Beinn a' Bhuird and Ben Avon from Deeside Walking

The great eastern massif of the Cairngorms easily matches its neighbours Ben Macdui and the Braeriach-Cairn Toul range for scale and impact, combining grand corries and huge sprawling plateaux to full effect. Both of these two giants are special in a different way. Ben Avon’s upper slopes bristle with weathered granite tors, an array of natural castles. From many angles Beinn a’ Bhuird looks gentle and grassy, but its inner recesses hide a series of epic rock-walled corries. Their remoteness makes an adventure of any trip here, and all possible approaches are a schlep. With a bike and a spare weekend you might come in from the north along Glen Avon; from the south it’s a choice of Gleann an t-Slugain or Glen Quoich. The latter is quicker, and its scots pine woods make for an idyllic approach.

Backpacking on Beinn a' Bhuird, and I seem to have the hill to myself  © Dan Bailey -
Backpacking on Beinn a' Bhuird, and I seem to have the hill to myself
Fetching Map

Detailed description

NO1183691168 Take the riverside path past a boarded up cottage and through woods to a second cottage, where a footbridge crosses the river above an interesting natural 'waterslide' (don't try this at home). Ascend briefly to a vehicle track, which is followed up-glen through scattered scots pines. After nearly 5km the glen broadens and divides around the southern end of Beinn a' Bhuird.
Glen Quoich, pretty much the epitome of a wooded Cairngorms glen   © Dan Bailey -
Glen Quoich, pretty much the epitome of a wooded Cairngorms glen
© Dan Bailey -, Aug 2015

NO0799894661 Ford the river (care in spate) then take the left branch where the track splits, continuing past a grassy meadow into a band of woods. The track now becomes a narrower footpath, climbing out of the trees and around the flanks of An Diollaid above a burn cutting to a saddle. Continue up the broad southwest shoulder of Beinn a' Bhuird to reach the rim of the Coire an Dubh Lochain cliffs. Head north across the plateau past the edge of equally dramatic Coire nan Clach; Beinn a' Bhuird's high point, the North Top, is marked by a cairn set back from the cliffs.

NJ0921000617 Go east across the open plateau to the little rocky top of Cnap a' Chléirich. From here drop almost due east to the pronounced saddle of The Sneck; where the descent becomes eroded bear slightly left close to the edge of Garbh Choire to avoid steeper ground on the right.

NJ1180401010 Climb a steep stony path beside the rim of more crags, onto Ben Avon. The view back into Garbh Choire reveals the full magnificence of this craggy cirque, home to some classic and extremely remote rock climbs. It's an easy stroll over undulating gravelly ground to Ben Avon's high point, a distinctive granite tor. The topmost rocks require a bit of basic scrambling. Given time others of Ben Avon's many tors are worth exploring too.

NJ1317501836 Return towards the plateau edge overlooking The Sneck, then bear south for nearly 2km on a gentle descent and gradual re-ascent to a cairn marking Carn Eas, with fantastic views of Beinn a' Bhuird's eastern corries. Now descend roughly southeast to pick up the vague spur that divides the hill's western and southern aspects. The ground soon steepens, and though it's not difficult in summer conditions a lot of snow can build up here. As height is lost bear south to meet a very clear path in the barren upper reaches of Glen Quoich.
Beinn a' Bhuird's eastern corries from Carn Eas  © Dan Bailey -
Beinn a' Bhuird's eastern corries from Carn Eas
© Dan Bailey -

NO1173797994 Follow the trail down-glen for approximately 2km and just before the main path veers towards Gleann an t-Slugain turn right onto a rougher trail to the Quoich Water. The path immediately turns away from the water, heading in the downstream direction to rejoin the burn after a few hundred metres.

NO1116095852 Following the Quoich Water downstream, it's possible to use a route on either side of the burn, both leading through lovely open woodland. The southern path is boggier and more intermittent at first, while the northern path is clearer underfoot but has the disadvantage of two burn crossings. If the water is high then stay south of the burn; otherwise the northern route is arguably preferable.

NO0924895159 Having crossed to the southern bank of the Quioch Water at the fords where it braids (assuming you weren't already on the south side), pick up a landrover track. This continues down the east side of lower Glen Quoich to reach Linn of Quoich after a further 6km.

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