Searching for Malcy's Special Spots...
by Jaxter » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:28 pm
Route description: Ben Macdui and Cairngorm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui, Derry Cairngorm
Date walked: 21/07/2018
Time taken: 20.2 hours
Distance: 60.61 km
Ascent: 2495m5 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).
Saturday 21st July 2018
9 hours 15 mins
After a lovely few days in Kintail, the weather looked to be breaking in the West but good in the East. Malcy was allowed out to play for the weekend, so on Friday afternoon I headed to Aviemore via Inverness to pick him up.
However, as we arrived in Aviemore it had become pretty wet. A re-check of the forecast suggested that we might be better camping low and setting off early on Saturday morning, so we went to the pub instead. The next morning we packed up and headed to the CairnGorm car park where we decided to have a cup of tea before setting off. We then had a good breakfast before deciding another cup of tea would set us up nicely....
Eventually we set off with our heavy packs. We had only been on the go about 10 minutes when I managed to spectacularly faceplant and get my pole stuck...when i managed to pull it out it was bent
This trip was to be a bit of a meander and a chance to explore some of the best bits of the Gorms – many of which came recommended by Malcy, hence the joke very early on that we were searching for Malcy’s special spots
The first on the list was the Fiacaill Ridge which was our route up onto the plateau
Looking back to Loch Morlich and Meall a’ Buachaille
Malcy contemplating the ridge – although he had been across it several times before, this would be the first with a heavy pack; an unknown quantity
Looking back over the first section
Malcy in action
The hardest section – a near vertical wall of rock. Malcy made it up…
I was struggling with the weight of my pack which kept pulling me backwards when I tried to pull myself up anything (the perils of being backside heavy ) and eventually elected to skirt around this section
Our paths rejoined soon and we managed the final section up to the plateau. Coire an Lochain looked impressive
We found a herd of reindeer
I had a wander over to make friends…. By the way – what do you call a deer with no eye? No i-dea…
Me and my pal
The next special place we were going was the Shelter Stone Crag - I had been to the bottom of this before but never the top. Our route took us across some big slabs between the Feith Buidhe and Garbh Uisge Beag… Apparently there are usually snow tunnels here but they’d all melted this year
A river to cross…
As we walked we were rewarded with fabulous views down Loch Avon
Malcy was convinced I was going to fall over in the burns and got his camera out every time but I managed to stay on my feet and keep dry for now
Looking back to Hell’s Lum Crag
Reaching the Shelter Stone Crag, Loch Avon looked awesome from this angle
Malcy trying to pose
Showing him how it’s done
We sat down for a munch and were soon joined by a couple of guys looking for a lost phone…they were wandering up and down searching
We sat for a while to enjoy the views and Malcy had been over an hour since eating and needed fed again. Eventually we shouldered our heavy bags again and followed the Garbh Uisge Mor towards Ben Macdui. Malcy knew of a beach up this way and we thought it would be a perfect day for it
Wandering further and further we came across the twin lochans….but no beach. Still, we decided to go for a paddle. Here’s Malcy attempting not to fall over and look like a plonker
And here's me falling over but fortunately not in the water
After a welcome paddle to cool off we set off again; a few bends in the burn later we came upon the actual beach So we had to stop again
Looking back to our wee beach paradise
We continued up towards Ben Macdui until Malcy, a proud Welshman, got quite excited when he thought he saw sheep ahead. Sadly for him, they turned out to be goats. But at least it meant we were able to make some progress
The last ascent to the summit of Ben Macdui was across boulders…sigh…. And when we reached it there were lots of people hanging around We wandered down until we had a better view into the Lairig Ghru.
Beinn a’ Ghlo
We were able to see the whole of the Braeriach ridge
Malcy tried to take a similar photo…but as I ducked out the way I didn’t quite make it in time which made me looked like a weird headless alien
Carn a’ Mhaim, the Devil’s Point and Beinn a’ Ghlo in the distance
Struggling with balance…
We headed down Ben Macdui past the ruins of Sapper’s Bothy
Looking towards Beinn Mheadhoin where we planned to end up tonight
Walking around Coire Sputan Dearg we could see Derry Cairngorm through a gap
Loch Etchchan came into view and once we found the Derry path we were able to leave our packs which made everything a bit easier
Heading up Derry Cairngorm we were able to see into Lochan Uaine below Sron Riach
The final ascent to Derry was over boulders (my favourite )
Looking back to Beinn Mheadhoin and the impressive Stob Coire Etchachan
Reaching the summit I handed to my camera to Malcy to do the honours….
Unfortunately he was so busy laughing at me falling over that he dropped my camera
After some fiddling around with the camera it was clear that it was well and truly buggered It would need another trip to the camera hospital (it’s 3rd trip…very glad I took out that warranty ) So pictures from here are from my phone
We headed back down to where we had left our packs…here is Malcy looking suitably contrite What an ass!
We had some more Babybels before putting our packs back on and heading down towards Loch Etchachan
Down at Loch Etchachan it was so still that the midges were horrendous – even stopping long enough to fill up all our water bottles was enough to send us hopping around like lunatics. Unlike the hoards of people huddling in midge nets we would be camping high tonight
We continued up towards Beinn Mheadhoin before looking at Stacan Dubha and thinking that it would make a cracking camp spot. We could get the tents pitched and then climb Beinn Mheadhoin from there
Carn Etchachan and the Shelter Stone Crag
It was tough getting the pegs in but finally the tents were pitched and we got our dinner on. This is the life eh
Me getting dinner on
After we’d enjoyed our chow we figured we’d have a wee wander up to the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin this evening as the forecast for Sunday was for rubbish visibility up high. It was an easy climb onto the ridge before wandering across the summit plateau amidst the many tors
Looking back towards Derry Cairngorm and Ben Macdui
The summit tor looked unassailable until I was directed around the back for an easy climb to the top where we were able to enjoy the evening and act like idiots…(just like normal then )
Fortunately Malcy managed not to drop my phone and leave me completely camera-less
While we were up high we did a quick weather check which suggested that out of nowhere it was to get insanely windy overnight….returning to the tents we thought it sensible to move them 10 metres lower where they would be sheltered by some big rocks.
Then we carried hot chocolate, chocolate, Top Bothy and a sleeping bag cloak (patent pending ) up to the top of Stacan Dubha where we were able to enjoy the evening. As it got darker we started seeing headlamps popping up all over where people were camping which was pretty cool.
Eventually we were getting chilly and retreated to our tents to get some sleep
Sunday 22nd July 2018
11 hours 5 mins
Getting up at around 5am to answer the call of nature I noticed two things – firstly that it wasn’t YET as claggy as the forecast had suggested it would be…and secondly that Malcy had some sort of motion sensor as he farted just as I walked past his tent
When we rose a few hours later the wind levels (from both sources ) were pretty high and we were looking at alternative options given that, wind aside, it was a gorgeous day.
By the time we had enjoyed breakfast we had a plan – we would walk back to the car via the longest route we could come up with
Malcy ready for the off – but enjoying the sunshine
We headed back down towards Loch Etchachan – nae midges anymore
Heading down into Coire Etchachan towards the Hutchy
Reaching the Hutchy we had a chuckle at a couple trying to put their tent down in the wind But it was a gorgeous morning and the cliffs in Coire Etchachan looked pretty awesome
We were going to have a wee look inside the Hutchy but it was full of still sleeping people so we decided to leave them in peace Continuing down the glen we lost a wee bit more height and turned the corner which meant we were sheltered from the wind (but not from Malcy’s Backside )
We had been walking for a whole half hour so it was time for another break – Malcy went to fill up water bottles
I decided it was too warm for trousers. Unfortunately this turned me into a walking talking fashion disaster
We spent about 40 minutes sunbathing before realising we had a long way to go It was a long but easy walk down Glen Derry so we put miles down pretty quickly (had to make up for our laziness so far )
Looking back towards Sgurr an Lochan Uaine and Stob Coire Etchachan
At Derry Lodge we decided to make a short diversion to Bob Scott’s because Malcy wanted to use the facilities I used the time to get some hot chocolate brewed up before finding a working guitar to play with. Unlike the one on Raasay, this one had a G string that was intact
After another lengthy break we got moving…the section of boggy ground that I’d struggled to get across a few months previously was bone dry, making life much easier and we were on our way towards Carn a’ Mhaim
Because of the dry conditions we didn’t need to make the diversion up to the Luibeg bridge and were able to hop straight across a very dry Luibeg Burn. I didn’t even wobble on my way across this one We were able to see up the glen towards Sron Riach – it’s always interesting to see places from different angles; we had seen this from Derry Cairngorm the evening before!
Up and over the end of Carn a’ Mhaim, we finally turned the corner into the Lairig Ghru and could see Corrour Bothy ahead. We had a small wager at this point about how far it was to the bothy. I lost this which meant drinks were on me (as I was driving it wasn’t going to be an expensive round )
As we climbed higher up the Lairig Ghru we decided another wager was called for – how much ascent were we going to do today? This was based on a conversation the day before where Malcy quoted the total ascent to Ben Macdui as an easy 750m by the easiest route. Obviously it took us significantly more
Looking back down the Lairig Ghru
We discovered a wee rock pool; never one to be shy, Malcy took the opportunity to whip his kit off for a wee paddle which was quite entertaining
Eventually we were on the move again and made it up and over the high point of the Lairig Ghru – it was downhill (on average ) from here
We carried on downwards until we reached the path leading us to the Chalamain Gap. This was a steep uphill but it got us up quickly – looking back the Lurcher’s Crag looked impressive
Heading for the Chalamain Gap and Creag a’ Chalamain
I’d never been through the Chalamain Gap so was interested to see it, however I’m not a fan of boulders so I didn’t enjoy it very much As my camera was broken I didn’t get any photos either
Finally out the other side, we were able to see up towards the Lurcher’s Crag from a different angle
Ahead we could see the clag starting to come in on Meall a’ Buachaille
Unfortunately there was a sting in the tail – this path led to the Sugar Bowl car park but we were parked at the ski centre…which meant we had to bash our way uphill through a massive load of heather and other crap… This was a new form of torture, especially with the heavy packs.
Coire an Lochain and the evening light
Finally we were back at the car and set about emptying all the heather in Cairngorms out of our boots Then we headed for the pub in Aviemore as I’d lost the second wager as well and sadly burgers were on me
by Mal Grey » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:53 pm
Fabulous way to see the Cairngorms properly, living in them and walking through and over them. I'd be jealous, but it would have taken me another day or two at least!
Well dodged on any G-string jokes to go with the Special Spots.
by Alteknacker » Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:56 pm
Then I remembered that Malky had also done a report on this, which had motivated me to do something on a similar theme (wander through the Cairngorms) a month or so afterwards.
I don't recall that his account mentioned the word "pub" - perhaps it did....
by malky_c » Wed Dec 19, 2018 2:31 pm
Still, I think you've got me back now, although I came out of this (slightly) better than I thought I would! Nice reminder of what a great weekend that was .
Alteknacker wrote:I don't recall that his account mentioned the word "pub" - perhaps it did....
I think I skimmed over that for some reason. Not sure why as it's usually an important part of the report
by past my sell by date » Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:25 pm
What a shame the cairn on Mheadhoin has an easy side or we would have a second In Pin I descended steeply to the head of the Lairig an Laoigh, and nipped up Beinn a Chaorain which was on my todo list . But I was lucky I didn't have to get back to Aviemore like you, as Donna had driven round to the Lin . so I descended the flats of Dee and the boring track from Derry Lodge. I'd crossed the Cairngorms. I do like A to B walks I didn't take a camera but the weather was grey and you need sunshine to show off the wonderful red rocks (of the blue mountains )
by Jaxter » Wed Dec 26, 2018 7:38 pm
Mal Grey wrote:Well dodged on any G-string jokes to go with the Special Spots.
I assumed people would be able to make that joke themselves, you didn't disappoint
Alteknacker wrote:I don't recall that his account mentioned the word "pub" - perhaps it did....
He's in denial
malky_c wrote:Funny how I conveniently 'forgot' about dropping your camera when I wrote my version up a few months ago .
Still, I think you've got me back now, although I came out of this (slightly) better than I thought I would!
Yup I remember that pretty clearly And don't you worry, I have plenty more amunition
past my sell by date wrote:What a shame the cairn on Mheadhoin has an easy side or we would have a second In Pin
I guess plenty ways to climb it the hard way the barns of bynack are a good laugh for clambering too
by past my sell by date » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:44 am
But that's not the same: you don't HAVE to do it to claim your Munro
Ben Avon has lots of good barns tho the Yellow stag poses no problems. Now there IS a place for a summit camp - lovely flat grass and watch " The hunter of the east catch the sultans turret in a noose of light"