Cairngorm and Feshie

Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and the Feshie Munros, 1-2 February 2020

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. Two days of guided hiking in winter conditions over the Munros of Cairngorm, Ben Macdui, Sgorr Gaoith and Mullach Clach a'Bhlair. Steven Fallon and Richard Kermode were leading, here's Steven's tale of the days.

Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and the Feshie Munros

A wee bit of snow makes for grand days hiking, but a bit of prep is needed beforehand !

Richard and myself were guiding up Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and the Feshie Munros this weekend. We were chumming a group of 8 up on Saturday and 12 on the Sunday, which is why two guides were on hand instead of just one. Some snow and winds were forecast, but nothing to trouble hardy Munro-baggers.

Saturday - Cairngorm and Ben Macdui

On the Saturday, our original plan was to hike in an anti-clockwise direction, heading up Ben Mcdui first and returning over Cairngorm and down Windy Ridge. However, south-westerly winds were forecast, turning more to the west in the afternoon - nope, better not to be facing into the wind on the Cairngorm plateau. So our plan changed to a clockwise route, starting up Windy Ridge. Sometime the intial steepness of this route can catch people out, but the group put in a good pace and we were soon up on Cairngorm's summit, seeking shelter behind the weather station - no views today, but a couple of snow-buntings made a brief appearance.

Around the Northern Corries and over to the top of the Goat Track, we traversed snow patches aiming for Ben Mecdui, briefly stopping at Lochan Buidhe on the way. The sun tried its best to put in a show, but cloud and mist were having none of it ! Over more snow and ice and following the line of cairns we reached Macdui's summit, any breezes on the way having been on our backs. A few other folk came and went as we stopped for lunch.

Well wrapped-up and into the side and head-winds, we retraced our steps back to the lochan. A couple and their dog had got a little navigationally-challenged in the mist, so decided to follow us - we must have looked like we knew what we were doing ! Around Cairn Lochan and the winds lessened as we began descending and turning north-east, aiming for the Cairngorm car-park.

No views for much of the day, but an interesting hike, reminding us why decent kit (esp boots and goggles) is important !

Sunday - Feshie Munros

Our second day saw us begin at the end of the public road on the eastern side of the River Feshie. We were aiming up Sgorr Gaoith and Mullach Clach a'Bhlair, most likely on snow-covered ground, given the fresh dusting that fell overnight. Again due to the winds, Richard and I felt it would be better to have the winds behind us on the high ground, so Mullach Clach a'Bhlair would be bagged first.

With the winds forecasted to pick up in the afternoon, our group gathered in the car-park at a revised time, earlier than originally planned. But one person was missing - a phone call located them near Insh, so Richard headed off with the rest of the group and I hung around and waited. When they arrived, we put a good pace on and caught the group up by the Allt Garbhlach - errosion has really taken its toll on the river banks here. Through some forestry and on newly constructed paths, we reached the track on the opposite side of River Feshie to the buildings at Carnachuin - still no bridge here (and I suspect never will be again).

Through the juniper forest, we all aimed up the excellent track onto the Moine Mor plateau. Higher up the track was perilously icy, much easier to walk through the grass and heather at the sides. A bit of navigation, saw us on the summit with a tiny cairn indicating the top - time for a photo !

After re-tracing our steps, we followed the track on the plateau. We knew we'd have to leave the track at some point, but where ? With snow and mist around, we stayed on the track longer than I would if we were doing this in clear conditions, and at an obvious bend in the track left it and navigated over lumpy heather-clad ground buried in snow. Carn Ban Mor's cairn was reached and then our goal, Sgorr Gaoith. There's no cairn to mark the summit of this Munro, but its rather obvious being perched above a huge drop to Loch Einich below.

Some photos taken, we began our return to Auchlean. By-passing Carn Ban Mor (Richard says 'this must be one of Fallon's short-cuts'), we picked up the Moine Mor path and came out of cloud - at last some views, which made the effort all worthwhile.

A great couple of days and 4 Munros in the bag - well done folks !

More photos by Steven Fallon are here on Flickr.

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