Bynack More Walking

Standing at a remove from the Cairn Gorm plateau, Bynack More offers expansive views of the big hills around the Loch Avon basin, and out over Abernethy Forest to Speyside. Defined by the deep glens of Strath Nethy and the Lairig an Laoigh, it's sufficiently distinct from surrounding land to be done, by most, as a single-peak outing. The main selling points, the huge tors of the Barns of Bynack and the surprisingly shapely north ridge, can easily be seen on the standard out-and-back through Ryvoan Pass; but as an ascent that's a bit of a plod. A start from the Coire na Ciste car park offers a less-trodden and more challenging alternative via wild Strath Nethy. To complete a circuit, return by the Ryvoan path for a scenic finish through Glen More's pine woods.

Looking north from Bynack Mor  © Dan Bailey -
Looking north from Bynack Mor
Fetching Map

Detailed description

NH9970207389 From the east corner of the car park take the path down wooden steps and over a bridge across the Allt na Ciste. Turn left on a path following the bank above the burn, and then bear right to pick up a trail heading northeast along a moraine ridge. Descend to cross a burn by Lochan na Beinne, then follow the muddy path uphill towards some small clumps of pine. Traverse rightwards below the trees, then continue the ascent to their right to reach a shallow col on the long north ridge of Cairn Gorm.

NJ0137508086 A narrow path passes through a craggy gap, bearing slightly left to reach the vague ridge on the left flank of a prominent gully. Descend heathery slopes into Strath Nethy. Cross tussocks and bogs to the River Nethy. If water levels are high it may be necessary to head upstream to ford it at stony shallows where a tributary joins the main burn.

NJ0232607677 Continue across the Strath to ford a smaller burn, then climb the steep lower flank of Bynack Beag, bearing slightly left at first to pick up a vague trail. This gains definition in ascent, leading up to the rocky top of Bynack Beag. Cross a small col and zigzag up through granite boulders to join the main path on Bynack More's north ridge. The summit is a short distance to the south. On a clear day it is well worth making the short detour south-southeast from here to see the Barns of Bynack.
Looking south down the Lairig an Laoigh from Bynack More  © Dan Bailey -
Looking south down the Lairig an Laoigh from Bynack More
© Dan Bailey -

NJ0417706329 Heading down the north ridge there's a choice of path - left of the crest, right of the crest, or direct down the crest, the latter offering some almost-scrambling. The initial rocky ridge soon descends onto the moorland that rolls out east from here for miles. Exposed in bad weather, and not particular inspiring in the immediate vicinity, this section does at least offer a good solid path, wide views over Speyside, and a great feeling of space. A long descent brings you to a footbridge over the River Nethy.

NJ0211610515 It's a stony track now through open woodland, passing close to Ryvoan bothy, to enter Ryvoan Pass. Continue though fantastic scots pine woods past the popular beauty spot of An Lochan Uaine.
An Lochan Uaine, not a bad spot (if you don't mind crowds)  © Dan Bailey -
An Lochan Uaine, not a bad spot (if you don't mind crowds)
© Dan Bailey -

NH9920609723 At a forest track junction near Glenmore Lodge go left, and then at the next big junction continue straight on, to reach the Allt na Ciste. You are now at a point of decision...

NH9898308899 The eagle-eyed will have noted on the map the path from here, making a beeline uphill to Coire na Ciste. This is the direct route, but it may not be the quickest. However eagle-eyed you are, following this path on tough ground through the woods can feel speculative at best. While the OS maintains the existence of a trail on a parallel line some way to the east, this is optimistic; Harvey's stop-start path line closer to the Allt na Ciste is the one you should seek out. If all this seems like too much effort at the end of a long walk (you wouldn't be wrong), then the straightforward alternative is to continue towards the Allt Mor car park, then follow paths parallel to the ski road up to the Sugarbowl car park, from whence it's an easy road-verge walk back to Cire na Ciste. If you originally came by bus from Aviemore then this whole dilemma need not concern you - a win for public transport.

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