Bynack More from Glenmore, bagging my first Munro

Date:  18/09/2015
Start time:  09:00
Time taken:  9 hours
Distance:  24 miles
Weather:  Warm, dry and clear
Route:  Glenmore – Ryvoan Pass – Bynack More – Creag Mhor – Dagrum – Ryvoan Pass – Glenmore

A window opened up in my calender and I decided to grab an opportunity to try something new, to bag some Scottish hills. I chose to lose my Scottish hill walking virginity by what turned out to a long route with several tricky sections but the scenery was superb and apart from on the Ryvoan Pass at the start and end of the day I didn’t see a soul, I spotted more ptarmigans than people!

Bynackmore-map-001
Map showing my route, starting and finishing at Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel

The route from where I was staying at Glemore to Bynack More and Creag Mhor and back to Glenmore looked like being a long one when I planned it, and so it turned out. But it did achieve three objectives. I visited my first Munro, first Corbett and bagged some Geograph points as well.

 

Wide path between trees
Between trees on a path through Glenmore Forest

I set off at 9am and headed east along the path which follows the minor road to Glenmore Lodge. This part of walk followed a very well made and well used path where I passed various cyclists, backpackers and other walkers who’d started earlier than me.  Accompanying the path I noticed the Allt na Feithe Duibhe flowing close by and crossed it a few times before reaching Ryvoan.

Heather and pine trees
Heather and trees beside the Ryvoan Pass

After a while the trees started to thin out and cleared patches of hillside allowed wider views across the valley. Heather abounded, and choosing to walk in September meant that most of it was flowering giving the hills and valleys an attractive purple tinge.

Heather and Ryvoan Bothy
Looking across a field of heather to Ryvoan Bothy

Soon the confines of the valley were left behind and the expansive views spread out even further. From the footpath Ryvoan Bothy is visible to the north, its roof neatly reflecting the colours of the autumn heather. The small bothy looked dwarfed by the highland landscape, but would be a very welcome port in a storm if needed.

A path through a landscape of heather
The path from Ryvoan

At Ryvoan I continued along the path which will eventually take you to the Fords of Avon and Braemar if you walk far enough. The path is disappointingly wide with a man made surface, but I guess it means walking is easy and progress quick, which was welcome as I’d be using this same path on both the outward and return portions of my walk.

Footbridge crossing the river
The River Nethy crossed by a footbridge

The River Nethy is crossed by a substantial wooden footbridge. After crossing the river here the path starts climbing the northern slopes of Bynack More and heading southwards. Here I noticed I was following a couple of walkers up ahead who I’d soon catch and pas. They were the only two people I saw between crossing this bridge on the outward leg and crossing it again on my return much later in the day.

Footpath on Bynack More
Following walkers climbing Bynack More

I soon passed the pair of walkers I was following, and after they disapeared from view I didn’t see them again all day, though I did hear them at the top of Bynack More. As the path climbs up it became rougher which was welcome, after all I don’t want to feel like I could be climbing Munros in my trainers.

Path on Bynack More
Looking back out of the cloud atop Bynack More

Unfortunately the top of Bynack More was enveloped in a shallow layer of cloud so the best view I had close to the summit was looking back down the path up the northern ridge before visibility reduced to metres instead of miles.

The top of Bynack More
The summit of Bynack More in cloud

After a few minutes of navigating the stony exposed rocks around the top of the hill, and a reassuring check of my GPS I found the summit. Unfortunately the view from the top remained a mystery, but I had for the first time reached the summit of a Munro, should I choose to bag the rest I only have 281 to go!

Exposed rocks on Bynack More
The Little Barns of Bynack, south of the summit

After lunching in a sheltered spot near the top I headed south and discovered the Barns of Bynack, an intriguing group of weathered outcrops of rock to the south of the main summit of Bynack More. Close to the top I spotted a small group of ptarmigans perched on an exposed rock. I managed to grab a photo before they noticed me and flew off into the cloud.

Ptarmigans
A trio of ptarmigans south of the Barns of Bynack

From Bynack More I had a very hairy descent into the valley below. I couldn’t find the path I was looking for (if it existed) and decided on a direct route down the flank of the hill to the valley before. This nearly ended in disaster, at least once losing my footing on the steep hillside and sliding several metres down the hill before stopping in a controlled fashion. Thankfully it didn’t end in disaster, and I found myself beside Lochan a’ Bhainne.

View of the valley
View down from Bynack More
Top of Creag Mhor
The summit of Creag Mhor

From beside the Locchan I took a bee line up the side of the hill across the low heather and quickly reached the top of Creag Mhor. The top of the Corbett is obvious from quite a way off as it was a distinct rocky outcrop at its summit.

The view from Creag Mhor
Looking north from the top of Creag Mhor

 

View north from Creag Mhor
Looking north towards Cairngorm from the top of Creag Mhor

Standing on top of the rock outcrop at the pinnacle of Creag Mhor the views were panoramic in each of the 360 degrees available. To the south in the distance was Cairngorm, still with a couple of patches with snow in north facing corries, in the other directions a gently rolling highland landscape stretched off into the distance.

Exposed rock on Creag Mhor
Exposed rock on Creag Mhor
An expansive area of heather moorland
An expansive area of heather moorland

 

Extensive moor to the south of Cnap na Cul-ath
Extensive moor to the south of Cnap na Cul-ath

From the top of Creag Mhor I walked north over the subsidiary top of Dagrum and the rolling upland landscape to the north of Creag Mhor. Walking in this area varied from easy going across low dry heather, to navigating peat hags which were awkward and slowed progress.

Uisge Dubh Poll a' Choin
A stream in the highland landscape

Eventually I found my way to the banks of Uisge Dubh Poll a’ Choin, a small upland stream which sped my progress up as I could follow it rather than trudge through peat hags and heather. From here I followed it up its valley towards the path which I’d left some hours earlier.

Uisge Dubh Poll a' Choin
The Uisge Dubh Poll a’ Choin stream
Looking along the path towards Ryvoan
Looking along the path towards Ryvoan

Eventually I found the path again and started the trudge home along the wide and well trodden path towards Ryvoan. From here there was still nearly 2 hours of walking left, much of it downhill to return to where I started from several hours earlier in the day.

An Lochan Uaine
An Lochan Uaine

Returning along the Ryvoan Pass I stopped beside the calm, clear, green waters of An Lochan Uaine which was peaceful and quiet as evening approached. Having been on my feet for 8 hours a quick dip in the water was very tempting, however getting to journey’s end and a meal was even more tempting.  After leaving here I had a quick 30 minute walk before returning to the relative hive of activity that is Glenmore.

Once here I arrived back at my bed for the night at the Youth Hostel and reflected on a successful, rewarding and tiring first days walking in Scottish hills in which I had bagged my first ever Munro and Corbett. I also decided that I’d definitely returning to Scotland to explore more of the highland landscape in the future.


 

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