From Loch Morlich the panorama of shattered cliffs and mountains is one of the best sights in the Highlands. Behind these summits lies the vast sub-Arctic Cairngorm plateau. Stretching south, it leads to Ben Macdui, the second highest mountain in Britain.
This is a serious walk, even in summer, as you are on ground above 3,000ft for most of the way. Therefore, make sure you have full mountain gear and in winter make sure you are able to cope with the conditions.
DISTANCE: 11½ miles / 18.5km.
HEIGHT CLIMBED: 3,310ft / 1,010m.
TIME: 6 to 7 hours.
MAP: OS Landranger 36.
PARK: Take the B970 from Aviemore, through the Rothiemurchus and Glenmore Forests. Go past Loch Morlich and up to the Coire Cas car park, next to the funicular railway station.
THE ROUTE: Go past the mountain railway station, on your left, and walk under the track. A few yards further on go left, up a path through heather, signed “Windy Ridge Path”.
Climb steeply then bear right to reach a wooden fence marking a ski run, which you follow before crossing over it. After levelling off the path crosses back over and goes in a straight line to the Ptarmigan station at the top of the railway.
Follow the path to the back of the building, round the left-hand side, and go up a well-built path between lines of blue rope. When the rope ends a line of cairns leads to the summit of Cairn Gorm.
Head west from the summit, down a steep slope to an obvious wide path at the bottom that swings round to the left and starts to climb Stob Coire an t-Sneachda.
The path veers left of the top but runs out after a while, therefore it is better to keep further to the right, over the stop of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and down to a bealach below Cairn Lochan.
Go left, along a path towards Ben Macdui which veers right then follows a level gradient all the way to Lochan Buidhe.
The path goes left at the top of the lochan then becomes indistinct as it follows a line of cairns up and across a boulder field.
A final steep section leads to the broad summit ridge of Ben Macdui. A cairned path bears left then goes up to the right to reach the trig point and viewfinder at the top.
Retrace your steps to the boulder field above Lochan Buidhe and pick out a path which veers slightly left to skirt the left side of Cairn Lochan, which lies straight ahead.
About two thirds of a mile further on the path forks, go right then left at the next fork to pass a cairn. At the next cairn go right and reach the top of Coire an Lochain.
Keep left to traverse round to the top of Miadan Creag an Leth-choin and descend the obvious path all the way down, north, to the start.