Ben Macdui

A route that I have been waiting to ride for some time, frustrated by high winds last autumn and deep snow that persisted well into summer, things finally came together for a fantastic day high in the Cairngorm.
The 35km route starting from the Linn of Dee, to summit of Ben Macdui, 1309m, gives 936m of ascent and descent, but the relatively gentle gradient throughout - with a couple of exceptions, most notably the climb / carry from, and brilliant descent to, the Hutchinson Memorial Hut - means the vast majority is ride-able.
A short stretch on fire roads soon gives way to the beautiful tracks beyond Derry Lodge - I rode on the west side of the river on the way up, and on the east on the way back which gives a fast flowing finale to the route.
The view up Glen Derry, the steep flank of Derry Cairngorm to the left...
...and the start of the steeper section, though the track remains good and the angle easy enough until the hut is reached.
I carried for just over 1km up the steep climb to reach Loch Etchachan and pushed a little way further from there, but the riding improved rapidly, despite thickening cloud on the summits to the north, Cairngorm itself - the summit above my right shoulder - clearing briefly as I pushed on towards the broad shoulder of Ben Macdui.
I rested a while once there, looking across to the bulk of Beinn Mheadhoinn and the granite tors that litter its summit...
...before riding up to the boulder field that characterises the summit of Ben Macdui which, apart from a few snow buntings, I had to myself. The clag thickened for some time on the top...
...clearing briefly once more as I started the descent...
...pausing only to watch the reindeer - which I have never seen before though I have always known they were here - and what appears to be an albino calf.
Wonderful light across the plateaux and boulder strewn summits, which lasted just a few moments more...
...as I raced the approaching front before the rain set in.
With a few technical drops, the descent is varied and great fun, even when riding alone, erring on the side of caution and despite the downpour that followed, I arrived at the loch wearing a broad grin, before plunging on down towards the hut.
A few close calls on greasy rock saw me back down at the tree line...
...contouring above the Derry Burn...
...before the last fast drop to Derry Lodge.
Last light, looking back towards the Linn of Dee.

Comments

Ian said…
Fantastic! I'm assessing some D of E teams partly over this route in a couple of weeks - I hope the weather is similar :o)

Kind Regards


Ian
Mark Rainsley said…
Looks like fantastic riding - thanks for sharing.

Mark R
Will Herman said…
Thanks Ian and Mark - the riding is sublime. DoE - did mine on MTB all too many years ago, far better than lugging the oversize packs that seem obligatory on all DoE expeditions these days!
Cheers
Will