I was out hillwalking this past weekend for the first time in a long time. The attempt to get out lots during 2014 has become slightly unstuck during the latter part of the summer for various reasons, so it was good to be out again.
With a group of friends I did a walk from the Cairngorms car park to Beinn Mheadhoin via Loch Avon, a long slog of a day that weighed in at about nine hours’ walking but which took in a beautiful diversity of scenery and terrain. It’s easy to write off the Cairngorms as just one giant slopey plateau, but this particular walk was an immensely satisfying one because it took us from soft-angled slopes to sharp drops, and from the glacial scatterings that created so many natural shelters near Loch Avon to the bizarre granite tours on the top of Beinn Mheadhoin itself.
The walk took in three lots of up and down, with the last ascent via the goat track to Coire an t-Sneachda being particularly tricky and gruelling, weaving as it did right alongside an energetic waterfall. Such a steep climb so close to water was a keen test for the nerves. You can just see that path on the photo at the top of the post, starting from the left hand side of the loch and rising slowly to the right up the hill before turning sharply left past the first major ridge. Our final drop back down to the car park was a frustrating one, with the finishing line of the Cairngorm resort visible from the last summit and taking seemingly ages for us to get any closer to.
The weather was kind, thankfully. There were beautiful blue skies for some of the time, with only the briefest showers to contend with. When the sun broke, particularly around Loch Avon, the sunkissed hillside and rich blue water of the loch were just stunning.
It was a long, hard walk but really rewarding in terms of the range of different terrains we encountered. I was quite pleased with my haul of photos, but you’re welcome to judge for yourself.