Central Cairngorm Plateau. November 2007.

Date: Saturday 3rd November 2007
Distance: 22km
Ascent: 1500m

Nice weekend past, got into the Cairngorms on the Saturday and took a jaunt round one of my favourite loops, out from the Cairngorm car park round Beinn Macdui to Loch Etchacan, down to Loch Avon and then up Coire Raibert to Cairngorm, with options to include Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin. Posted with a nod to Finbad who posted a very similar route a few weeks back.
Given the unphotogenic conditions on Saturday, (or in the absence of a photographer skilful enough to make it photogenic), I’ve patched together some photos from previous loops round these tops.
Head out to the Ski car park, Loch Morlich occasionally plays ball to set the mood:

There’s a few routes onto the plateau, to suite all moods. We tend to favour the easy amble up the arm running along the W edge of Coire an Lochain, to the E of Lurcher’s Crag. Lurcher’s makes a great short walk in winter with brilliant views down the Lairig Ghru:

The track leads up to the 1083m point then carries on S along the W side of Cairn Lochan to drop about 15m to flat ground with a few lochans, then a steep pull up about 75m to a much more sub-alpine environment. Good views back to Lurcher’s and Aviemore.

Nice path and a line of cairns leading to Beinn Macdui summit. Great views for the last 2km or so across the Lairig Ghru to the Cairn Toul chain:

Fabulous views out of the Lairig Ghru and S from the summit:

Snow Buntings usually mooch around on the summit:

If you’ve got visibility on the summit I usually head for Lochnagar for the first 200m or so.

Then a path develops running down to Loch Etchacan over some fabulous cliffs to the R.

At this point the “short” loop curls round Loch Etchacan for Loch Avon. However detours are easily made to Derry Cairngorm with nice views back to Beinn Macdui:

Coire Etchacan, a hidden gem:

Further detour straight up Beinn Mheadhoin, with a walk amongst the tors on the top:

Descend Beinn Mheadhoin from the 1163 W top heading straight for Carn Etchacan down grassy slopes to the path down to Loch Avon. One of the Cairngorms most beautiful spots.

The big boulder on the beach has sunk about 2ft in 5yrs! From here head NE to Coire Raibert with some very minor scrambliness to get up the gully to Coire Raibert. Seen the reindeer up here on occasion.

Great views develop back across to Coire Etchacan:

From the Coire either climb Cairngorm and drop past Ptarmigan (or take the train now) to the car park or head straight down the nose of Fiacaill Coire Cas for an easy descent.

The simple loop is about 6hr or so, adding the other munros beefs it up to 9-10hrs at a slow pace. On the right day it’s a route that gives constantly changing perspectives.

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