Cairn Bannoch Broad Cairnhike

Having done a similar trip back in April as a combined bike/hike, the end of May saw me back with the Cairngorm Club on a bus trip, but it was nice to do a sociable amble to the crags of Dubh Loch again.

Off the bus and this cheeky chaffinch is looking for crumbs .. one quick pocket search later it has some
New car park and booth being constructed
Tops under clag as we reach the loch

The wind was fairly whipping down Loch Muick, it was going to be in our faces all the way along the loch but hopefully the rain would stay off.

Choppy on Loch Muick

The loch-side trudge was over soon enough, quickened perceptually by chatting with the various members of the group. A brief coffee stop in the bothy then onwards up the path to Dubh Loch

I always take this shot
New deer fenced enclosure, The Stulan waterfall has a bit of water today

Showers swept through as we made our way upwards, and the waterproofs went on as they got heavier

Soggy passage

Various flowers were out alongside the path and I poked here n there for a closer look

Milkwort i think
Dubh Loch very dubh today
Crags in clag
Tiny bit of snow and a cornice still left in central gully
Following the slabs upstream
Obligatory Dub loch crags n slabs shot

The forecast had been for much better weather, and with that in mind and the long haul back along landy tracks I’d opted for lighter footwear than normal, and with the ground soggy was beginning to regret the choice coming up to the section of maximum bogginess soon, but already damp feet.

Following the slab-side path, one of the members crossed the stream to investigate the waterfall more closely, and then we decided to stay this side and clamber more directly towards the bottom of Coire Uilleam Mor. Perhaps the bogs of doom further up could be avoided.

A patch of grass amongst the slabs and rivulets, could make a cracking camp spot
Swathes of damp slabs

Last time out the side of Cairn Bannoch had been covered in snow and ice, and we hadn’t fancied a steep, slippery, and potentially avalanchey ascent and had countoured round. This time as we pondered this option to the right, or the gentle slopes of Coire Uilleim Mhoire to the left, a member of the group started hacking up the side in a shallow gully, and this cut short the dithering and we headed up after him.

Slabby nooks, grassy and boggy on the side of Cairn Bannoch
Following a shallow gully
A patch of snow near the top
A little snow buddy made while waiting for others to catch up

It soon levelled off to bouldery terrain, and in hindsight a good way up: Coire Uilleim Mhoire looked a bog-fest now clear of the clutches of winter and free of snow.

Bouldery near the top
Cairn Bannoch top with clouds swirling past

A brief break in the lee side then onwards: pretty chilly and dreich

Looking towards Fafernie burn, the west side builds up large cornices over winter and chunks were still there
Following the track to Broad Cairn
Loch Esk to the south
Looking back past some crags above the loch
Final hill of the day Broad Cairn
Loch Esk again with tumbling outflow

We stopped briefly again, but thought it wiser to head down to Allan’s hut to get out of the wind before eating more. A few cracks in the clouds began to appear and it looked like we might get a view yet: Loch Muick bursting clear momentarily

Loch Muick below
Wider view including Loch Buidhe and Little Pap

Once across the boulder field below Broad Cairn it was easy going on the refurbished path

Down the path, steps n sandy

Glad to see Allan’s hut had survived the storms earlier in the year: it looks like a ramshackle construction but I guess there must be some good planks involved inside

Allan’s Hut incorporating Sandy’s Seat
Sun burst sweeping across towards Cuidhe Crom
Bogs near Sandy Hillock
Glas Allt Shiel and Loch Muick
Looking back up the Dub Loch glen. Top right can just see a speck of snow in Coire an Loch Bhuidhe where I snowholed in 2020
Broad Cairn and Dubh Loch glen
Falls of the GlasAllt in front of Cuidhe Crom and Little Pap

There was nice light sweeping now over the land and I stopped to glance back as the cracking view developed on the high track above the loch

Broad Cairn and Loch Muick

As we were further along I zoomed in back to Coire an Loch Bhuidhe, interested to see how it was retaining snow, as a location which generally collects a deep windward wall on it’s west side

Chunks of snow still in Coire an Loch Bhuidhe

The zig zag down to the Black burn waterfall tested the knees as always, glad of the poles.

Cloud break over Loch Muick
Some late tadpoles in a puddle on the track, no doubt glad of a bit of rain today, but in peril as no legs yet

Earlier I’d discussed the zig zag track on the map above the north side of Loch Muick, nobody had ever used it, and strava heatmap shows no real use. From the north side it was clear to see. The gully to the right might be a more exciting adventure up though.

Zig zag path up from Loch Muick beside the Allt an Dearg
Snow on the side of Cuidhe Crom and in Black spout

26km completed. All that remained was a well earned pint and some grub in the pub at Ballater, lovely.

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