Over the years I have walked and climbed up to the top of most of the mountains that make up the Cairngorms, but one I hadn't was Beinn Mheadhoin (pronounced Ben Vane - don't ask me why). It always seemed too far due to the obvious obstruction of Loch Avon. Approaching from the north you have to climb up onto the Cairngorm plateau and then descend to the shores of Loch Avon before climbing back up the other side.
|Beinn Mheadhoin from the Cairngorm Plateau|
As this was the first outing of our holiday I hadn't quite arrived at peak fitness and I was out of breath just attempting to leave the car park, but luckily I soon got into my stride. No such problem for my son Sam who covered the ground easily. We climbed up via Fiacaill a' Choire Chais a fairly easy route, but quite steep.
We then followed one of the plateau's watersheds to Coire Raibeirt (Robert) and descended down the steep footpath to Loch Avon. We then had to find a way across the raging mountain stream - Feith Buidhe - which we did by climbing up stream until we could make a safe crossing without getting too wet. Another mountain stream joins the one we were crossing called the Garbh Uisge Mor. The word Uisge means rough water in gaelic and the English translation is apparently Whisky.
|The Shelter Stone with Loch Avon Behind|
After crossing the river we headed to the massive rock that was once the home to a group of Highland Bandits. Today it is a shelter for backpackers and mountaineers caught out in a storm, or just wanting a place to bivi. Under the rock there is room for a small group of walkers and their kit, however, four star accommodation its not.
|Underneath the Shelter Stone|
We had a well earned break at the shelter stone and took the opportunity to feast on some cake, from a secret recipe known only to my wife. This cake can withstand the rigours of mountain life. I have eaten it at -20 degrees C when any other food stuff is frozen solid. She could make a fortune if only more people were daft enough to venture out in such conditions.
|Sam Close to the Shelter Stone|
A steep climb up the other side of Loch Avon awaits you if you wish to procede further into the mountains. On the way up we met a group of Scottish lads repairing the footpath. They were desperate to know the score of the previous night's football match that the Scottish team had played, but alas we didn't have a clue. They were living in some portable cabins that had been flown in by helicopter, and although they had electrical generators, they didn't have a signal for their smart phones!
The climb up to the summit plateau of Beinn Mheadhoin is steep, but once the plateau is reached it is a gentle stroll to the summit. The summit is actually a large Tor or 'Barn' (a tor is a large, free-standing rocky outcrop that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of a rounded hill).
|Summit Tor Of Beinn Mheadhoin|
Faced with the view above, we were wondering whether the challenge of getting to the top had been understated. Luckily there was a slightly easier scramble to the top on the opposite side.
|I Was Happier Than My Face Looks - Honest|
From here we made our way home the long way via Loch Etchachan and the summit of Ben Macdui Britain's second highest point. Loch Etchachan is Scotland's largest waterbody above 3000 foot.
|Loch Etchachan with Beinn Mheadhoin Behind on the Right and Cairngorm to the Extreme Left|