Walk: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - Cairngorms marathon

[View over The Sneck to Beinn a' Bhuird from the ascent to Ben Avon]

The formidable hulks of Beinn a' Bhuird and Ben Avon comprise some of the highest and most inhospitable ground in the country. Both are extensive and remote plateaus: the former fringed by dramatic cliffs, the latter capped with a cluster of rocky tors. Both can be tackled in a single, epic day by one of the most memorable walks in the Cairngorms. At a monstrous 37 km in distance, this is a serious undertaking, passing through terrain miles from the nearest road. On a summer day in good conditions however, long daylight hours make the circuit feasible for experienced walkers, with wonderfully varied terrain keeping interest going as the legs inevitably tire. Just one highlight of the journey is that it passes the "Hidden Bothies": possibly as many as three separate shelters blending into the hillside around the intimate upper part of Gleann an t-Slugain. They're not marked on maps (and shouldn't be confused with the more substantial ruin of Slugain Lodge) and are in fact so well hidden that we couldn't find any of them. If you do manage to stumble upon it, photos or it didn't happen...

[Beinn a' Bhuird (April 2012)]

Walk name: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - Cairngorms marathon ★★★★
Length: 37 km / 23 miles
Ascent: 1150 metres
Main summits: Beinn a' Bhuird (1197 metres, Munro), Cnap a' Chleirich (1172 metres), Ben Avon (1171 metres, Munro)
Points of interest: Linn of Quoich; Hidden Bothy; Invercauld Monument
Start / finish: Car park for Linn of Quoich at end of minor road, 2 miles west (as the crow flies) from Braemar, G.R.: NO 117910 / stowing finest version

Route: Start - east bank of Quoich Water (or stay on west bank to avoid destroyed bridge - see below) - cross back at Linn of Quoich - Glen Quoich - cross Allt an Dubh-ghlinne at NO 080947 - An Diollaid - cliffs above Coire an Dubh-lochain - Beinn a' Bhuird north top - Cnap a' Chleirich - The Sneck - Ben Avon - return to The Sneck - Clach a' Cleirich - Gleann an t-Slugain & Hidden Bothy - Balnagower Cottage & Invercauld Monument - start
Terrain: Good tracks make for quick progress through Glen Quoich, then an excellent path - intermittent on the rocky plateau. Descent into and ascent out of The Sneck is steep and a bit loose. Good paths for remainder, becoming a track again in Gleann an t-Slugain. The crossing of Allt an Dubh-ghlinne has no bridge, and wouldn't be possible in spate. Bridge over Quoich Water at the very start & end of the route is down at time of 2017 update so must be waded twice (or once with diversion above) - impossible in spate.
Wildlife today: Ptarmigan with several chicks on Beinn a' Bhuird, as well as an inquisitive snow bunting.
Weather today: Often sunny although with thunder clouds threatening on Beinn a' Bhuird. A bit windy on the plateau, but hot in the glens on return. One or two remaining snow patches in the sheltered coires.

[The ruins of Slugain Lodge, not far from the Hidden Bothy...]


Route credit: Scotland off the beaten track

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