Ben Macdui bimble – the usual please. July 2014.

Date: Monday 21st July 2014
Distance: 16km
Ascent: 860m

A public holiday weekend – MWIS mentions summits above the cloud in the Cairngorms.

We have a favourite walk – out from the Cairngorm car park, over the 1083m point W of Cairn Lochain and out to Ben MacDui. Pretty much a bimble but with a high expectation of views and wildlife. Nice to have a walk in the park every now and again.

Headed out into the hill mist – ever hopeful of an inversion.

H heading across Northern Corries:

In proper inversions the sun appears about 70m below the cloud ceiling and a circle of blue sky expands over your head. No such luck – a messy pile of low bobbly cloud.

Still we did escape it by heading up Cairn Lochain.

Clearing the clag:

The reindeer herd is out here, some more Mephistophelian than others.

Eerie reindeer:

Off the back of Cairn Lochain and the view south emerges.

Macdui and Cairn Toul:

Winter:

Far more snow patches than the norm for the last decade…the reindeer like them.

Cool reindeer:

Wandered across to the reindeer – marvellously placid creatures who didn’t move or bat an eyelid.

I have had to photoshop out the sled and unhealthily obese man clad in crimson. 😉

Reindeer on snow patch:


Feith Bhuidhe:

Up a further 70m to the ground under Ben Macdui.

Across the Lairig Ghru to Cairn Toul:

Winter 2014:

Beinn Mheadhoin:

Headed over the summit and, as usual, found a spot south of the summit to enjoy the splendid view over the south end of Lairig Ghru with its diminutive munros.

South to Carn a Mhaim and Bod an Deamhain:

Winter 2014:

Lounged around for 40 minutes – watched some dog-fighting fighter jets to the south and a private helicopter scooting through the Lairig Ghru. Packed up and turned for home.

A male resident Snow Bunting was patrolling the summit area – a new subspecies of cake-eating bunting in evolution I suspect.

Snow Bunting:


The return leg turned up some ptarmigan groups. They seem to be congregating into larger multi-family groups now with young at various stages of maturation. Loathe to fly off from the larger group they were more prone to stand and watch us than usual.

Ptarmigans:




The butterflies were supercharged in the heat – had to follow this one for a while before it settled.

Small Tortoiseshell:

…and then it posed on some pretty flowers.

Small Tortoiseshell on Moss Campion:

On the path back we were treated to another ptarmigan group with about 5 ptarmigan standing up from unseen camouflage and running off 10m. The left the odd lurker behind.

Ptarmigan chick peeking:

We stood still and they seemed loathe to move.

Junior ptarmigans standing:

Junior ptarmigan (on sentry):

The solitary junior let out a trilling call I’ve not heard before and all the ptarmigans eased themselves into crouched camouflage again…odd.

Junior ptarmigans crouching:

Not so odd as the peregrine that had been on a direct line for us promptly tore through the air above us before arcing into Lairig Ghru.

Having stood for about 5 minutes watching the ptarmigan we could see we set off on the path – only for the further 10 ptarmigan we hadn’t seen to stand up and move off as a group. An interesting encounter.

Continued on the direct return home.

Across the Lairig Ghru:

Dropped off the path to cast a glance down Lairig Ghru – a clearer view than the morning.

South to Bod an Deamhain:

Winter 2014:

…..and then a quick saunter back to the car.

Northern Corries:

Meall a Buachaille:

Not a challenging walk – but different every time. Full of views and crawling with wildlife. Back again soon I hope.

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