Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

Sunny Days

Another midday start from the Linn of Dee, for once in glorious weather, zero wind & blue skies as I headed up Glen Lui.
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No messing about, up over the Clais Fhearnaig & down to the Dubh – Ghleann ford which the recent heavy rains had modified somewhat.
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Somehow, I managed to get cross with dry socks before proceeding up to the Quoich Water ford.
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At first glance I thought I’d be getting the feet wet but a 30 second study located an easy dry passage & made the climb up to the Slugain path. My original plan was to continue east to pitch up over the bealach in Glen Gairn but total lack of any breeze & the continually annoying midge attack every time I slacked the pace led to a rapid rethink……I grabbed a bag of water from a convenient stream & made for the Slugain (Secret) Howff…..no clues to location, its part of the ‘gorms tradition to have to find it yourself.
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With the still air & clear sky the temperature dropped quickly to 4C by 9pm. The low temperature put off the midge so it was very pleasant to sit under the stars for a while & sipping a dram before bed.
Day 2
I’d no problem sleeping for nearly 10 hours (no I didn’t over indulge the malt) but I was still underway by 8am. A bit of heather bashing & I soon reconnected with the Slugain path; hardly a breath of wind but the morning chill seemed to have temporarily put the midge off putting in an appearance. I’d abandoned my original of taking a ‘back-door’ route up Ben Avon from Glen Gairn in favour of continuing up the Slugain.
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Cruising up the path a familiar call came into earshot……winter’s coming……the first geese that I’d seen on their migration south, cruising many 100’s of metres higher than the surrounding mountains.
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The new plan was to revisit the corries of Beinn a’ Bhuird, somewhere I’d only visited in winter over 25 years ago & then the focus was to get in, climb & get out in one piece with no real time to explore. It took around an hour to reach the head of the glen, time to leave the ‘proper’ path & head to places most Monroe tickers only get glimpses of.
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The path up into the corries is little more than a diminishing deer trail up to the lowest lochan, Dubh Lochain. Not really a very impressive lochan but the backdrop is impressive & its’ water was nice…clear & cool.
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It was a bit of a sweaty boulder strewn climb up to Coire an Dubh Lochain & the much more impressive crystal clear Dubh Lochan.
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I descended north across the boulder field below Dividing Buttress to the Smith – Wingram Bivouac, a small howff under a huge boulder. It’s not the kind of place I’d describe as luxurious, the wriggly vertical descent drops into a chamber with room enough for two. Even in the dry weather the floor was muddy & it’s known for the roof to drip after rain; in winter I can imagine it being a veritable palace.
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A short climb up through the boulders led into Corrie nan Clach with its small shallow lochans.
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Not wishing for too energetic an exit (i.e. steep & possibly scary) up to the plateau I’d spied out a reasonable line on the approach.
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After a short bit of steep zigzagging up grass the climb soon eased & the familiar shape of the granite torr of Cnap a’ Chleirich came into view.
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North Top was a short only 1km ramble away where it was time to make a decision while I enjoyed the view.
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I had planned a pitch a few kms west on the Moine Bhealaidh but the lack of even a gentle breeze filled the head with thoughts of swatting midge or being cooped up in the tent for 16hrs. I decided to head to the Faindouran Bothy & the easy north ridge led straight down towards it.
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With the low water levels I decided not to bother chancing (again) the rickety footbridge further downstream & waded the river about 1km upstream of the bothy; only 20cm deep…….the socks needed a wash anyway.
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The bothy provided a welcome & comfortable sanctuary against the incessant midge attack but once again by dark it had cooled enough to send the little monsters packing & I could enjoy ½ hr star watching before retiring.
Day 3
I managed to leave before the sun had hit the glen so with a chill in the air the midge hadn’t come out to play.
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½ hr later on the track west however it had warmed enough for the fleece to come off & to start waving at the midge. I’d decided to head up Cairngorm via the Saddle but first stop heading up Glen Avon for me has always got to be at the head of the loch, just to admire the view…..in my opinion one of the best in the ‘gorms…….besides there was temporarily a gentle breeze coming down the loch that kept the wee beasties at bay.
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I had to climb up to around 1000m on the eastern flank of Cairngorm before picking up a reasonable breeze again, time to admire the view again & have lunch
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The summit of Cairngorm always seems to grate on me, the visible ski apparatus & what seems like hoards of day trippers (especially when its sunny)…….today was no exception, dozens of folk milling around the cairn; I ignored the crowds set off to dawdle over towards Macdui into a stiffening southerly wind. Close to Lochan Buidhe I was stopped by a couple & asked how to get back the carpark?…….I never cease to be amazed.
Despite the early hour I decided to pitch up on the plateau just off the path about 1km north of Macdui. A flattish grassy pitch with water from the spring nearby, not much in the way of shelter from the steadily increasing southerly wind but I was confident in the X-mid’s capabilities.
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Throughout the evening the wind increased to a steady 25mph with gusts to 35mph+, the X-Mid held firm. No sitting out star gazing tonight far too windy, I just laid in bed, watched the sunset & then the northern sky slowly transforming to a twinkling panorama……sipping a dram of coarse.
Day 4
The wind hadn’t abated through the night & steadily increased to 40mph on climbing towards the summit of Macdui. Not the conditions to sit around admiring the view so I moved steadily onwards before finding a more sheltered spot overlooking Loch Etchachan to stop for a snack.
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Climbing away from the loch toward Derry Cairngorm the strong headwind was regained for the assault on the boulder strewn summit.
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The summit obstacle course was pretty short lived & I soon found myself well down the ridge towards Glen Lui.

_DSC4685 (2) (Large)The wind diminished quickly the further down the ridge I got; off came the wind-shirt, then the fleece, before I even hit the trees the wind died completely & the wee beasties came out to play……..plenty of motivation if it were needed to pick up the pace for the 6km back to the car.

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This entry was posted on September 24, 2019 by in Trip Reports and tagged , .

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