Sron Riach approach to Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm. March 2009

Date: Sunday 1st March 2009
Distance: 27.6km
Ascent: 1270m

The Cairngorms Plateau is one of our favourite areas. We’ve climbed Ben Macdui from the north about 15 times before by various routes and I’d had my eye on the southern approach using Sron Riach for a while. A brief weather window on Sunday looked just the job.

Kicked off from Linn of Dee, the NTS car park is a great facility. We were there for 0730 – already a few walkers ahead of us.

It’s a pleasant walk along Glen Lui, although I’d dearly love to persuade Hazel that cycling is not evil. Walked this 6km stretch a few too many times now.

Fairly large numbers of Black Grouse were flying from tree to tree. Glen Lui is a good place to see/hear them lek. I think it was late April we heard and saw this here.

The view up Glen Lui was a bit bland:

It’s 1hr out to Derry Lodge. There’s a beautiful patch of Caley pine here which extends a way up Glen Derry. Wouldn’t drink the water though – very popular camp spot.

Crossed the bridge and headed for the Luibeg bridge – more Black Grouse flying to cover in the trees.

The track remains high quality for the next few km. Views W to Beinn Bhrotain:

The path forks left before Luibeg Bridge and all its bogginess. Fairly good track continues north above Luibeg bridge making for Sron Riach. After 1km Sron Riach is in view –

The Allt that drains Lochan Uaine has to be crossed at the base of Sron Riach so spate conditions could lead to disappointment/wet feet.

The Sron Riach climb is a fairly steady slog. At about 940m there’s a short flat area with a tor – cupholes as usual:

views back to Luibeg Bridge:

Above here and some of the Cairngorm peaks start to show – Beinn Mheadhoin beyond Creagan a Coire Etchacan:

Devil’s Point:

Progress started to slow a bit – slushy snow and icy boulders. A few real mountaineers watched with disdain and amusement:

The final pull up to the plateau:

We clambered up the boulders on the right of the pic, I think in summer a line to the left is the bee-line to Macdui’s summit.

Topped this rise and then things got a bit ‘Gormsy. Cloud and snow swept off the Lairig Ghru and a lot of snow/spindrift was getting flung about.
Decided the 750m and 80m climb was not going to show us anything our previous 15 ascents hadn’t so turned down the slope towards Loch Etchacan on the track just down from the cliffs of Coire Sputan Dearg.

Conditions variable:

Wintry Coire Etchacan:

Left the track to cross the wee bealach W of Creagan a Coire Etchacan heading S on easy terrain to climb Derry Cairngorm from the N.

Things cleared again for a bit – Creagan a Coire Etchacan from Derry:

Beinn a Bhuird from Derry:

Cliffs of Coire Sputan Dearg from Derry:

Some lunch on the summit as snow showers raced through then started down the long ridge S to Carn Crom.

Balcony view of Glen Derry – there are nice ox-bow lakes to be seen from above – snow showers still going:

Lovely easy-angled ridge:

The well-constructed path then drops down to Derry Lodge. Then the 1hr walk out.

Enjoyable route on easy terrain. Great potential when the clouds allow.


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