Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
13th July 2008
A trip to visit the remote peak of Beinn Mheadhoin in the heart of the Cairngorms.
Leaving the Linn of Dee car park at around 8 o'clock under grey skies I cycled the 8km up Glen Lui to Derry Lodge. Leaving the bike here I made my way up Glen Derry through the ancient pines, always a pleasant start to walks heading north from Derry Lodge.
Beinn Mheadhoin through the pines
The pines thinned out all to soon as I gained the open grassy moor that lies sandwiched between the ridges of Derry Cairngorm to the west and Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a' Chaorainn to the east.
Stob Coire Etchachan
Towards the top of Glen Derry a path branches off left towards the Hutchison memorial hut which sits splendidly below the cliffs of Creagan a' Choire Etchachan. The path provides one of the more popular routes up to Loch Etchachan and onto Ben Macdui.
Creagan a' Choire Etchachan
I continued on the main path that starts rising to the bealach at the head of Lairig an Laoigh which passes down between Beinn Mheadhoin and Beinn a' Chaorainn to the stepping stones and refuge at the fords of Avon. The Lairig an Laoigh provides an alternative route to the Lairig Ghru for those heading to Speyside.
Lairig an Laoigh leading to Bynack More
From the head of the pass I climbed up damp grassy ground alongside a waterfall, steeply at first before leveling off to gentler ground. A small grassy plain was reached before I detoured south slightly to take in the top of Stob Coire Etchachan. On reaching the cairn views of my approach up Glen Derry opened up.
Glen Derry from Stob Coire Etchachan
It was also a good vantage point to take a look down on the Hutchison memorial hut.
Looking down on the Hutchison memorial hut
The huge bulk of Ben Macdui, still retaining patches of snow, could be seen to spread its shoulders around Loch Etchachan. The Loch nestles in Coire Etchachan and at a height of 930 metres is the highest notable expanse of water in Great Britain.
Ben Macdui beyond Loch Etchachan
After retracing my steps down to the grassy plain and source of the burn that feeds the waterfall, it was then just a short rise to the summit Torr's of Beinn Mheadhoin.
Beinn Mheadhoin in the distance
I was just beaten to the top by a guy up from Barrow in furnace, he had come up like most people that day from Loch Etchachan. We enjoyed lunch and the views as a few more walkers appeared in one and two's making their way towards us.
Summit Torr Beinn Mheadhoin
Leaving the top I wandered north west to have a look down at loch Avon.
Cairn Gorm and Loch Avon
A short re-ascent and I was back up near the summit Torrs before heading over Beinn Mheadhoin's south west top.
Summit Torr's on Beinn Mheadhoin
From here the way led down to the shores of Loch Etchachan past a few more walkers, the number I had seen was now approaching double figures, a busy day for this part of the Cairngorms!
The loch itself is quite impressive with its backdrop of Ben Macdui and steep cliffs of Carn Etchachan.
Beinn Macdui and Loch Etchachan
It was very pleasant ambling along the shore line enjoying the sun and gentle breeze.
Carn Etchachan above Loch Etchachan
This would be a very different proposition in winter when the loch is usually frozen over. From the south end of the Loch I made a bee line for the bealach between Creagan a' Choire Etchachan and Coire Sputan Dearg.
Cairn Gorm from Loch Etchachan
As I gained height I took in the views across the loch to Cairngorm and back over to Beinn Mheadhoin.
From the bealach a broad ridge showed the way towards to Derry Cairngorm. After leaving the relative shelter of the Loch in the coire I had to push against the now stiff breeze before clambering across the many boulders that ring the upper reaches of Derry Cairngorm.
Ben Macdui from Derry Cairngorm
After taking my time having a brew and finishing my sandwiches it was time to make the journey back to Derry Lodge to pick up my bike for the cycle out to Linn of Dee.
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