Date: Saturday-Sunday 23rd-24th June 2018
Distance: 17.0 + 19.7km
Ascent: 1100 + 610m
Approaching high pressure and days of light winds and sunshine. Unfortunately the best of the weather was not expected until Sunday.
With this in mind we headed to Braemar, with the best Saturday forecast, to take the tent up into the Eastern Cairngorms.
Started at a very late 2pm from Invercauld Bridge. The advantages of high latitude – still over 8 hours to sunset.
A part overcast day, we walked the long approach out through Gleann an t-Slugain. The wood ant nests were all very active.
Up through the Slugain Gap, a fairly deep gorge carved down from the higher moor around Beinn a Bhuird.
Once up out of the Gap Beinn a Bhuird comes into view. Like a lot of the Cairngorms it is much bigger than it appears.
Forded the Quoich Water at NO 112 959 and then had a bite to eat. Spotted a female Hen Harrier hunting over the heather here.
There’s a new path heading west towards Glen Quoich, we headed uphill on the older path which runs up the western side of Carn Fiaclach.
The Corbett Carn na Drochaide looks like a fairly wee bump, arising from such a high base.
It’s a steady plod up Carn Fiaclach. Once up to the 800m mark the path becomes fainter.
It’s a fairly nice high coire to follow up onto the South top of Beinn a Bhuird. Passed one hare grazing on the high grass. As we reached the South Top we were nearly into the cloud base.
The South Top has a view into the Central Cairngorms, unfortunately it was not very clear today.
We have seen it on previous visits though.
The walk round from the South Top to the North Top skirts the big cliffs on the east aspect of Beinn a Bhuird. There’s a good view down from these.
Wandered on, in and out of mist, over the North Top and on to Cnap a Chleirich. We’d aimed to pitch here.
There are massive areas of flat grass and moss between the North Top and Cnap a Chleirich……we’d wanted to pitch a little closer to the top which has sparser grass. Found a near flat pitch just to its east.
Happily the mists cleared to a large extent prior to sunset, although thicker cloud to the NW obscured the sun late in its transit.
We enjoyed the views and had our tea.
Stob an t-Sluichd is an interesting outlier of Beinn a Bhuird, we visited that a few years ago. There’s a rather poignant air crash memorial on that one.
Were out and about until midnight, although it didn’t get meaningfully dark. Could see streetlights up the Dornoch Firth.
Eventually off to bed. The alarm went off at 0410 for sunrise, but there was quite a bit of cloud to the NE obscuring this so we went back to sleep until the sun convincingly was warming the tent (at 0900).
By this point it was a warm morning so we mooched around, had breakfast and slowly got things together to carry on.
Spotted another (or the same) female hen harrier – not a bird I associate with a 1100m summit!
Got packed up and got going for a very late 1100hrs.
Headed on towards Ben Avon, as usual with the Cairngorms it looks a stone’s throw away but is actually more than 3km.
Garbh Coire and the glen north from the Sneck are fairly grand too.
The tor presents a very minor scramble, the south tower a little harder than the north (still not entirely sure which is higher).
Visited both, the expanse of the Eastern Cairngorms stretches out a bit.
Ben Avon stretches away to the NE, peppered by tors.
LaDB was a little busy, so we headed on to another tor to have a peaceful bite to eat while enjoying the views. Saw a female snow bunting hunting for food amongst the rocks.
We had planned to return via the Culardoch track, the question being how wide a loop to take. In the event we decided that the reasonably direct route was enough.
Headed back via Clach Choutsaich and then down Carn Drochaid to cross Glen Gairn.
Clach Choutsaich is a beast of a tor – I’ve been up it once, but it needed a bit of a scramble. Settled on walking by this time.
From Clach Choutsaich we headed down the slope towards Carn Drochaid. This is easy terrain, nice underfoot.
Spotted a few hare and ptarmigan along the way. The deer were struggling with the flies (a plague of non-biting flies) which were obviously irritating them.
We dropped to Carn Drochaid and then headed for the bridge marked on the map at NJ179009.
Unfortunately the bridge is no more – just the supports on either side. Happily the river was easy to ford (the bridge at NO 172 998 is still there looking with binoculars).
The track back is a nice return, a bit more forest than the Slugain track. Last time we were listening to Black Grouse hens calling to each other, this time we were admiring the peak green of early summer.
Big hill country – a long walk, but good to get back in and about the Eastern ‘Gorms.