Top 5 Walking Routes in the Cairngorms: Bynack More and Stac na h-Iolaire
Posted on Sep 28, 2015 by Peter Grant
Roam where the fairies wash their clothes through ancient glacial landscapes, to the Eagle’s Crag.
The third in our series of Top 5 Walking Routes in the Cairngorms. Wilderness Guide Peter Grant shares another of his favourites: Bynack More and Stac na h-Iolaire.
Our top 5 walks in the Cairngorms:
- Sgoran Dubh Mor and Sgor Gaoithe
- Loch an Eilein and Creag Dhubh
- Bynack More and Stac na h-Iolaire
- Fiacaill of Coire an Lochain and Feith Buidhe
- Ben Macdui
Bynack More and Stac an h-Iolaire
The gorgeous Lochan Uaine, the Green Lochan
Approaching the Cairngorms from the east, up Strathspey through whisky country, Bynack More is the pyramidal peak standing out at the left end of a line of high tops. Bynack is a popular hill to climb, being shapely and quite accessible, but it is rarely tackled as a circuit.
The path to Bynack passes the lovely Lochan Uaine (Green Lochan), where the fairies are said to wash their clothes, and a walk to this loch is a treat in itself.
I particularly like the route because the retreat from the mountain takes you off the walker’s paths to ford the river Nethy. This leads into a beautiful but unfrequented part of the Cairngorms that gives you a feel for the power of the postglacial period. The route climbs through one of the dramatic meltwater channels gouged out as ice dams burst to drain huge meltwater lakes.
Another feature of this walk is that it affords a great view of the regenerating scots pine forest of Glenmore. You can see this on the last couple of miles of the descent to Glenmore Lodge.
The Nethy crossing means that this route is usually one for the summer. The return leg of this route is only possible when the river is low. But you can assess this as you bridge the Nethy on your approach to Bynack More.
- Start at Glenmore Lodge Outdoor Centre. Follow the track north-east (NE) through pine woods into the Thieves’ Pass, an old cattle raiders’ route. Pass Lochan Uaine, the Green Loch, and after 2.45km take the hill road to the right at a Y junction as you emerge from the pass.
- Contour round to the right, overlooking hummocky moorland which contains the ‘floating dams’. Foresters used these to transport timber down the Nethy. Bridge the Nethy at NJ022104 and take the well-maintained path south-east (SE) up the broad spur.
- After 2km from the bridge, level out on to a high plateau, to get a clear view of the pyramidal shape of your goal, Bynack More, to the south. Head on across this flat rocky upland to reach the north ridge of Bynack. Follow it up to the granite tors at the summit.
- From here you can enjoy great views of Loch Avon and the Shelter Stone crag. On a clear day, you can see north to Morven and Scaraben in Caithness. On the return leg, there is no clear path to follow. Head north-west (NW) down and over the top of Bynack Beg, on to descend by the western edge of Coire Dhuibh. You will reach the Nethy valley floor just after 2km from the summit of Bynack More.
- Ford the river and climb up the west side of the glacial meltwater channel. This forms a deep scree-strewn gash alongside Stac na H-Iolaire, the Eagle’s Crag. From the summit of the pass, 1.2km after fording the river, you look down into the bowl of Glenmore Forest.
- Here young regenerating scots pines are beginning to populate the open spaces between the remnants of the ancient forest. Head due west (W) on a descending traverse to pick up the line of a burn taking you back to Glenmore Lodge.
- 17km, 993m ascent.
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Disclaimer: All walks are undertaken at your own risk, as walking can be a dangerous activity if the appropriate precautions are not taken. Wilderness Scotland does not guarantee full-accuracy of the information given and does not accept responsibility or liability. It is your own responsibility to check the information with other resources, to know your own capability and to check weather conditions. Attention must be paid to your equipment, plan for the worst weather; carry a detailed map, compass, warm clothing, waterproofs, plenty of food and drink to last you the day and a head torch. Remember that a route description and a map are no use unless you can navigate with a map and compass. A GPS unit and the GPX route are a good back up but should be used as a guide rather than as a main navigational tool.
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