Hill: Beinn a' Bhuird
Date: Saturday 1st July
Company: Just myself
Distance: 39.5km, Ascent: 1390m
Time: 9Hrs 45Mins

Having not been out in the hills much in recent weeks, primarily due to a prolonged spell of sub-optimal weather, I felt the need to get out for a good walk. Yet again, the weather on Friday was underwhelming. However, the forecast for yesterday looked promising at least for the Cairngorms. I decided therefore to undertake an ascent of Beinn a' Bhuird together with its three Munro Tops.

I last ascended Beinn a' Bhuird in 1997, twenty years ago! In 1997, I knew that I ascended Beinn a' Bhuird's South Top, knew that I definitely did not ascend Stob an t'Sluichd and was unsure if I did or did not ascend Cnap a' Chleirich.

I was in two minds whether to start the walk from Keiloch or from the Linn of Quoich. I opted for Keiloch as it was less distance to travel.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

After paying the £2.50 car park charge, I set off along the road leading to Invercauld House and beyond to the Gleann an t-Slugain. I last walked this track only four weeks previous on a visit to the Secret Howff.

As forecast, the weather was good from the outset. I was aware however that the weather was due to deteriorate later in the afternoon.

View towards Morrone from Altdourie:

A short distance beyond Altdourie, I spotted a bird with similar colouring to a Stonechat. However, it was larger than a Stonechat, had a white cap and had a different call. I took some photos and posted one up to Twitter as I continued on my way. Within a matter of minutes of posting, I received a number of replies advising that it was a Redstart. Twitter is great.


Given the overall distance to be covered, I opted to wear trail shoes on the good track and carry my boots in my rucksack. I ended up walking approximately 26km in trail shoes and only 13.5km in boots.

Gleann an t-Slugain:

Looking back along Gleann an t-Slugain:

As I progressed along the Slugain glen, I spotted several more bird species including Stonechat and what I think was a juvenile Wheatear.

Juvenile Wheatear:

On reaching the ruin, I continued on without stopping.

Approaching Gleann an t-Slugain ruin:

Beyond the ruin:

After proceeding a short distance beyond the ruin, I got great views of Beinn a' Bhuird. I took a couple of photos which I stitched together into the following panorama.

Beinn a' Bhuird Panorama:

At this point I decided to undertake an anti-clockwise circuit rather than a clockwise one.

As I continued along the track at what I thought was a reasonable pace, I heard someone approaching behind me who was going even faster. It was nice to have company for the next few kilometres as we both progressed together as far as The Sneck (the col between Ben Avon and Beinn a' Bhuird).

Approaching Glas Allt Mor:

Beinn a' Bhuird:

Instead of walking all the way to The Sneck, I diverted off the track to take a more direct route up towards Cnap a' Chleirich. During the ascent I stopped to take some photos and posted one of them up to Twitter.

Ben Avon during ascent of Beinn a' Bhuird:

On reaching the summit tor of Cnap a' Chleirich, I realised that I had not ascended it previously as I could not recall ascending a tor. I therefore ascended the tor to reach the summit. This was my 150th Munro Top.

Cnap a' Chleirich:

From the top of Cnap a' Chleirich, I could see my main objective of the day, the remote Stob an t'Sluichd.

Stob an t'Sluichd from Cnap a' Chleirich:

If doing Beinn a' Bhuird, I would strongly recommend heading out towards Stob an t'Sluichd as you will be rewarded with great views of Ben Avon and Beinn a' Bhuird and you will also see the impressive cliffs in Garbh Choire.

Ben Avon:

Looking towards Stob an t'Sluichd:

Garbh Choire cliffs (Mitre Ridge West Face):

On walking out towards Stob an t'Sluichd, I headed over to the cliff edge to take five photos which I later stitched together into the following panorama.

Ben Avon and Beinn a' Bhuird panorama:

Ben Avon:

Stob an t'Sluichd:

As I made my way out towards Stob an t'Sluichd, I stumbled across the remains of an air crash. In January 1945, an RAF Airspeed Oxford, undertaking a flight from RAF Tain to RAF Hornchurch, crashed into the hillside killing all five on board. Several large pieces of wreckage remain at the crash site including the two Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah engines. A memorial plaque has also been attached to a nearby rock.

Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah engines from an Airspeed Oxford:

Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah engine:

After walking close to 20km, it was great to reach the summit of Stob an t'Sluichd. I now had roughly the same distance to cover to get back to the car .

Summit of Stob an t'Sluichd:

View from Stob an t'Sluichd:

On again approaching Cnap a' Chleirich, I again met the chap whom I had met a couple of hours previous. We walked the next circa 10 kilometres together. It was great to have good company.

Unfortunately, the weather was now starting to deteroriate with cloud-level dropping below the summit. Alas we would not be getting any views from the summit.

Heading for the summit of Beinn a' Bhuird:

Twenty years after last visiting the summit of Beinn a' Bhuird I had managed to make it back .

Summit of Beinn a' Bhuird:

From the summit, it was a case of heads down and crack on as we had a long way to walk back and visibility was minimal.

Heading alongside the cliffs towards Beinn a' Bhuird South Top:

On approaching the South Top of Beinn a' Bhuird we had a look about for a cairn. We couldn't find one because there isn't one, the summit is featureless. The summit area is wide and flat so the summit could be almost anywhere. We did however visit the 10 figure grid reference currently listed on DoBH.

Beinn a' Bhuird South Top:

From the South Top, we made our way down towards Carn Fiaclach taking a short diversion from the main ridge to avoid much of the boulderfield.

Descent towards Carn Fiaclach:

We then joined the path skirting round Carn Fiaclach which led to the crossing of the Quoich Water. Twenty years previous, I recalled falling in and getting soaked to the skin. At the crossing, we met three other walkers who were undertaking a low-level circuit. We crossed fairly easily. I wouldn't like to try crossing here when the Quoich Water is in spate.

We then met a group of DoE girls and soon thereafter got back onto the Gleann an t-Slugain track. We parted company a short distance beyond the ruin as I continued out on foot. Despite changing back into my trail shoes, the final 8km out to the car were hard-going. I reached the car around 18:00.

One day on, my feet and knees are telling me this was a long walk. It was however REALLY enjoyable. I love the Cairngorms!