Cairngorms Northern Coires. March 2016

Date: Thursday 10th March 2016
Distance: 12km
Ascent: 670m

Finally a concurrence of forecasts – MWIS’ previous pessimism had morphed to significant optimism, while the Beeb and Met Office agreed. Looked a nailed on day for the Northern Cairngorms.

We set off from the Ski car park at 0800 on a fine day. Initially the path was compacted by many feet… various tracks broke off the softer the snow got. Not too deep, but still slowed us down a bit.

Across the Northern Corries:

Here and there we saw ptarmigan tracks, but none of the birds.

Ptarmigan mountaineering tracks:

Certainly a rather chilly southerly as we reached the western arm of Coire Lochan.

Blowing snow:

I’m quite partial to the view south through Lairig Ghru from the edge of the 1083m area west of Cairn Lochan

Down the Lairig Ghru:

The tiny munro at the south end stands out well.

Bod an Deamhain:

It was slow progress in the snow from here, a bit of a slog breaking trail up the slope of Cairn Lochan. Once at the top the view expands south and east.

Tors of Beinn Mheadhoin and Ben Avon:

….and west along towards the Ben and beyond to Sgor Dhomnuill.

West to the Ben:

To the south there was a distinct cloud layer which was lapping around Beinn a Ghlo – I wonder if this was what was on MWIS’ radar on their earlier Thursday forecasts.

Cloud encroaching Beinn a Ghlo:

Beautiful Alpine looking hills in sunshine for us though.

Cairn Toul and Sgor nan Lochain Uaine:

We weighed up the options. Feeling rather lazy we decided not to wander south to Macdui….cloud skims were building up on the summit and the views south looked blunted by cloud. Instead we grabbed a seat and absorbed the views.

Top of Shelterstone Crag:

Then took a slow wander up onto the top of Cairn Lochan before a very slow wend back down to the car. More standing still looking than walking.

Up to the north there was the normal head scratching and hill identifying. Managed to spot Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair and Sgurr Ban in Fisherfield.

Fannichs and Fisherfield:

Nearer views are rather more dramatic mind you.

Beinn Mheadhoin:

Dropped back to the 1083m area as cloud was building in a thin layer on Carn Lochan and across the Lairig Ghru.

Cairn Toul:

Braeriach cloud cap:

Lairig Ghru:

A bit of a hands in pockets bimble back down the ridge – rather busy over on the Fiacaill.

Queues on the Fiacaill Ridge:


Sron na Lairig and Sgoran Dubh Mor:

Coire Lochain:

Some rather more energetic outdoors enthusiasts on the Coire Lochan rim…..too rich for my blood!

Climbers at the cornice:

Leisurely descent:

As were getting closer to the car park we started to notice groups of ptarmigan…presumably we walked past them on the ascent.


A bit sad to head down…the forecast was for little further sun. Still a joy to be out in such beautiful snowy conditions though.

Nearing the car park:

Back at the car we headed off….for once we stopped at Loch Morlich. The glowing ‘Gorms above the Loch was a sight to behold.

Loch Morlich:

Back to Abernethy for some evening Pine Marten watching. Nothing much achieved, but well worth it.

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