“Crab crawl”a wander round Cairngorm and a visit to a few old haunts? The sad mess on the other side of Cairngorm?

It was out with a few pals yesterday Yeni, Berty, Gus and Brent average age 60 -70 apart from Brent. Now these boys love the Cairngorms and the weather was great so it was an early pick up for Gus,Bernie and Yeni in Forres and then head to the  Squirrel Cafe at Glenmore for the famous bacon roll and meet Brent. We went avoiding Aviemore as “Thunder in the Glen is on” the Big motor bikes roll into town so it was the back roads for us. It was a stunning drive the hills looked perfect and we had no plan but Gus wanted to visit Ciste Mhearad so we would park at the lower Car Park and take it from there. The car park is blocked off Health and Safety signs and tape and plenty of rubbish about as there is big changes going on here but  more of that later.

The El Alamein bothy

We had a wander up the path and onto the plateau this is a Bank Holiday but a lovely way onto this side of the Cairngorms. This is a quite side of the Cairngorms and we only saw one other person, we were soon overlooking Strath Nethy and later on the El Alamein Bothy where we had a break in the sun. What a place to stop overlooking Strath Nethy and Bynack Mor looking great.


They say that In the winter you’re never lonely in Ciste Mhearad; it’s often a hive of activity full of enthusiastic mountaineers looking at snow and digging holes. It’s a great place and I spent many a night here in the past snow holing in my Mountain Rescue days and searching in some massive call -outs. In summer once the snow has gone it is a wonderful place, there was little litter only an old light stick used in a snow – hole and the reindeer that we kept meeting. They love it here it is peaceful and with the river and mosses full of colour.

The Reindeer at the snow hole site nothing there today all the snow is gone.

From here we wandered  right round the top of the cliffs enjoying superb views of Loch Avon and its sandy beaches and no body else around. At every top there was another view and we only disturbed the odd ptarmigan that was already getting a change of colour to the white of winter. To me this  is such a special place and one to wonder at and not rush there are so many places where the views are incredible. In a few weeks it will soon be an arctic environment where one struggles in deep snow or icy arctic winds of winter. Yet so few know this place they are on the paths and missing so much of the real wild Cairngorms.

Loch Avon

We wandered over to the top of Stac an Fharaidh and then around the cliffs. I have had  some fun climbing here in the past and more views this time of the big hills and the loch Avon. We had more breaks to enjoy it and even a sing-song and a few tales of past days. This was a wonderful part of the day and how wild yet stunning this area is and yet a mile away the honey pot areas are busy with those chasing the summits and on the busy paths. When I was ill a few years ago I appreciated this area even more and got to know it intimately. I have memories of call – outs and searches here over the years where you were surviving at times in a winter storm,

Wild open plateau and no one about with Loch Etchachan behind

From here we wandered along to the famous navigation points of spot height 1082 and then into Coire Raibert and met the crowds heading along the ridge to Cairngorm. It was then a contour across the steep ground to the Ptarmigan Restaurant and the scene of massive industrial work/mess all the way down to Coire na Ciste, I had heard of what was going on here but wanted to have a look myself. Some of the tows have been taken down and what a shambles there is the ground is battered by heavy traffic and there to me is a sadness about this place?

It is like a derilict factory in places a mess. The demolition is not limited to the chairlifts. Teams are presently removing snow fencing from the Aonach Bowl, and they will soon also take down snow fencing forming the ski runs on the East Wall, Aonach Ridge, and Coire Laogh Mor. Fair enough but what a mess it  is and there is much written about it and the new plans for the future. 

leave nothing but footprints take nothing but photos.

It is a place just now of  industrial carnage and I defy anyone to go over and look at what is happening here? I deliberately came down this way and was shocked at the cut down pylons dumped and in places over the path, it is a sad mess and I am all for using the mountains for all but this is a place that makes me very upset! 

Over the path ?

I will be very interested to hear other views and will be amazed if this is sorted before the winter. The mess about makes a huge joke of this part of the Cairngorms where there are so many enviromental rules and regulations but this is allowed to happen and the lower car park is site that looks like a rubbish tip. We have so many bureaucrats who are working in the Park on big wages maybe they need to get out of your office and go and see what a mess this side of the Cairngorms is in.

I feel helpless, what can you do the area needs development people need work and I am all for the use of the mountains for all but this was awful. I wandered past the old buildings the Health and Safety signs and the mess that continued all the way to the car park.

After a great walk in a wonderful place it was an eye opener to me . The Cairngorms are a special place but I wonder what others think of the mess around here and what the plans are to sort it out.

It was time for home and we played some Gaberlunzie  Scottish folk music on the way home but the day was spoiled at the end and left a bitter taste to me.



Some info


Written by savetheciste on August 26th, 2017

Today on Cairn Gorm, Cairngorm Mountain Ltd (CML) / Natural Retreats (NR), instructed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), completed clear-felling the entire line of towers on the West Wall Chairlift and the Lower Ciste Chairlift. As we watched, heavy plant smashed apart the West Wall Chairlift drive station, with the final tower on the Lower Chairlift being cut down this evening.



HIE utilised £267,000 of public funds for this demolition, carried out without public consultation, against the strong wishes of the community, and despite being aware of community interest in taking control of Coire na Ciste and the chairlifts.

The method of demolition has ensured that no part of the chairlift system would be useful again; the contractor is simply cutting the towers from their bases, rather than undoing the bolts. The towers themselves have been additionally cut in half.



About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Flora, Friends, Lectures, Local area and events to see, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Plants, SAR, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to “Crab crawl”a wander round Cairngorm and a visit to a few old haunts? The sad mess on the other side of Cairngorm?

  1. Just read this, Heavy, and the first half is such a good read – an ideal day out with old friends in old haunts – brilliant. But the second half, as you say, leaves such a bitter taste. It looks like this isn’t pleasing anyone – nor helping the hill. Surely, whether redeveloping for skiing, or removing completely, there are better ways of handling the situation in this corrie.


  2. Donald Watt says:

    Good read Heavy, I agree that the hills are for all. However they should not become similar to a derilect factory site. Hope they tidy up this mess but I have little faith they will.


  3. Pingback: So what are the CNPA and SNH going to do to stop HIE's destruction at Cairngorm? - parkswatchscotland

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