Thursday 22 September 2011

Middle Hill

Having conquered the mighty Glas Allt Mor with dignity mostly intact, we started the climb up the refreshingly dry path leading towards the Hutchison Hut and thereafter Loch Etchachan.

The sun had chosen the moment to give the lie to the pessimistic MWIS forecast, and given the accumulation of water in my gutties at this juncture, its appearance was more than welcome.

The wee bridge over the Derry Burn didn't phase the WBD as it had done last time - clearly the memory of the recent river crossing had led her to the view that it was the lesser of two evils.

It didny bother Jim overly much either. ;)

This route up past the Hut is a well documented one, so suffice it to say that the path is well constructed; not too steep - that's "not too steep", rather than "not too steep" by the way - and leads pleasingly upwards to Loch Etchachan, the largest expanse of water above the 3000' mark in the land.

I'll be honest; it looks more impressive when it's icy. When its not, it's still hugely appealing, but you don't get the "crivvens!" factor that the presence of winter garb on loch and cliffs brings to the party. On the plus side of course, the absence of thin ice meant Jorja didn't have to be kept on the lead this time.

The plan had always been to decide at this point in the walk whether to head for Macdui, or come home over Derry Cairngorm. Time, fatigue levels and visibility were to be the determining factors. Now, we weren't going all that fast, and everybody was a bit knackered, but the weather looked like it'd probably hold up for a wee bit longer. The option to fit in Beinn Mheadhoin while we were up that far suddenly seemed to have something to commend it. The realisation that we could leave the rucksacks at the Loch put the proverbial icing on the cake, and the die was cast - two mid Cairngorm Munros for the price of one.

Irvine Butterfield says of Beinn Mheadhoin/Mheadhain (either is allowed, apparently):

"This great hill sits at the head of Glen Derry, looming large above the Coire Etchachan path, which provides a convenient ladder to its western end, where a broad back rises from the Loch Etchachan saddle.  The south-west top is an unremarkable lump on the ridge, which continues to the actual summit, a huge tor surmounted by a teat-like excrescence, reached by an easy scramble on the rock's northern side."

There's all manner of excrescences up there, as one can see. This next yin's the actual top though:

 I was a wee bit surprised that the dugs raced up the summit tor without a second thought, but that maybe says more about my attitude to heights than anything else. Anyway, up and down in jig time they were.

It's a singular kind of place, the summit plateau of Mheadhoin. A very tundraesque feel to it. That, coupled with the frankly bizarre rock formations, make it a fascinating place to potter around. The views aren't too shabby either...


...but we could see some heavy duty clouds broiling in from the west, so it was time to retrace our steps down to the loch and press on to Derry Cairngorm. It's about now, just as the weather is closing in, that you realise that you're around ten miles and four hours from the car park. We got to about 50 feet above the loch on the path that eventually leads to MacDui when the clouds caught up with us.

I've got no photies from that point on. All I'll say is that I thought I'd got wet on the way up Glen Derry. Nah. Wet's all relative.


Official Statistics
Left hoose: 6am
Distance walked: 31km
Ascent: 1230m
Walk time: 10.5 hours
Returned to hoose: 11pm
Fell asleep in front of telly: 11:35pm


  1. I take my hat off to the dogs. It took me three attempts to scramble up that summit tor. But no one was watching so that’s all right.

  2. I've been up it before, so legally I wasn't obliged to have another go on Saturday.


  3. Sounds like a fantastic, albeit a bit soggy, walk. I loved the photos especially of the rock formations and often wonder how it all came about. I'm sure that there's a sound geological reason for it but I'm equally sure we could come up with some theories of our own!!.............J