Ben Macdui from Linn of Dee

by Dan Bailey - ? Oct/2011
This route has been read 3,369 times

WalkingBen Macdui from Linn of Dee

Invernesshire, SCOTLAND

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Distance 19.41 miles (31.23 km)

Total ascent 1,030m

Steepest climb 26% (1 in 4)

Time 10 hours (Walking)

Start/finish Linn of Dee car park, NO062898

Summits included en route:
Hill Ben Macdui 1309 m
Hill Ben Macdui - Stob Coire Sputan Dearg 1249 m
Hill Ben Macdui - Sron Riach 1110 m

Nearest town Braemar

Terrain Forest tracks in the lower glens, becoming footpaths higher up; these are generally clear and well maintained. Larger burns are generally bridged but where this isn't the case some care may be needed if stream crossing in spate conditions.

Seasonal variations Winter in the Cairngorms can be a serious business. Under snow cover this is a very long and arduous trip and there are periods most winters when touring skis would be an advantage (to say the least). The corrie edges can be very heavily corniced, while the summit plateau of Ben Macdui is a scary place to be in a whiteout and pinpoint navigation is a must.

Weather and hill conditions mwis: Cairngorms & MonadhliathMet Office: East Highlands

Public transport Bus from Aberdeen to Braemar, but from here you'll have to hitch.

Guidebooks The Cairngorms, SMC

100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains, Ralph Storer, pb. Sphere

Maps OS Explorer 387 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 394 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 403 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 404 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 36 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 43 (1:50,000)

Accommodation Braemar YH 0870 004 1105

Find more Classifieds near this route

Tourist info Braemar (01339 741 600); Crathie (01339 742 414)

Distant views of Scotland's second highest point don't generally grab the attention, its domed peak and curving flanks not promising a lot by way of scenery. But make the effort (a long walk-in from any angle) and you'll discover the hidden depths of this massive sprawling mountain. Crag-walled corries and beautiful high lochans; rolling plateaux crusty with late-lying snow; lower glens green with native Scots pine woods; a wild, spacious, big-country feel - this classic circuit from Deeside has the lot. There are bothies if you want to take two days over it, but anyone spending the night on the hill should beware the Big Grey Man.

Close this photo
+Above Ben Macdui's Coire Sputan Dearg, 111 kb
Above Ben Macdui's Coire Sputan Dearg


Detailed description

NO0629289784 From the car park take a woodland path roughly north to meet the main track in Glen Lui. This track crosses a bridge and continues up-glen for a few kilometres to reach the old house and mountain rescue post at Derry Lodge. Cyclists can stash their bikes somewhere here.

+Glen Derry, 128 kb
Glen Derry
© Dan Bailey -

NO0406093421 Turn north(ish) up Glen Derry, passing through beautiful old native pines (more new ones might be nice here); there's a path on either bank of the Derry Burn, and either is lovely. They meet up after nearly 3km, continuing as one along the east side of the glen. The trees begin to thin out and beyond an area of fenced forest the surroundings get steadily more mountainous as the path climbs towards the great hill pass of the Lairig an Laoigh. At a path junction go left, crossing a footbridge to enter Coire Etchachan below craggy bluffs.

Pass the Hutchison Memorial Hut (small, but recently upgraded) and follow the south bank of the foaming burn, climbing steadily to the right of the steep buttresses of Creagan a' Choire Etchachan to reach a path junction by the shore of Loch Etchachan. This is the highest loch of its size in Britain - higher than quite a few Munro summits - yet such is the scale of Ben Macdui that its summit is still a long way off.

NJ0128400279 Take the well engineered left branch of the path to climb, less steeply now, around the flank of the Creagan a' Choire Etchachan top. The terrain is boulder fields and snow patches, barren and almost Arctic-like. Higher up the path follows a burn just downhill from the rim of the Coire Sputan Dearg cliffs before meeting the cliff edge briefly (watch out for cornices). From these cliffs the path then swings right, climbing gently over the open plateau, passing the ruins of an old hut to reach the summit cairn and trig point. Particularly in wild winter weather Scotland's second highest point feels a long way from anywhere. A panorama plaque puts names to the many summits on view (hopefully), and though the breadth of Ben Macdui's plateau cuts out a lot of the foreground there's a real sense of height and scale.
NN9891098933 Retrace your steps a short way, then branch a little right, heading over the plateau to the high point of the cliff edge above Lochan Uaine (officially Stob Coire Sputan Dearg, but it's really just the high point of the plateau rather than a defined summit).

NN9979798466 Turn right here to descend beside the corrie rim onto the Sron Riach spur. This gives an excellent easy descent route into Glen Luibeg. Having crossed the burn, follow the clear path down-glen on its east bank to return to Linn of Dee via Derry Lodge.

+Lochnagar from Ben Macdui, 184 kb
Lochnagar from Ben Macdui
© Dan Bailey -, Dec 2007

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