Another low effort 4000ft wild camp in the ‘Gorms. October 2015.

Date: Saturday/Sunday 3rd/4th October 2015
Distance: 17 + 10.7km
Ascent: 1100 + 200m

A working week of high pressure with concern about conditions breaking down for Saturday. Once again the NW Highlands looked mixed.

A forecast for a good weekend in the Cairngorms had us plump for a 4th wild camp trip in the last 10 weeks.

We’ve had a wander on the western plateau twice and the Eastern giants for a two night camp so it seemed rude to have ignored the Central Plateau. More amenable to day trips this is our most-visited, but least camped area of the Cairngorm Massif.

A grey looking dawn in Aviemore saw us make an unhurried start. Parked up in the main car park for about 0900. We wandered back round to the Coire Cas carpark before heading up the direct path to the 1028m top above Strathnethy.

Having read tales of sapping heat and sun on the high tops this week I was slightly regretting a choice of summer gear – a very chill breeze.

Had a look into Strathnethy before continuing on towards Cnap Coire na Spreidhe.

The whole day was punctuated by disturbing large family groups of ptarmigan – wary and flighty at this time of year.

The sun was shining to our south and east, clouds were pushing on to the Northern ‘Gorms on a WNW breeze.

Passed by Ciste Mhearaidh in the mist – quite a few surviving snow patches this year.

At the top of Cairngorm we were able to see sunshine just to our south. Dropped down to Stac an Fharaidh to enjoy the sun, the view and some food.

The Northern Coires and Cairngorm were just the place not to be today.

Despite the sun air temps were decidedly chilly, although once in a bit of insulation a comfortable lunch was had.

Crossed Coire Raibert and on towards Coire Domhain – decent views across the Loch Avon trench from here.

Then as we headed SW out of Coire Domhain there are fine views to Shelterstone Crag and Carn Etchacan.

Approaching Feithe Bhuidhe there’s a fine view east along much of Loch Avon:

Link to larger pano

A fair smattering of hare and ptarmigan too.

Crossed the burn and curled round the east side of the 1186m point to approach the Ben Macdui path. Open ground around here.

One of the reindeer herds was grazing at the top of Garbh Uisge Beag.

Followed the standard Macdui approach to just between the 1295m top and the summit before skirting round the summit towards Allt Clach nan Taillear.

Clag was starting to encroach in from the north, covering the Macdui summit. The south side however remained clear and sunny for a while longer.

Carn a Mhaim:

We had more than a few pitch sites up our sleeves (including our nice little spot near “midnight” from a previous trip), but we were keen to find a high spot to enjoy what was hopefully going to be a clear night and dawn.

We’d been on Stob Coire Sputan Dearg in mist and on a lot of snow before, we weren’t sure about pitch sites.

In the event we found a few good spots around the top of Allt Clach nan Taillear and to the SW of the summit of Stob Coire Sputan Dearg. Pitched the tent at around 1230m to the SW of top, a short walk from a great view of Coire Sputan Dearg.

We had short spell of sunshine left before the clag that had plagued the northern and western hills finally marched over us for about 1730hrs.

Cooked tea in the warmth of the tent as darkness built up with no sign of sunset.

The normal mix of natter, chocolate and spirits filled a couple of hours. With skies still cloudy we got our heads down to sleep.

Had a wander out at 2200 – clear skies and a nice starscape.

Another few hours sleep and we were up again at 0200hrs – a 70% moon and clear skies gave us an opportunity to have a wander in bright night conditions.

Moonshine in Lochain Uaine:

Cairn Toul by moonlight:

Coming over a bit “Norman Collie” with paranormal Macdui activity:

More than an hour of messing around by moonlight and then back to bed for a few more hours sleep before dawn. The tent sloth left dawn for another day so it was just me up and about at 0700.

A touch of frost on the tent:

Misty layers over to Beinn a Ghlo:

Sron Riach pre-dawn:


Early light:

Dawn from up high is always a thrill. Pre-dawn through reds to syrupy yellows as the light builds.

Cliffs of Coire Sputan Dearg and Beinn Mheadhoin:

Sron Riach:

Layered Hills:

The tent sloth had emerged by this point:

Bod an Deamhain took quite a while to catch the light:

A cloud band built into a substantial area of cloud and blocked our light for a while – back into the tent for breakfast. Happily the clouds evaporated again after an hour so we began to pack up in a leisurely fashion in sunshine.

Scarp in sunshine:

Across Lairig Ghru pano:

Link to larger pano

Wandered around the area a bit checking for any better pitch sites (none found) before setting off at after 1030 round the summit of Stob Coire Sputan Dearg and then on a direct line over Macdui and back to the car.

H on Stob Coire Sputan Dearg:

Coire Sputan Dearg and Beinn Mheadhoin:

Sron Riach and Carn a Mhaim:

Moonless Lochain Uaine:

Cairngorm and Carn Etchacan:

View out Lairig Ghru from the south side of Macdui’s summit:

The geese are on the move now – we’ve heard and seen many skeins in the last few weeks. A large group were pushing their way upwind south through Lairig Ghru.

Skein of geese passing Bod an Deamhain:

From Ben Macdui it’s a couple of hour’s walk back to the car park via the 1083m point. Variable cloud pushing up from the south and the reverse of Saturday with glorious sun to the north.

A pleasant amble out.

Beinn Mheadhoin tors in front of Leabaidh an Diamh Bhuidhe:

The exit route.

A nice amble – I could think of innumerable places to stick a tent on the Central Plateau but the Stob Coire Sputan Dearg spot is a cracker. At only a few hours walk in a bit easier than some of the west and east Cairngorm summit options too.

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