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Meandering across the Cairngorms - a 2 day trip

Meandering across the Cairngorms - a 2 day trip


Postby malky_c » Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:27 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui, Derry Cairngorm

Date walked: 22/07/2018

Time taken: 21 hours

Distance: 54 km

Ascent: 2450m

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Munros: Ben Macdui, Derry Cairngorm, Beinn Mheadhoin.
Date: 21 and 22/07/2018.
Distance: 22km + 32km.
Ascent: 1520m + 930m.
Time: 10 hours + 10 hours, 45 minutes.
Weather: Slightly overcast and still on Saturday, sunny and breezy on Sunday.

Another weekend, another daft plan concocted by Jackie and I. This one was fairly vague actually, and we didn't really stick to it, not least because the weather on Friday evening didn't really invite a high camp. However the rest of the weekend looked good in the east, so we headed up to the ski centre on Saturday morning. After a bacon roll and a couple of cups of tea, the cloud seemed to have cleared. Time had also raced by and it was approaching midday :lol: . Time to move!


Day 1.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


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Heading for Coire an t-Sneachda

After an easy walk into Coire an t-Sneachda, we left the path and headed for the ridge. I fancied the Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda - my go-to ridge on this side of the Cairngorms. Jackie hadn't been up here before and to be honest I wasn't certain that it would go easily with heavy packs. Only one way to find out!

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On the Fiacaill

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Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda

I managed to get up the impressive section (not difficult but pretty steep), although it was definitely more difficult with a heavy overnight bag. Jackie's back put her off balance so she decided to skirt around the side of this bit. As I didn't fancy downclimbing with my bag, we met again at the top of the ridge.

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Looking up the awkward bit

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The awkward bit (with heavy bags at least)

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Top of the Fiacaill

After a short diversion to the summit of Cairn Lochan, we passed by a herd of Cairngorm reindeer, which were even tamer than I've previously found them.

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Coire an Lochain

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Cairngorm raindeer....

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...had better watch out!

Our plan was vague in the utmost, with an idea of wandering around above Loch Avon and taking in Ben Macdui, Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin, setting ourselves up to get over to Beinn a' Chaorainn, Beinn Bhreac and maybe even Beinn a' Bhuird the following day. We set the theme for the weekend by taking ages to get over to the top of Shelterstone crag, then opted to go to the beach I had been going on about on the Garbh Uisge Mhor.

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Loch Avon from Hell's Lum

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Slabs above the Garbh Uisge Beag

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Loc Avon and Shelterstone Crag

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Crossing the Garbh Uisge Beag

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Top of the Shelterstone

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Stob Coire an t-Sneachda from the Shelterstone

I had fancied a paddle at the beach (which is probably the highest in the UK and nearly always has some old snow on it, even at this time of year), but I couldn't find it. Was it a figment of my imagination? Embarrassing as I keep telling people about it. We settled for a quick paddle in one of the lochans to the side of the Garbh Uisge Mhor, and then - what a surprise - the beach was slightly further on in the next lochan :roll: . At least I haven't been making things up :lol: .

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High beach on Ben Macdui

ImageLife's a beach

Finally it was time to stop messing around and get to the top of something; Ben Macdui wasn't too far away, and it was an easy walk.

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Garbh Uisge Mor from Macdui

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Braeriach

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The Point and Cairn Toul

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Beinn Meadhoin

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Loch Etchachan

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Beinn a' Ghlo

Now it was time to make up for messing about and actually do a bit of walking. Derry Cairngorm was an obvious target for such a blinkered Munro bagger as Jackie ( :wink: ), so we thought we'd do a quick out-and-back to it from above Loch Etchachan. It felt like we were floating up to it, having abandoned the heavy bags for a short while.

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Back to Macdui

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Macdui from Derry Cairngorm

Back at the bags, it was time to think about where we might camp for the night. Loch Etchachan was theoretically very appealing, but seemed to have at lest a dozen tents around it, so maybe not. Jackie was keen on a summit camp on Stob Coire Etchachan, but ultimately we couldn't be bothered to drag our stuff all the way over Beinn Mheadhoin first. So a compromise - the summit of Stacan Dubha would be good, and we could stroll easily up to there before ditching our stuff and going up Beinn Meadhoin easily.

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Loch Etchachan

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Etchachan and Macdui

Our idea was doubly confirmed by the swarms of midges down at Etchachan. Admittedly there were a few on Stacan Dubha, but intermittent breaths of wind kept the worst off. We weren't able to pitch up on the actual summit as this is entirely formed of rock; the bump slightly further back was better but it was still difficult getting the tent pegs in. What a great spot 8) .

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Feith Buidhe

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Head of Loch Avon and Stag Rocks

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Summit camp on Stacan Dubha

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Beinn Meadhoin summit from Stacan Dubha

After dinner, we took a quick wander up the last 200m of Beinn Mheadhoin, arriving at the summit after 9pm. In a range where the Munro summits are generally the least interesting aspect of the scenery, Beinn Mheadhoin is one of the exceptions, with a great tor.

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Strath Nethy

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Summit of Beinn Mheadhoin

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Bynack More from Beinn Mheadhoin

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Sort-of sunset

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Beinn Mheadhoin summit plateau

On our way down, we noticed that there was 4G signal so had a quick check of the weather forecast. While it was largely unchanged from what we had seen earlier in the week, a strong wind was now due to spring out of nowhere in the early hours of the morning. Not great for a summit camp, especially with the pegs barely in! When we got back to the tents, we moved them down to a more sheltered spot a couple of minutes away, then went back up to the summit to sit and watch the rest of the light disappearing. There wasn't a spectacular sunset, but once the moon popped up, it was an atmospheric place to be.

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Summit tor

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Slowly losing the light on Beinn Mheadhoin

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Well after 11 pm

__________________________________________________

The wind did as scheduled, gusting in the early hours of the morning, but we were well protected from the worst of it. On the plus side, there was some strong sunshine which hadn't been forecast. What a place to wake up 8) .

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Loch Avon looks good the following morning

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Cairngorm

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Loch Etchachan from Stacan Dubha

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Carn Etchachan and the Shelterstone

Having re-visited the top of Stacan Dubha, we decided that it wasn't really a day for spending on the tops - far too breezy to be enjoyable - so we came up with an alternative plan. Why not reverse a large chunk of Jackie's route from a couple of months ago, heading down Glen Derry, round to Corrour and back over the Lairig Ghru? There was no rush to be back, but that would keep us down low.


Day 2.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


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Carn Etchachan

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Loch Etchachan

So that's exactly what we did, with a fair bit of buggering about on the way - sunbathing, a long lunch stop at Bob Scott's and some waterslide exploration further up the Lairig Ghru.

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Loch Etchachan

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Creagan a' Choire Etchachan

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Hutchie hut

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Stob Coire Etchachan

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Glen Derry

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Ben Macdui up the Luibeg

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Devil's Point and the Lairig Ghru

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Corrour

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Pools of Dee

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Pools of Dee

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Looking back through the Lairig Ghru

The pull up to the Chalamain gap provided some complaint from both of us, as did the boulderfield through the gap itself - well you did want to see it Jackie :lol: . But I had saved the worst for last - the 'shortcut' from the Sugarbowl path to the ski centre. Not the first time I've done this, but it is the first time with a heavy bag - Christ it was hard work!

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Chalamain Gap

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Atmospheric light over the Spey

We were quite glad to get back to the carpark - a very enjoyable slightly aimless wander through the central Cairngorms 8) .
User avatar
malky_c
 
Posts: 5759
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Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Inverness

Re: Meandering across the Cairngorms - a 2 day trip

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:45 pm

Great stuff. :clap: :clap: :clap: . Less aimful meandering appeals more and more!

Given that uninterrupted thunder storms are forecast for pretty well all of next week for Skye :shock: , I plan to do something similar next week, maybe over 3 days. Ever since I first saw Etchachan I've wanted to camp there, also some other non-summit places - Loch Einich, Choire Bhrochain, Shelter Stone and many others - partly stimulated by reading "The Living Mountain". And this just confirms what a good place the Cairngorm Plateau is to wander aimlessly in. :thumbup:
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Alteknacker
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Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

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