A wander in the Cairngorms – West Ridge of Lochan and Ben Macdui then down the Goat Track.

The clouds clear on the ridge.

The clouds clear on the ridge.

Yesterday it was a wander with the “Last of the Summer Wine” Mountaineering Club.  We chose the Cairngorms so near home and though it would be busy but it is a wonderful place to be. My car is out of action just now and I got a lift from Forres from our latest member Ray Newell, along with Gus Tait (BFG) and Derrick Harman. We met Mary and John Cosgrove in the Active Cafe in Aviemore where we met for a chat and a brew. Brent Craig was there looking like Crocodile Dundee and  Mary and John were wearing Ron Hills ( really old hill gear worn in the 70’s) and looked like out of the Mountaineering history books. The old faithfulls and great gear still. I was laughed at in my shorts more about that later and after a bit of banter we decided on Ben Macdui see how it goes as the cloud was about 2500 feet. The car park was not too busy but the midges were out and it was hot and sticky as we wander along past the great corries shrouded in mist. Clothes were taken off as we tried to stay cool but the shorts were cooling and soon the Ron Hill Twins were in their shorts as well. As we hit the ridge onto Coire An Lochan the breeze hit us and the midges vanished the hills were clear and the great slab on Lochan and the snow patches shone through.

One of my favourite view points with magnificent views of the Larig Gru

One of my favourite view points with magnificent views of the Larig Gru – The flag marks the spot also a grand wee bivy spot but the Lochan was dried up.

We were slowly on the plateau and met a few people one of my club a solo lassie running over to Beinn Mheadoin from Ben Macdui, she was going well and I wished her well, she was going well and very fit. I always stop a bit of the path before we hit the main plateau, on the path you see little. I never take this area for granted and even though it was busy just to sit off the path have a snack and drink in the views is exhilarating. The wildness of the Larig gru is best seen form here and the steep cliffs and ground just plunges in places into it. I have searched the steep sides of the Larig Gru in winter not a nice place to be and been so glad at times to get off the plateau on many call – outs. I was amazed how dehydrated I felt but had plenty of fluid with me so soon topped up my intake, easy to miss the water intake on a day like this?

One of my favourite views of the Gorms well worth the effort.

One of my favourite views of the Cairngorms well worth the effort. Top views of Devils Point and the big hills. Map ref – NH 975020 AT 1078 metres.

After a leisurely lunch it was off across the plateau to Ben Macdui , we saw the Reindeer at the snow patches at the Feith Buidhe. It was by now a lovely day the tops were clear and this was a benign place today. The path is huge and yet there are many options today we followed it  and headed a long with several others to the summit of the Macdui. It was time for another break and drink in the views. The summit area is full of stone shelters or howffs. Approaching the top with its trig point, you pass relics of shelters built near the summit area as part of military exercises during the Second World War.

The big path to summit but in snow it is covered.

The big path to summit but in snow it is covered.

I wanted to visit the Anson Crash that has a Memorial just off the summit. Very few visit and it is only a ten minute walk from the summit and on a ridge with superlative views. We wandered down and most of the wreckage is in the slopes of Coire Mor, where there are two engines form the crash and lots of other wreckage,

Anson Crash engines.

Anson Crash engines on Ben Macdui.

It is a place I have visited often and the Memorial is at NN986991 1256 metres and makes a good short navigational exercise for those who fancy it. We had a wander round and then got back on to the path and caught up with the others.

Ben Macdui and the Memorail

Ben Macdui and the Memorial, worth a visit.

A memorial to the airmen has been built close to the top of the summit

Much of the wreckage from the Avro Anson air crash, which happened on 21 August 1942, remains on Ben MacDui in the Cairngorms. Well worth a visit.

Descending to the Anson mem July

Descending to the Anson mem July

From here we wandered back along the plateau and a John and Brynt stopped at the snow holes sight at Coire Dohmain and found a shovel! We headed down the Goat Track which was pretty eroded and loose into Coire ant Sneachda and two others walked along the Northern Corries. I would advise care here in the summer not a place to rush!

Climbers on The Magic Crack?

Climbers on The Magic Crack?

It was an easy walk out and the weather held we stopped and enjoyed the views and watched the climbers in the corrie on Magic Crack and were soon back at the car.

coire an t'sneachta

It was then off home a good 6 hours walk and felt it as I got out the car. The old bones creaking and I was pretty dehydrated even after lots of water on the hill and in the car.

Great to be out on the hills again.

Great to be out on the hills again.

An early night and great to be out and the Cairngorms gave us a great day as always, never take it for granted?

Today’s quotes


How does Cameron MacNeish look that clean and tidy after walking across Scotland, does he ever sweat?




About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Bothies, Enviroment, Equipment, Flora, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Munros, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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