Cairn Lochan. 27th February 2017.

Date: Monday 27th February 2017
Distance: 11km
Ascent: 800m

Our February holiday in Abernethy. With a wealth of wildlife at the cottage we’re a little less inclined to head out on the hills in poor weather, but with a nice day on offer it’s always good to get up into the wintry ‘Gorms.

A bit of a later start than we often go for, watching red squirrels is a sure fire way to waste away a few breakfast hours.

Headed out across the Northern Corries on a cold, crisp winter’s day.

Heading across the Northern corries:

In the lower reaches of the Northern Corries Red Grouse usually outnumber any ptarmigan.

Red Grouse:

The streams out of Coire Lochan had turned to ice. Microspikes are a boon on this kind of terrain.

Cairn Lochan:

The winds carve out white artworks while no-one is looking.

Snow folding:

Headed up our normal route to the 1083m top and onwards round the flank of Cairn Lochan. Hard pack snow, not solid enough to need crampons.

Lurchers:

Across Lairig Ghru is Sron na Lairig of Braeriach. I always feel a tad guilty on winter’s days when I look across at this – it seems lazy on this side of the pass when it’s hours of walking to get up Sron na Lairig.

Sron na Lairig:

Headed up on to Cairn Lochan – once again a southerly was pushing clouds onto the southern flank of the Plateau. As we’ve seen many times the northern flank was out of the mist while Macdui et al were clagged. This time we stayed on the sunny side of the divide.

The cliffs of Cairn Lochan are a sight to behold in winter – awesome.

Cliffs of Cairn Lochan:

Had some food and appreciated the view. Climbers were making their way up the clifflines below.

and again:

Carried on along the top of Cairn Lochan towards Cairngorm. To our south and east Beinn Mheadhoin and Ben Avon were out to see.

Shelter Stone Crag and Beinn Mheadhoin:

Dropped eastwards off Cairn Lochain towards Stob Coire an t-Sneachda. Another walker was up on the slopes of Cairn Lochan with Cairn Toul behind.

Walker and Cairn Toul:

Looking down Coire Domhain we had a view of the cliffs of Carn Etchachan, which loom over Loch Avon.

Carn Etchachan:

Starting up Stob Coire an t-Sneachda we had a great view back across Coire Domhain to Cairn Toul – such a great environment on the plateau in winter.

Coire Domhan:

Up onto Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and more cliffs, although staying a little back from the cornices.

Cairn Lochain from Stob Coire an t-Sneachda:

Towards Macdui it was a little greyer, although all the tops were out.

Ben Macdui from Stob Coire an t-Sneachda:

The skies were filling in a little, still no less atmospheric looking though. The munros of Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine over Coire Domhain were certainly shapely.

Carn Toul:

Carn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine:

The local ptarmigan had been evading us for the walk, sometimes they appear. Got a decent view of one as we descended from Stob Coire an t-Sneachda.

Ptarmigan:

It greyed over as we got to the 1141m cairn at the top of Fiacaill a Choire Chais. We headed down this ridge, an easy descent, as the clouds rolled over.

Close to the car park there were more ptarmigan, including one not in winter garb – possibly the shape of things to come if the world is warmer.

Early changing ptarmigan:

Back to the cottage to look for badgers and pine martens after a cracking bit of Cairngorm winter walking.

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