East Drumochter Munros

Route Introduction

The two East Drumochter Munros covered by this route are A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag and Carn na Caim. These two mountains neighbour each other and sit just east of the Drumochter Pass. This route card explains the quickest and easiest way of getting to both summits for a peak bagger.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Friday 24th May 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. These were Munro numbers 51 and 52 of 282 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these Munros too.

East Drumochter Munros Route Stats

Mountains: A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag (936m) and Carn na Caim (941m)

Total Distance: 19.2km / 11.9miles

Total Ascent: 700m / 2,297ft

Approx Walk Time: 6 hours

Grid Reference Start: NN 639819

East Drumochter Munros Route Report

The Lead Up

James and I had climbed 50 Munros as part of our peak bagging challenge. However, we’d taken a break after hiking our 50th Munro – Ben Ime – in order to undertake a couple of work commitments back in England. One of the commitments was to speak at the Keswick Mountain Festival, an event I love to go to every year. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends.

On the morning of 24th May 2019, we left James’s home in Cumbria and travelled north. We planned to climb our first two Munros within the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park. We parked up in a layby on the A9 (Pass of Drumochter).

It was time to recommence our peak bagging mission. Starting with the East Drumochter Munros – A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag and Carn na Caim.

The Ascent

Crossing the road, we headed up onto a wide track which initially headed east before turning to head south.

We were grateful that the car was parked at 400m to begin with. These kind of treats don’t come very often in the Munros. Many Munro walks start at sea level, or if my smart watch is to be believed, below sea level in some cases!

About half an hour into the ascent I realised I’d left the caps on the ends of my new walking poles. I’d been a convert to walking poles for about a year, feeling that they took a great deal of pressure off my knees. Unforunately, as I’d used the poles for half an hour the plastic tips were well and truly stuck. James actually had to bite them off, whilst all I could think of was the sheep poo that I’d most likely already walked through.

The track led us to a point in the track where we had to choose left or right. It really made no difference which Munro we headed for first so we just took the right fork to bag them alphabetically (as there was no other compelling reason)!

Adventurer Nic hiking towards A' Bhuidheanach Bheag - the first of our east Drumochter Munros
Adventurer Nic hiking towards A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag – Munro mountain in the Scottish Highlands East of the Drumochter Pass

The scenery was fairly underwhelming by Munro standards. The ground was firm underfoot and the rolling hills reminded me of the English Howgills more than they did the jagged peaks I associated with Scotland – like An Teallach.

Adventurer Nic hiking towards A' Bhuidheanach Bheag - Munro mountain in the Scottish Highlands East of the Drumochter Pass
Adventurer Nic hiking towards A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag – Munro mountain in the Scottish Highlands East of the Drumochter Pass

The Summits of the East Drumochter Munros

A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag

We skirted around the summit of A’ Bhuidheanach and down to a peaty col before hiking up to the summit of our first Munro of the day – A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag.

At the summit of A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag we met a father and daughter who were taking a great deal of selfies with their dog. Meeting someone at the summit meant we got a nice photo of us both for a change.

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of A' Bhuidheanach Bheag, the first of the East Drumochter Munros
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag Summit

We were really impressed with the weather at this point, it was far better than the forecast led us to believe. So much so that we started to wish we’d taken advantage and tackled something a bit more challenging. After trying multiple weather forecasting apps throughout the challenge, we generally trusted the Met Office mountain forecasts the most.

Adventurer Nic hiking towards Carn na Caim - Munro mountain in the Scottish Highlands East of the Drumochter Pass

Peak bagging is full of ‘what ifs’. What if we’d done Aonach Eagach instead? What if we’d started an epic multi day in Knoydart?

But I didn’t dwell. There are only so many sunny days in a year and to be honest I was happy just to be back in the hills on a nice day. The East Drumochter Munros might be a little bit unremarkable but it beat sitting behind a desk.

We retraced our steps back to the split in the track where a right hand turn led us towards the summit of Carn na Caim.

Carn na Caim

We followed the track northeast. Half way up Carn na Caim we passed a large group who were descending. I smiled fondly as they were doing what I’ve done a hundred times before. Walking in a big group but split into smaller groups of 3’s and 2’s, walking side by side, deep in quality conversation, smiling and looking content in each others company. It made me miss my hill walking friends.

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Carn na Caim, the second of the East Drumochter Munros
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Carn na Caim

James and I reached the cairn on the flat summit and posed for a cheesy selfie. I laugh looking back at photos like this. I can see I’m fresh faced and James had a haircut during the break. We look well rested, rosy cheeked and chilled. I had no idea that I’d involuntarily lose a stone in weight and age 5 years over the next 5 months!

The Descent

We looked across to the northeast to Meall Chuaich, another Munro that we’d yet to climb on this side of the pass. But it was too far away to link to this route so would have to wait for another day. Instead we turned back and followed the route of ascent.

We chatted lots on the descent. James explained (in as much detail as I could handle) about his University dissertation on the American Civil War.

We retraced our steps on the track to the main road and remarked that these two Munros would sadly be rather forgettable in comparison to other outings, but it was a pleasant day regardless.

Wrapping Up

The hill walking wasn’t over for us. We packed an overnight ruckack and headed to Blair Atholl in readiness for our next peak bagging outing and my first stay in a Scottish bothy.

We nicknamed the East Drumochter Munros:

  • A Balenciaga Bag – A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag
  • Carn Na Carn Na Carn Na Carn Na Carn Na Caimeleon – Carn na Caim

Find out why we nicknamed all 282 Munros here.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

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