Saturday 8 November 2014

Bynack More.

Abhainn Ruigh-eunachan near Allt Mor Car Park

The days are drawing in. This one looked like a longish walk on paper, but the paths are renowned for being good, so we thought we'd make good time... 

The Ryvoan Pass from Glen More

An early start from the Forestry Commission car park at Allt Mor gave us plenty of daylight - and what a lovely day - the sun, low in the sky, catching the hilltops and shining through the Scots pine.

There were a few twists and turns and branching's off through the forest, but a couple of double checks of the map, and we were soon on the main track that leads up from Glenmore Lodge and goes up through the Ryvoan Pass. (It's part of the Thieves Road from Glen More to Nethy Bridge) 

Caledonian pine forest, Glen More
The sun wasn't yet on the waters of An Lochan Uaine, famous for its turquoise-green waters, so we didn't quite get the full effect - but it was certainly a beautiful spot...

An Lochan Uaine

The path led us further east, over the Pass, through more gnarled and ancient Caledonian pine forest and into Strath Nethy, expansive views across high rolling moorlands, with the high Cairngorms to our south.

An Lochan Uaine from the Ryvoan Pass

The Lairig an Laoigh heads south from the Ryvoan track just before the bothy - if time any daylight allowed, we'd stop off for a visit there on our return...

Not much chance of getting lost (NJ003111)
Lairig an Laoigh or Theives' Road
The Lairig an Laoigh was our route for the next few k, winding and undulating through the open moorland, the views opening up all around as the sun climbed higher.

Rafe and Jim
Lairig an Laoigh path near Loch a Gharbh-choire (NJ00511)

The path was excellent, and with not much in the way of ascent as yet, easy walking.

Looking back to Ryvoan Bothy and Lochan a'Chait from the Lairig an Laoigh path 

Rafe and Jim - On the Lairig an Laoigh path,
skirting the northern end of An Garbh-choire

We passed the site of the Bynack Stable beside the Allt a'Garbh-coire - nothing left of the old hut that once was used as a shelter in emergencies - it finally collapsed in 2005... 

The River Nethy and Strath Nethy
Before crossing the River Nethy on a good bridge.

The River Nethy - footbridge at NJ021105

And here the ascent started - but it wasn't hard going - it was gradual and on a good path. If Rafie had been a few years younger, it would have been an excellent bike ride.

Rafe and Jim on Lairig an Laoigh - ascent of Bynack More

There were a few other walkers about - some doing various training from Glenmore Lodge. Everyone stopped for a word, cheerful in the late autumn sunshine.

Looking back along our route and to Meall a'Bhuachaille

Once we made it to over the first rise to the broad plateau before Bynack More, we had our first proper viewing of the mountain ahead, with its smaller brother, Bynack Beg next door.

Jim and Rafe - Bynack More and Bynack Beg

We continued on the Lairig an Laoigh path across the plateau, the hills rising before us, blinded by the sun...

North to Moray from Lairig an Laoigh on the moor below Bynack More

The moor behind us was almost featureless, the path meandering through the bleached vegetation, blasted by the harsh winters up here - bleak - but beautiful non the less.

Rafe and Jim - Bynack More and Bynack Beg

As we neared the summit of the moor (818m) our path left the Lairig an Laoigh and made a bee line for Bynack More.

Jim - A good place for a spot of lunch - below Bynack More

Just before we got to that final summit pull, we decided that some refreshment was in order and took a short detour east, into some rocks (NJ043075 approx) to get out of a chilly wind that was getting up. 

Views south east from below Bynack More - picnic view!

A sandwich always tastes better when it goes with a glorious view!

Views north from ascent of Bynack More

Once back on the path (and after some sustenance!) the 200m or so of ascent left to the summit flew by...

Jim - Ascent of Bynack More

There were a few rocks and a bit of snow, but we were ready for something to get our boots into.

Views north over Moray from Bynack More

It was clear and cold - the views went on forever.

North, we could see right across Moray - we were fairly sure that we could see our house - honest!

Bynack More summit plateau

The summit was a jumble of boulders - the highest point was towards the south end of the summit ridge, denoted by the usual pile of rocks.

The views to the south and west from Bynack More (Munro 54, 1090m) were towards the high tops of the Monadh Ruadh - Cairn Gorm, Ben Macdui, Breariach, et al. Today the cloud skimmed the highest summits, lit from behind by the afternoon sun and highlighted by a sprinkling of early snow - it was hard to identify individual peaks - it didn't matter... 

Jim - Bynack More summit (Munro 54, 1090m) - views south

Time was getting on. 

We had decided to pick up the Munro Top of Bynack Beg, so back along the summit plateau,..

Bynack Beg from Bynack More with Meall a'Bhuachaille beyond easy descent to the north west and over a grassy bealach...

Jim descends towards Bynack Beg

...took us to Bynack Beg (Munro Top 120, 970m).

Bynack Beg (Munro Top 120, 970m)
With more wonderful views over Moray and today's route.

Bynack More from Bynack Beg

There was some discussion regarding our descent route.

Jim wanted to head north west, straight off the nose of Bynack Beg - now I might have been up for this, had it not been mid afternoon and had I not read the guide book which discussed the demerits of the Stath Nethy bogs. We did have a bit of a recce descent to an agreed boulder to see what it looked like. Jim finally came round to my way of thinking when we saw the afternoon sun glinting on the pools in the waterlogged glen, with a distinct lack of any path visible!!

So it was decided (!) that we would make our way around the coire, back to our ascent route, and head back that way...

Jim and Rafe
Countouring around Coire Dubh below Bynack More

We trudged back up to the summit of Bynack Beg, before contouring around the head of Coire Dubh, through tussocks and over a few little burns. Rafe got a drink and a plodge below a little waterfall, before we crossed back over the featureless moor to the Lairig an Laoigh path. 

Jim and Rafe - Descent from below Bynack More

Once on the path, the descent was easy, smooth and fast - and we were given motivation to get on with it, by ominous clouds gathering over the mountains and marching up Strath Nethy. Would we get wet?

South into Strath Nethy 

Rafe and Jim - Descent from Bynack More - on the Lairig an Laoigh

Bynack More and Bynack Beg above Strath Nethy

Back at the track junction with the Ryvoan Pass path, we took a right and walked the 500m or so, along the rather bouldery track, to the lovely, reputed to be haunted, little Ryvoan Bothy. A great place for a second lunch - and a chat with a young family also having a break in the old farmhouse. They had climbed Meall 'Bhuachaille and the children were feeling particularly proud of themselves - and so they should!

Ryvoan Bothy

After we had taken in a few calories, we moved on, back to the track junction and back over the Ryvoan Pass. 

The sun had gone down by the time we reached An Lochan Uaine, but it was bright - the waters were still, clear and very green - we'll be back again to try and catch it in the sunlight.

Rafe didn't care what colour it was - he just wanted in!

We were back at Allt More just as it was starting to get dark - there's nothing like the smell of wet dog in the car...

Rafe by An Lochan Uaine

Route:  Allt Mor car park (NH983088), path SE (initially purple route), over fb (NH984085), track E, cross bridge (NH989088), track NE, cross ford (NH992091), track N over fb to track junction (NH992097), track E through Ryvoan Pass to track junction (NJ003111), E (sp Braemar), along Lairig an Laoigh to fb over River Nethy (NJ021105), good path E up shoulder (not by river) to sh 818m, Bynack More (Munro 54, 1090m), NW to Bynack Beg (Munro Top 120, 970m), return SE to bealach (NJ037065) and contour NE round Coire Dubh to meet outward path near sh 818m, return on outward path to junction at NJ003111, NE to Ryvoan Bothy, return SW to track junction (NJ003111) and retrach outward route to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 25km  Ascent: 900m  Time: 6.45hours

Map:  OS Explorer 403 (Cairn Gorm & Aviemore)

Bynack More

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