..a slightly more challenging route instead of royal wedding

Munros: Ben Macdui, Derry Cairngorm

Date walked: 20/05/2018

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 50km

Ascent: 1309m

It was a beautiful bright sunny evening setting off from the Linn of Dee car park just after 6pm. We were both looking forward to our 2-day trip into the Cairngorms and both pleased and relieved about avoiding the royal wedding.

ImageIMAG0163 by jon jen, on Flickr

We began along one of our much loved :crazy: land rover tracks for the 2 odd miles to Derry lodge, however the track ran alongside the River Dee and it was simply stunning in the sunshine with the added gift of the mountains in the foreground. We reached Derry lodge just after 7pm. We had already decided not to camp here as we believed that it would be very busy which we were most certainly proved correct.

ImageIMAG0165 by jon jen, on Flickr

From Derry lodge we planned to seek camp further afield at Derry dam. Soon the path changed from land rover track to single track which we both much prefer. Enjoying the fairy-tale scenery of the glistening trees around us the walk became effortless with our heavy packs.

ImageIMAG0167 by jon jen, on Flickr

There were also some lovely well formed trees along the way which were a picture to look at and made for great photos.

Imagel by jon jen, on Flickr

When we reached Derry dam we were slightly disappointed to discover that Dundee High School had already stolen our spot. True to say however we were not enamored at the idea of camping beside a group of teenagers :lol: so on-wards we went...

The glen opened out into an even more beautiful scene of the mountains. We spotted a group of trees with some flat ground which was a good bit off the track which we decided would be a good spot to camp with some included privacy. This meant some tough heather bashing and bog avoiding which unfortunately I did not manage so well with a moment of slight misjudgement when I decided a patch of bog was a path. After the dreaded bog and heather we encountered a river crossing which we sailed through. Reminding to us both of our progression throughout our last few trips as this would have dumbfounded us before.

ImageIMAG0171 by jon jen, on Flickr

Finally around 9.30pm we had set up camp and we were both pleased at our idyllic little home and surrounding scenery for the evening.

ImageIMAG0177 by jon jen, on Flickr

In the days leading up to our trip I had spotted a route in a Cairngorm book I picked up at the library which was labelled 'slightly more challenging' which I was eager to try. With the light fading we explored trying to plan our route up Derry Cairngorm the following day.

We had chosen route 77 instead of the usual route 39.

ImageIMAG0160 by jon jen, on Flickr

After a very comfortable night morning came and the sun welcomed us while we prepared for our day ahead with some tea/coffee and porridge.

ImageIMAG0183 by jon jen, on Flickr

We set off a little after 9am managing to use a log to cross the river this time. Yes from the photo it doesn't look like I am managing at all but I did make it without falling in the river. Two left feet as they say. :clap:

ImageIMAG0186 by jon jen, on Flickr

We reached the path (without stepping into any bog) and continued on it for a short while until it was time to cross the river again to head up the corrie that we had planned. From the bottom it looked a little daunting but exciting all the same.

Imagei by jon jen, on Flickr

We followed the main waterfall up towards the corrie looking forward to finding Lochan Uaine at the base of the corrie. This involved a lot of heather bashing which was a little tough on the steepness of the hill and also a lot of scrambling which was great fun. The climb to the top was most definitely worth what awaited us.

Imagek by jon jen, on Flickr

ImageIMAG0210 by jon jen, on Flickr

At Lochan Uaine we had a short break and made plans of which route to take up the steep scramble up the corrie along the side of the waterfall we had been following. Most people would probably think we were mad taking this route but to note we both are and in our favour although comical the book described the alternative route only 'slightly more challenging'. From the picture below looking at the waterfall above my head- the route we took was directly up the left hand side of this then between the two patches of snow at the top.

ImageIMAG0208 by jon jen, on Flickr

We set off and I was full of excitement as I love climbing and Jon was full of words of caution as he is most definitely the most sensible of the two of us. It was great fun although very steep and required a lot of concentration, caution (true to Jon's word) and tactile thinking as it was a combination of wet/dry/loose rock and slippy boggy areas.

ImageIMAG0229 by jon jen, on Flickr

Imageh by jon jen, on Flickr

Reaching the top we both felt elated and found ourselves not too far from the munro top Sgurr an Lochan Uaine so we decided to climb the short distance to the cairn and have a cup of tea before climbing Derry Cairngorm. The views offered were superb and simply breathtaking.

Image2 by jon jen, on Flickr

Setting of we rock hopped our way toward Derry Cairngorm planning our route up (a good bit steeper than the usual approach). After weaving through a sea of huge boulders we reached the summit with the sun shining and clear 360 views. Mainly of course we focused on the views our next target- Ben Macdui- of which we had a clear vision of from the cairn.

Imagee by jon jen, on Flickr

After some more rock hopping descending Derry Cairngorm and traversing some persistent snow we came onto the much easier path heading up to the summit of Ben Macdui.

ImageIMAG0261 by jon jen, on Flickr

Some views on the plateau heading toward Ben Macdui:

ImageIMAG0253 by jon jen, on Flickr

I was in my element, finding a comfortable pace and was buzzing loving every minute of the climb. A little up the path Jon spotted a waterfall which he decided to go and explore.

ImageIMAG0262 by jon jen, on Flickr

I continued. Loving it too much I didn't wait for him till quite a bit further up the mountain which I realised he was not happy about as I heard a shout from behind to wait and he arrived huffing and puffing from trying to catch up- whoops! :clap:

The scary looking cliff where I eventually waited for Jon. :D

ImageIMAG0270 by jon jen, on Flickr

From here it was not too far to the summit from which once again we were treated to views in every direction for miles. Blue skies with some but very few patches of high cloud. Most impressive from the summit however was the view of the Lairig Ghru which stood out far beyond the rest. By this time it was nearing 5pm and we once again decided to break for a cup of tea.

ImageIMAG0272 by jon jen, on Flickr

Heading down the mountain Jon decided that we should take a detour taking the route down which would take us out at Loch Avon and from there we planned to walk alongside the river and follow the path along Glen Avon then join the route back into Glen Derry. The final descent to Loch Avon was steep and we were warned by a group of resting walkers about snow on the way down that we may choose to avoid- we didn't.

ImageDSC_0010 by jon jen, on Flickr

Apart the the rising wind (which notably we were warned about on the mwis website) Loch Avon was like a scene from a film and another fun path to follow with many burn crossings.

Me not happy with Jon talking to me while I was trying to cross a burn. :lol:

ImageIMAG0273 by jon jen, on Flickr

Loch Avon.

ImageDSC_0011 by jon jen, on Flickr

After passing Loch Avon and continuing along Glen Avon we eventually reached the path back into Glen Derry and as soon as we turned the corner I realised I should have checked the map before agreeing to Jon's detour as he hadn't quite checked the distance. The hump we had to cross to get back down to our camp site was far in the distance and as we walked the path became less clear by the minute and the hump back into the valley didn't seem to get any clearer. We began to get tired and eventually decided to cross the bog to join the path running along the other side of the glen as it appeared to be more clear as by this point our path had become non-existent. With the rising wind in our face the slog back seemed to take forever. At one point I stopped and decided to shout at Jon about how much I hated the path because well there will be no one about here I thought. Jon pointed to the side of me and un-amused at the idea of him pointing out another waterfall when I was so tired I shouted back. Again he pointed and to my embarrassment I hadn't noticed the little green tent that I had stopped next to. :shock:

We arrived back at the tent at 9.30pm and both knackered and not warming to the thought of carrying our big packs another 6miles to the car we decided just to have the remainder of our lovely beef stew and put our heads down for the night. Jon put some big rocks to secure our tent pegs and guy lines as we were camped right in the middle of the valley with only a few trees for protection and the wind was having a good go at the tent. Although we were both extremely tired it took us a little while to get to sleep as the wind was quite strong and the gusts especially were a little scary.

Despite sleep being a little broken to begin with we had a good rest sleeping until nearly 10.30am and our little tent survived the night. :) Shocked at the time we quickly got up, dressed, teeth brushed, fed and prepared to pack ready to leave for our hike to the car. Our drama was however not over yet when Jon noticed the tree that we were camped under which we thought was just creaking in the wind was actually close to falling over and was actually only being held up by a branch on the tree next to it and had moved a considerable distance with the wind during the night.

ImageDSC_0013 by jon jen, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0015 by jon jen, on Flickr

We packed up quickly. Well as quickly as we could with Jon vocalising his concerns about his imminent death as the trees strained with every gust of wind. We survived to tell the tale( clearly!) and set of back over the log we had found to cross the river the day we arrived.

Nearing Derry Lodge we spotted a rather stubborn toad on the path whom i named Toby :D .

ImageDSC_0017 by jon jen, on Flickr

The walk back was pleasant although our shoulders did begin to get a little sore in the last mile but we didn't mind as the promise of a lovely big plate of hot food in Braemar was driving us on.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our trip and apart from the end of the detour :lol: the whole trip was fantastic. Jon's choice next- tomorrow we head to Dalwinnie to climb Ben Alder and Bein Bheoil.

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Comments: 1

A Battallion of ticks and the wrong side of the wrong hill.

Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Vorlich (Loch Lomond)
Date walked: 13/05/2018
Distance: 30km
Ascent: 988m
Comments: 8
Views: 5520

The mockery of Schiehallion.

Attachment(s) Munros: Schiehallion
Date walked: 07/05/2018
Distance: 10km
Ascent: 731m
Comments: 2
Views: 3548

Our first Munro was certainly memorable.

Attachment(s) Munros: Mount Keen
Date walked: 02/05/2018
Distance: 51km
Ascent: 939m
Comments: 3
Views: 2830

Jon and Jen

Activity: Mountain Walker
Camera: Panasonic Lumix ZS50

Munros: 35
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 1
Sub 2000: 6

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Trips: 4
Distance: 141 km
Ascent: 3967m
Munros: 5

Joined: Jan 17, 2018
Last visited: May 19, 2022
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