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One of the lovliest places on earth

One of the lovliest places on earth

Postby bernadettewalsh » Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:28 pm

Route description: Beinn Mheadhoin and Derry Cairngorm from Deeside

Date walked: 14/05/2019

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 19.25 km

Ascent: 1200m

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I knew the back pain I had yesterday, when carrying the rucksack, would be repeated any day I donned the pack; remedial action was needed. Utilising the services of a bum bag and a shoulder bag I distributed the essentials: yes to GPS; yes, definitely, to the SPOT, SOS device; yes to sandwiches, water, phone, compeed, map, compass and foil sheet. No thanks to: hairbrush, flask of tea, selfie-stick, waterproof leggings and survival bag. No also, to the camera (phone would have to do) and, reluctantly, the mascot.

I set off at 6.00am once again to see what I could accomplish from the walk that had defeated me three days ago. First though, was the now familiar ride to Derry Lodge. It seemed easier to cycle on the track each time I did it and I was in high spirits, as I spun the peddles to the tune of those other early risers, singing in the sky. Today was going to be the third long day but, with a rest day tomorrow, I could wallow in it and, hopefully, rest on my laurels. It was going to be a stunning day today, the sky was blue and cloudless, the air fresh and a breeze promised. The mountains that wrapped this idyllic spot stood sentinel in welcome.


Once more I crossed the bridge over the River Derry and made my way up through a forest of Scots Pine, towards the first goal of my day - Derry Cairngorm - swinging my handbag as I went. Passing between the crags of Coire na Saobhaidh and Carn Crom, I eventually reached the bealach, from which to ascend my 60th Munro. At this height Derry Cairngorm had become confusion of boulders. Somehow, incredibly, a path snaked its way through the rock, right to the summit.




Here indeed was a place to wallow in. Everywhere mountains rose into the sky, their awesome shapes defined, razor sharp, against the blue. Despite the three days of splendid sunshine, a substantial covering of snow still topped the summits of Britain's highest mountains. I left the summit to the north west, descending to the enchanted waters of Loch Etchachan which, nestling at 927 metres, is recorded as the highest substantial loch in Britain; a favourite spot for wild campers. Being here, on such a day as this, with snow clad protective cliffs, reflected in the loch, I was in a state of rapture. Majestic mountains sunk into cobalt waters, under an azure sky; I knew that I was enveloped in one of the loveliest places on earth.


As I started the ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin the twinges from my back reinforced the wisdom of handbag over rucksack and, though not the usual apparel of hill walkers, it had been a good choice. Another climb and another passage of time brought me to the second summit of the day and something that, at that time, I thought of as a freak. The south west moors, not the north eastern mountains of the UK, are the place for granite tors, surely. Yet here, a top Beinn Mheadhoin there was no denying it, lumps of granite rose in strange – alien – shapes.



Bizarre they may be but they marked the top and, of course, the true summit was the very top of the tallest tor of all. There was nothing for it but to scramble up, handbag tucked firmly under arm, freeing up the hands.


Yet another panorama graced the delicious height which, at 1182 metres, was only 15 metres short of yesterday’s achievement and, therefore, my second highest Munro. The Cairngorms were certainly upping the ante.
These remote high hills, taking so long to reach, meant that most of the wallowing was done in locomotion. So, I set off after a short break retracing my steps to Loch Etchachan and then picked up the path down towards Glen Derry passing the Hutchison Memorial Hut. This is a bothy maintained by volunteers from the Mountain Bothy Association and owing it's name to Dr G Hutchison, who was killed in a climbing accident in Pembrokeshire in 1949.


Down in the glen I joined the path through the glen that I had used on Sunday, returning from Beinn áChaorainn. There was no denying that after 7 hours of walking today, on top of two other long days, and now under a hot sun, I was beginning to wilt. But, I thought of a lie in on the morrow, thanked god for the breeze, and soaked in the clarity of light that brought all the colours alive. Vic, my trusted stead would be waiting at Derry Lodge, to take me back to base camp at and then, a phone call with the soul mate would be the icing on the cake, for this perfect day.
Posts: 27
Joined: Oct 1, 2015
Location: South West Scotland

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