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A9 south of Dalwhinnie, Old Quartz Quarry, Carn na Caim, Scottish Highlands
[13.5 km] Thu 08 Feb 2024

Lat/Long: 56.909301, -04.235218
OS Grid ref: NN 63912 81981
 
 

It was a very cold nights camp in the car park by Balsporran Cottages. The temperature dropped to 10degC and all my water bottles in the car froze almost solid, but not quite. The plus side was an amazing clear view of the stars. The main downside was the car was frozen inside and out. My planned walk was Cairn na Carm and the start was off the A9 over 2 miles to the north.

Quartz monolith.
I couldn't decide whether to leave the car and add almost 5 easy miles to my walk or do my best to get the car defrosted. As it came light I managed to get most of the ice off and drove to the parking lay-bye near the Dalwhinnie turn off. I crossed the busy A9 and followed the track up through the trees. Up ahead was the track going up to the long abandoned quartz quarry and that's the way I was going. The first part is a long diagonal straight length where I could see fresh (probably yesterday) boot prints in the snow.
Snow-filled quartz quarry.

Carn na Caiam summit.
There was hard snow along part of the track so I decided to put my ice studs on my boots and the going then became much easier. It was a steady plod up to the old quarry where there was a large monolith of quartz to mark the location. If it wasn't for the map nobody would know there was ever a quarry here. The temperature was -9degC and the snow fields were in excellent condition for walking on. Above the quarry is a left branch of the track which I followed steadily upwards. The main part of the climb was over but I still had a few kms to go over undulating ground. I headed first for a minor summit and a low cairn to mark it. Then across open ground to reach the main track to Carn na Caim. Id seen a lone walker approaching from behind and as hed not taken the minor summit diversion we met at the fence line.

Meall Chuaich
We exchanged a brief greeting then he continued up to the summit. When I arrived a short time after I continued a little further to look down into the next valley and possible future descent. Ahead was Meall Chuaich which I climbed in July 2022 and the loch with associated hydro buildings. The man Id spoken to seemed to be taking a panoramic photo on his phone so I left him to it. He set off down and I followed shortly afterwards. I took the direct way back along the fenceline and not return by the detour. At the quartz quarry I joined the track and followed it easily down to the car which had thankfully defrosted.
 
   
 
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