Despite many weekends and trips to the Eastern Cairngorms, often camping at Braemar or sleeping in the back of the Espace, Ben Avon had remained unexplored.
The obvious route is to approach from the south, but following perusal of the maps and various books, I decided that an approach from the north would be more interesting - giving a good cycle run in, and a chance to explore some of its more interesting granite tors, and include a couple of extra tops on the way.
And so it was that Anne and I headed up the A9 (once again, but first time this year!) and then off to Grantown-on-Spey. We arrived on a pleasant summer evening, and pitched our tent at the (deserted) campsite just on the edge of the village.
Next morning looked fine, so we made an early start for the drive up to Tomintoul (the highest village in the Scottish Highlands). We parked the car in the car park at the south end of the village, on the minor road to Delnabo, at about 9.15am, and unloaded the bikes.
It was now 10.30am, and a beautiful warm (but lightly overcast) morning, and already we were above the 400m contour. A fine stalker's path took us steadily up on to Carn Fiaclach - good walking, dry underfoot. Following the (sometimes intermittent) path, we passed to the west of Meall Gaineimh (1m short of being a Munro top).
|approaching Clach Bhan (right) - East Meur Gorm Craig in the distance|
|The Great Sphinx of Ben Avon?|
|the hollows on top of Clach Bhan|
|on East Meur Gorm Craig|
From East Meur Gorm Craig, we dropped down to rejoin the path as it continued on towards Big Brae (below).
|heading towards Big Brae (with its own rocky tor)|
Once beyond the head of the coire, we struck across to the west, and up easy grassy slopes to reach the top of West Meur Gorm Craig (left), our second Munro Top of the day. A fine little rocky top, perched above steep drops to the north, and looking across the coire to the previous top.
|summit tor, Ben Avon|
|Anne on the summit - a good spot for a cup of coffee!|
|Beinn a' Bhuird seen through a "window" of Ben Avon's summit tor|
|scrambling around on the summit rocks|
A worthy Munro number 250!
We spent 40 minutes scrambling around and over the summit rocks, and admiring the views across to Beinn a Bhuird.
However, time was marching on, so at 15.20 we began our descent. To begin with, we headed back NE along the highest part of the plateau towards Mullach Lochan na Ghabhar - easy going over short grass and small stones - then headed off NW toward Stob Bac an Fhurain.
|East and West Meur Gorm Craigs from Stob Bac an Fhuarain (Lochan Gabhar just visible)|
|looking down the ridge towards Clach Bun Rubhtain|
|weird face on Clach Bun Rubhtain|
Beyond and below, we could see or descent route along the broad grassy ridge of An Druim Lom and back to the valley of the River Avon.
It didn't take long to get down to the rocky tor, where we marvelled at its weird shapes: one part like a huge face, another like a small dog scrambling up the rocks, and another looking like a bird perched high up on the rocks!
The 2 km stroll along the gently descending grassy ridge was a pleasure - with only the final slither down a steep sandy path to the river giving the knees any pain!
Debris entangled in the deer fence told a story of huge Spring floods, but today the river was in its bed and no danger to anyone.
We followed the deer fence for a few hundred metres, until we could join the land rover track where it crossed by a plank bridge.
From here, it was only a 2km walk, on now weary legs, down past the Linn of Avon to our bikes by the bridge above Inchrory.
It was good to have a seat by the burn for 15 minutes or so, before heading off down the track/road on our bikes.
Although only gently downhill, gravity assisted our run down the valley, and we were back at the car at 7.30pm, exactly an hour from Inchrory.
|the Linn of Avon|