Hikes to Ben Macdui take you to the second highest point in the UK and the central peak of the Cairngorms’ fascinating sub-Arctic plateau. This truly is big country, containing the vast majority of Britain’s highest land. In summer, staggering sights abound, whilst winter is beautifully ethereal but very dangerous for those caught unaware.
A Cairngorm giant at the centre of ancient horror stories
All walking routes to Ben Macdui are long and committing, particularly if there is any hint of snow. The skier’s car park on Cairn Gorm is the best way to gobble up some of the ascent before the expedition begins, but it’s a long day even then. Aviemore makes for the best base, with many amenities and accommodation options. For a wilder option, cowering beneath the Devil’s Point in the Lairig Ghru, the Corrour bothy is an atmospheric place to spend a night. And, of course, you can always wild camp.
The summit is said to be the stalking ground of the legendary Am Fear Liath Mór, or the Grey Man of Ben Macdui. This ghostly apparition supposedly haunts the environs of the plateau and many hikers and mountaineers have reported feeling a presence on the mountain. It could be that the remoteness, the harshness of the elements, the starkness of the surroundings and the tangible sense of wilderness lead the superstitious to imagine such a thing. Who knows?
Ghost or not, the summit is a sensational viewpoint on a clear day. Across the Lairig Ghru pass, Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Braeriach rise above the most incredible complex of corries anywhere in Britain, an unforgettable sight. The view down Glen Dee, past the conspicuous form of the Devil’s Point, is the epitome of Highland grandeur.
In winter conditions, the Cairngorms are the UK’s most dangerous mountains due to the distances involved, potentially savage conditions and navigational difficulties. Ben Macdui is certainly the preserve of experienced mountaineers during this time.
Ben Macdui is the second highest mountain in Britain. From its 4,295-foot (1,309 m) high summit, you experience breathtaking views over the Cairngorms. Accessed by both Deeside and Speyside, the summit is said to be haunted by the wraith-like Old Grey Man. While many people climb Ben Macdui every year, inexperienced hikers should not attempt in bad weather and all hikers should be well prepared in all weathers.
February 6, 2019
Small stone pyramids show the way on the ascent.
In good weather / clear visibility you have a great view. In bad weather (sudden weather change) you can quickly lose your orientation (map / compass / GPS)
August 22, 2018
If Ben Nevis is the King, Ben Macdui is the Prince. Brooding and sprawling, Britain’s second highest peak – the perennial silver medallist – is a hulk of a mountain. Remote and unforgiving, if not positively Arctic in winter, it is a demanding summit. But thousands climb it annually, determined to stand atop the Cairngorms’ throne.
December 13, 2019
The second highest Munro, this is a fantasic spot to view all the other hills in the area. There are many different approaches availaible.
March 8, 2022
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