Ben Macdui – summer wander. 17th July 2017

Date: Monday 17th July 2017
Distance: 17.6km
Ascent: 1020m

A summer stroll out to Ben Macdui.

The Cairngorm Plateau is a grand place to wander – and the contrast between seasons is stark. This area used to be a regular summer stomping ground, but over the last 10 years or so it tends to be somewhere we frequent in winter.

Always good to get out in summer conditions.

Just our usual wander – out from the ski car park, across the Northern Coires and then skirting Cairn Lochain on its west flank to head south to Ben MacDui.

A few reindeer were enjoying the summer grass not far from the car park.


Full on green – a short growing season, with autumnal oranges appearing by September.

Northern Corries:

There were atmospheric clouds swirling around.

Mist on Cairn Lochan:

Once up to the 1083m point there’s a view across Lairig Ghru to Braeriach and the other munros. Not abad place to look for ptarmigan, none seen today.

Across Lairig Ghru:

The tops of Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine were wreathed in mist.

Misty Cairn Toul:

Carried on south – there’s a dip down to pass between Feidhe Buidhe and the March burn. The boulder field is more pleasant buried under snow. From there a brief reascent to reach the summit dome of Macdui.

Following the cairn line north of the summit affords a classic view west to the other side of Lairig Ghru.

Across Lairig Ghru from Ben Macdui:

Approaching the summit there’s a nice view NE to Beinn Mheadhoin and Bynack More. The Cairngorms are often deceptive – walkers on Beinn Mheadhoin, which looks nearby, are dots through the binoculars.

Beinn Mheadhoin and Bynack Mor:

Headed off to the south side of MacDui’s summit dome. The summit is too rounded for good views and like all such hills you need to head away from the summit to develop views properly.
The view south to the Lairig Ghru and the dwarfed munros of Carn a Mhaim and Bod an Deamhain is one of my favourites.

Bod an Deamhain:

Headed on a diversion to go back, dropping down Garbh Uisge Mor a little way before cutting NE of Macdui’s N top towards Feidhe Buidhe above Loch Avon.

Turned up ptarmigan on the way.


The top of the slabs above the west end of Loch Avon is a spectacular place.

Down to Loch Avon:

Shelterstone Crag and Carn Etchachan:

Headed back over the downslope of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, past Coire Domhain to the head of Coire Raibert. Across the trench containing Loch Avon sits Beinn Mheadhoin.

Coire Raibert:

From here, headed up Cairngorm. We usually bypass this hill, but for once headed up to the summit. There’s a nice view across to loch Etchachan.

View from Cairngorm:

Back down to the car with lots of daylight left.

Too good a day to stop – we parked at Coylumbridge and wandered into the forest to the south to see what we could see. There’s lots of life.

Spotted what looked like a bee behaving oddly – seemed to be probing the bark of the fallen branch and egg-laying.
A bit of research suggests a Bumble bee robber fly.

Bumblebee Robber Fly:

High summer is the peak season for butterflies too – although they tend to be turbocharged and harder to chase down for photographs.

Common Blue:


Headed out to Whitewell where there’s a good view across the Rothiemurchus bowl to the’Gorms.

Across Rothiemurchus:

…and then back to the car and back down the road. Nice hands-in-pockets stuff.

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