Avon a lovely time in the Cairngorms

Date walked: 09/04/2016

First trip out for me and the tent this year - quite a successful one, some lovely walking, decent weather, and easily my best wild camp spot yet.

Started out following the Lairig an Laoigh route from Glenmore - good paths and beautiful views, but oh you'd be mighty exposed in foul weather up there on the plateau. The photo is taken from where the path up Bynack Mor splits off - could see a few folk having fun sliding down the snow, but I'm not yet equipped for such adventures. Next year, perhaps. Not sure why I didn't get a photo of Bynack Mor itself. Nodded to one guy heading up the way, but it was already 2pm by this point and he seemed to be on a mission to get up there sharpish. That was the last person I saw for about forty hours.

Coming down to the Fords of Avon involved skirting some patches of snow. By this point I'm starting to think about setting up camp, but the Cairngorms seem to be one giant wet patch and everywhere is squelchy. I stuck my head in the refuge, which stank, and started making my way up towards Loch Avon. This was tough going - lots of ups and downs and jumps to get around bog, the path very intermittent, and the pack not getting any lighter. Well, maybe lighter by a couple of Peperami and a Babybel.

I can see from the timestamps on the photos it only took about an hour from the Fords to the Loch, but it felt a hell of a lot longer. Although considering it's about two kilometers on the map, an hour is long enough. I was keeping an eye out for campsites, but everything I stopped to investigate squelched. And then as if by magic, there it is...

The view from the end of the loch were stunning. I chucked the tent up on the least wet patch of ground I could find (there were patches of gravel which looked plausible, but wasn't sure what they'd do to the bottom of my tent), knocked up some dinner and then tied the tent doors open so I could lie and watch a light snow fall over the loch.

A decent night's sleep and a lovely view on the morning. I wasn't in any rush and got delayed by a) sorting out a meths spill due to some careless packing away the previous night and b) just sitting and looking at the views for an hour. And don't worry, this is the last shot of Loch Avon ;-)

So it was about eleven I set off, heading up the path towards the Saddle between Bynack Mor and Cairngorm, where I spent a wee while reclining on a boulder and enjoying the views some more. I then started making my way along the Garbh Alt / Nethy, which wasn't too hard - the path came and went, but there were generally enough rocks in amongst the bog to make getting through easy enough. Some patches of snow had to be skirted, in particular this one - I had to backtrack a bit at this point, as it looked like there might be a drop of several feet and the only option was to find somewhere to cross the stream, proceed on the other side and come back over when the path reappeared. Two elegant stream crossings later and I could see the drop had been more in the nature of six inches. Better safe than sorry, and amazing what a flat patch of white can do to your depth perception.

The path, such as it is, levels out into a long heathery trek overlooked by Stac na h-Ioliare. Still plenty of water to avoid, but eventually I ended up at my campsite for the second night, by the bridge over the Nethy. I'd spotted this on the way out and had it in mind, although if I'd seen anywhere decent a bit earlier I might have stopped there. Tent up, a semi-successful attempt at cold rehydrating a camping meal and then boiling-it-in-the-bag due to the aforementioned meths spill - anything that actually touched the kettle or pan was inedible - and I was dozing in my tent by 8pm.

Gorgeous morning the next day - frost on the tent, but the rising sun soon took the edge off. Set the Trangia up on the bridge to heat my porridge and let it steam away while I sorted the tent out.

While walking back out I ran into another walker headed up onto the plateau, who told me the fine weather was expected to continue. I figured that made it worth going up Meall a Bhuachaille, which I'd had in mind anyway. Photos are the view back down from the side to Ryovan, and the view of the big ones from the top.

And then back down to Glenmore and onwards to home...

Fantastic couple of days - some sun, almost all the rain and snow was while I was in my tent, and I'll never forget those views from the Loch Avon camp.

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