2012 is the 125th Anniversary of
the founding of the Cairngorm Club, at the Shelter Stone at the
head on Loch Avon in the centre of the Cairngorms.
This years Overnighter was a pilgrimage to
the site of this event, with a bivvy under the Stone a must for
some (but not others!!).
Several parties and individuals left from
Muir Cottage, and other locations, to head for the Shelter Stone
and below is a summary of their adventures.
Graeme McEwan, Willie Robb and Derek
Beverley left Muir Cottage around 8am on Saturday 23rd
June and two of them did not return for over 26 hours. The
weather was mixed and moody and they encountered sunshine,
showers and drenching rain in that time. Records (since the
event) have shown that April to June this year was the wettest
since records began. June was also the second dullest (and
wettest) since records began, so do not expect much blue sky nor
sunshine in the photos that follow. What you will see were the
hills at their moody best.
Amongst the trees in Glen Derry
Looking back (southwards)
Willie approaching the bridge over the
Derry Burn near the old Derry Dam
Heading north up Glen Derry
The group split below the summit of the
Lairig an Laoigh and Willie reached the Shelter Stone around
13.15hrs via Loch Etchachan. Graeme and Derek proceeded by way
of the Lairig an Laoigh (the pass of the calves).
Looking back down Glen Derry
Below Beinn a’ Chaorainn to the high point
of the Lairig an Laoigh there has been some (very good) path
repair work which made progress on the south side of the pass
quick. Once over the pass the path is in it’s original state and
boulders, dubs and water slow the walker down.
On the repaired path looking back down Glen
Looking into Coire Etchachan (the Corrie of
Looking northwards towards the Fords of
Avon and Dubh Lochans
There were small fish (trout?) rising for
flies in the Dubh Lochan
Near Fords of Avon… in the desolate heart
of the Cairngorms
A ford before 'The Avon Ford'
At 'The Fords of Avon' they met in with the
2nd Duke of Edinburgh party they had seen today. They were
resting having lunch on the Aberdeen side and would ford it on
their walk out to Glenmore tomorrow. Derek fancied a cup of
coffee and the new refuge looked appealing so he waded (just
below knees) for a look at the place, 'it’s braw' he said later.
Whilst there he reflected on his second overnight stay in the
refuge some time back having walked in from Crathie with a stop
at Corndavon Bothy. He spent 16 hours in the place nearly not
finding it in visibility of around 20mtrs. Back then it was a
dark hole but today it is brighter, drier and quite welcoming.
After rejoining Graeme and the others on the far bank he was
'scored' for his crossing technique by the adults in charge of
the D of E’s (it was a a good score).
Fords of Avon Mountain Refuge
They had coffee nearby before progressing
behind the D of E’s and their bright orange rucksack covers.
They took the path along the south shore of the Avon which is a
combination of deer and human tracks and as such there are good
stretches and less good stretches.
Approaching Loch Avon
Looking up Loch Avon to the snowfields up
by the Garbh Uisge
Graeme on the path for the Shelter Stone
The walk into the Shelter Stone along the
lochside is a delight and there is always something to see.
Crossing one of the burns that tumbles down
from Beinn Mheadhoin, this water tastes great in your whisky…
COAT were in residence below the Shelter
Stone – engaged on the repair of the Coire Dhomain path but few
people were about today (they saw only two). The work is
necessary and no doubt will be of good quality. This route is
regularly used by members on the Cairngorm Traverse and it’s
betterment must be a good thing.
The head of Loch Avon
Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust on the
They made our rendevous with Willie, 10mins
ahead of schedule, at 15.50hrs and were joined later by others
intent on visiting the ‘Stone’on the 125 Anniversary.
The first 5 (or six, inc. photo taker) to
reach the ‘Stone’
Meanwhile …… Ken, Colin & Marj left Muir
individually but met up at Derry Lodge With clouds fairly high,
they decided on Derry Cairngorm as their preferred route to the
Shelter Stone, and followed the path up through the trees onto
Marj arriving at Derry Lodge
Path up through the trees
There were views over to the Beinn a’Bhuird
plateau and to the left the Sputan Dearg cliffs and snow gullies
but it soon 'clagged' over
Marj & Colin on the ridge
Halfway up, a shower out of the northwest
led to waterproofs being donned, but the light winds made Kens
umbrella a welcome portable shelter. They were overtaken by a
keen type up from Oxford for a day on the hill, and passed the
first of several parties coming down. Marj was obviously
suffering from a heavy cold but was persuaded to continue. The
stony, rainy and rather windy summit eventually appeared at
around 2 pm. After a brief stop for lunch, they set off for Loch Etchachan, in the past Ken has usually gone around the east
side of Creagan a Choire Etchachan, but on this occasion they
just followed the path (and a few ptarmigan) to the main Macdhui
route, then down to cross the fast-flowing burn at the loch
The trek over to Glen Avon proved rougher,
wetter and longer than all remembered
Eventually they dropped down eroding slopes
and boggy stretches to the 'Stone', where Willie, Derek and
Graeme were all ensconced in different places, and looking
rather glumly down to the path repair encampment near Loch Avon,
a string of white sacks up the Coire Domhain route showed their
The 'Shelter Stone 6' minus Ken
As the weather set in in earnest, the
foaming white Feith Bhuidhe streamlets looked impressive but the
sub-Stone atmosphere did not rise above the dark and dank, even
with several inside. Colin and Marj soon departed for home, with
Graeme soon following.
Also heading to the Shelter Stone at this
time, from various starting points, were Fiona Cameron, Judy
Middleton, Bill Morgan, Garry Wardrope, David Brown and Ken
Derek and Kens pictures take up the story
Garry arrived and got the place (a bit)
.... and played some music
Willie and Fiona enjoyed a nap
The firelog, whose combustion inside the
shelter provided welcome light and heat, albeit with some fumes.
Judy then added to the gaiety, as did
Fiona, who had trained, bussed and trekked from Aberdeen via
Aviemore and the Cairngorm car park and plateau: a sterling
effort. Finally, a few (or more) sips of the hard stuff(s)
supplied by Derek, Bill and others readied us for 'The Speech'
by Derek, who recalled the establishment of the Club in 1887.
After a rest Ken braved the elements and
headed out into the gloom and takes up the story again ......
“I had been dithering over my overnight
intentions, but eventually decided to follow Judy to her
campsite, hoping for better weather. On the traverse over to
Loch Etchachan, we met the other Ken coming in, and complaining
about “nightmare” burn crossings en route. Indeed, the Loch
Etchachan outlet proved worse than in the afternoon, but with
wet feet already that did not matter much, and I set off up the
Macdhui path, leaving Judy at her lochside tent, and somewhat
horrified at the cluster of DoE tents (from Eton College, it
transpired) which had replaced her expected solitude.
The Macdhui path angled up into the mist
and drizzle, with snow patches before the final summit slopes –
which again proved longer and less well marked than expected,
but with a clear upward trend until the cairn and Club indicator
loomed up. I had been wondering where to bivvy (or whether to
keep walking), but, with the prospect of commemorating the Club
properly as (probably) the highest sleeper in the land that
night, I eventually kipped down in a stone horseshoe next to the
summit just on midnight. The rain came on more heavily after I
had settled in, but the bivvy bag served well, and I dozed an
hour or so longer than intended before packing up in rather a
wet and hurried state at around 3.45 am.
Off east across half-remembered slopes of
stone – the last time I had been up here was searching for a
left-behind Club member on a September traverse – until the
welcome cliff edge appeared in the mist. Soon afterwards, as I
descended south, upper Glen Luibeg became visible on my left,
and the slopes of Carn a’Mhaim ahead. A sudden panic erupted as
I missed my house and car keys in my pockets, but a quick search
turned them up inside my hastily packed bed roll. Down to and
across the burn, and along the made-up path to Robbers’ Copse,
with a lone deer above me, up on the southwest slopes of Derry
Cairngorm. Derry Lodge at 6 am lifeless (and tentless) except
for several MR landrovers, and then down the track to the Linn,
with a lone walker from the White Bridge track coming into port
like me. Back at base by 7:30 am, and after a welcome shower in
Muir and a couple of hours snoozing in Blackburn, I was ready to
face the rigours of the Presidential Event.”
Others made their way back to Muir at
various times and here are some final pictures from Derek and
Willie and Derek were up at 3am and, after
a coffee and brioch breakfast, left at 03.50am.
Leaving the Shelter Stone (early morning)
By Loch Etchachan
Descending to the Coire Etchachan Shelter
There were two parties of D of E’s here (in
tents) so they did not linger at the bothy but proceeded
'homeward' enjoying two more burn crossings. Willie elected to
ford the Derry Burn in Coire Etchachan.
Willie in lower Coire Etchachan (he didn't
fancy the bridge!!)
Trees on the slopes of Beinn Bhreac
They took the (newish) riverside walk path
to the hard road at Linn of Dee (turn left instead of right
through forest at signpost) and enjoyed a delightful, if short,
walk by the River Lui
Falls on the River Lui
The walk into Muir from the Shelter Stone
took 6 hours including breaks.
Perhaps the above is a bit disjointed, but
it certainly shows the dedication of some members to ensure that
the 125th Anniversary Overnighter was a night to