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Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.


Postby mrssanta » Wed Aug 18, 2021 9:25 pm

Route description: Ben Alder and Beinn Bheòil from Culra

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bheoil, Ben Alder

Date walked: 10/08/2021

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 16.5 km

Ascent: 1000m

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We've had various ideas for tackling these Munros over the years, including multi-day mega epic round trips from Corrour, but in the end have climbed most of the surrounding Munros in other expeditions leaving the six around Culra still with red balloons.
So in the end, we cycled in from Dalwhinnie as "normal" people do.
P8095842.JPG
looking promising. Midge nets were the fashion statement needed for this cycle in

At least, that was the plan. We drove up from Yorkshire on Monday, parking up at the garage at Dalwhinnie where £3 a day seems entirely reasonable to me.
Rudolph's bike is of some considerable vintage, let's just say it is older than our adult children, and used to belong to his dad. We brought the usual important stuff such as a pump, and a puncture repair outfit, but unfortunately all this was pretty useless.
We have a friend who likes to link old hymns to occupations or hobbies; according to him, the Wesley hymn "And Can It Be" is the one for cyclists. This is because of the line "my chains fell off"! Not quite sure that he was talking about cycle chains, but it did give me a bit of an earworm for the rest of the trip.
Rudolph was having a bit of difficulty with his gears slipping, and then about 5km into the cycle in, his chain broke and fell off, and it was apparent that his rear derailleur was past its best, with a bit missing and all at a funny angle. We used the emergency string that I always carry to tie the derailleur out of the way so it would not hit the wheel, and stashed the chain carefully on a rock by the side of the road to pick up later. We had all our gear in panniers and had brought the big tent, and not brought the big rucksacks, so really there was no choice but to push the bike up the hills and freewheel down them. Under these circumstances we were happy that the track was undulating rather than flat, and I was happy that I could cycle nice and slowly, which suited me fine, but it took us the best part of three hours to reach Culra. We took the path across the moor rather than by the shore of Loch Pattack, which I found difficult to cycle even with a fully functioning bike, as it was quite rutted. However, for walking it is a really excellent path. At the point where you leave this path to cross the bridge to Culra Bothy we found a nice flat bit of grass right by the river on the outside of the bend, where we pitched our tent, ate our tea inside for avoidance of midges, and went to sleep.
There was smoke coming out of the chimney of Culra Bothy, and a couple of tents outside. The bothy is closed due to exposed asbestos, but is unlocked for "emergency use only". Note to the reader, we did not go in the bothy. There is NO safe dose of asbestos, and it causes at least three nasty and fatal conditions none of which I particularly want (asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma). Also we're antisocial.
The forecast for this week was for changeable weather with cloud and rain, and variable amounts of wind. It was a very still, warm night and I was careful not to drink too much as I did not want to have to go out of the tent and expose my nether regions to the plentiful midges! The day dawned still and cloudy, still with very active midges, so we ate our breakfast in the tent; Rudolph being less susceptible went out to make the tea and coffee with the aid of Smidge and a net.
We took the recommended WH route up the Long Leachas which was really enjoyable, interesting but nothing tricky. As we ascended the cloud came in and out but the day was generally improving. It was warm and there was practically no wind.
P8105873.JPG
the bottom of Long Leachas where we are heading, expecting to be in clag all day.

P8105876.JPG
the little cairn at the point where you leave the stalkers path to head for Long Leachas

P8105877.JPG
we've just crossed the burn at this point, keep going to avoid midges, but you can see that the cloud base is lifting. Short Leachas on the left

P8105884.JPG
ooh look Lancet Edge

P8105891.JPG
plenty of blaeberries to nibble on if I need a breather

P8105893.JPG
cowberry - not quite ripe, and not very nice even when ripe, I'll leave this one for the locals

P8105895.JPG
looking back the way we came and the northern end of Beinn Bheoil where we will come down later

P8105900.JPG
probably the narrowest bit of the Long Leachas, but really not scary

P8105901.JPG
Looking down the Long Leachas from the top, towards Loch Pattack

P8105905.JPG
and here we are on the plateau. Looking towards the Bealach Dubh where you can see the stalkers path that we will take tomorrow - but that's another story

At the top of the Long Leachas the path disappears but there is no difficulty with route finding and we reached the summit where we stopped for our first lunch. It's not often that you find midges on a summit but there was the odd one!
P8105913.JPG
And here's Rudolph on the summit cairn, with the trig point and shelter behind. we had lunch at the trig point so nobody can complain.

P8105914.JPG
And here is me on the top, behind in the foreground on the left is the remains of the Ordnance Survey hut, in the distance Lancet Edge and Carn Dearg

From the summit we headed downhill as the cloud came down a bit. There is a wee cairn at the point where you need to leave the ridge and head down to the bealach. We took a bearing but it was not long before we came out of the cloud and could see where we were going. The ground here is steep, rough and wet. Did I tell you there was no wind? It was hot and muggy and there were MIDGES! Don't tell Rudolph, but I left the smidge in the tent, and the smidge on my face was about wearing off by now.
P8105925.JPG
attempt at arty shot of dew coloured grass on the way down the steep slope. Can't stop long though, midges are out.

P8105929 (2).JPG
deer on the horizon

Anyway, when we reached the bealach, there was a bit more of a breeze which was very welcome. There's also a path again, from the bealach up to Sron Coire na h-Iolare. We missed this summit out, being rather lazy, and it was a pleasant walk to the summit of Beinn Bheoil, where we stopped for second lunch/afternoon tea.
P8105931.JPG
this cairn marks the top of the path up the side of Sron Coire na h-Iolaire

P8105935.JPG
Ridge over to Beinn Bheoil, looking rather lovely

P8105936.JPG
Corrievarkie Lodge across Loch Ericht

P8105938.JPG
Garbh Choire of Ben Alder. There's a wee tiny snow patch high up on that cliff

P8105940.JPG
Rudolph on the summit, view towards Dalwhinnie

P8105941.JPG
and me. Ben Alder behind

P8105945.JPG
I think this pic is looking east to the Drumochter hills with mist rising off Loch Ericht

There were no midges here and it was a fine afternoon, much better than the forecast. We had second lunch. Rudolph discovered 4G on the summit and looked up the forecast for tomorrow. Oh dear, it told us there would be low cloud on the mountains around Ben Alder with wind and rain. Well, we're here now, you win some you lose some, we aren't changing our plans for a bit of weather!
We aimed a little to the east of the WH route off Beinn Bheoil as we wanted to pick up water for the overnight camp and we had seen a nice burn on the map just a little bit uphill of where the stalkers path turns downhill. This done, it was a grand walk back to the tent with a breeze appearing to blow away the midges.
P8105946.JPG
slightly hazy pic of the short and long Leachas and Lancet Edge behind, and another wee snow patch in the corrie

P8105952 (2).JPG
shiny slabs on the prow of Sron Bealach Bheithe

P8105955.JPG
Cloudberry

We got back to the tent and enjoyed the evening sunshine while opening up the tent to try and blow out all the midges that had sneaked in the night before. It was partially successful until suddenly the wind dropped and within a millisecond the wee beasties were out again!
P8105959.JPG
it's a lovely evening at the tent

P8105960.JPG
note the level of the river - for future reference tomorrow!

P8105964.JPG
Begone, Midges!

Panic ensued to get back inside the tent, fortunately tea was nearly ready, and a happy hour was then spent murdering midges one by one by waiting till they landed on the fabric of the tent and squashing them with my thumb. And then we got an early night, and slept for 11 hours! Ready for the next adventure
Last edited by mrssanta on Sat Aug 21, 2021 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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mrssanta
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Re: Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Postby rockhopper » Wed Aug 18, 2021 9:44 pm

Good going - it's quite a trek even with a bike in good shape. Ever since I first had a broken chain, I tend to carry a chain tool to remove the faulty link like this and one or two "missing links" like this to repair the chain - cheers :)
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Re: Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Postby mrssanta » Fri Aug 20, 2021 3:33 pm

rockhopper wrote:Good going - it's quite a trek even with a bike in good shape. Ever since I first had a broken chain, I tend to carry a chain tool to remove the faulty link like this and one or two "missing links" like this to repair the chain - cheers :)

Ah yes we do have one of those somewhere but even if we could have cobbled the chain back together, the derailleur was completely kn***ered.
Fortunately the story has a satisfactory end, the old bike is beyond repair (no spares) but when we went to the bike shop we got a second hand bike at a very reasonable price so will be able to do a few more cycle ins.
The old bike will go to an old bike hospital place in Aberdeen where it can be mix and matched with bits of other old bikes and be reincarnated.
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mrssanta
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Re: Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Postby gld73 » Fri Aug 20, 2021 8:27 pm

Useful report thanks, I'm hoping to do these hills soon, but I keep deciding ones where I don't need to cycle in and/or camp in wet weather are more appealing :lol:
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Re: Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Aug 20, 2021 10:50 pm

Glad to see you got to these in the end - I remember that you'd planned to do them in 2017, but had a problem with your leg that prevented it.

Reading your report brought back many fond memories indeed of my round in that year.

Including many walkers' favourite evening passtime, which you also enjoyed ...

squashing midges.jpg


BTW... what's the smiley mug done wrong to be relegated to one picture of her secured to your sac...???
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Re: Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Postby dogplodder » Sat Aug 21, 2021 4:38 pm

Enjoyed reading that. This trip must have preceded the locking of the railway crossing at Dalwhinnie which is making life a bit difficult for cyclists just now. :o
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Re: Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Postby Rudolph » Sat Aug 21, 2021 7:51 pm

dogplodder wrote:Enjoyed reading that. This trip must have preceded the locking of the railway crossing at Dalwhinnie which is making life a bit difficult for cyclists just now. :o


Thank you - it was good fun (almost) the whole way round.

We didn't go near the newly locked gate but parked at the filling station which left an easy cycle under the bridge and a short leg north to meet the 'old' path.
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Re: Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Postby mrssanta » Sat Aug 21, 2021 9:02 pm

gld73 wrote:Useful report thanks, I'm hoping to do these hills soon, but I keep deciding ones where I don't need to cycle in and/or camp in wet weather are more appealing :lol:

I suspect this is why we have not done it till now!
Alteknacker wrote:Glad to see you got to these in the end - I remember that you'd planned to do them in 2017, but had a problem with your leg that prevented it.

Reading your report brought back many fond memories indeed of my round in that year.

Including many walkers' favourite evening passtime, which you also enjoyed ...

squashing midges.jpg


BTW... what's the smiley mug done wrong to be relegated to one picture of her secured to your sac...???

You've got a good memory!!
Sorry about the lack of smiley mug photos, to my shame, I forgot to take a picture of them, but put that correct for my next report (just)
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Re: Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Postby gammy leg walker » Sun Aug 22, 2021 7:46 pm

Still have this pair to climb hopefully before the winter sets in, I'll probably walk in and out over two days, not a great fan of the bike. You are getting very close to the end now, hopefully we do eventually meet up at some point
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Re: Excellent Alder and Bheoil and how not to cycle in.

Postby mrssanta » Sun Aug 22, 2021 9:34 pm

gammy leg walker wrote:Still have this pair to climb hopefully before the winter sets in, I'll probably walk in and out over two days, not a great fan of the bike. You are getting very close to the end now, hopefully we do eventually meet up at some point

one day surely!!
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mrssanta
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Posts: 3089
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Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Location: north yorkshire moors

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