Thursday 16 May 2013

Bynack More and Creag Mhor

Thursday 16th May 2013

A fantastic day's hill walking up a Munro and a Corbett in the Cairngorms

Distance: 25.5km; Ascent: 1260m; Mainly dry but showery at times; Solo

There were many TGO Challengers staying in Aviemore last night, of which a fair few of them seemed to be at the bunkhouse so I had quite a sociable breakfast this morning :-)  I had decided to delay my return to the northern highlands until this evening as I didn't fancy getting stuck in the roadworks over the Kessock Bridge during the morning rush hour!  Therefore instead I decided to head for Bynack More in the Cairngorms.

Trees in the Pass of Ryvoan
At around 10am I set off walking from the end of the road by Glenmore Lodge along a broad forest track.  It was warm and sunny as I walked through the pleasant woodland to reach An Lochan Uaine and the Pass of Ryvoan.

An Lochan Uaine
Heading east away from the Pass of Ryvoan
The good track continued through the Pass of Ryvoan, past the turning for the bothy to reach Strath Nethy, where I stopped for a quick break next to the river.  There were good views from here up the valley towards The Saddle.

Bridge over the River Nethy
Now the ascent began in earnest, although it was made easier by the well maintained footpath that ascends up onto the northern slopes of Bynack More.  There were good views back down to the NW towards the Corbett of Meall a'Bhuachaille.

Looking NW towards Meall a'Bhuachaille
At around the 750m contour the slope angle eased and soon afterwards I reached a fork in the track.  I headed south towards Bynack More, whilst the left-hand fork was the route onwards into the Lairig an Laoigh.

Looking S towards the upper slopes of Bynack More
The Bynack More path was badly eroded in places, although some sections of it had clearly had work done to them recently.  There was a large patch of soft-ish snow to cross at the point the northern slopes steepened into a more well-defined ridge, before I continued on upwards over the rocks to reach the summit area where there were excellent views.

Summit area of Bynack More
Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui & Cairn Gorm from Bynack More
Despite the bitterly cold wind, there were a least ten other walkers on the summit slopes - in fact it was the first time I had seen anyone else whilst out walking on the hills since Saturday!  I found a spot to shelter from the bitter wind for a quick lunch break before visiting the summit cairn of Bynack More (Munro, Marilyn) together with the nearby rocks which looked to be just as high!

Summit cairn on Bynack More
On the summit of Bynack More
Despite the mainly overcast skies there were excellent views from the summit, especially south-west towards the horseshoe of peaks around the Loch Avon basin, i.e. Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm.  There was also a good view of the Lairig an Laoigh, guarded either either side by the steep slopes of Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Mheadhoin.

Looking SSW from Bynack More towards Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Mheadhoin
I had originally planned to descend by my route of ascent but as it wasn't yet 2pm, and I wasn't in a particular hurry to get back to the car, I decided to tag on the ascent of the nearby Corbett of Creag Mhor onto my walk.  Therefore I headed down the south ridge of Bynack More to reach the impressive Barns of Bynack.

Some of the Barns of Bynack
A Barn of Bynack
I then picked my way down the steep ground, roughly in a SSE direction to reach the small lochan in the Lairig an Laoigh.

Looking down to Lochan a'Bhainne in the Lairig an Laoigh
From here it was only a relatively short ascent of around 170m to reach the top of the hill, and the slopes were mostly significantly less steep than what I had just descended!  There were good views back to Bynack More as I ascended, and I soon reached the summit rocks of Creag Mhor (Corbett, Marilyn) just before 3pm.

Bynack More from Creag Mhor
Summit rocks of Creag Mhor
There were good views from the summit, but again I didn't linger long due to the cold wind blowing!  I descended roughly to the NW to reach the Lairig an Laoigh path just before it started to ascend.  The path here was significantly more eroded than the section I had walked this morning ascending out of Strath Nethy.

As I ascended up the path a large group of teenagers with large backpacking sacks came the other way - I assumed that they were heading for an overnight camp somewhere further along the Lairig an Laoigh.  Eventually I reached the large plateau on the north ridge of Bynack More, where I rejoined my outward route.

Looking SW through the Pass of Ryvoan
The descent down into Strath Nethy was relatively quick and I was soon walking back through the Pass of Ryvoan into the woods.  Around a kilometre away from Glenmore Lodge I met a TGO Challenger heading for Ryvoan bothy so we stopped to chat for a while.  I reached the car at around half-past six after an excellent day's walking in the hills.  I then headed back north to the Aultguish Inn's bunkhouse for the next couple of nights.

See here for my Social Hiking map from the day's walk.

N.B. 28/06/13 - Post date updated to actual date of walk, i.e. 16/05/13 (from 24/05/13).  Links to social hiking and hill-bagging also added.

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