Cairn Lochin via Fiacaill Ridge

  • Monday 19th August 2019
  • Cairngorms National Park

So with our Russian trip and Mount Elbrus climb feeling like a distant memory it was time to wipe the dusty cobwebs off the old walking boots and get out on those hills again.

It felt good to get the boots back on and where better than in one of my favourite places in the world – The Cairngorms!

We started off our hike from our usual spot at the Cairngorms Ski Centre.

The weather predicted rain but it never told us about the high winds up here!

Visibility at this point was pretty clear so we could not complain.

The Fiacaill Ridge was a walk we had been looking at for a while, in fact every time we were up here.

We had been waiting for that clear, wind free day as this could potentially be a tricky scramble. Today was the day we were attempting it in a not so clear and wind free day!

Some might argue that the route we were about to take crosses the line between “walking” and “climbing” owing to a series of short vertical climbs and a remarkable degree of exposure.

Once out of the car park and into the mountains we were alone, not a soul in sight, possibly perfect conditions after all.

We followed a man made path for a bit, crossed over the River Allt Coire an t-Sneachda then undertook some rock hopping to cross over some of the heather landscape which in parts was quite boggy.

We continued upwards until we hit a boulder field.

I quite enjoyed crossing over this large boulder field as for me it broke up the steep upwards as I focused on where best to place my feet. Through and over the boulders we went.

Conditions at this point got very windy and the rain came on. We were in the middle of summer and out came our full winter waterproofs.

If only Maks our trusted Russian Guide could be here with us to witness this.

Temperatures right now were freezing and I was sure the rain was turning into snow!

We kept walking. We eventually started to see the toothy ridge and where we were about to ascend and it looked pretty scary.

So the ridge is pretty exposed. If you do not have a head for exposure then you are about to face your fears!

A few bits looked very overhanging from where we were standing. This was our last escape option. Were we going to clamber through and up this knife edge climb. This was where the walking ended and the climbing began.

In winter this becomes a totally different scramble and rope work skills would be essential as it becomes a grade two winter climb. However in summer conditions (take that with a pinch of salt) it should present no real problems to experienced hill walkers.

The first section was pretty tough and steep. The footholds were pretty well placed and we took our time. We then hit a second section which sure tested any vertigo problems.

We climbed up a steep gully, then another vertical climb and the exposure at this point was severe, possibly a thousand foot dead vertical drop.

Once past this we were on to our last section which was quite simple and the ridge began to widen again slightly.

All too soon we were eventually at the top which was a slight relief (Read: HUGE) and a massive sense of satisfaction.

How they do that in the winter I will never know and never intend to find out!!!Views were amazing.

I love the look of the mountains in the Cairngorms. They look rugged, weather beaten, harsh and tough. They can fight off anything including the elements that throw themselves at them day after day, month after month, year after year.

We could see Lochnager to the south east, Ben Macdui to the south, Braeriach and Sgor Gaoith which we were hoping to do tomorrow.

We were also able to see amazing views of the Glenmore forest and Loch Morlich….such stunning scenery, it never fails to amaze me.

We decided to drop of the hill slightly to get out of the wind and we managed to find a wind free secluded spot to have lunch and continue to enjoy our surroundings as the rain had stopped.

Then it was time to move on and from here we headed up the slope of Cairn Lochan.

We decided to take the path less travelled down off the mountain and grabbed some pictures of the Fiacaill Ridge also and at this point it was now covered almost by cloud. Conditions had quickly deteriorated even from when we had been on it.

What a day – an amazing hike and a breathtaking scramble on one of Scotland’s finest ridge routes.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Theresa Skelhorn says:

    Hi Mary good to see you are both back on the road again in the Cairngorms. Great views the climb looks a bit of a challenge I think I would be slightly worried how I would get down again. Looking at the video you can see how strong the wind is in some places. It is so beautiful everywhere, the views from the top gives me a sense of calmness especially where you are standing on the ridge looking out over the landscape.

    Theresa xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes… Great to be out in the wild again especially after a busy two days in hectic Edinburgh! Views in the Cairngorms are always amazing….I always think it looks so wild! Winds were very strong… Especially the higher up you went and some of it we couldn’t take photos or videos as they were safely tucked away and we needed both our hands to hold on for sure…. Yes some of it was quite scary and I do always worry about how the heck do I get off this!!! I get that calmness you describe every time I reach a top and it’s probably one of the reasons for doing hills…. It’s a nice feeling to have x


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