Panther's Dee Days: Beinn Bhreac & Beinn a'Chaorainn
by BlackPanther » Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:34 pm
Route description: Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Bhreac
Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chaorainn (Cairngorms), Beinn Bhreac
Date walked: 24/06/2014
Time taken: 9 hours
Distance: 29.3 km
Ascent: 892m4 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).
Camping by Clunie Water, just at the foot of Morrone, turned out to be a great idea There was a breeze all the time so very few midges visited us in the evening and the morning, though a bit cloudy, gave us hopes for a good, warm day. The cloud did indeed burn off very quickly and we were blessed with fantastic conditions up on the ridge.
Campsite in the morning:
No midges, but another, more friendly fellow paid us a visit Not sure which species of moth it is, maybe the grey dagger?
We drove to Linn of Dee car park, dropped £2 into the ticket machine and set off through the forest towards Derry Lodge. The route we did was the classic traverse of the two Munros:
The cloud was already lifting as we left the car park and it looked like we were going to have a better day than on Monday:
View from the bridge over Lui Water:
Carn a'Mhaim and Carn Crom (the lower top of Derry Cairngorm) already cloud-free :
Wildlife from Deeside - this time one little furry friend:
It took us hardly more than an hour to reach Derry Lodge - it's sad that the building is boarded up
Just past the lodge, the path splits: one branch heads for Carn a'Mhaim, the second one crosses Derry Burn over a wooden footbridge (behind me in this photo), the last one stays on the eastern side of the river and that's the one we took.
The path is well-worn and goes through some nice forest:
One more example of wildlife - Mr Toad
We followed the path for about 2 km until we located the place, where a narrow branch heads steeply uphill through the woods - the spot is marked with a small cairn. The first 100 m or so of ascent is rather steep and boggy, too, but as soon as we emerged from the forest - bingo! The vistas were waiting for us!
The path was much less obvious now and on a wet day it would make a squelchy trudge, but luckily it was dry and when we stopped to take a few photos, we could see the summit of Carn a'Mhaim on the western horizon:
The very summit of Beinn Bhreac cannot be seen from the lower slopes, but the western top is prominent:
Across the glen, Derry Cairngorm was looming:
The path becomes more obvious again higher up, and climbing felt easy even though the sun was quite strong:
Looking back to the lower shoulder, Meall an Lundain, and the Cairnwell Pass hills on the eastern horizon:
Beinn a'Ghlo, just as yesterday, dominated the distant view to the south-east:
The cloud was gathering on the eastern side but it didn't look particularly dangerous and the wind wasn't too strong so I hoped we would stay under the sunny spell for the whole day:
However weather was going to shape up, the world around us seemed to be dressed in all colours of the rainbow:
Derry Cairgorm and Ben MacDui:
The path up to Coire Etchachan and the slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin (to the right):
Beinn Mheadhoin in its full glory and the barns on the top, always making me think of raisins on a cake
The path peters out eventually just below the final 100m of ascent to the summit, but going is easy enough, as the ground becomes more stony. Just below the summit I looked back to admire the panorama behind me - from Cairn Toul to Carn a'Mhaim:
Zoom to Cairn Toul:
We took our rucksack off by the summit cairn and put on warm layers - it was surprisingly cold on top but the low temperature didn't prevent us from enjoying a quiet moment on another Munro added to our collection.
Kevin on the summit of Beinn Bhreac:
The best views are of course to the north and west. On the southern-eastern side Beinn a'Bhuird is close enough to obscure any distant vistas:
Lochnagar and the Whitemouths basking in sunshine:
Beinn Bhreac on its own is only a half-day's walk and the real challenge begins only when you want to add the second Munro to the tally. Beinn a'Chaorainn looks ridiculously distant from the summit cairn of the first mountain... Luckily, there's not much drop between the two, but the high plateau that links them can be a real pain in the (you know what):
After spending some time on the summit of Beinn Bhreac, we braced ourselves for the long walk to the second target of the day. To begin with, there is a path that descends the stony slopes, north-west first then due north (seen here in the foreground to the left):
The path suddenly disappeared when we came across the first area of bog and peat hags, which mark the upper reaches of a small stream, Allt Clais nam Balgair. I can imagine that in wet weather this would be an awful place to cross! We were clever to pick a dry summer day for these two Munros...
After some tuft-hopping and manoeuvring among peat hags, we climbed out of the little dip and now we faced the neverending, flat plateau stretching all the way to Beinn a'Chaorainn. In cloud, it could be a scary experience, the big meadow stretches in all directions with no landscape marks whatsoever, so easy to get lost in bad visibility. I was thanking heavens we had a good day.
Looking back to Beinn Bhreac from the "middle of nowhere":
Beinn a'Chaorainn still seems a long way to go, but because conditions were dry, walking was relatively easy. We kept aiming for the col between the summit and the lower top, Beinn a'Chaorainn Bheag - this is the best line to avoid the worst of peat hags further on:
Almost lost in action with Beinn a'Bhuird in the background:
The plateau became wetter and squelchier again when we neared the steeper slopes and we uttered a sigh of relief when we eventually started climbing again The final ascent to the second Munro is grassy at first but becomes stony higher up. When we stopped to look back, I could now see what we walked through and I really DIDN'T fancy returning the same way
From above, the vast area of peat hags (to the right in the photo below) looks off-putting even on a dry day:
Beinn a'Chaorainn Bheag and the stony slopes of Beinn a'Chaorainn:
The summit has a large cairn and in opposite to Beinn Bhreac, it welcomed us with sunshine and warmth
I was glad to have added another M to my list and so was Kevin He spent a lot of time wandering around the summit cairn and photographing the surrounding views. Photo session almost as neverending as the peat hags lower down But I don't blame him - the wind has dropped, the day felt fantastic and we were truly in the heart of the Cairngorms. Funny - no person in sight!
A few images just to excuse him...
Ben MacDui majestic as always:
Derry Cairngorm, which we climbed last year in combination with MacDui and Beinn Mheadhoin:
Mheadhoin was very close, just across the glen:
And just behind it, there was Cairn Gorm itself, seen from the more interesting side:
And to finish the long list, Bynack More. I have a cunning plan to return to this one in winter
Zoom to the barns - the rocks remind me of Easter Island sculptures from this angle:
Looking south along Glen Derry - our return route:
Very distant Ben Rinnes. Kevin said it looked like a smaller version of Schiehallion
I could sit there for ages, staring in the distance, but we still had a long return walk to do... The initial descent is not too steep and it follows a vague path...
...but soon the slopes steepen on the way down into Lairig an Laoigh:
A glimpse back to the summit of Beinn a'Chaorainn:
The path is obvious but quite eroded, yet with such views around I didn't mind a few tumbling rocks
Down by the path of Lairig an Laoigh pass:
The final walk seems sooooo long, but the path was now good if a bit stony. It improved vastly as we passed the spot where the branch from Coire Etchachan joins in.
Glas Allt Mor is said to be a problematic crossing in spate, but now it was hardly more than a burn:
It was a fantastic day and even views on the return walk were splendid:
Back down in Glen Derry, still NOT A PERSON IN SIGHT! The only people we met that day were a few groups by Derry Lodge. OK, it was a Tuesday but still summertime and good day weather-wise, usually the main Cairngorms passage should be busy?...
9 hours of walking and almost 30km, but it didn't feel so bad. We returned to our wild campsite by Clunie Water and cooked some tinned specialities for dinner
We decided to stay one more day, but Wednesday turned out to be cloudy and the cloud wasn't eager to lift, so instead of climbing another hill we ended up picking mushrooms in the forest We drove back to Beauly in the evening and prepared delicious chanterelle soup
But this is not the end of our holiday adventures. Despite having returned home, we still aimed for a few hills. Thursday saw us tackling a certain Corbett, famous for its location. For the first time in my life I was hugged and embraced by a mountain Details to come soon. Meow!
by Gordie12 » Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:30 am
Great report and photos.
Did these two in a similar day to you last year and really enjoyed it.
Only problem I had was taking the wrong line down to Lairig an Laoigh and finishing up on steep scree slopes, most of the rocks and boulders seemed to get down to the bottom of the hill before me, everything was on the move.
by Huff_n_Puff » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:49 pm
We must have just missed each other, we walked in to Derry Lodge on the Tuesday evening and camped there - you are right about the Wednesday it was disappointing, but we did these same hills on the Thursday and got reasonably good weather. I must have stood in the same places as you and have taken identical photos. Report coming soon ...
by Fife Flyer » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:56 pm
Looks like after reading your report that these 2 should be tackled after a nice dry spell, thanks for the advice Peat hags are bad enough but after a wet spell, not much fun at all
by Backpacker » Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:34 pm
by Mountainlove » Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:14 pm