Eastern Cairngorms: Winter fights back

Beinn Bhreac – 931m
Beinn a’ Chaorainn – 1083m
31st March 2012
Distance: 17 ¾ miles
Ascent: 970m
Time taken: 9 hours
Weather: Warm in the glens, bitter winds on the hill
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Bill, Molly and Meggie

Winter had ended rather abruptly in the Cairngorms with the snow cover disappearing before our eyes, the days were lengthening rapidly and spring was in the air. The carpark at Linn of Dee was bursting with walkers eager to shake off the cobwebs of winter and it was pleasantly warm on the cycle in to Derry Lodge which resembled a bike shop by the time we arrived. We set of up the track into Glen Derry to be greeted by an icy blast of cold air and it was apparent that we had been lulled into a false sense of security. Winter clearly hadn’t finished with us yet.

We were joined on our walk by Meggie, one of Molly’s friends from Aviemore. Meggie is a Labrador with an insatiable appetite and she spent every conceivable moment of the walk searching for something to eat.

The pine woods at Derry Lodge were full of birdsong and we started walking up Glen Derry enjoying the feeling of warmth after the long highland winter. A small cairn on the track marked the walkers path up through the straggly woods, onto the open hillside and up to the plateau just before the summit of Beinn Bhreac.

The bitter wind was becoming more icy as we gained height and by the time we had reached the summit we were both wearing every item of clothing we possessed; in Bill’s case that is a lot of clothes………………..trousers, overtrousers, base layer, wind-shirt, jacket, gillet, Buff, hat and gloves. Frankly, it is a miracle that he can still walk wearing so many items of clothing.

The cairn provided enough shelter for lunch whilst Meggie attempted to demolish it to retrieve a small piece of Bill’s sandwich which fell through the rocks.

The walk between the two Munros across the Moine Bhealaidh was a pleasure and didn’t seem to take as long as I remembered from previous visits, the peat hags were dry and springy with the clear air giving huge views in all directions and luckily for part of the way we the Baltic winds seemed to have lost some of their intensity. It was good to visit Beinn a’ Chaorainn in such perfect conditions as the last time I was on the hill was at 11.45 p.m as part of a night navigation assessment.

We met a couple with two dogs at the summit and all hell broke loose as four dogs played a game of chase round the summit cairn enjoying the wind in their tails. It was bitterly cold so we quickly dragged Molly and Meggie away from their new found friends to make our way into the shelter of the glen as quickly as possible. We made a rapid descent to the path in the Lairig an Laoigh passing a huge herd of red deer basking in the sunshine on the slopes.

Once we were back in the glen spring returned very rapidly and within half an hour we were stripped down to our base layers, enjoying the sun and a leisurely walk back to the bikes. The pines in the lower reaches of Glen Derry were a welcome site and we took the scenic path along the west side of the Derry Burn as it wound though the pines along the river bank.

It was a quick cycle back to Linn of Dee after a day that had blown hot and cold. Literally.













































Meg approaching the summit of Beinn Bhreac
























Bill at the summit of Beinn a’ Chaorainn with Beinn Mheadhoin beyond
























Looking back towards Coire Etchachan
























Amongst the pines in Glen Derry
























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