A Biggish Wander in the Cairngorms

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This was my first big walk in the Cairngorms for a number of years and covered new territory for the entire route.  Plans evolved along the way to suit the weather, starting with our initial intent to walk in the 10km or so to Loch Einich on the Friday evening and camp, being ditched due to heavy drizzle. Instead the local YH and the Bridge Inn’s bar were fallen back on for a more comfortable night.

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Next day was bright with plenty of blue in the sky and soon we were marching in along Gleann Einich with views improving along the way as pretty woodland was savoured before thinning out to give a wide panorama ahead of the Cairngorms and after an hour or so the views narrowed to be dominated first by the bulk of Sgor Gaoith and finally Loch Einich and its craggy surrounds.

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A brief and chilly rest was taken before our first ascent took us on to the plateau above revealing to us views of the walk ahead. The summit of Sgor Gaoith had shown changing levels of clag along its tops on our way in and sure enough to the south our destination, Monadh Mor, was slightly covered in cloud. Not too disappointing though, the plateau itself was a lovely carpet of oranges, yellows and greens and there were views far to the south west across lower ground cut across by a very silvery River Eidart.

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As we walked up and over Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain, we enjoyed more views down in to Glen Geusachan (and on occasion at the tops above it) where we would ultimately end up for the night. We had packed light with one one-man tent between us and had left the inner behind to allow us both to squeeze in. This actually proved a more than ample shelter in terms of space and thankfully the walls hugged the ground at the edges which kept out the strong gusts and occasional heavy showers through the night.

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With a big day ahead we rose early, but to less pleasant weather than had been forecast for the Sunday, it was grey, but dry at least, and still quite windy. Our first target after a traverse round the base of The Devil’s Peak, was Corrour Bothy where we had a nosey and some chat with folks just departing. Then it was the hard but seemingly short looking ascent up on to The Devil’s Peak. A relative minnow among giants, this was one of the best viewpoints I can remember in the hills; views up the Lairig Ghru, across to Ben Macdui, Carn a Mhain and Derry Cairngorm (just), east to Lochnagar and south along the River Dee’s first few kilometres, all enhanced by the shifting light, different colours and the numerous large, wet slabs on the hills reflecting the sunlight back at us.

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Conscious of time, we had to move on despite enjoying our pleasant, sheltered vantage point, and soon we were heading up, up and up to the larger neighbours of Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine. These had till now resolutely stayed clagged up and though we had discussed by-passing them with a lower, contouring traverse back to the top of Gleann Einich, thankfully we persevered as we timed reaching Cairn Toul’s summit with a gradual clearing and yet more impressive views. This clearing continued on for the rest of our route back to Gleann Einich granting us views north to Braeriach (almost tempting us) and Cairngorm. Some unfortunate walker, who sped past us on the way up and on his way down, commented on the conditions despite the better forecast, and missed out on the views by a few minutes.

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Our walk out seemed to take a long time and aches and pains were taking their toll on our pace, but it was well worth the effort on what had proved to be a great, hard earned walk. Anyway, what else could we do but just keep plodding on? There was a definite autumnal feel in the air, but we never heard or saw any deer, however, the colours on the ground were very autumnal and the numerous ptarmigan we saw were starting to show their winter colours developing ahead of its arrival.

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