I’d spent a lot of time trying to decide on the perfect hill to complete my first century, the ton, of Munros on. I’d thought about trying to make it something spectacular (maybe this was the time to do Ben Nevis?) or geographically appropriate (my first was the most southernly, Ben Lomond, maybe I should aim for another cardinal direction?). I’d actually planned to make Mount Keen my hundredth, and then realised that over the winter I’d misremembered my count, and carefully laid plans to start the year on number 100 turned into plans to climb my 99th.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that if I kept trying to find some perfect, symbolic, interesting hill to reach an ultimately arbitrary milestone on then I’d end up waiting ages to actually climb my next hill. Admittedly, my eventual choice of hundredth Munro might be argued to have been significant through its insignificance. I was travelling back from Etape Loch Ness in Inverness, and after a 100-km bike ride a fairly light day of hill-walking was to be welcomed. After going over a couple of options, maybe the Loch Lochy hills, maybe Ben Wyvis, I eventually settled on a plan of the hills to the East of the Drumochter Pass, which were on our way home. The walk up these two hills starts from a lay-by on the A9, so potentially have the least wild-feeling start of any of the Munros (though Ben More might come a close second).

A cairn on the summit of a bare hill top.
▲ Approaching the summit cairn of Càrn na Caim.

The walk started by crossing under the new high-tension Beauly to Denny powerline, and then continued up a landrover track for almost the entire ascent of the first hill, Càrn na Caim.

The views back over the A9 and out towards Ben Alder and the hills beyond Loch Ericht were good, though on the way up were partly obscured by the low cloud which had been a theme of the weekend (we’d been relatively unlucky in arriving in the North East during a bit of a cold snap), but this started to clear as we approached the summit itself.

At high level the landrover track forked, and we first headed off to the left, and towards the broad and rolling summit of Càrn na Caim, the northern summit, and my hundredth Munro. I’d like to say that this was in some way a spectacular hill, but it wasn’t. It was somewhat reminiscent of the barely-peaks peaks of the White Mounth. Never the less, approaching the rather unassuming cairn was a suitably happy moment. One hundred down (182 to go).

A panoramic mountain view towards Ben Alder
▲ Panorama from the summit of Càrn na Caim

From here we retraced our steps to the fork in the path, and the slightly more interesting walk across to A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag. This part of the walk took us across slightly more undulating terrain, which cycling-tired legs were slightly unhappy with. We crossed a couple of snow patches to get there too (crampons and ice axe not required), which added a very slight feeling of adventure to what was otherwise a rather tame walk! One useful piece of way-marking came in the form of some white quartzite stones arranged in an arrow to point to the place where the path diverged from the landrover track which we’d been following up to this point.

A panoramic mountain view looking over the hill between the A9 and A' Bhuidheanach Bheag.
▲ Walking across to the little yellow place
▲ The summit trig of A' Bhuidheanach Bheag

It wasn’t too far to the summit, which is marked by a trig point, and which had panoramic views across to the Cairngorm plateaus. 101 Munros ticked-off now. I guess that’s a Dalmatian? From here we retraced our steps to get back to the landrover track which we’d ascended up. As I often do when walking these high-altitude tracks I found myself wondering why someone had bulldozed a track all the way to the top of these hills. There are scarcely any sheep on the hillside, and there isn’t even much evidence of shooting.

▲ Walking back down the landrover track.

By the time we were headed back towards the car the weather had continued to improve, and we were even getting glimpses of blue sky and sun; a stark contrast to what the forecast a day earlier had been predicting, which suggested that we’d suffer sub-zero temperatures at the peaks. That never quite came to pass.

We made it back to the car in good time, despite weary legs, made a quick detour back up to Dalwhinnie, before travelling back to the central belt. I’d cycled my first century and reached my first (Munro) century in one (long) weekend. Plenty to be content about.

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