Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
22nd & 23rd May 2010
Two days on the outskirts of Aviemore with trips up Ben Macdui and Geal-charn Mor.
We arrived at the campsite near Loch Morlich to find that the gate had already been closed for the night.
After considering parking opposite and carrying the camp gear across we decided to try and find another venue.
A second site was full and also had a closed barrier.
We headed west out of Aviemore and fortunately found a place just after passing Loch Alvie.
We awoke to a warm if cloudy morning but there were promising signs of some hazy sunshine. A short drive back up past Loch Morlich to the Coire Cas car park at the ski centre and we were ready for the off. Turning south after skirting the base of Fiacaill a' Choir Chais we made our way into the rocky confines of Coire an t-Sneachda. It was a nice steady climb into the corrie, sheer walls of granite at the head drawing us in.
Coire an t-Sneachda
As we made our way into a boulder field a little short of two lochans it soon became apparent that our intended route may prove too difficult. The Goat track, as it is known, runs below the cliffs before twisting steeply up onto the summit plateau. The path was almost completely covered lower down and the steeper section at the head of the corrie looked a serious proposition without the right gear. A fellow walker who was also with his dog had come to the same conclusion that is was too risky. The slopes up onto Fiacaill a' Choir Chais looked a better proposition so we headed over. It was steeper than it looked but the snow was firm for the best part and we managed the ascent without too much difficulty; although Nathalie had to drop back down at one point as Enzo got a bit stuck while working through some large boulders. However back on the snow he engaged four leg drive and continued without further problems.
Enzo taking a rest while climbing out of Coire an t-Sneachda
After following the ridge around we dropped a little to the point were the goat track emerges onto the Plateau. Fine views down into Coire an t-Sneachda were illuminated as the day continued to brighten. Laying in the distance across the expansive snow fields lay the domed outline of Ben Macdui.
After gaining some height we traversed the slopes of Cairn Lochan before passing numerous marker cairns en route to the summit. The snows had retreated just a little off the summit and there were plenty of granite seats on which to enjoy lunch. The dark snow capped ridgeline between Cairn Toul and Brariach dominated the skyline out west across the Larig Ghru.
Cairn Toul & Braeriach from Ben Macdui
After lunch we headed over onto the north top with its views down to Loch Etchachan.
Loch Etchachan from Ben Macdui's north top
Leaving the boulders behind more firm but slightly slushy snow made for pleasant walking.
Heading toward Cairngorm
Nathalie donned waterproof trousers to engage in a bit of glissading but was disappointed when not able to travel very far. Enzo however was still enjoying himself crawling commando style through the white stuff. Cutting across the hillside we headed for the top of the shelter stone crags to gain views over Loch Avon. Collapsed snow revealed the fast flowing waters of a burn and had us gingerly testing our way across the snows a little higher up. A number of the burns were in full flow bursting out of the snow cover before crashing down across rocky slabs into the depths below. We had noticed a couple of Ptarmigan earlier in the day and another was spotted as we made our way over to Garbh Uisage Beag. The burn we had crossed earlier was much more evident here gushing fiercely along snow lined channels. After climbing a little way back uphill to where the snow lay intact we managed another crossing. Working our way around the cliffs tops we had one last burn to ford.
Loch Avon & Beinn Mheadhoin
Feith Buidh had provided the most impressive of the waters falling into the Loch Avon basin and
the sides of the burn were cracked with the inevitable subsidence.
However a crossing was made a little way up stream and we trekked over the hillside toward Coire Domhain.
Following a line on the western side of the corrie we headed back onto the path above Coire an t-Sneachda.
After passing three guys erecting their tents for a high level camp we soon found ourselves on top of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda.
After working our way along the cliff tops we followed the path down Fiacaill a' Choir Chais before dropping off the ridge toward the ski centre.
A few drops of rain greeted our arrival at the car park but the dark clouds above seemed confined to the mountains,
Aviemore just a few miles north seemed to be sat in sunshine.
The campsite also appeared to have escaped the rain and so after getting cleaned up we could enjoy our meal Al fresco with Stephan head chef in the galley.
The early sunshine soon disappeared and Sunday's breakfast was eaten under grey skies. A short walk was the order of the day and Geal-charn Mor seemed to fit the bill. After a short drive we parked on the bridge over Alt na Criche at Lynwilg before heading up the track that runs into An Gleannan. The lower slopes of these rounded hill are nicely wooded and provided a pleasant start. Deciding to keep to the track instead of going "off piste" it was a straight forward walk up though the heathery hillside. After leaving the track at a memorial cairn the north east ridge provided a nice stroll over to the top. A windbreak cairn around the trig' point provided shelter but the steady breeze was not particularly cold. After returning onto the outward track Nathalie headed off for the start of her course in Elgin while me and Stephan took an alternative way down. We followed a path that started south before passing around the back of Creag Ghleannian and down toward Ballinluig farm.
Cairngorms from slopes of Geal-charn Mor
Farm tracks then took us back to our staring point at Lynwilg. After getting cleaned up and enjoying a brew it was now time for the journey home which included a stop in Dufftown for a fish supper.
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