Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
16th and 17th February
A long walk around Bynack More and a short around Loch Morlich
A few kilometres south of Aviemore lies Glenmore Forest Park on the Northern edge of the Cairngorm national park. This would be our base for the weekend. On Saturday we arrived at Glenmore lodge around 10.30 after a brief stop in Aviemore to pick up some sandwiches. The sun was shining but the sharp overnight frost was still in evidence on the vegetation at the start of the walk. A few hard frozen ice patches had to be avoided as we made our way along the Ryvoan track. There sun was just starting to cast some light across Lochan Uaine as we passed by.
Lochan Uaine (The green loch)
The path branches right before reaching Ryvoan bothy and took us toward the place were the Bynack stables used to be. A patch of coarse grass marked the spot near a bridge that allows easy crossing of Garbh Alt which flows down Strath Nethy. Following the distinct path we started to climb towards Bynack More but instead of branching off for the summit continued onward along the path which eventually leads to Braemar. The sun warmed us as we dropped into to Coire Odhar before climbing over a ridge to drop down into Glasath. We kept to the path for a short distance as it climbed to the head of the pass before heading on a south easterly tack up to the summit tor of Creag Mhor. The impressive stones of the Barns of Bynack jutted out of the side of Bynack More opposite our ascent route.
Bynack More and The Barns Of Bynack
To the south lay the rounded northern flanks of Ben Avon and Beinn a' Bhuird.
Ben Avon from the summit tor of Creag Mhor
After admiring the views we had some lunch and discussed our possible return routes. There was only really a choice of two, our outward route or a rather longer alternative up via Loch Avon. The longer route would see us arrive back well after dark but with clear skies and the prospect of a three quarter moon we headed off toward Loch Avon. We followed the south westerly ridge down for a kilometre before tending west to pick up our previous path. The path leads to a crossing of paths at the fords of Avon were there is a refuge in this remotest of situations. The refuge is a wooden hut that has been fortified somewhat with many stones. I am sure it has been welcome shelter for hill walkers over the years.
Fords of Avon Refuge
Our path now lay to the west following the banks of the river that would lead up to the outlet of Loch Avon. The way disappeared a few times under snow before we eventually reached the shores of the frozen Loch.
Loch Avon, Frozen in twilight
Branching right we traversed upwards toward the Saddle that bridges A' Choinneach and Cairngorm. We had a brief conversation with some guys who were returning from Ben Macdui. They had to climb over Cairngorm on their return route, myself and Stephan now had at least 12km back to Glenmore lodge, Our current focus however was on the 7km back to Bynack Stables down Strath Nethy. It was now 5 o'clock and probably an hour from dusk and there was a very evident chill to the air. The going was a bit slow in places, patches of ice along the footpath lay in wait to try and cause a slip. The sun eventually bade farwell but as it faded cast a reddish tinge above the high cliffs to our west while the moon illuminated the sky to the east above Bynack More. I was happy enough using the light of the moon although Stephan felt more comfortable with his head torch on. Looking back up the Stath gave slightly surreal views of the hills bathed in the light of the moon, snowy patches highlighting part of the upper slopes. Slight frosting of our rucksacks gave an indication of the dropping temperature. It was 7.40 by the time we gained the main track at Bynack Stables and stopped for an energy boost. A bit after 9.00 and we were back at the car for the short drive down the campsite. After erecting the tents it was time for a nice shower before having our evening meal. A bit of cloud cover meant that the temperature was never going to reach the -5'C of the previous night, in fact we arose to find there had not even been a frost. Another expected sunny day did not materialise and after our long walk on Saturday we decided on a easy day. A pleasant stroll around Loch Morlich was the order of the day before lunch on the Loch shore.
A trip to the small cafe in Glenmore for coffee and cake saw the end of a very pleasant weekend.
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