Thursday 2 October 2014

TGOC 2014 - Day 8: Ruigh Aiteachain to Glen Dee

Friday 16th May 2014

An excellent high level day over four Munros between Glen Feshie and Glen Dee 

Distance: 30km; Ascent: 1470m; Sunny but quite windy on the tops; with Sue O

The hills were under a blanket of low cloud when I met Sue outside the bothy this morning for our day of Munro bagging; we hoped the forecasted lifting of the cloud in the morning would turn out to be correct!  At 8am we set off walking, initially retracing yesterday's steps for the best part of a kilometre, before picking up the vehicle track that climbs up towards the plateau.

Looking across Glen Feshie to Carn Dearg Mor
Coire Garbhlach
The track made for very quick progress and it wasn't long before we we looking into the misty Coire Garbhlach, and around here we passed another challenger heading into the high hills for the day. As we continued to ascend the cloud gradually began to clear, with most of it having cleared by around 9:30am.  We detoured south for around a kilometre to visit our first windy summit of the day: Mullach Clach a'Bhlair (Munro, HuMP).

On the summit of Mullach Clach a'Bhlair
Returning to the LRT we headed northeast across the plateau, before stopping for a break in the slight depression formed by the upper part of the Caochan Dubh burn.  I was keen to include Sgor Gaoith in today's walk, which would result in a detour of around 7km - luckily Sue was quite happy to have a long day in the hills as well!

Continuing onwards, we left the LRT after around a kilometre to head NW to the summit of Carn Ban Mor (Munro Top), before we continued NNE towards Sgor Gaoith in a strengthening westerly wind.  Approaching Sgor Gaoith from this direction, it just looked like a small lump in the moorland but as we got closer it revealed it's true nature and we were rewarded with excellent views of it's craggy eastern side above Loch Einich.

Heading up the southern slopes of Sgor Gaoith
The impressive craggy arete on the east side of Sgor Gaoith
Looking across the head of Loch Einich towards Carn na Criche and Monadh Mor
Shortly before midday, we reached the very windy summit of Sgor Gaoith (Munro, Marilyn), which I didn't dare stand up on as it is perched above the precipice of the east face and there was a pretty strong westerly wind today!  Therefore I briefly sat on the summit instead to avoid being blown over, whilst admiring the truely fantastic views out over the main Cairngorm hills to the east and over the Moine Mhor towards our next hills of the day: Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain.

On the summit of Sgor Gaoith
Carn na Criche and Loch Einich from Sgor Gaoith
Gleann Einich, Braeriach and Loch Einich
Looking NNW from Sgor Gaoith
We retraced our steps southwards towards Carn Ban Mor in strong winds, before heading SE after a kilometre and a half aiming for a faint track we could pick out traversing the northern slopes of Tom Dubh.  We could pick out a handful of people in the distance across the Moine Mhor, who looked to be heading in a variety of directions towards Braeriach, Cairn Toul and Monadh Mor.  In fact seeing these people in the distance helped demonstrate the huge scale of the Moine Mhor, or Great Moss.  It was a fantastic day to out on the hills :-)

Heading back down the south ridge of Sgor Gaoith
At around 13:20, we stopped for lunch in the small amount of shelter afforded by a cairn on the northern slopes of Tom Dubh.  I nipped off to the south to visit a couple of cairns on the summit of Tom Dubh (Munro Top), before returning to our slightly sheltered spot for lunch.  From here we could pick out what looked to be a sensible looking route onwards to our next objective: Monadh Mor.

One of the several cairns on Tom Dubh, with Carn na Criche, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Carn Toul beyond
We descended slightly to reach the partially snow covered Allt Luineag, which looked to be surprisingly full today - I presume due to the ongoing melting of the large number of snow patches still remaining high up in the hills.  To cross this without getting cold, wet feet necessitated a detour of a few hundred metres upstream to where the burn was braided into two separate channels.

The Allt Luineag
Once safely across the Allt Luineag, we picked a route in a more or less south-easterly direction up Monadh Mor, following a burn for some of the first kilometre.  As we ascended the ground became more bouldery, which necessitated a slow down in our pace due to the combination of the rocky ground and today's strong winds.  Nevertheless, we eventually reached the cairn on the summit of Monadh Mor (Munro, HuMP) at around 3pm, where we stopped for a short while to admire the truly fantastic views!

Monadh Mor summit cairn, with Beinn Bhrotain beyond
Carn na Criche, Braeriach, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Carn Toul from Monadh Mor summit
On the summit of Monadh Mor
Not wanting to linger too long on the exposed summit, we soon continued towards our final hill of the day: Beinn Bhrotain.  There were a fair number of snow patches still on the southern ridge of Monadh Mor, but we were able to easily avoid them all as we skirted the southern top to reach the top of the steep descent down to the 975m unnamed bealach.

Traversing the very windy southern slopes of Monadh Mor (hence the tilted camera angle!)
Beinn Bhrotain from the SSE slopes of Monadh Mor
Looking across the 975m bealach to the steep climb ahead up Beinn Bhrotain
Snow on the eastern slopes of Monadh Mor
From the bealach there was a good view across to Beinn Bhrotain, where we could pick out a path up the first half of the ascent before it looked to become bouldery again.  Picking our way carefully down the steep slope we reached the 975m bealach, where we stopped for a quick break in this marginally more sheltered spot!  Continuing on, we ascended up the steep slopes on the eastern side of the bealach to reach the trigpoint on the 
the summit of Beinn Bhrotain (Munro, Marilyn) at 4:15pm.

The summit of Beinn Bhrotain
On the summit of Beinn Bhrotain
Carn na Criche to Ben Macdui from Beinn Bhrotain summit
Again the views were excellent from this vantage point, which was actually my highest point on my route for this year's TGO Challenge.  I'm not sure I've ever had quite such expansive views when out walking in the Cairngorms before!  My original plan had been to follow the SSE shoulder of Beinn Bhrotain down towards the Munro Top of Carn Cloich-mhuilinn.  However as it appeared that the wind had noticeably strengthened throughout the afternoon, Sue and I were both keen to get out off the wind as soon as possible.  Therefore instead we opted to descend eastwards along the pleasant clear waters of the Allt Garbh.

The lovely clear waters of the Allt Garbh
Looking across Glen Dee to Sgor Mor
After much walking down through pathless heather we finally reached the floor of Glen Dee, and as it was now almost 6pm we started to look for somewhere to camp.  We didn't have to look far as we found a pleasant spot to camp in Glen Dee a short distance to the south of the Allt Garbh.  It had been a long day in the hills, but easily one of the best hill-walking days I've had this year :-).

During the early evening, the sky clouded over and there was light rain whilst I was cooked my dinner in the porch.  I must have been tired that evening, as after eating dinner I managed to fall asleep without zipping up the inner tent!  Not to worry, there'd be plenty of time for rest over the next couple of days as I only had half-day walks planned in and out of Braemar.

Our pitch for the evening in Glen Dee


  1. Cracking, Sir.
    Cracking day out.

    1. Thanks Alan :-). It was definitely a cracking day out! :-)