Thursday, August 19, 2010

118-120. Beinn a'Ghlo (Carn nan Gabhar (32), Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain (66), Carn Liath (181)). 18/08/2010

We were a little tired from the previous two days of walking, so Beinn a'Ghlo provided the right sort of length of walk for us. We were a little anxious about getting in the way of deer stalking going on in the area, but it seemed that going through the danger areas early before the stalkers got there was a good idea and in fact we didn't see anything of them for the whole day.

Carn nan Gabhar from the south ridge.

We walked round the east of Carn Liath, aiming for the highest peak first (which is always good phsychologically). Latterly this involved a steep climb up the nasal scar of Carn nan Gabhar's subsidiary top. Soon we were ambling across the rocks to the main summit from where we could see the whole of the northern Cairngorms stretched out before us. With only a little high cloud, the views were spectacular and the ridge itself was of a most elegant nature. Successive 200m reascents brought us to the other two summits on the ridge, both just as impressive in terms of panorama. It was only on the descent of Carn Liath that the promised showers hit us, but they weren't particularly inhibiting. The 5hr30 round trip comes highly recommended.

The southern two summits of the Beinn a'Ghlo ridge.

North along the ridge from Carn Liath.

116-117. Beinn Mheadhoin (13), Derry Cairngorm (20). 17/08/2010

We awoke to the drumming of rain (or was it midge?) on the tin roof of the bothy. We prepared ourselves for a miserable walk out, but thought we might as well make the most of our position in the hills to climb a couple as we went. The midges seemed to only live just outside the bothy, so we were relatively free from them for most of the day. The drizzle (and later rain) was more persistent, however.

Looking down from the summit torr of Bein Mheadhoin.

Playing on the torrs.

There wasn't too much ascent up to Beinn Mheadhoin and the torr marking the summit gave a fun scramble. A period of dryness accompanied our trip across to Derry Cairngorm which kept our spirits up, but the summit was strewn with loose rocks making progress a bit slow.

Comparative clarity on the way to Derry Cairngorm.

The quickest way back to the road was then to go north along the main Cairngorm plateau, but no sooner had we decided to do this than a more persistent spell of wind and rain greeted us. Therefore our ascent to Ben Macdui was a bit tedious and we weren't relishing the trip across the plateau into the wind, where the effects of the weather can be magnified. We did get a short respite however for at least half of the plateau, but then it really began to rain as we went over Cairngorm, soaking us right through. We arrived at the Ptarmigan Lodge bedraggled, tired and grumpy at about 1.30 in time for a well earned lunch.

112-115. Ben Avon (17), Beinn a'Bhuird (11), Beinn Bhreac (249), Beinn a'Chaorainn (58). 16/08/2010

Ben Avon and Ben a'Bhuird are quite big and far from anywhere, so they are usually climbed in a long day from some car park about 20km away. That didn't sound particularly efficient to us, so instead of a return trip we decided to turn our backs on civilisation and continue walking to a couple of other hills in the area before finding our way to a high-level bothy for the night.

This idea proved sound, but we were probably quite lucky since we would have been a bit stuck if the weather had been poor or if others had been at the bothy - the 'Hutchinson Memorial Hut' only really sleeps two. Nevertheless, we have a great (if rather strenuous) day.

Jon on the way up Ben Avon.

We started out from Tomintoul at shortly after 8am and sped along the track down Glen Avon. It wasn't long before we were mounting the slopes of the plateau and pondering the huge granite torrs on the top - in fact the summit of Ben Avon is itself a torr, but not one of the more difficult in terms of rock climbing. Then we marched across the elegant 'Sneck' to Beinn a'Bhuird, which has some great corries gouged out of its eastern flanks. There were also midges here at almost 1200m, which we thought was a bit cheeky.

The torrs on the plateau, taken from the summit of Ben Avon.

The Sneck leading across to Beinn a'Bhuird

Our next objective was the rather small looking Beinn Bhreac, some 266m lower and at first glance it hardly seemed like it could be a munro. The slog across the 5km of peat hags was probably the hardest part of the walk however and we were very glad when we eventually stumbled across some semblence of a path. As is sometimes the case when a smaller hill is amongst loftier neighbours, we had really good views of the whole of the Cairngorm National Park from the top. Then it was north again over the peaty plateau to Beinn a'Chaorainn, before dropping down to the west into the corrie below Loch Etchachan. In 10hrs and just shy of 40km, we reached the little bothy and decided to call it a day.

The bothy.