Hills: Ben Macdui, Beinn Mheadhoin, Stob Coire Etchachan and Cairngorm
Date: Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September 2018
Company: Just Myself
Distance: 25.3km, Ascent: 1740m
Time: 10Hrs 40Mins

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

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 camps!

Looking back towards Cairngorm Ski Centre:

The 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.

Coire an Lochain:

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:

During 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:

Summit selfie:

While at the summit I shared my snack with a couple of Snow Buntings.

Snow Bunting:

Snow Bunting:

From the summit I then descended to the remains of Sapper's bothy before following the track leading down towards Loch Etchachan and Beinn Mheadhoin.

Sapper's Bothy:

As I progressed towards Beinn Mheadhoin the views just got better and better.

Descent from Ben Macdui towards Beinn Mheadhoin:

Approaching Loch Etchachan:

During 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:

At Loch Etchachan:

On 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.

Before ascending 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.

Looking back to Loch Etchachan during ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin:

Looking across to Cairngorm from Beinn Mheadhoin:

Beinn Mheadhoin's tors:

The 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:

Summit tor:

Summit tor:

View from atop the summit tor:

After 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:

On 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 Coire Etchachan:

From 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:

I then 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:

On 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.

Loch Avon:

Feith Bhuidhe:

Approaching the small beach at Loch Avon:

Looking back at Coire Raibeirt burn crossing:

The 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 Coire Raibeirt:

Once 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:

I really don't like the man-made track leading up/down from the Ptarmigan. It prevents erosion but it is unpleasant underfoot.

Descent towards Ptarmigan:

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 .