A wander along the great cliffs above Loch Avon in the Cairngorms.

Yesterday though I felt rough with a cold I needed some fresh air and some time in the mountains, I have not been out for a while. I tried to get some company but Bernie had flowers to water and anyway I only wanted a short walk and to be on my own was ideal, It had been a difficult week with John Coull’s funeral and feeling very rough from a bad cold. I had pulled out of helping with the Celtman Triathlon  in Torridon as I doubt I would have lasted the possible 12 hour day plus drive in poor weather on the West. It would be a short wander on familiar ground the Cairngorms. I wanted to see how the Corries were after the dry May and wet June.

Heading up to the plateau from the Goat Track. The cliffs above were the scene of several Rescues by Cairngorm Mountain Rescue last weekend.

It was as always a lovely drive over to the Cairngorms and after the Dava Moor I could see the Cairngorms looking good but clouds on the tops. After Grantown on Spey I always take the back road and saw a few very young deer on the way coming out of the forestry and there was a lot of tree felling on and the smell of freshly cut wood was in the air. It was windy the forecast had said that and yet the sun was out and I was so looking forward to a wander among these lovely hills.

The big cliffs of the Corrie.

The car park is not a place I like and I parked in the lower car park away from the crowds it was still early about 0930 and I was soon sorted and walking along into the Coire. Immediately you leave the car the smell of the wild flowers hit you and the path was very quiet with only two groups one rock climbers racing past. Years ago my mate Tom Mac showed me over 30 different wild flowers and grasses in this area and this is a place you can spend time even a short distance from the car park.  I ambled on coughing a bit and getting looks that said ” should you be there” I was soon among the boulders and moraine past the lochs and passing a few Ptarmigan scuttling about. The river was crossed several times on the walk in and the clarity of the water and the colour of the mosses things you take for granted in the mountains were old pals. I reached the bottom of the Goat Track  after the path follows the big boulders and then a you can have a scramble/wander up onto the plateau. From here I saw two pairs of climbers high on the crag they were on the “magic crack” and looked tiny on the black cliff, it was windy  but they would be sheltered on the climb. The sky was dark and I got a little shower of rain but the wind was warm.

High on the Goat Track lots of loose and weathered rock.

I passed the scene of last weeks incidents where Cairngorm MRT were involved in two Rescues one on Fingers ridge where loose rock injured a pal and a great effort by the team got all the climbers of safe after a difficult rescue in poor weather.

I love the shapes of the rocks sculptured by the weather and time

I was soon up on the plateau and the cloud came in and I wandered over to Ben MacDui in the clouds and then back via the snow fields and Loch Avon away from MacDui where I only saw one other pair of walkers. So many miss this great viewpoint of Loch Avon away from the main path and the crowds.

Loch Avon and the big cliffs.

I wandered along to the main snowfield that are left looking for the elusive photo but not today and had lunch out of the wind. I spotted climbers on Hells Lum and Shelterstone two pairs alone on these big cliffs. I had some great adventures on these cliffs rock climbing in the past and hoped the weather would hold for them, these are big cliffs. They looked wild today and the climbers like stick men in the vast expanse of rock.

Misty at times !

It was enjoyable to sit and enjoy the views the light ever-changing with the wildness of Loch Avon and the big cliffs. This to me is a place to sit and enjoy while the world continues to rush past.

Two climbers on Hells Lum Crag look closely.

I contoured round the cliffs and saw two others near the river we acknowledged each other and when I got back it was someone I wanted to meet for a long time as they recognised my Yellow jacket. I love the top of Hells Lum Crag with the huge gash that in winter fills with ice today it was wet and loose  and I spent time here trying to pick out the climbers. In winter this is some place and I have had a few great days here in Summer and winter with so many pals. In winter in can be a fight back over the plateau in bad weather or on a call -out.

The water on its way down the cliffs a classic view and a special place.

The mist came back in and it was then back along onto the plateau seeing a few hares and more Ptarmigan. Then on to  the tops meet some folk all rushing home while I wandered round looking into the corrie and enjoying the views. It was great to be out I was tired and had forgotten sunscreen and a hat and my face was red but despite the coughing and the slow speed it was a great day.

Fingers Ridge.

I was soon on the last top 1141 seeing a few folk and then down into the “Industrial waste land” that is the Summer Ski area, what a tip in summer? Then back to the car as the clouds came in on the tops.

It was then head home stop for ice cream in Grantown On Spey and met Babs and the big man I was walking like the tin man. I was soon home for a bath some tea and then sort out the gear and an early night.

I got a message from pals later that there was a big call out on the cliffs near where I was on Shelterstone, it was a technical Rescue on the cliff by  Cairngorm, Braemar, Aberdeen MRT and the SAR Helicopter. Well done all another life saved by the teams and Rescue Agencies, never take them for granted or their safety?

Well done all.






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 Enviroment, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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