Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Invercauld Munros, March'13

Sunrise at the Lecht on the way over to Braemar
We'd put together a weekend based in the Invercauld area, just north-east of Braemar. Our goal was to hike up the 4 Munros over two days, starting with Ben Avon on the Saturday. Forecast was looking particularly poor in the Eastern Highlands - new snow, driving snow and very strong winds ! Based in Aviemore for a few days prior to the trip, I headed up to the Cairngorm ski area on the Friday afternoon - skiing was closed and I could hardly get out of the car due to the winds ! So, reluctantly we cancelled our Saturday hike up Ben Avon and Beinn a'Bhuird and postponed it until later in the year.

Forcast on Sunday still wasn't great - winds still quite strong and some fresh snow expected. However the two Munros we were aiming for, Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a'Chaorainn are much lower than the Avon/Bhuird duo, so we went ahead as planned.

On Bein Bhreac's summit
We met up in the Linn of Dee car-park, got on our bikes and cycled over a light dusting of snow up Glen Lui. After dropping bikes off by Derry Lodge, we headed on foot on a fine path into Glen Derry. Further on, we left the path and continued over heather. Ice-axe and crampons were needed on the icy slopes below Beinn Bhreac, but we made quick progress, reaching the summit around midday. And midday means lunchtime, so we huddled in the 'bothy shelter' out of the fairly strong wind and blowing snow.

Approaching Beinn a'Chaorainn's summit
The Moine Bhealaidh plateau north of Beinn Bhreac is normally a tiring, boring trudge, but today it was a delight ! The snow had compacted between the tussocks and hardened making for easy and smooth progress - so unexpected ! We did however have quite a bit of whiteout to contend with - some testing navigation. Dave is 'top' bagging, so a detour of around half an hour took us over to Beinn a'Chaorainn Bheag, the mist magically lifted and wind dropped, giving some lovely views. Over to Beinn a'Chaorainn and back into mist and wind, we decided not to hang around, but instead head south and dropped into Glen Derry. Time for our afternoon grub !

Inquisitive deer
The beautiful walk back through the glen and the regenerating forest was sparked by an inquisitive group of deer, checking us out from a distance, but not overly bothered. Back to the bikes, a few inches of snow had fallen - making for an interesting cycle back.

All in all an exceptionally fine day out !

More photos are on our Flickr website !