Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a' Chaorainn



I'd did this walk in June 2015 and drove from Braemar to Linn of Dee car park. The plan was to walk from Linn of Dee to Derry Lodge and then climb Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a' Chaorainn. Then I'd either return the same way, or drop down off Beinn a' Chaorainn into Glen Derry and return to Linn of Dee.

The path to Derry Lodge goes straight out of the car park through the woods...

...and after a short distance comes out on the estate road.

It's a pleasant walk with the Lui Water often in sight.

After crossing the bridge over the Lui Water there were the first views of snow capped Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngormto the right .

Further up the valley Carn a'Mhaim comes into view on the left. This was one of my "target" hills for later in the week.

Shortly before reaching the trees around Derry Lodge the tors on Beinn Mheadhoin come into view.

Derry Lodge - boarded up and offering no shelter. I was surprised to see that the public emergency telephone is no longer available at the mountain rescue hut.

The path up Glen Derry was damaged in the storms of August 2014 and warning notices point out that there are still problems. There were two places where side streams had destroyed the culverts but there were no serious problems on the section I used.

The broad path is an easily graded one and good progress was made to the junction with the path to Beinn Bhreac (NO 0454 9499)

Looking across Glen Derry to Derry Cairngorm and the tors on Beinn Mheadhoin.

The track climbs through the woods and is a little boggy in places.

Soon it is out on the open hillside with a clear path....

....that gradually works its way uphill.

A track come in from the right and I made a mental note to take the correct one downhill on my return. This is looking back to the junction.

The clear path continues.... reach a dried up lochan near the 673m spot height on the OS 1:25000 map.

The track drops down slightly to a stream before resuming the gentle climb uphill.

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The panorama shows the long ridge that leads up over Carn Grom (in the centre) to Derry Cairngorm (on the right). Click on the photo for a larger image.

The path crosses heather before...

...reaching a cairn at NO 05555 96601 which might be useful to know in misty conditions.

Higher up the path becomes fainter...

...and disappears....

.....when the summit ridge is reached. The actual summit is to the east...

...and after a slight drop the cairn of Beinn Bhreac (931m) comes into view. It had taken exactly 3 hours to walk from Linn of Dee

I forgot to take a photo of the summit cairn as I ended up deep in discussion with a local mountain guide who was also an ex-teacher.

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Panorama looking north west over Beinn Bhreac's North Top towards the high summits of the Cairngorms. In the centre above the path the two snow covered peaks of Cairn Toul, the Derry Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and Beinn Mheadhoin.

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Panorama looking north and east with Beinn a' Chaorainn (the day's second target hill marked by a red dot) in the distance across the plateau and Beinn a' Bhuird on the right

Finding the correct path to go onto Beinn a' Chaorainn wasn't as easy as I expected because the thin vegetation has been worn away, giving many possible routes.

However, it lies slightly downhill and east from the West Top.

The path eventually disappears as it reaches the marshy area of the Mine Bheadlaidh. I really should have waymarked this on my GPS as you will read later!

Fortunately, conditions weren't too bad but I believe this area of peat bogs can be difficult to cross after a lot of rain.. 

It's just over three miles (as the crow flies) between the two summits but it took me just under two hours with a fair bit of meandering about being necessary to find a way through the boggy areas.

Over to the west is Ben Macdui with a lot of snow still lying in mid June.

I followed the Glas Allt Mr before crossing it just...

...before the lochan at NJ 054 004

It was with some relief that I started on the climb over stones. There was actually plenty of grass between the boulders..

...which made the climb a little easier. This is looking back to Beinn Bhreac.

As seems often the case in the Cairngorms, there are sections with just a thin covering of moss with bare stoney earth underneath - real tundra conditions.

Over to the north east is the small Lochan Beinn a' Chaorainn

At the far end of the summit dome the cairn comes into view.

The summit cairn of Beinn a'Chaorainn with a view of the hills across Glen Derry:

Derry Cairngorm is seen to the left of the cairn, Ben Macdui to the right and Beinn Mheadhoin on the far right.

It had taken me two hours to walk from Beinn Bhreac.

This is looking down the south west ridge into Glen Derry. I'd decided against tackling the steep descent into the glen in favour of returning the way I'd come up.

This is a zoomed in view with, to the left, the end of Derry Cairngorm, in the centre Ben Macdui with  Coire Etchachan in front and to the right the slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin.

To the left of the photo are the slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin and in the distance Cairngorm with the cliffs dropping down to Loch Avon.

To the left is the north east end of Cairngorm and to the right is Bynack More.

For my return to Beinn Bhreac I took a slightly different and easier route as can be seen in my GPS track. After walking down the north east ridge for a short distance I ....

....could see that the rather awkward sections I'd come up which was covered with stones could be avoiding by keeping slightly further west on less stoney ground.

On the way back I cross over the Glas Allt Mr before the lochan and keep on the east side of the lochan (NJ 054004).

The walking is a lot drier this way but then I make the mistake of heading uphill towards Craig Derry too much and had difficulty finding the clear track I'd used earlier! Anyway I eventually find it again and head off to the dip between Beinn Bhreac's West Top and the main summit...

....where I pick up the path down into Glen Derry.

Back on the well made path it was simply a case of another hour and a half's walk back to Linn of Dee. It had taken four hours from Beinn a'Chaorainn.