Cairn Gorm to Linn O’Dee

Today’s trip is the Cairngorm Club’s annual traverse of the Cairngorms. They choose a different route each year but it’s always a through route crossing a chunk of the Cairngorms. Conditions are looking good though as the bus climbs up to the Cairn Gorm ski centre car park, the driver reports the wind is buffeting the bus.

I get a good view down to the recently visited Loch Morlich

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No kidding driver, on disembarking I’m almost swept off my feet.. it’s going to be  a tough traverse battling this gale..

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Sensible folks are taking the funicular railway to the top

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The corrie below Stob Coire an t-Sneachda comes into view

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A quick breather as we make our way up Fiacaill a Choire Chas. Quite a few of us today though some are splitting off further on to other routes

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We stop for a quick snack in the lee of the cairn at 1141

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The full force of the wind is whistling through my wooly hat and chilling my ears. I should have took something more windproof, I can put up my hood on my goretex (which although dry I’ve put on for windproofing as the fairly porous  rab vapour rise soft shell was a bad choice today) but the crinkly rustling is annoying

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A small path weaves through the boulders to the high point of the day at 1176m

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Looking North back over the crag to Loch Morlich

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Now up on the ridge looking South to the Ben Avon ridge, with Loch Etchachan to the right

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Looking across to Fiacaill butress

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We turn South instead of heading up Cairn Lochan. There’s some marshy bits but mostly easy going

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The path follows the Allt Coire Domhain burn down to the SE

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The wind is whipping past and even blowing the crests of small waterfalls back upstream

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Once we’ve headed down into the loch valley hopefully it’ll be more sheltered

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The panorama opening up as we descend over the edge is impressive, the blue Loch Avon being revealed to the left and epic rock face of Hell’s Lum Crag towering to the right

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I can see a couple specks of colour; zoomed in.. a fine place to pitch camp

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Water tumbling down the side of Hell’s Lum Crag

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Our procession almost down the steep rocky stairs

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Looking up at Shelter Stone Crag

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We’re heading for lunch at the shelter stone; I notice to the North on the side of the valley there’s another smaller shelter of sorts

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Looking up  at Stag Rocks

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Clambering up over boulders towards the shelter stone

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The shelter stone is a massive rock that has come to rest from the crags above balancing above other rocks, leaving a space underneath. It is reckoned to weigh over 1300 tons according to the book The Cairngorms- A Secret History. Over the years folk have plugged some of the gaps around the edges, nonetheless it’s still quite breezy. It is around here that the Cairngorm Club was formed, back in 1887

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There’s room for 10 folk to have a seat or maybe half a dozen to kip. There’s a few mats lying around

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On the floor, there’s a booklet in a plastic sleeve. It’s an art project with dozens of contributors – inside there are images and poetry. Some googling shows the project was completed in June, so this is fairly new, but already the pages are damp and growing mould which is a shame. I’d love to leaf through a pristine copy of this at home rather than trying to squint through the dark under the stone

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Pools in a row looking down Loch Avon. I spy another tent on the shore

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Offset pools

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Climbing up the winding path

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A look back at a fine natural ampitheatre

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Panorama

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Over the top a scattered ruin overlooks the path

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Crossing Little Loch Etchachan some of the older members decide to take the easier option down the .. Fair doos, it’s a long day out, and clambering the boulder field across Derry Cairngorm is always a struggle unless you’re feeling nimble

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I can hear them, then I see one padding along quite close, but keeping a safe distance from us

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On closer inspection there’s more than one, well camouflaged amongst the rocks, I wouldn’t have noticed them but for their movement

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As we climb further above Loch Etchachan, two chaps on mountain bikes approach, and we stop for a quick chat. They’re having a fairly epic day out – up the Luibeg and Sron Riach , across from Ben MacDui then away to head down  Glen Derry (apparently the longest mtb descent in the uk around 17km)  I snap a few pics of them heading off, and thanks to Strava fly-by manage to track one of them down to send him copies

 

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Onward, to the right the crags above Coire Sputan Dearg

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Lochan Uaine below Sron Riach

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Making our way up Derry Cairngorm. Last time I was here earlier in the year it was up to 60mph winds, snow and ice, visibility 50m, with a 20kg rucksack. Today the boulder field thankfully lies bare, and surprisingly today’s earlier wind has dropped quite a bit. The blue skies have disappeared though.

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Nice views West

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Stopping at the Derry Cairngrom cairn briefly

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Looking down on to the meandering Luibeg burn

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Mountains disappear into the haze to the SW

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We head East across the ridge to overlook Glen Derry

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Looking down to the Derry burn. Above Coire na Saobhaidh, the lower path (marked on open street maps e.g. viewranger, but not OS) has a rocky ladder and a sheer drop at one point; glad the wind isn’t blasting now, the last time we stayed on the higher up option for longer which foregoes these hazards, a sensible move in winter.

 

 

 

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Glen Lui almost in sight

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Looking West towards Beinn Bhrotain

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After heading down through the woods to Derry Lodge, we pass a troup of teenagers camping; thankfully fully midge-netted as they’re swarming en masse. I stop for second and am engulfed instantly, got to keep moving, forgot repellant today!

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We make good pace tramping along the along the final stretch back to Linn O’Dee. Looking back to the hills

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Across the Lui

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Everybody present and correct we proceed for a quick pub stop in Braemar. The Invercauld arms being very busy, I join a splinter group heading to another pub and finding one even worse where a chap starts banging out covers as soon as the pints are in; ..ach well

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