the Gorms have given me my first three munros and a magical trip up 83-84. The air is fresher there to me and the long days can be extremely rewarding. For thirty minutes I weighed the arguments for both sides. I ended up with a bit of a split decision . . .

Glencoe may have my soul, but the Cairngorms warm my heart.

Enjoy!

Stretch
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Last edited by Stretch on Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby Stretch » Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:18 pm

And a few more . . .

Approaching forest near Derry Lodge.jpg


Beinn Bhreac.jpg


Path to Derry Lodge.jpg


Light through the pines near Derry Lodge.jpg
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby Milesy » Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:24 pm

Fantastic. Autumn in al its glory 8)
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby Graeme D » Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:24 pm

Fantastic stuff Stretch. Good to see you've thoroughly made the most of your three years in Scotland! Nice to see a dusting of snow up on the high Gorms already. 8)
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby malky_c » Sat Oct 02, 2010 5:32 pm

Agree with Graham about the snow, although I imagine the rain this week will have got rid of it...

Looks like a fine day out. Love these long southern approaches, although they do mean you miss out on seeing much of Loch Avon (something I had to rectify earlier in the summer).

Like the B+W shot too. It probably works even better than the colour one for that particular view 8)
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby kinley » Sat Oct 02, 2010 5:38 pm

Nice one Stretch 8)

Think the southern approach to Derry is a cracker - and your photos do it justice.

I've stopped trying to pick favourites - there are days for the 'Gorms and days for Glencoe and days for the NW. Love 'em all 8)
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby 2dalmatians » Sat Oct 02, 2010 5:58 pm

Some really fabulous pictures Stretch. Congratualtions on 83/84 too, somehow I dont think my pace will be that good! lol
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby Stretch » Sat Oct 02, 2010 6:01 pm

Thanks everyone! Kinley I get the feeling that when I finally make it up to the NW that places like Torridon will be my new favorite :lol: . Fun stuff exploring this country!
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby kinley » Sat Oct 02, 2010 6:17 pm

Stretch wrote:Thanks everyone! Kinley I get the feeling that when I finally make it up to the NW that places like Torridon will be my new favorite :lol: . Fun stuff exploring this country!


:shock: Just looked at your munro map - that is a bald NW :shock:

If we don't all kill each other in GlenCoe ;) you should continue your Social Events Convener role and organise a Meet in Torridon. The Youth Hostel up there is a cracker.

April/May 2011? :lol:
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby walk aboot » Sat Oct 02, 2010 6:24 pm

Well said, stretch (soul and heart-wise) :D .

Wow photos too! 8)
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby Stretch » Sat Oct 02, 2010 6:51 pm

Cheers Walk Aboot!

I'm not going to kill anyone Kinley, they'd probably send me back to the US or confine me on Bass Rock and then I'd never get to the Northwest :(

I do have a birthday in April though . . . hmm, Torridon.
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby Barnety2000 » Sat Oct 02, 2010 7:01 pm

Another fantastic report Stretch, and awesome pictures of those (first?) Autumn snows! Winter is on it's way... :)
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby Merry-walker » Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:51 pm

Superb trip Stretch, Braemar and Linn of Dee is so lovely. I had my firsts holiday there for 10 years, in Invercauld, in my caravan back in August. Its what gave me the bug for walking.

I've wanted to give up on my MSc but it will be worth it in the end, promise.. Hills give perspective when words let you down :think: :think:
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby Freewheelin » Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:19 pm

love the last pic - sums the day up perfectly 8)
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Re: Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin - Perfecto!

Postby Alan S » Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:41 pm

Excellant stretch well done 8)
Stretch wrote:So I scrapped my plans to do Ben Cruachan

Dont put it off for too long,you'll love it :)
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