Hills: Ben Macdhui, Creagan a'Choire Etchachan, Stacan Dubha and Cairngorm
Date: Tuesday 29th September 2015
Company: Myself and Cuillin
Distance: 22.3km, Ascent: 1460m
Time: 7Hrs 20Mins

I set off from home at 04.30 this morning en-route to the Cairngorms. Just under two hours later, I parked-up at the Coire Cas car park and was off walking by 06.30. The weather forecast for today was about as good as it gets. The actual weather turned out to be about as good as it gets too .

On switching on my DSLR to take an early morning pre-sunrise photo, up came the message, "No memory card in camera". I had left the SD card in the computer at home. Doh! I therefore had to use my iPhone to take photos instead.

I didn't have a route in mind for today other than I wanted to ascend Ben Macdhui. I therefore set off to ascend Ben Macdhui and thereafter make it up as I went along.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I had left the memory card in the computer at home due to uploading sunset photos the night previous. The skies this morning were also wonderful. Fantastic to get a good spell of weather having endured one of the worst 'summers' I can remember.

Looking back to Coire Cas car park:

Lovely pre-sunrise skies:

Nice skies above Coire an Sneachda and Coire an Lochain:

I last walked this track in July 2015 following an ascent of Lurcher's Crag. With such fantastic visibility today combined with my knowledge of these hills, the map stayed in the rucksack throughout the walk.

Looking back during ascent towards 1083m top:

Looking back towards Meall a' Bhuachaille and Loch Morlich during ascent:

Coire an Sneachda and Coire an Lochain are excellent, easy to get to, climbing crags. I wouldn't have fancied climbing first thing this morning though as it was a tad windy.

Coire an Lochain crags:

Lovely post-sunrise skies:

On reaching the 1083m top, I began to get excellent views of Cairn Toul, Angel's Peak, Braeriach and beyond to Beinn Bhrotain.

Looking towards Ben Macdhui:

Looking across the Lairig Ghru to Cairn Toul, Angel's Peak and Braeriach:

During the ascent of Ben Macdhui, I was surprised to see someone descending towards me. Given I had set off before dawn, I didn't expect to see anyone, at least not yet. The walker descending Macdhui had camped out at the summit the night previous. It must have been great to witness the sunset and sunrise from the summit of Ben Macdhui.

Ascending Ben Macdhui:

View towards Beinn Mheadhoin:

As I approached the summit of Ben Macdhui, I could see 360 degrees for miles and miles. I was at the summit of the Cairngorms; only Ben Nevis is higher in the whole UK.

Misty views en-route to summit of Ben Macdhui:

I spent circa 15 minutes at the summit taking photos and admiring the views. I also took the opportunity to give Cuillin some food and water.

At the summit of Ben Macdhui:

Ben Macdhui summit compass:

Beinn Macdhui summit cairn and trig point:

Panorama from Ben Macdhui summit area:

Misty Mountains:

Looking down towards Carn a' Mhaim and The Devil's Point:

At the summit, given it was only 09.00, I decided to continue the walk by next heading for Loch Etchachan. A short distance below the summit, we stopped briefly at the remains of the Sapper's Bothy.

Cuillin inside the Sapper's Bothy:

En-route to Loch Etchachan:

It was great to see Loch Etchachan in such perfect conditions. It is a great loch in an ideallic location. I really want to camp here sometime in the future.

Loch Etchachan and Beinn Mheadhoin:

However, before reaching Loch Etchachan, I decided to ascend Creagan a' Choire Etchachan; a Munro Top that I had not ascended previously.

Coire Sputan Dearg from the summit of Creagan a' Choire Etchachan:

The detour to Creagan a' Choire Etchachan didn't take long and we were soon making our way down to Loch Etchachan. At Loch Etchachan, we met two walkers who had camped out the night previous at Loch Etchachan. It was nice to stop for a chat and discuss my local hills (the Cairngorms) and their local hills (the Lake District).

At Loch Etchachan:

As it was now becoming quite warm, Cuillin took the opportunity to have a cool-down swim. If the water hadn't been so cold, I might have been tempted myself.

Cuillin having a cool-down swim in Loch Etchachan:

Looking back to Loch Etchachan:

From Loch Etchachan, I decided we would next head down to the Loch Avon basin. However, en-route to Loch Avon, we would ascend Stacan Dubha; another Munro Top.

Stacan Dubha:

Carn Etchachan crags:

The ascent and descent of Stacan Dubha didn't take long.

Loch Avon from the summit of Stacan Dubha:

Beinn Mheadhoin from the summit of Stacan Dubha:

Loch Avon:

We now made our way down to Loch Avon. The crags on Carn Etchachan are very impressive. The routes look impossibly steep.

Carn Etchachan crags:

Before visiting Loch Avon, we visited the Shelter Stone. The Shelter Stone is a large rock that serves as a howff. There is room underneath the rock for several people to sleep.

Seeing the Shelter Stone brought back memories of a Club trip perhaps 14 years previous when we carried in portable BBQs for a BBQ at the Shelter Stone. The Cairngorm Club, the oldest Club in Scotland, was founded here.

The Shelter Stone:

Cuillin under the Shelter Stone:

Loch Avon is a stunningly beautiful loch, right in the heart of the Cairngorms. Any trip to see Loch Avon, will involve walking some distance. I visited the other end of Loch Avon just one month ago.

Loch Avon:

Again, Cuillin took the opportunity to have a paddle. This was good as the forthcoming ascent of Coire Raibert was quite gruelling in the heat.

Cuillin having a paddle in Loch Avon:

Ascending Coire Raibert:

It was good to get above the steep lower section of Coire Raibert onto more gentle ground.

Onto the Cairngorm plateau:

Once onto the plateau, we made our way across to the summit of Cairngorm.

At the summit of Cairngorm:

From the summit, we descended to the Coire Cas car park in under one hour.

Descent to Coire Cas:

Descent to Coire Cas:

This was a fantastic day out in as good as it gets conditions. The Cairngorms are fantastic hills with great potential for circular routes and traverses.