From the summit of Ben Macdhui I was not content to trudge back just the way I had come. However the first step is back down the last path to the summit. Somehow it seemed more rugged and ankle-churning on the way down (again, thank goodness for good boots with inflexible soles). I followed the mini-cairns back down to just above Lochan Buidhe, where paths diverge, and this time to the higher, left-hand path, heading north.
This looks to be a less frequented path. It runs just the west side of the ridge of the bealach on which I had seen the reindeer, and to the west of it there are fearsome scree slopes dropping away down into a deep, capacious, precipitous valley, called Lairig Ghru, which is a main north-south mountain pass through the Cairngorms: a path runs all through the pass that can be followed all the way from Aviemore to Braemar. The River Dee rises in the Pools of Dee in Lairig Ghru just below where I turned off from the lochan, though unseen.
The valley is a wonder, but completely unphotographable (though I tried). There are postcards in the shops of Aviemore showing Lairig Ghru under snow, which must be a spectacle.
The path leads above the valley for a couple of miles, and passes west of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, and then begins to descend as the Ski Centre comes distantly into sight. It is a well defined path, along the face of the slope and with some quick declivities. The National Park authorities have been helpful in paving the path, that would otherwise be washed away by the burns running down the slopes, and bridging the main streams.
From here it is just a question of bashing on until I emerged in the car park (just as my family pulled into it). A good day all in all.
It is the final summit plateau alone in the air, and distant view of the mighty fells beyond which will stay with me.