I set off from home yesterday morning to the Coire Cas car park with a
view to undertaking a circuit including Ben Macdui, Beinn Mheadhoin, Stob
Coire Etchachan and Cairngorm. All going well this would be my seventh
ascent of Ben Macdui, third ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin, eleventh ascent of
Cairngorm and first ascent of Stob Coire Etchachan (one of only two
remaining Munro Tops yet to ascend in the Cairngorms). On arrival at the
Coire Cas car park, I went to get suited and booted and quickly realised I
had forgot to take my boots and gaiters. Feck!!! Three options sprang to
mind i) go home for my boots, ii) go to Aviemore to buy boots or iii)
proceed wearing my trail shoes. I opted for iii).
From the car park I
followed the track leading up towards Lurcher's Crag, a track I have
ascended numerous times previously. Instead of using my usual 65litre
'camping' rucksack, I instead used my 47litre pack which was considerably
lighter due to inability to pack so much. I always tend to overpack for wild
Looking back towards Cairngorm Ski Centre:
weather was better than forecast with 100% cloud-free Munros and superb
visibility. Before long I was passing Coire an Lochain, Lurcher's Crag and
then across the relatively flat ground leading towards Macdui.
En-route to Macdui, I stopped to take a panoramic pic of the Devil's Point,
Cairn Toul, Angel's Peak and Braeriach.
Devil's Point, Cairn Toul,
Angel's Peak and Braeriach:
the final ascent of Ben Macdui I bumped into a friend who had been out
walking the day previous and who had coincidentally camped at Loch
Etchachan, my intended camping spot.
On reaching the summit, I
visited the summit cairn, the compass and then the large shelter where I
stopped for my first drink and bite to eat of the day. While in the shelter,
I was asked several times to take photos of groups on the summit.
View from the summit of Ben Macdui:
at the summit I shared my snack with a couple of Snow Buntings.
the summit I then descended to the remains of Sapper's bothy before
following the track leading down towards Loch Etchachan and Beinn Mheadhoin.
progressed towards Beinn Mheadhoin the views just got better and better.
Descent from Ben Macdui towards Beinn Mheadhoin:
Approaching Loch Etchachan:
the descent towards Loch Etchachan I stopped to chat with a nice lass from
Inverness who was out walking with her dog.
At Loch Etchachan:
reaching Loch Etchachan, I was in two minds whether to pitch my tent first,
thus reducing the weight of my pack, or carry on up Beinn Mheadhoin with
heavy pack. I decided to carry on with my heavy pack to give me the option
to camp near the summit should I wish to do so.
Beinn Mheadhoin, I took the opportunity to refill both water bottles
sterilising the water with my Steripen. While doing so I got chatting with a
lad from Dundee with whom I then ascended to the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin.
Looking back confirmed that Loch Etchachan is stunning.
back to Loch Etchachan during ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin:
across to Cairngorm from Beinn Mheadhoin:
summit tor looks really imposing and difficult. There is however a fairly
easy way up round its other side - an easy scramble. Once up top you
definitely don't want to fall off.
Approaching the summit tor:
from atop the summit tor:
carefully scrambling back down, I said goodbye to the lad from Dundee and
made my way across to my main objective of the day, Stob Coire Etchachan.
Heading for Stob Coire Etchachan:
reaching Stob Coire Etchachan I could see a weather front approaching and
knew the good weather would not last long.
At the summit of Stob
Stob Coire Etchachan I decided to see if I could find a fairly direct way
down towards Loch Etchachan but soon regretted this option as the terrain
was steep with much boulders. I therefore ascended back up to reach the
track used to ascend Beinn Mheadhoin which was considerably easier than any
more direct alternative.
On reaching Loch Etchachan I quickly pitched
my tent and managed to get inside just before the rain started. Good timing.
Tent pitched at Loch Etchachan:
had tea and settled down listening to the rain falling gently on the tent
and also listening to music on my iPhone. I woke around midnight, could no
longer hear the rain and so decided to have a look out. Above the tent there
appeared to be an infinite number of stars. I lay for around an hour with my
head out of the tent just looking up at the stars, the milky way, numerous
passing satellites and also a couple of shooting stars. This was definitely
the highlight of my trip. I had no hope however of photographing the sky
without a tripod.
On waking this morning I could again hear the rain
battering off the tent. I waited for an hour for the rain to stop but it
didn't. I knew the forecast was due to deteroriate as the day progressed so
there was nothing for it but stick on the waterproofs and take down the tent
in the rain. By the time I was all packed-up, my feet and socks were wet
thanks to wearing trail shoes. I then set off towards Loch Avon.
Descent towards Loch Avon:
reaching Loch Avon, I crossed the burn and then followed the diagonal track
leading towards Coire Raibeirt. I was not looking forward to the ascent of
Coire Raibeirt as it is steep and somewhat gruelling especially when
carrying a heavy pack.
Approaching the small beach at Loch Avon:
back at Coire Raibeirt burn crossing:
ascent of Coire Raibeirt was not as bad as anticipated. The view looking
back down was not bad.
Looking down to Loch Avon during ascent of
above Coire Raibeirt I followed the track leading towards the summit of
Cairngorm. On reaching the summit of Cairngorm, I stopped long enough to
take a couple of photos before continuing on and down towards the Ptarmigan.
At the summit of Cairngorm:
really don't like the man-made track leading up/down from the Ptarmigan. It
prevents erosion but it is unpleasant underfoot.
On reaching the Ptarmigan, I hoped to purchase a hot drink but alas it was
not as yet open. I therefore continued down the wide track back to the Coire
Cas car park. It was great to reach the car and take off the heavy pack.
The Cairngorms are GREAT for such circuits. I definitely need to camp
out again in the Cairngorms soon