Bynack More: Possibly the most perfect Munro
It could be because it was my first Munro hike for a while but yesterday’s summit of Bynack More in the Cairngorms felt like the most perfect outing. It seemed like the ideal distance for a satisfying Munro. At no point does it feel too steep or too long and the rewards of superb views over the wider Cairngorms only add to its beauty. The route also has a well-laid path for most of the way, making it easy to see where you are.
The last time on Bynack More
A few years ago, the G-Force and I were forced to turn back “just metres” from the top of Bynack More due to strong winds and a white out. G tells me it was just metres although I suspect it was a little further than that.
At the time, the wind and snow left me feeling completely disorientated and a little hysterical. It was the right decision to return to the safer environs of the lower slopes.
At the time I was disappointed not to have made the summit but very relieved to make it back to the car without mishap.
Yesterday, as we set out, this time from Glemore Lodge rather than the Cairngorm Ski Centre as we did the last time, I wondered if I would recognise the mountain.
Unsurprisingly, I think, the Munro did not trigger any memories. The previous outing had afforded us no views whatsoever and I was grateful yesterday for some very lovely outlooks.
G told me he thought we were only about 50m in elevation from the summit the last time. Yesterday, it seemed incredible that I did not find my way to carry on to the top that time but it confirms that the weather must have been truly awful.
Anyway, my point is that sometimes it is well worth returning to a Munro to hike it in better conditions.
Bike and hike of Bynack More
A call out for information on Munroaming convinced us that a mountain bike ride at the start of the walk would be a good idea. My only concern was how Wispa the Wonder Whippet would cope.
Wispa has not run alongside our bikes before, mainly because we would normally be cycling much further than the two or so miles to the base of Bynack More.
The reason for cycling long “walk-ins” to other Munros usually precludes us taking Wispa because I feel it would be too far for her to manage. Wispa is a great hill walker and runner but she is now seven and suffered a severed leg tendon some years back, so her ability to be out on the hills for too long is more limited.
Yet, she seemed to love the chance to run alongside us on Bynack More. Once she had worked out that we would be riding our bikes and she was required to run alongside she took off at a gallop, easily keeping up with the front rider.
I was worried she would exhaust herself too quickly but the ride was no more than about 2.5 miles and she managed that easily.
As we swapped our bikes for walking, Wispa happily trotted along just ahead of us, leading the ay on the well-laid path.
Bynack More, in good conditions, is a fairly easy Munro.
Walking into the clouds
Again, we ended up walking a lot of the higher section of Bynack More without much of a view. However, instead of strong winds and falling snow the weather was calm.
Every so often the clouds would part and the view beneath seemed all the more breath-taking. This is a Munro with wonderful vistas over the Cairngorms and several times we were stunned to see the vast landscape opening up around us.
We passed lots of other walkers, including a solo woman who said she was returning to Bynack More to see if she could get a better view. Last time, like us, she had walked most of the Munro in a whiteout.
As we walked, G and I chatted and because we were chatting too much and not keeping an eye on the paths we ended up walking a little way along the wrong path. G noticed we were descending when we should be ascending and so we checked the map and relocated the right path.
We tramped for a short while over heather, now quite deep in snow, to find the other path.
The higher we climbed the deeper the snow became. The path was also covered in ice at a number of sections. If you are wondering if you should be carrying crampons in Scotland just now, the answer is: “Definitely yes.”
Looking for the summit
The summit is a mass of boulders and yesterday they were covered in snow and ice. At this point we were walking in the clouds, so the cairn wasn’t the easiest to locate. We checked the map and I looked at our location on my Viewranger app. We were within 10m of the cairn at that point!
The icy and snow on the boulders made the views of the Munro summit and out through a gap in the clouds all the more fantastic. I do like a calm day in winter conditions for walking Munros because they seem so beautiful.
The perfect sort of Munro
For distance, views, steepness and rewards, Bynack More felt perfect to me. I have not been walking much this summer due to asthma and an Achilles heel injury and so it felt brilliant to be back in the Scottish mountains.
As we descended the clouds cleared all the more and we enjoyed some fantastic views back up towards the summit.
Wispa was, as I predicted, quite tired by the end of the hike but she was still enthusiastic enough to keep up with the front rider as we whizzed back downhill on our mountain bikes. As soon as she could, she found a warm spot in the footwell of the campervan and slept for almost the entire journey home.
Bynack More is also a favourite walk of Steven Fallon.