Date: 24th May 2005
Distance: 6.5 miles
Ascent: 2100 feet
Time: 11 hours 40 mins
With: Lisa, Val and Dave
Start Grid Ref: NH976098
A nice walk up on to Meall a'Bhuachaille, a Corbett with stunning views of the Cairngorms.
Route Summary: Glenmore Forest Centre - Allt Coire Chondlaich - Coire Chondlaich - Creagan Gorm - Meall a'Bhuachaille - Ryvoan Bothy - Glenmore Lodge - Glenmore Forest Centre
1. Lisa in the Queen's Forest
2. A view of the Cairngorms
3. Waiting for Dave to catch up
4. The eastern cairn on the top of Creagan Gorm
5. Meall a'Bhuacaille from Creagan Gorm
6. Loch Morlich from Creagan Gorm
7. Looking back at Creagan Gorm
8. Arriving on the top of Meall a'Bhuacaille
9. Picnic time on Meall a'Bhuacaille
10. On Meall a'Bhuacaille looking towards Cairn Gorm
11. Sgoran Dubh Mor
12. Looking across the Ryvoan Pass
13. Looking down towards Ryvoan Bothy
14. Val and Dave walking through the Ryvoan Pass
Walk Detail: After the epic but ultimately disappointing ascent of Ben Macdui two days and the pleasant walk around Loch an Eilean the day before I was ready for another hill walk. I wanted on that all four of us could have a go at, my plan being to get Lisa and Val up a relatively high point which might encourage them to have a crack at Cairn Gorm itself later in the week.
I had actually been eyeing up the path that traverses the whole ridge of this mini-range from Craigowrie to Meall a’ Bhuachaille when I’d first got the OS Explorer Map for the area but in the end I plumped for a shorter version of the walk in a Cairngorms walking book Lisa bought while we were on holiday. The one thing we all needed to enjoy the walk was good weather and we were very lucky this time.
The walk through the Queen’s Forest was pleasant enough but at the point the path began to follow Allt Coire Chondlaich we had to walk to the side of the path due to recent repairs that had been made. When we made it out of the forest on to the open hillside we even saw diggers further up the path so we cut straight up the hill. The weather was gorgeous and in very little time we already had stunning views of the Cairngorms towering over the Queen’s Forest.
The ascent was quite steep and there were frequent stops for Val and also for Dave to take his pictures. When we finally neared the saddle between Creagan Gorm and Meall a’ Bhuachaille Dave suggested we stopped for a drink. With a surprising amount of excess energy (considering my exertions two days before) and unable to bear the sight of a 700m+ top so near at hand I told everyone I would climb Creagan Gorm and catch them up later.
Off I trotted and I managed to get up there reasonably quickly although I had to stop a couple of times near the top. The top of Creagan Gorm itself had two cairns, one sited to the east and one to the west but still only about 20 metres apart. Neither of them, it has to be said, were the finest built cairns I’ve ever seen. The views however were very good with Loch Morlich and Meall a’ Bhuacaille itself being particular standouts.
In order to catch up with the others I pushed myself quite hard on the final climb up Meall a’ Bhuacaille, it was quite heavy going but I only just missed catching Val and Dave by a couple of minutes. Lisa apparently had, with her usual stubbornness, decided she would not be caught by me so had pushed herself to get to the top quicker than Val and Dave.
Meall a’ Bhuachaille (called locally 'The Shepherd') is quite a distinct top being the highest point of its own little range. The summit is quite a small area dominated by a large cairn-cum-shelter. The all round views were so spectacular that I spent quite a while taking pictures before settling down with the others to eat my lunch.
As enjoyable as it was we still had to get down and the descent down to the Ryvoan Bothy was very steep and was testing to my left knee, still a bit sore after Ben Macdui. With a little help from one of Lisa’s walking poles I managed it though. After a brief exploration of the bothy itself we followed the straightforward path all the way back to Glenmore lodge.