walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Ben Macdui: in quest of Fearlas Mor

Ben Macdui: in quest of Fearlas Mor


Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:30 am

Route description: Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui

Date walked: 15/09/2015

6 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 was returning from the cairn on the summit in a mist when I began to think I heard something else than merely the noise of my own footsteps. Every few steps I took I heard a crunch, then another crunch as if someone was walking after me but taking steps three or four times the length of my own.

I said to myself 'this is all nonsense'. I listened and heard it again but could see nothing in the mist . As I walked on and the eerie crunch, crunch sounded behind me I was seized with terror and took to my heels, staggering blindly among the boulders for four or five miles nearly down to Rothiemurchus Forest.

Whatever you make of it I do not know, but there is something very queer about the top of Ben Macdui and I will not go back there again by myself."


(Norman Collie: see http://www.biggreyman.co.uk/legend.html)

The main objective of our September 2015 week in Ballater, apart from Lochnagar, had to be Scotland's second-highest peak. For me, this was not so much because of its altitude, but rather the variety of the walk - Ralph Storer describes it "the varied Cairngorm landscape in all its moods". Would it live up to our expectations?


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



We chose the forecast's best-weather day, and it was a glorious morning for the long walk-in from Linn of Dee via Derry Lodge.

ImageIMG_2986 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

From Glen Lui we had a fine view westwards to Carn a'Mhaim.

ImageIMG_2990 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Derry Burn from the bridge at Derry Lodge.

ImageIMG_2996 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The walk became even more idyllic, among fine stands of Scots pines...

ImageIMG_2998 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

...which became more scattered as we walked on into the upper glen.

ImageIMG_3004 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Sgurr an Lochain Uaine, Stob Coire Etchachan and Beinn Mheadhoin ahead of us.

ImageIMG_3002 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

A quiet stretch of the Derry Burn, with Coire an Lochain Uaine in the background.

ImageIMG_3008 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

It was such a glorious day, the sunshine was warm, the streams were sparkling ...however, in the upper valley, one of my friends sadly said he was not feeling too great, and would slowly wend his way back down to the car. A great shame - the route, and the conditions were perfect. He's done Macdui before, from the North, but I felt sad that he was missing this southern route: it was a real treat.

ImageIMG_3015 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

A little further, and we were getting close to the crags of Stob Coire Etchachan. However the sky was sadly becoming a bit grey... suitably brooding for the heart of the Cairngorms.

ImageIMG_3018 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

It didn't seem long before we caught sight of the Hutchinson hut, nestling at the foot of the beetling crags of Creagan a'Choire Etchachan.

ImageIMG_3023 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Here we met a couple who were doing all the Munros together: Beinn Meadhoin was their target today.

The hut is a pleasing, snug bothy which reminded me of saunas I've visited in Finland.

ImageIMG_3032 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We headed on up into the corrie. I was keen to get my first sight of Loch Etchachan, Britain's only large Arctic-style tarn.

ImageIMG_3040 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

It didn't disappoint: the landscape up here was seriously big and bleak.

ImageIMG_3047 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We chatted to two women who were armed with huge pick-axes. They looked like they were burying a body, but they said they were mending the path. A glance at the pickaxes... and we thought it safest not to challenge their assertion... Well done them; one had come all the way from France to work on this.

With reflections on our own lack of altruism, and weaponry, we plodded up to the skyline, where we could look down the cliff-bitten scarp of Stob Coire Sputan Dearg.

ImageIMG_3056 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

From slightly higher, the deep clefts of gullies in the cliffs looked strikingly regular.

ImageIMG_3059 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Off across the tundra, past the Sapper's Bothy... and we were on the summit!

ImageIMG_3076 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Despite the grey weather (but no Grey Man) the distant views were amazing, with even a hazy glimpse of Ben Loyal and maybe Ben Hope and Foinaven. However the big peaks across the Lairig Ghru were the stars of the show, still holding the odd spot of last year's snow through into September.

ImageIMG_3082 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We could see black clouds approaching, and I was resigned to the thought of getting soaked. We headed across the plateau and descended Sron Riach, but in fact the clouds receded and we even enjoyed a pleasant, warm, five minute sit down in hazy early-autumn sunshine, looking down on Beinn Bhrotain and the Devil's Point over the top of the Carn a'Mhaim ridge. It's quite curious, in the UK, to find yourself looking down on scenery on this scale.

ImageIMG_3095 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

A zoom of the Devil's Point.

ImageIMG_3092 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Then it was on down the Sron Riach ridge.

ImageIMG_3145 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

A last backward look from Sron Riach at Stob Coire Sputan Dearg.

ImageIMG_3105 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

I like my camera, but its one weakness is not having a great zoom. The ridge was alive with ptarmigans, but no usable photos, except this miniscule silhouette which happens to have nice clouds in the background.

ImageIMG_3136 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

There was the odd interesting boulder too. Unlike the ptarmigans, they stood still while I took their photos.

ImageIMG_3142 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3143 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Lower down the Sron Riach ridge the granite boulders were replaced by unusually lush grass, before we reached the Luibeg Burn.

ImageIMG_3153 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The path along the Luibeg Burn twisted and turned in the valley bottom, but it never petered out, and soon we were on the good track to Derry Lodge. However the last section seemed a l o n g way... but at long last Derry Lodge, then the bridge over the Lui Water, and finally the Linn of Dee car park appeared. Descriptions of this route say 18 or 19 miles, but our GPS said we'd walked 21. Whatever the mileage, it was twilight as we neared the car, but we were rewarded by a glorious sunset.

ImageIMG_3165 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We'd not seen Fearlas Mor. Perhaps, for luck, we should have been wearing our Fearlas Mor socks. Yes, they do exist (available in grey).
User avatar
HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1269
Munros:95   Corbetts:10
Grahams:2   Donalds:1
Hewitts:148
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Ben Macdui: in quest of Fearlas Mor

Postby dav2930 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:58 pm

Great report, great photos, great walk. :clap: Really made me want to visit the Gorms again. The approach to Macdui from Linn of Dee by the route you took is way superior to the approach from the north IMHO. Shame the Grey Man didn't make an appearance but you can't have everything I suppose :lol:
User avatar
dav2930
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1420
Munros:237   Corbetts:13
Grahams:14   Donalds:42
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:164
Wainwrights:214   Islands:2
Joined: Feb 13, 2015
Location: Cumbria

Re: Ben Macdui: in quest of Fearlas Mor

Postby dogplodder » Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:19 pm

Have been up Macdui several times from the north but this looks a great route which probably does it more justice than he northern route. 8)
User avatar
dogplodder
 
Posts: 3630
Munros:227   Corbetts:55
Grahams:16   
Sub 2000:25   Hewitts:5
Wainwrights:9   Islands:23
Joined: Jul 16, 2011

Re: Ben Macdui: in quest of Fearlas Mor

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:10 pm

Great report - The Cairngorms can seem boring - I think you have to "soak them up" . Difficult to explain but I think your photos show them in their best light. The iconic Scots pines below , the bare rounded sculptured peaks above and that amazing sense of "space"
past my sell by date
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 778
Munros:282   Corbetts:84
Grahams:27   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:146
Wainwrights:159   
Joined: Apr 24, 2013

Re: Ben Macdui: in quest of Fearlas Mor

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:55 am

Thanks for all the comments - I totally agree. My aim on this walk and indeed with the whole Ballater week was to experience the atmosphere of the Cairngorms - the sense of space and scale, and the transition between the pine woods and the bare summits - best experienced on a long walk-in. It is not like the west coast but it has its own qualities which are more subtle but just as enjoyable!

As always, the thing I enjoy most about Scotland's hills is not any one piece of scenery, but the incredible variety.
User avatar
HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1269
Munros:95   Corbetts:10
Grahams:2   Donalds:1
Hewitts:148
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Ben Macdui: in quest of Fearlas Mor

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:18 pm

Thoroughly enjoyed this - superb pics, but otherwise nothing really to add to PMSD's summary - he's got it spot on. :clap: :clap:

It revived very fond memories for me of a couple of walks I did at pretty well the same time of year in 2016 - on one of which I had similarly clement weather.
User avatar
Alteknacker
Scrambler
 
Posts: 2915
Munros:167   Corbetts:29
Hewitts:227
Wainwrights:90   
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

6 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).



Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online