Walk 1881 - printer friendly version
Ben Macdui & Cairn Lochan from the Ski Centre Walk
Author - Andy Smith
Length - 10.4 miles / 16.9 km
Ascent - 3000 feet / 909 metres
Grade - hard
Start - OS grid reference NH990060
Lat 57.1339318016142 + Long -3.67083586487515
Postcode PH22 1RB (approx. location only)
The Cairngorms offer some of the finest winter walking in Scotland with sub-zero temperatures and arctic storms; they give a real impression of how the country used to be long ago during the big freeze, along with some of the native wildlife such as the grouse and arctic white hare.
This high level walk has an added advantage of starting at altitude for those wishing to "bag the big ones" in shorter winter days, and takes in the second highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Macdui.
From Aviemore take the B970 to Coylumbridge where you take unclassified road Glenmore. Passing Loch Morlich the road turns south before slowly winding uphill toward the ski centre (Grid ref. NH990060) where there is a large car park with plenty of parking. From there, walk under the start of the ski tows to the path leading away south into the hills. After a short while the path splits, bear right climbing steadily past Lurchers Crag and onto Miadan Creag.
Continue south with Cairn Lochan to your left; here even in summer the path seems non existent on these slow rolling summits and care is needed not to stray too close to the Lairig Ghru gully to the right. There now follows a steady 4km walk uphill to Ben Macdui, which is now in sight. Good navigational skills are a must here as the weather can break within minutes, immersing these high levels in dense cloud. However on a good day the views looking right across to Braeriach and Cairn Toul are breathtaking, especially during the winter. After a short steep climb, the grand summit of Ben Macdui is finally reached with superb views looking south into the Lairig Ghru with the river Dee over 2000ft below.
From the summit, head north retracing your footsteps toward Cairn Lochan. About half way along the path splits; take the right fork and head for the summit (Grid ref. NH984025). From the summit, the views across to Aviemore are stunning giving you the impression you can reach out and put it in your pocket! Continue east with the drop to your left. There is the option of a scramble down the small path of Fiacaill Buttress (for highly competent walkers), or as I did, follow the ridge round to the left over Fiacaill à Choire Chais taking in a good view of Cairn Gorm mountain itself. Keeping left of the ski tows, head downhill and drop down to the path just below the cairn. This will take you back to the ski centre and civilisation.