I chose this route as an alternative to the usual ‘T-junction’ via the quarry, as I prefer a circuit, even though the route I chose ended up with a walk back down the A9. It was my third Drumochter outing in three days - and I didn’t fancy an epic – so these two looked like they’d suit very well.
I crossed the A9 from the Balsporran car park, to go through a gate and turn almost immediately right and head up the N ridge of Creagan Doire Dhonaich. It was a fairly gentle climb to ease me into the steeper ascents ahead. From the summit I descended SE, over pathless ground, to the head of the Coire Dubhaig, then began to climb NE up the much steeper slopes of Meall a’ Chaorain. The ascent was tough, climbing over wet, slippery, tussocky grass and heather. This is clearly an infrequently used route as the only company I had was mountain hares - and they kept their distance.
Once on the summit ridge it was an easy walk due E to the cairn at the top of A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag . Though a plateau, the views to the distant peaks were good, if short-lived, as cloud, whipped by strong winds, was coming in fast. I had been walking on a bearing, but was reassured nevertheless to come across a line of fence posts, which continued to the cairn. Whilst they doglegged off route about a 100m from the summit, they returned quite quickly to guide me home. I managed to take my 'evidence' shot, but thick cloud prevented me from capturing any panoramic views.
In the very poor visibility, I headed off on a bearing due N from the cairn, only to stumble into a wide expanse of peat hags. Despite recent heavy rains, the surface was mostly firm and I was able to carry on, impeded only by repeated references to the map and GPS. It wasn’t long however, before the wind whipped the cloud NW and I could see the steep sides of Coire Chuirn to the W of A’ Bhuidheanach. The fence posts had also remerged to my right and before long I crossed some very boggy ground and a burn, to meet up with a stony farm track heading initially NE then N. The track rose gradually to cross a gently undulating ridge. I followed the path N for about 4km to Car na Caim, passing the quarries about a third of the way along. It was a very pleasant, gentle stroll all the way. With the weather holding , the ridge offered good panoramic views – especially to the E and W.
It was a bit hazy at the summit , but I was determined to take at least a few pictures – especially as I had missed my chance when the cloud descended on A’ BB. .
After a quick snack, I made a leisurely return to the quarries. From there it all went downhill in every sense of the word. I was a bit tired from the walk (plus those of the previous two days) and I can’t say I enjoyed what felt like an endless descent down the stony track from the quarry. My feet got a bit sore and it wasn’t even a relief to hit the end of the track, because it only heralded a 3km walk down the A9. As they say however, ‘no pain, no gain’.
On a happier note, those wonderful contractors had laid more fresh tarmac on the cycle track, so the last km was like a carpet compared to the descent from the quarry! And again – like batting your head against a brick wall – it’s fantastic when you finish!
Not only that, I’d been in Drumochter for three days, managed to get out on every one of them, completed all my routes and clocked seven Munros into the bargain, so I was very pleased with my little trip.
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