A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag (936m); Carn na Caim (941m)
- Pronunciation: Uh Vooyernoch Vayk; Karn na Kyme
- Translation: The Little Yellow Hill; Cairn of the Curve
- Total distance: 20.3km
- Total time: 5hrs 30mins
- Total ascent: 918m
- Weather: Very foggy, especially above 700m. Often zero visibility. Snow cover above 700m. Light winds with a hint of snow at times. Temperature about +3° throughout the day.
- Start / end location: Lay-by #88 – A9 southbound just south of Dalwhinne. [Grid Ref: NN 640 823]
From the lay-by on the A9 we walked along the side of the road for 200m to reach the bulldozed track that leads generally SW up the hillside, and at one time serviced the quarry (now disused) high up on the plateau that connects today’s two Munros. I’m not too sure exactly what was once quarried here – but one would think that it had to be something special to justify it being done at 900m in altitude!
The quarry track does around five little dog-leg turns as it weaves its way up one of the many small finger-like ridges that extend down from the high mountain massif above. The walk was very straightforward and only mildly complicated by the ice lying under the few inches of snow on the path: although these conditions only began above 600m.
From the start of the walk there were large numbers of red grouse all around us on the heather moorland. There were also many camouflaged shooting butts lower down on the moorland – you can draw your own conclusions! We also spotted at least 10 mountain hares. Later, we discovered that apparently many of these hares have been fitted with radio collars and their movements have been tracked and lifecycles monitored for the number of years now.
Several hundred metres before we reached the quarry a blanket of thick mist and cloud had completely obscured any hope of a view: indeed the visibility was only around 5-10m (horizontally). So when we finally topped out at the quarry (902m spot-height on OS map), which we couldn’t see any evidence of due to the snow covering and poor visibility, we simply followed a bulldozed track southwards along the huge featureless plateau towards our first Munro, A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag. This track wasn’t marked on our paper-based OS map, but did appear on my GPS SatMap version. The track extended slightly south of A’ Bhuidheanach on my SatMap, but in actual fact continued a bit further on the ground. There were very few natural features on this plateau, which coupled with the poor visibility, made navigation tricky.
About 3km from the quarry we reached A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag (936m or 3,071’). The highest point was a Trig Point on an otherwise flat and featureless expanse. A bit disappointing compared to most of the other summits we’ve so far visited. After a quick photograph we retraced our steps back to the quarry and then continued NE to our second Munro, Carn na Caim (941m or 3,087’), only 2km away across the plateau. Once more, the summit “point” was a disappointingly small pile of rocks: blink and we’d have missed it.
Again we retraced our steps back to the quarry and this time followed the track back down the hillside. We decided to fit our crampons for the first time today to help our walk down the icy path.
Obviously we didn’t have the weather today to do justice to these two hills – I reckon that the views east towards the Cairngorms and west towards the Ben Alder group of hills would have been great in fine weather conditions. May be next time. One thing that was evident was the influence of man high up on the plateau: first with the quarry and service track and then with the bulldozed track across the high plateau. I can only think that the latter has something to do with stalking or shooting – but this is just my guess.