Winter wonderland (in May)

Route: Ben Macdui and Cairngorm

Munros: Ben Macdui, Cairn Gorm

Date walked: 12/05/2019

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 17.5km

Ascent: 950m

When I was driving up the A9 towards Aviemore I got my first look at the nountains around Cairngorm and I could see the entire plateau was covered in snow. Looked good, but how deep was it? Stopped at Loch Morlich just before 7:30am and took photos, not a breath of wind, but nippy.
ImageLoch Morlich view of Cairngorm by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Up at the carpark, donation given, I dug out all my winter gear and packed my rucksack, extra jacket, spikes included. Put my gaiters on right away, sunglasses/goggles round my neck, would definitely be needing those. A straightforward walk over to the first climb up into the snow, sun warming as I went. Got to the path up the side of Coire an Lochain and met the snow, goggles on.
ImageCoire an Lochain and Cairngorm by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
There seemed to be a path cut through the snow, couldn't figure out how it had been made, but the path was clear and the snow was compacted and formed a trench to walk in. Made walking easier here. Got to the top of the first climb and I could see this path going all the way over towards Ben Macdui, would it really be this simple just to follow it? I didn't fancy making new tracks anywhere else so I did follow it. I saw foot prints circle around the path at intervals and realised that this was maybe a dogsled path as the prints weren't boots and they never got far before circling back. I was making good time despite the conditions thanks to the track. They must have had an issue climbing up to the plateau itself as there were lots of boot prints beside the track in the steep climb up, but once up top there was a clear track all the way to Ben Macdui. Visibility was perfect, the sun shining, but still really cold, bit windier up here but not unexpected. My extra jacket was on to keep me warm. The views were great leading up to Ben Macdui and I took lots of photos on my way there and at the top.
ImageCairn Toul and Braeriach by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
ImageLooking down Glen Dee from Ben Macdui by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
First person to make it that day by the looks of it. Went over to the lower top for a view over Carn Etchachan and the deep corries beyond and then circled back to the track.
ImageCarn Etchechan and corries by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Coming down this bit was a tough walk because the snow was deep and hadn't had the path made. Once back on the track, met a woman walking towards Ben Macdui, the first walker I had seen. Walking over to Cairngorm there were more people about including a few skiers. At the corries, I was the only person walking towards Cairngorm, everyone else was walking the other way around the corries. It was much warmer now and I could see banks of snow melting more here.
ImageFiacaill Buttress, Coire an t-Sneachda by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
ImageCairngorm and Coire an t-Sneachda by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
ImageCoire an t-Sneachda by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Stopped at the corrie side before the final climb up Cairngorm for lunch. What a view, lovely in the sunshine too.
ImageCoire an t-Sneachda by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
The spikes were perfect for the climb up as a lot of the snow had been compacted by other walkers. At the top, great views all round and many people enjoying it.
ImageCoire an t-Sneachda from Cairngorm by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
After more photos I set off down to the carpark. Was easy walking till below the closed restaurant where it became slushy.
ImageCairngorm from ski slopes by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Had to take my spikes off as there were patches of path now with no snow at all. Once below the snow line it was steps most of the way down, tough going for such a long steep descent, was so glad to get back to the car. It was now 2:00pm and after a drink, time to head back to Edinburgh. This was the perfect day for the walk, the temperature was 15C in the car and by tomorrow most of the snow will be melting fast. So glad I went out.

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Comments: 2

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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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Location: Stirling
Interests: Curling, Walking, Swimming, Reading, Cycling.........
Activity: Rambler
Pub: Portcullis, Stirling
Mountain: Ben Loyal
Place: Sandend
Ideal day out: Walk through a variety of landscapes, with a good view, a waterfall, a bit of historic interest and some wildlife.

Munros: 96
Corbetts: 33
Grahams: 20
Donalds: 26
Hewitts: 5
Sub 2000: 40

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Last visited: May 13, 2019
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