Friday 29 July 2022

A Walk Round The Back Of Cairn Gorm On A Quiet July Day

Derry Cairngorm, Loch Etchachan, & Ben Macdui

From 45 years ago (see last two posts) to my most recent walk in the Cairngorms late this July.

Summer is well-established now and the weather has recovered from the heatwave and heavy rain of a few weeks ago and settled into more typical July and August conditions. Warm but not hot, cloudy, occasional sunshine, occasional showers, occasional breezes. Unexciting. Some might say uninspiring, but nature is never that. The slopes have a dark green wash. There is little snow left. The air is soft, the colours subtle, the feeling peaceful.

Cairn Lochan

The day was calm, the clouds thick but high above the summits. Rain seemed likely but none fell. The air was dry.

I wandered over to the back of Cairn Gorm, the unspoilt side, the dramatic side, the side that ends with crags and steep slopes rushing down to the dark waters of Loch Avon. This is quiet country, a world away from the tourist resort on the other side of the hill with its fairground attractions and, at present, the building site that is the reconstruction of the funicular railway. But here there is no sight or sound of this desolation.

Ciste Mhearad

In Ciste Mhearad the last snow hangs on. Streams gush out of dark channels in the now dirty scalloped whiteness. The snow patch is almost visibly shrinking. I doubt it will last long unless the weather turns much colder. Across the hidden deep gash of Strath Nethy I had a glimpse of the twisting River Avon with the long line of Ben Avon and Beinn a’ Bhuird on the skyline, the distant cone of Mount Keen on their edge.

View across the River Avon to Ben Avon & Beinn a' Bhuird

From Ciste Mhearad I contoured round the slopes of Cairn Gorm, crossing a shallow corrie where a stream runs across soft meadows before crashing down steep slopes to Loch Avon. This is the Feith Buidhe (yellow bog-stream) and hardly known, unlike its namesake on the Cairngorm Plateau not far away. 

Across the deep rift filled with Loch Avon Derry Cairngorm and Ben Macdui looked sombre and subdued, little snow remaining. Summer hills. Carn Etchachan and the Shelter Stone Crag dark and forbidding. I wondered if there were any climbers on those towering rock walls.

Carn Etchachan, Shelter Stone Crag, & Ben Macdui

Coire Raibert was a mass of water, streams and springs lacing the slopes. From the Fiacaill a’ Choire Chais mountains ran away to the west, the Highlands stretching across the land. 

View west from the Fiacaill a' Choire Chais

The day was uneventful, gentle, placid. I relished it. The Cairngorms are beautiful and rewarding in so many ways. After all these years they still lift me up.

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