Beinn Mheadhoin and Ben Macdui via the east end of Loch Avon. September 2008

Date: Saturday 20th September 2008
Distance: 23.2km
Ascent: 1595m

Up early on Speyside. Dawn’s getting later really fast now. Sun-up around 0700. Kicked off just before 0700 at the lower of the 2 ski carparks on Cairngorm (Coire na Ciste).

We’ve taken to using this side for ascents, the Cnap Coire na Spreidhe arm is a great walk, highly recommended and usually deserted too.

This time we just pressed up the Coire na Ciste path.

Dawn was breaking as we set off

Quite a lot of cloud over and west, clearer east. Gave some dramatic lighting

Unexpected bonus of the Coire path was a reindeer herd near the Ptarmigan restaurant. We could hear the clicking noise they make while walking – a tendon that clicks in their legs with each step – apparently to help herds keep together in whiteout!

Cut across to the ridge just N of Cnap Coire na Spreidhe. Nice view of Ben Rinnes with hat

Low light on autumn deer grass

Just SW of Cnap Coire na Spreidhe there’s a long-lasting snowpatch – we walked on it a month ago – almost all gone. Vibrant green mosses using a really short growing season

There’s a track runs from here to the Saddle – peters out in places but uses the gap in the crags on the SE slopes of Cairngorm.
Nice skies and view to Ben Rinnes

From the Saddle you then get great views along Loch Avon

Much better conditions at the E end of Loch Avon than last time

Wandered about a bit looking at fording the river. None of it looked very easy. It’s 1.5km down to the Fords of Avon. Was considering wading the river when Hazel suggested the Loch end. Much better – 3ft deep with sandy/grainy floor, slow water flow and no ankle-snapping rocks.

My toe even thawed out within 2hrs.

From there the ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin was up easy slopes, more pleasant than the eroding track at the other end from our perspective.

Creag Dubh

Barns of Bynack from Creag Dubh

Bynack More, Creag Dubh and Creag Mhor

Last Mountain forecast I’d seen (Thurs) said 10-15mph winds. It had been at least 20-30 all day but up here it was quite brisk. Bite to eat in the shelter of the tors then off towards Coire Etchacan.

The Tors here are well gnarly

The summit plateau was in and out of mist

From here it was a different day. Descended into mistier weather and headed for Ben Macdui.

We had been thinking about crossing rougher terrain from Loch Etchacan to Stob Coire Etchacan but not in such poor visibility.

Simply looped round to MacDui summit on the good track.

Massive spike in H. Sapiens sightings from the MacDui summit on.

Took our usual route off – N between Lurchers Crag and Cairn Lochain.

The mist broke as we were rounding Carn Lochain – nice view of the E side of Sron na Lairig and the Lairig Ghru

A couple of swallows whipped past heading south into the Lairig Ghru – Africa on their minds no doubt. Another reindeer herd here as well! Wonder how many are around.
Back to the upper car park – lovely weather.

1.5km back round to the lower car park.

A game of 2 halves really. Enjoyed the different approach onto Beinn Mheadhoin and the views in the morning, done MacDui enough not to be disappointed to walk in the mist there. Enjoyable walk.

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