A Camp above Loch Etchacan. July 2013.

Date: Saturday-Sunday 6th-7th July 2013
Distance: 15km + 12km
Ascent: 1000m + 600m

The forecast was not entirely playing ball with a high pressure falling into place on Sunday, leaving mixed weather and modest winds for Saturday. The East looked best however and we hatched a plan to get back into our original playground – the Cairngorms.

Parked at the main car park and walked back down to the lower Coire na Ciste car park to head out to Lochan na Beinne and the ridge between Stac na h-Iolaire and Cnap Coire na Spreidhe.

We like this ascent – it’s fairly quiet and often has a bit more wildlife than the red routes.

View to Cairngorm:

A slow meander for the day, checking out the flora and fauna. After a late start the plants are jumping ahead.


Stopped at Lochan na Beinne to watch some damselflies and dragonflies.

4-spotted chaser:

Then on up past the old harvested plantation and up the ridge towards Cnap Coire na Spreidhe.

Stac na h-iolaire:

Cnap Coire na Spreidhe:

Had some snacks behind the tor of the 1028m point and stretched out for an hour’s snooze in the sun before carrying on up towards Cnap Coire na Spreidhe.

Azalea (I think):

Ciste Mhearad was certainly still rather extensive for July – no sign of the vibrant mosses that grab a short growing season when it fully melts.

Ciste Mhearad and Cairngorm:

Wandered up the last slope to Cairngorm.

Moss Campion:


The view off the south of Cairngorm across the middle of the ‘Gorms always inspires.

Central Cairngorms:

Wandered down to Stac an Fharaidh aiming to stay close to the lip of the Loch Avon trench rather than on the busier paths on the Northern Corrie cliffs.

Across to Loch Etchacan:

Crossed Coire Raibert and headed over the little ridge to Coire Domhain.

Carn Etchacan:

Ptarmigan chicks:

Coire Domhain to Carn Etchacan and Beinn Mheadhoin:

Coire Domhain looked a fine camping pitch – although I thought it would be a popular one too (with at least 3 tents by the following morning).

We headed on – passing S out of Coire Domhain and towards Feith Buidhe.

Dotterel and chick:

Carn Etchacan:

Terrain remains very easy until the ridge between Garbh Uisge Beag and Garbh Uisge Mor is crossed, after which it’s a bit rockier. It remains relatively simple to cross though.

Across Garbh Uisge Mor:

We had a look at a few pitches by the lochans SW of Carn Etchacan but we’d had our eye on a little lochan snugged in 50m downslope just E of there. It looked perfect on inspection.

Loch Etchacan:

Nallo at pitch:

A fairly windy evening despite the tucked away spot. Buffeting to stand and a rather noisy tunnel tent. Cooked up tea and settled in at about 2000.

The weather folks done good and the wind dropped out by about midnight. Hill misted at 0200 but the sun hit the tent on a glorious morning at 0500.

Morning Nallo:

The sun was rising straight into the tent door. With no midge we opened the door and kipped in the warmth until 0830. A perfect spot.

Loch Etchacan morning:

From the pitch we headed up to Carn Etchacan.

Pitch site from above:

Etchacan, Mheadhoin and Bhuird:

Carn Etchacan is one of my favourite spots in the Cairngorms – a towering viewpoint for Loch Avon. Infrequented compared to the loftier points around it too.

Loch Avon from Carn Etchacan:

Looking down there were a few folks at Loch Avon – including a recognisable walker and her more famous collie.

Familiar walker and dug:

OK – we’re lazy. Sat and enjoyed the view after only 30 minutes from the start of the day.

Shelter Stone Crag:

Headed back along the ridge and up the Garbh Uisge Mor to Ben MacDui.

Ascending the Garbh Uisge Mor:

A cracker of a day on Scotland’s 2nd highest peak. Superb visibility for a hot summer’s day – we could see from the Pentlands in the south to Fionn Bheinn in the north.

West Lomond:

Sgurr na Ciche over Ben Tee:

Ben Nevis over Sgurr an Lochaine Uaine:

Interesting as distant views are – the view south across Sgurr a Mhaim and Bod an Deamhain are the best. The 2 munros look tiny, the Corbett Sgor Mor looks miniscule.

South down Lairig Ghru:

South view pano:

Link to larger

We had lunch on a perch S of the summit. Visited the summit to consult the viewpoint indicator and then headed on. Quite a few folks enjoying a superb day.

Just headed straight back from here on the path W of Cairn Lochain. The view over Lairig Ghru catches the eye on the return.

Across the Lairig Ghru:

Lots of wildlife still visible.

Bee on Moss Campion:

Snow Bunting:

Took our normal diversion to NH 976 020 to catch the view south.

Down the Lairig Ghru:

As we headed for Pt 1083 we spotted 1 dotterel adult and 3 chicks.

Dotterel chick:

From there it’s down the hill to the car and a cold drink.

The Great Slab and Coire Lochain:

A splendid wander – just a day walk really, but why hurry?


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