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Cairngorm Weekend

Cairngorm Weekend


Postby hindsight » Sun May 27, 2018 10:55 am

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chaorainn (Cairngorms), Beinn Bhreac, Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui, Carn a'Mhaim, Derry Cairngorm

Date walked: 25/05/2018

Time taken: 26 hours

Distance: 50 km

Ascent: 2200m

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With the fine weather and some holiday days to take before the end of June, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to spend some time up the hills. Also - after a warm-up on Beinn Chabhair a few weeks back, I felt that my hill legs were firmly attached.

This week, I came to the realisation that it has been a looong time since I spent any time in the Cairngorms, and while pondering the map, I started hatching a plan for a two day walk.

After fuelling up on a lunchtime burger in Braemar, I set off for Derry Lodge by bicycle in strong sunshine. I ditched the bike behind the lodge, then set off by foot - although I deliberately packed light - I'm certainly not used to carrying a full overnight pack, so I was taking it easy - I knew it was going to be a hard slog today.

The first objective came surprisingly easily - Carn a'Mhaim - the view out to the eastern Cairngorm and across the Larig Ghru were spectacular.
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Following the ridge further north, the path follows an arete that drops down 200m or so, while Ben MacDui looms ever-larger, with about 450m of ascent to reach the summit plateau. The weight of the rucksack was starting to take its' toll, so taking a rest at the foot of the climb, and found some snacks to keep me going. It was at this point that my water ran out.

That was the plan though - I had deliberately only taken a litre of water in my platypus to save weight - the map shows a gully with the Allt Clach nan Taillear close to where I was ascending. The plan was to refill from there. What could possibly go wrong?

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At the point that my route intersected the gully, I found that it was completely full of snow. I could hear the water flowing somewhere, but there was not much chance of me getting at it. The ascent up the side of MacDui is a boulder field, and I could see that it starts to get particularly steep futher up on the route that I was on - but I had no particular choice, but to follow the snowline, and hope/expect that at some point the water would put in an appearance. It did, nearly at the top, by which it was a relief to be able to take a long drink of cold, cold water.

Pressing on, I summited Ben MacDui at about 6pm, spending some time chatting to a foreign tourist who appeared to be navigating by Post-It notes - he was doing big distances though - and heading out to Braemar to stock up with food.

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The wind had risen quite substantially, and I was tiring rapidly. Navigating the boulder field on top of Derry Cairngorm was putting a strain on my sense of humour, and although taking it slowly, I still nearly fell a few times before reaching the summit at just after 7pm (still wearing t-shirt and shorts!).

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I didn't hang about at all.. straight back to where I left my bag, and on to Loch Etchachan to set camp for the evening and get some rest. And what a location - beautiful..
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From Loch Etchachan, it's a simple up and down to the first hill of the day - Beinn Mheadhoin. It reminded me a lot of the film "Up!", with it's peculiar tors on the summit.

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Descending past the Hutchison Memorial Hut, I was in two minds whether to continue on with my intended route, or to head straight down Glen Derry and back to the bicycle. Once I got to the footbridge, it was decision time - I stopped to refill water and think it through whilst checking the map. I came to the conclusion that I should press on - I would most probably regret bailing out now, and I felt that I had enough time to have a good rest, should I need it.

The ascent up the side of Beinn a'Chaorainn was horrible - mostly wheezing and heather-bashing - which annoyed the hell out of the poor Ptarmigan that were trying to enjoy their Saturday morning.

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The walk from Beinn a'Chaorainn to Beinn Bhreac was a bit of a shock to the system, after the well maintained paths of the other hills I was on this weekend - however - after a bit of a trudge, Beinn Bhreac came and went soon enough.

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Now I find myself back home, looking at the map, and wondering - where next?

Mike
hindsight
 
Posts: 7
Munros:119   
Joined: Feb 25, 2012

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