With an excellent day forecast seven members – Arthur, Ewen, Wendell, Michael G., John, Robin, Colin (& Jura the Border Collie) – and two guests, Juliet (just moved to Inverness), and Eelco (from the Netherlands but in Inverness for a few months) set off for the Cairngorms in well-nigh perfect mountain walking conditions.
Michael elected to make his own route onto the plateau, eventually making his way to MacDui, while the others set off up the ridge between Cairn Lochan and Lurcher’s Crag with the same idea in mind. The main party picked up another two companions on the way – Barbara (from Italy) and Monika (from Poland) who were unsure of the route to MacDui and were promptly invited to join the merry band.
From MacDui’s summit the plan was to visit the Shelter Stone and return via Coire Raibeirt (minus our two hitchhikers) but after a pleasant lunch break by Loch Etchachan, where Eelco successfully accepted a challenge from Arthur to walk out over the ice to pose for photos on an exposed rock (tough luck Arthur!), we found ourselves slogging up the gravelly slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin and along the broad plateau to scramble up its monolithic summit tor. Even Robin managed this without falling off as he did on his last visit a few winters ago – see Mike Dixon for details!
There followed a somewhat challenging crossing of the River Avon – accomplished at the cost of a few wet feet and a lost walking pole – to attain the Saddle and the long interminable plod up to the summit of Cairngorm. By this time the long mountain miles were beginning to tell, with even Jura the ever-energetic collie having to lie down for a rest.
From there it was a direct descent through the sadly snowless ski area to rendezvous with Michael before heading off to the Old Bridge Inn in Aviemore for a very welcome rehydrating pint. Thanks to Arthur for arranging perfect weather, and to everyone for a great companionable day.