Thursday 29 June 2017

Into The Storm: A Wet Cairngorms Trip

Above Loch Avon

The forecast wasn't good but it wasn't bad either. Strong winds looked to be the worst aspect. With a friend visiting an overnight camp beckoned. High up seemed inadvisable but we did want somewhere with a feel of wildness and mountain grandeur. The basin at the head of Loch Avon below the great cliffs of Carn Etchachan, Shelter Stone Crag, Hell's Lum and Stag Rocks with the waterfalls of the Feith Buidhe and the Garbh Uisge Mor crashing down between them seemed suitable so we clinbed to the Cairngorm Plateau and then dropped down Coire Raibert to Loch Avon. There was a cold wind but it wasn't that strong and a cloudy sky but without rain.

First view of Loch Avon

Once past the head of the loch we found a dry pitch in the partial shelter of some boulders. The Shelter Stone lay not far above. In a big storm this is a welcome refuge but it is dark and damp inside and generally I prefer to camp. The evening was cold and breezy with occasional glimpses of blue sky and brief shafts of late sunshine. I wandered up to the Shelter Stone and gazed down at our little camp.

Camp below the Shelter Stone Crag

Looking down on our camp

The wind was chilly however and we were soon making hot food and drinks in our tents. The temperature was 10C, rather cool for late June.

The rain began at 4.30 a.m.. Or so Graham told me. I was fast asleep, waking two hours later to look out at grey wet air, falling rain and Graham's wet tent. We were camped in the cloud. The temperature was 6C.

Rain and mist the only view

The rain was to keep up all day and into the evening, one of the wettest days in a wet month. Coming from the north-east the rain was cold too, driven by a strengthening wind. Clad in waterproofs, fleece jackets, hats and gloves we climbed the stony path up into Coire Domhain, admiring the waterfalls and the rushing stream. All else was lost in the mist.

Blasted by the wind we traversed Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, the only peak of the trip, and then went north to the Fiacaill a'Choire Chais. The air was bitter now and the icy rain stung our faces. The cold wet weather continued throughout our descent. As did the mist, all the way to the Coire Cas car park. We saw no-one on the hills all day, which is really unusual for this accessible area even in stormy weather.  Damp and chilled we drove down out of the mist, the car heater on full, and were soon esconsed in a cafe with hot food and coffee, steaming gently and staring out at the rain bouncing off the pavement and people struggling with umbrellas in the wind. It had been a short trip but the weather had made it an intense one.


  1. At least you weren't plagued by midgies Chris 😊

    1. An important factor! I wouldn't camp there at this time of year unless it was forecast to be windy.

  2. Looks beautiful there even in the rain