Colin's Munros


Cairn Gorm & Bynack More, Map 403 or OL3
27th April 2006 & 23rd July 2008

Route 1 (27/4/06): 1710m = 5600', 15.8 miles, 10hrs.
Route 2 (23/7/08): 1405m = 4600'; 17.8 miles; 8hrs + breaks

Looking S into the Lairig Ghru from Lurcher's Crag. The ridge up to Sron na Lairige from Lurcher's Crag. Cairn Toul and Sron na Lairige. The top of Lurcher's Crag from the bealach to its south. Cairn Toul and SE ridge of Sgor an Lochain Uaine. Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Braeriach. The N face crags of Cairn Lochan with Cairn Gorm behind. The N face crags of Cairn Lochan. The N face crags of Cairn Lochan. The N face crags of Cairn Lochan with Sron na Lairige behind. The N face crags of Cairn Lochan with Sron na Lairige behind. Cairn Gorm from Cairn Lochan with Stob Coire an t-Sneachda on right. Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda from Stob Coire an t-Sneachda. Stob Coire an t-Sneachda from Fiacaill a'Choire Chais. Stob Coire an t-Sneachda & Cairn Lochan. Cairn Lochan from Fiacaill a'Choire Chais. The stacks of Beinn Mheadhoin from Fiacaill a'Choire Chais. Beinn Mheadhoin, Carn Etchachan and Derry Cairngorm. Beinn Mheadhoin from the SE side of Cairn Gorm. An impending avalanche on the cliffs above The Saddle. Loch Avon from The Saddle. Stacan Dubha & Carn Etchachan. The Barns of Bynack. The Barns of Bynack. The Little Barns of Bynack. An Lochan Uaine.

Route on 23/7/08: This is one of the top ridge walks in Scotland. Ideally, one should start at the Cairn Gorm car park and finish at Glenmore Lodge having traversed the whole ridge, as here, and public transport enables this. The route provides spectacular views of Loch Avon from The Saddle as well as including the Bynack Barns and visits the outstandingly beautiful, picturesque and colourful An Lochan Uaine, before passing through the wonderful Scots pine forest around Glenmore Lodge and finishing near the sandy shore of Loch Morlich. Alternatively, one can return from Bynack More via the Saddle and the Ptarmigan Restaurant back to the starting car park. Although 2 miles longer, the extra distance to finish at Glenmore Lodge is along a pleasant, easy track, and 300m/1000' of re-ascent over Cairn Gorm is avoided. Moreover, there is the opportunity for spotting birds and wildlife on the periphery of the Abernethy Forest.
If necessary, Bynack More can be omitted with the walk being continued from Cairn Gorm or Cnap Coire na Spreidhe by a descent northwards either to the start or to Glenmore Lodge along paths via the Ski Centre or Coire na Ciste. This would cut the total length to 10.6 miles and the ascent to a mere 910m. Bynack More can then be climbed separately as here.

Access: Bus 31 running between Aviemore and Choire Chais (Cairn Gorm car park) can be used to get between the ends of the walk. One can park by Loch Morlich (by the Ski School/Youth Hostel) at the end of the track to Glenmore Lodge or in the Cairn Gorm car park, or take the bus from and back to Aviemore. There is a timetable here. Alternatively, in summer a friend may well be happy to drop you at Choire Chais and spend the day by Loch Morlich awaiting your return.

Route on 27/4/06: This route has the advantage of returning to the starting point. Although also being 2 miles shorter, it involves 1000' more ascent. As with the other route, if conditions dictate Bynack More can be omitted and done separately from Glenmore Lodge thereby giving a much shorter circular walk. This reduces the total length to 9⅓ miles and the ascent to just 890m. There are also alternative routes up Cairn Lochan which omit Lurchers' Crag, such as via Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda.
Conditions 27/4/06: The ground is normally still under winter conditions in late April, with ground frozen above 1000m. Note the danger of avalanches on the direct descent from Cairn Gorm to The Saddle especially after significant rainfall. On this occasion the massive snow cornice at the cliffs above The Saddle exhibited large cracks and was certainly in imminent danger of collapse, being fully soaked with water. Such an event would have drowned anyone caught in it. It was necessary to by-pass it with a short detour southwards along the top of the cliffs, descend to the south of the most dangerous area, and then cross back hurriedly at the bottom out of the danger zone.

27/4/0623/7/08 Description Ht.Asc.Dist.Grid Ref.Mob.
06150820 Cairn Gorm Ski Centre, upper car park.
(Base station of funicular railway.)
620    00.0 milesNH98920610Orange
 ~0845 Take path SSW from top corner of car park
to Allt Coire an Lochain
7601401.25 milesNH97930441 
0705~0900 Follow path S a little way up ridge until it becomes
a hindrance and easier to walk over the heather.
950 1.8 milesNH97750357 
 0915 Head SSW towards col, to cross stream at 950
(A good source of fresh water)
950330 NH97330326 
0930 W to T Creag an Leth-choin 10534502.4 milesNH96880334Orange
   S to col  997  NH96980308 
08100955 SE to Fiacaill na Leth-choin 10835403.12 milesNH97530242 
   E to minor col (at crossing of Ben Macdui path) 1075 3.25 milesNH97740232 
 1010 E to cairn marking path down ridge      
1020 E to T Cairn Lochan
(Slower speed 27/4/06 as crampons necessary
from Fiacaill na Leth-choin to here.)
12156703.8 milesNH98520257Orange
   ENE/E down to col
(Slower speed 27/4/06 due to frequent photo stops)
1111  NH99180278 
09201040 ENE to T Stob Coire an t-Sneachda 11768354.55 milesNH99620298Orange
   NE then N to col 1099  NH99950351 
09401100 N to Fiacaill a'Choire Chais 1141 8755.25 milesNH99930399Orange
   ESE to col 1125  NJ00120393 
1120 E to M Cairn Gorm   (Note the eye-sore
line of designer cairns N to the restaurant.)
(From here is possible a return directly
to the Ski Centre or Glenmore Lodge.)
1244 9955.67 milesNJ00580404Orange
 —  EITHER (to include Cnap Coire na Spreidhe):
NE to col
1135  NJ01000480 
 —1140 ENE to T Cnap Coire na Spreidhe 115010106.45 milesNJ01360491Orange
 —1145 S to path in Ciste Mhearad (snow & source of water) 1070  NJ01340455 
 —1210 Path SE down to The Saddle – a good path,
but gap of 200m in middle where no clear path.
 807 7.5 milesNJ01830333Orange
1055 — OR: Descend SE directly to The Saddle (0.9 miles
shorter) (April: Continuous ground snow as far as
cliffs at 990m where it was in avalanche condition.)
 8078956.6 milesNJ01830333Orange
THEN: ENE up ridge to two lochans  91011208.1 milesNJ02600393 
11401300 Along boundary NE/N to T A'Choinneach 101712308.85 milesNJ03220486Orange
 1310 NE to col  940 9.45 milesNJ03760551 
E to ridge & visit Little Barns/Barns of Bynack
(0.2 mile detour to Barns)
1000 10.0 milesNJ04540582 
12301340 W back to ridge and N to M Bynack More 1090138010.45 milesNJ04200632Orange
   NW to col  945  NJ03780666 
NW to T Bynack Beg  970140510.95 milesNJ03580688Orange
   SE back to col  945  NJ03780666 
 —1430 EITHER (To finish at Glenmore Lodge):
NNE to join path on N ridge
 850  NJ04080731 
 —  Path N to top 818  818 12.1 milesNJ03940807 
 —1450 Path N to path split  780 12.45 milesNJ03910872 
 —1530 Path NW down to footbridge over R. Nethy. (This
section of constructed path is a joint-killing eye-sore.)
 440 14.22 milesNJ02101050 
 —1555 Track WNW/W to fork at head of pass  360 15.53 milesNJ00301105 
Track SSW to picturesque An Lochan Uaine   15.8 milesNJ00141075 
 —  Track SW to parking by Glenmore Lodge  340 17.05 milesNH98740948 
 —1710 Track SW to bus stop at Ski School, Loch Morlich  330 17.8 milesNH97660976 
  — OR (To finish at Ski Centre, having previously omitted
Cnap Coire na Spreidhe)
: Contour due S back to col.
 935 11.0 milesNJ03760551 
1405 — SW back to The Saddle. (I contoured
round W of A'Choinneach with much hassle.
It's much easier to return over A'Choinneach.)
 807136512.9 milesNJ01830333Orange
 — Ascend NNW diagonally along path (an obvious one
from the restaurant) to T Cnap Coire na Spreidhe.
1150171013.95 milesNJ01360491Orange
  — Due W to just below Ptarmigan Restaurant 1085  NJ00450497 
1615 — Descend cairned ridge path N/NW/W to Ski Centre  620 15.8 milesNH98920610Orange

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