Tuesday 22 October 2019

Return to the Cairngorms

Morning at the camp below the Shelter Stone Crag

For the first few weeks after my return from my long walk in the Colorado Rockies I was content to wander round the fields and woods around my home. I also had much to do catching up with work stuff. Soon though I started to think about a camping trip to wilder places. The itch to do so soon returns.

Mark on the descent to Loch Avon

When Mark, a friend from down south, came to visit I suggested a day or two in the Cairngorms. I'd been missing them. On discovering that despite many visits over many years he'd never camped in the Loch Avon basin that was the obvious place to go. A late start start saw us descending Coire Raibert at dusk. The steep path down to Loch Avon was slippery and wet, with much fresh erosion. It felt harder and more precarious than when I'd descended it in snow and ice in March and we were glad to reach the lochside before it was totally dark.

Morning view
By the time we'd made our way along Loch Avon, forded several streams, and evaded flooded ground it was dark and starting to rain. I can't remember ever seeing it this wet here. We found a less saturated piece of ground and were soon making hot drinks in our tents. There was no wind and the rain fell steadily for hours. It was the night of the full moon but it was invisible through the dense low clouds. By dawn my tent was soaked inside and out, with condensation dripping from the flysheet. But the rain had stopped and the clouds were clearing from the summits.

Loch Avon

Packing our wet tents we set off up to Loch Etchachan and the path to Ben Macdui. More blue sky appeared and the rain was soon forgotten. Soon we were looking across Loch Etchachan to Cairn Gorm, the always splendid view enhanced by the delicate patterns of thinning clouds.

Loch Etchachan & Cairn Gorm

The clouds rose as we climbed and soon the summit of Macdui appeared. Distant views were still cloudy but the top was clear. Much of the cloud was below us, drifting round lower summits and along the glens.

Mark on the summit of Ben Macdui

The walk back across the Cairngorm Plateau was a delight. Only a slight chill in the still air and the red and brown colouring of the grasses showed it was no longer summer. We passed shining Lochan Buidhe, crossed the slopes of Cairn Lochan and Stob Coire an-t Sneachda then descended back to Coire Cas. Rain and sunshine. A not untypical twenty-four hours in the Cairngorms. It was good to be back.

Lochan Buidhe

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