1083 m. |
Translation: Hill of the rowan
Pronuncation: byn a choeran
Describing the start of this tour is difficult for me. Not because of maybe hazy recollections of it. Not because I have an emotional blockade. And not because I lost my books and maps which serve as necessary references. No. It is difficult for me to describe the start of the tour because I have written at least three more times about parking the car at the Linn of Dee and cycling to Derry Lodge. One could say that I lack a certain enthusiasm for describing the identical approach again and again and again.
Anyway, when we had reached Derry Lodge, for the first time in our hiking history we opted for the path on the left bank of the Derry Burn. This was a nice variation. The wooded lower reaches of Glen Derry are really enchanting with their old trees many of them Scots Pines. The going on the well-built track was easy and in no time we reached the spot where a small cairn marks the beginning of a little path that climbs up the rather gentle slope leading to the saddle between Meall an Lundain and Beinn Bhreac. First the going was “interesting” due to some rather wet and boggy sections in the path. Then, when Frank and I had gained more height, the going improved considerably. After some time we reached the section of the path where it abuts more or less abruptly at the steepish section of Beinn Bhreac’s south ridge. Here the climb became a little more strenuous for about 20 minutes or half an hour as we climbed up steep grass slopes. Then the gradient levelled off and we were on the stony plateau between the two tops of this hill, the lower one 927m, the higher one, the summit, 931m tall.
At the summit of Beinn Bhreac we sat in the sunshine and marvelled at the panorama. Most prominent of course were the western slopes of giant Beinn a’ Bhuird. To the west the east faces of the Central Cairngorm hills rose up boldly. And to the north the dreaded expanse of the MÚine Beallach awaited us.
After 15 minutes we decided to continue towards Beinn a’Chaorainn. We picked up the path which leads towards Craig Derry and then enters the flat moor of the Mòine Beallach. Armoured with a good sense of humour we expected to encounter a quagmire of peat hags and squishy terrain. The path however avoided some of the worst places of the beallach and where this was not possible there were always alternative ways forward. So yes, this wasn’t the best quality of track ever encountered in Scotland but it was absolutely a bog-standard (pun!) route. “It could have been worse, it could have rained” lost all of its irony in this kind of terrain. So after barely an hour we were already climbing towards the beallach between Beinn a’ Chaorainn Bheag and its bigger Munro brother. Once on the ridge we turned left and climbed the steepish stony and bouldery slope until we reached the summit cairn where a very strong wind greeted us.
Sheltering in the lee of the summit cairn of Munro No 2 we enjoyed the expansive views of Beinn Mheadhoin, Derry Cairngorm and the assortment of Etchachan tops (Stob Choire E. and Creagan a’ Choire E.). Another marvellous view point. Soon however it got a little cold and when another three walkers joined us there was positively not enough shelter from the wind available anymore for everyone. So Frank and I continued down the broad south ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn. On the right-hand side the ridge is girted by cliffs for about one kilometre. Once these cliffs had given way to grass and scree and the occasional boulder we decided that we could descend the very steep slope towards the Lairig an Laoigh. That’s what we did and in no time we reached the pass. The descent was fun, however I spent some of those short 15 or 20 minutes slithering and looking for a secure footing. Cameron McNeish or Donald Bennett might have added some text in their tour descriptions to the effect that the backsides of many breeches had been worn out on this stretch of the hike.
From the Lairig an Laoigh we duly made our way back to Derry Lodge via the obvious and well-maintained path down scenic Glen Derry. Again this section of the hike has been described in detail elsewhere by me and many others. May it suffice here to state that this is a great glen.
Skipping the description of the bicycle ride from Derry Lodge to Linn of Dee, too, I wish to add only the following two further comments. One, this was a very benign walk with good weather overhead and great views of the grand hills surrounding this pair of Munros. Two, this is the last report of a Cairngorm tour I’ll write before the likely 2016 completion of Frank’s and mine first round of Munros since in 2013 we managed to raise our score to 100% as far as Cairngorm Munros are concerned. Weíll be back.
Max elevation: 1095 m
Min elevation: 204 m
Total climbing: 1419 m
Total descent: -1418 m
Total time: 07:29:00
Description Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a' Chaorainn, with the extensive flat plateau of the Moine Bhealaidh between them, occupy a large area of high ground between Glen Derry and Beinn a' Bhuird. At the southern end of the Moine Bhealaidh, Beinn Bhreac stands out prominently above the Old Caledonian pinewood of Derry, and 4 kilometres to its north Beinn a' Chaorainn rises from the plateau as a prominent pointed hill whose western slopes drop steeply into the narrow defile of the Lairig an Laoigh.The ascent of these two hills is best made from the south, starting at the foot of Glen Lui. Go up the private road (which is also a right of way) to Derry Lodge, and from there head north-north-east uphill through the trees to the col between Meall an Lundain and Beinn Bhreac. From this col climb more steeply northwards to the flat summit of Beinn Bhreac. Continue north-west then north across the wide and featureless plateau of the Moine Bhealaidh to the steepening slopes which lead to the top of Beinn a' Chaorainn. Descend south-west, on gentle slopes at first and then much more steeply down to the Lairig an Laoigh at its summit. Finally, walk 12 kilometres south down Glen Derry and Glen Lui to return to the starting point.