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Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.


Postby mrssanta » Sat Aug 21, 2021 8:46 pm

Route description: Aonach Beag: Four Munros from Culra

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Beag (Alder), Beinn Èibhinn, Càrn Dearg (Loch Pattack), Geal-chàrn (Alder)

Date walked: 11/08/2021

Time taken: 10.5 hours

Distance: 21 km

Ascent: 1330m

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As I start writing this it is a full week since we completed this walk, and I must write it before my brain expunges it from my memory. Or perhaps it is completely unforgettable! It was certainly an adventure and we definitely earned our four blue balloons.
We had camped next to the river just downstream of Culra bothy after climbing Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil the day before, and were aware that the forecast was for low cloud, wind and some rain on the mountains around Ben Alder, but we were here now and were in no hurry to change our plans.

4 north of culra.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


P8115968.JPG
From the tent in the morning. Lovely morning, note the water level in the river

As we set off it didn't look too bad and as we climbed up the side of Carn Dearg we were treated to the amazing sight and sound of an eagle being bombed by a buzzard. The eagle seemed entirely unbothered by this and glided away in the general direction of Ben Alder..
It's a steep climb up the side of Carn Dearg but it gets you up, and shortly after we gained the ridge line we went into the clag.
P8115970.JPG
cowberry. This is also Lingonberry in scandinavia and you might eat some in IKEA. AKA this is steep I need a breather

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Looking back to Culra, not gone far yet!

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and here is Rudolph at the top of summit no. 1

P8115979.JPG
and me. Lovely view

There's a trick for the unwary coming down off this hill in poor visibility. The summit is on a ridge which runs north east to south west and then turns west. If you carry on going south west you will end up coming off the hill. So after descending quite gently south west along a path for about 300 metres you then have to turn to the west, the path disappears and the ridge becomes more rounded and rocky. There is a handy cairn at the point that you have to turn west. We took a bearing from here and as you can see from the trace did not initially follow it very accurately as we were messing about a bit. However we soon got on the right direction and then we came out of the cloud and could see quite clearly where we were to go.
P8115980.JPG
turn west from this helpful cairn

From this point the weather seemed to be improving and we were quite cheerful and enjoyed the grassy ridge with lovely views to Lancet Edge across Loch an Sgoir.
P8115982.JPG
ooh look a view (nearly)

P8115985.JPG
this is nice

P8115990.JPG
Looking good, over to Lancet Edge

The climb up Aisre Ghobhainn was fun and interesting and not difficult, and we stopped for a brew in a sheltered spot out of the breeze, which was just as well as it was the last chance for a stop for quite a while!
During our stop the cloud came down again and the breeze started to pick up but we were undeterred.
P8115995.JPG
oh look, the view has gone, but it was a lovely break with tea and a stale roll, what more would anyone need?

We came up onto the plateau of Geal Charn and the path disappeared, which was not unexpected. We walked on a bearing pretty much straight to the summit. This was very interesting, as Rudolph was following the bearing and I was using "the Force" and I am quite sure that without the compass I would have gone round in circles, as it was completely clear to me that Rudolph was veering off course.
P8115997.JPG
walking on a bearing

P8115998.JPG
nicely done

P8115999.JPG
I'm here too, let's go that way!

This summit had Scotland's Favourite View, and the rain was getting gradually heavier, so we didn't hang around. From this point there is a nice path to the next summit Aonach Beag.
P8116000.JPG
this picture looks very similar, but it's a different cairn!

P8116001.JPG
and this one is me

As always we checked a bearing before leaving Aonach Beag as it is easy to forget your direction in the clag. Rudolph would have gone back the way we had come if he hadn't checked.
The wind was really starting to get strong and the rain lashing by now, from the south as forecast. We had a brief stop in the shelter of a rock just at the bealach between summits 3 and 4. For a moment I thought the rain was off, but when I stood up it became apparent that the rain was just falling sideways and missing us over the top of the rock.
P8116003.JPG
Ladies mantle and thyme

P8116005 (2).JPG
Eyebright

As the ridge turned round towards Beinn Eibhinn it was nice that the rain was from behind us for a while, but this was a bit of a trudge to be honest. We took the photos at the second summit, then came back and took a pic of the first cairn just to prove we had been to both.
P8116010.JPG
Rudolph on the second top of Beinn Eibhinn

P8116011.JPG
and me

P8116012.JPG
cairn of first summit. Don't make me actually touch it, don't want to get blown off!

Turning into the teeth of the gale, we started our long descent and return to the tent.
And I remembered to bring the Smidge today, but there were no midges!!
We were both wet to the skin for the first time in ages, we have been in some rain and wind before but this was really driving against our jackets and getting in through the front zip.
Anyway, the drop off the ridge into Coire a' Charra Bhig has a really nice path for a short while, it takes you nicely across the scree at the top of the corrie, with even some paving slabs at one point. It carries on for a few dozen yards after that and then deposits you nicely in the headwaters of all the multitudes of burns and springs that go to make up the Allt Choire a' Charra Bhig.
It was Wet. It was Very Wet. The ground was wet, the long grass was wet, we were wet, the air was wet. It was an adventure. It was blooming hard work! It was still raining very heavily and we kept as high as we could and crossed as many burns as we could as we made our way around the head of the corrie and round below the crags of Sron Ruadh.
There were, indeed some lovely wild flowers, which was about the only thing worth photographing.....
P8116014 (2).JPG
Ladies Bedstraw

P8116015 (2).JPG
Bluebell (harebell) which always looks so fragile and is found in the most inhospitable of places

P8116016.JPG
Bog asphodel

P8116020.JPG
Grass of Parnassus

P8116022.JPG
white heather

......until we came out below the clouds, and then the burns were Definitely worth photographing. They were all very full. So full indeed that we had to climb back up another 100 metres to find a vaguely safe place to cross the Allt Leacann na Brathan - never mind crossing dry shod, our feet were pretty soaked already, we just wanted not to be washed away!
P8116030.JPG
er-don't think we can cross here

P8116034.JPG
...or here...

P8116035.JPG
... or here - you get the drift!

This pathless walk from the ridge to the Bealach Dubh was very hard work and as soon as we reached the path (FANTASTIC) we found a little shelter and cracked out the bothy bag. I really recommend the bothy bag as it gives you a wee oasis of warm dry and brightness.
Rudolph was the hero of the day and put on the stove for the brew while I sat inside the bothy bag and rested my weary limbs. Hot chocolate and coffee and a good rest made all the difference, and we still had a good walk to get back to the tent, but the path was excellent and it was all downhill.
And lo and behold, what is that, not a wee patch of blue sky? surely not!!
P8116051.JPG
look - we have shadows! and isn't it a FANTASTIC path

And now we have a rainbow!
P8116052.JPG
Rainbow

The rain did eventually stop, and we were actually getting dried out as we walked - except for our feet. There was a fantastic amount of water in the burns, and there was no way we were going to get across any of these fords dry shod. but we didnt care any more, our feet were so wet and our boots so full of water that we just went straight across.
P8116060.JPG
Fording Allt Loch an Sgoir. There were several like this. You had to take your time as the water was quite forceful

P8116063.JPG
This is rather wild and beautiful! thankfully we will cross this at the bridge further down. If it's still there.....

P8116065 (2).JPG
This is a thing of beauty too, a track laying motorised barrow with path maintenance equipment

Back at the tent, it was actually a very pleasant evening. There was still a breeze, so no midges.
But the tent was a little closer to the water's edge than we had left it - and the tent had not moved!
P8116070.JPG
yes, a bit of the bank is definitely in the water, the green in the water is grass

P8116074.JPG
compare the water level with this morning (first picture)

P8116082.JPG
beautiful evening!

We kept a careful eye on the water level but as the evening went on it was clear that it was dropping so thankfully we did not have to move the tent. By morning the water was much lower and we had a really lovely morning for our cycle out.
P8126090.JPG
happy mugs at a much more tranquil breakfast brew

We took our time, because Rudolph's bike had no chain (see yesterday's TR https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=107618 ) so it took us all morning to get back to Dalwhinnie. We took the track this time via the shores of Loch Pattack. Apart from the shoogly bridge (which was fun) this was a much easier route for a bike than the other path.
P8126098.JPG
Loch Pattack

P8126101.JPG
the track does get a bit confused at times about where the edge of the loch is.


That's me all out of attachments so I will post a few more pics in a second post.
We had originally planned to go from here to Bynack More, but because of the bike problems decided to miss that out and go straight to family in Aboyne to complete the drying out process!
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mrssanta
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Re: Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Postby mrssanta » Sat Aug 21, 2021 8:59 pm

here are some pics from our "cycle" out - well I cycled anyway.
P8126102.JPG
Looking north from the ford next to the shoogly bridge

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The shoogly bridge.
Shoogling is what it does, as it's a suspension bridge. It is well built and secure.

P8126106.JPG
Looking upstream from the bridge

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we carried the panniers over first

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then the bikes

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the other Geal Charn and Beinn a' Chlachair

P8126121.JPG
ponies

P8126127.JPG
why couldn't it have been like this yesterday?

.
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mrssanta
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Re: Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Aug 21, 2021 11:10 pm

Heck! Wild, wild, wild! I guess I can see why one wouldn't throw in the towel if one had driven up from Yorkshire; but I confess I gave up on my planned week in Assynt when every hill got shrouded in clag - wimp!

Made a great read, though :clap: :clap: :clap:

As regards getting wet, you attribute it to the zips. My bro and I had a similar experience on the Brecon Beacons, and thought something like that must be happening. But when I got home, I tested my breathable waterproof by laying part of it in a sieve, and filling the bowl so formed with water. And it held the water perfectly for half an hour before I tipped it out. The provisional/tentative conclusion I drew was that, since water vapour cannot escape through a semi-permeable membrane if the outside is completely wet (vapour pressures physics); and since the humidity inside the jacket would be 100% due to the exertion; and finally, since the fabric would be cold due to the rain, giving rise to condensation - because of these three things, we were both soaked at the end of our walk (we are both prodigious perspirers when exerting ourselves. Do you think that could have been the cause in your case??
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Re: Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Postby gammy leg walker » Sun Aug 22, 2021 8:00 pm

My kinda weather, wet & flag, what's not to like.
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Re: Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Aug 22, 2021 9:23 pm

gammy leg walker wrote:My kinda weather, wet & flag, what's not to like.


Everything!!!
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Re: Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Postby mrssanta » Sun Aug 22, 2021 9:32 pm

Alteknacker wrote:
gammy leg walker wrote:My kinda weather, wet & flag, what's not to like.


Everything!!!

it wasn't particularly cold!!
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Re: Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Postby mrssanta » Sat Aug 28, 2021 8:35 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Heck! Wild, wild, wild! I guess I can see why one wouldn't throw in the towel if one had driven up from Yorkshire; but I confess I gave up on my planned week in Assynt when every hill got shrouded in clag - wimp!

Made a great read, though :clap: :clap: :clap:

As regards getting wet, you attribute it to the zips. My bro and I had a similar experience on the Brecon Beacons, and thought something like that must be happening. But when I got home, I tested my breathable waterproof by laying part of it in a sieve, and filling the bowl so formed with water. And it held the water perfectly for half an hour before I tipped it out. The provisional/tentative conclusion I drew was that, since water vapour cannot escape through a semi-permeable membrane if the outside is completely wet (vapour pressures physics); and since the humidity inside the jacket would be 100% due to the exertion; and finally, since the fabric would be cold due to the rain, giving rise to condensation - because of these three things, we were both soaked at the end of our walk (we are both prodigious perspirers when exerting ourselves. Do you think that could have been the cause in your case??

No, I think in this case it was just the heavy rain being driven through the fabric and zips of our jackets. It was mostly down the front and on my right side. I don't tend to sweat that much, and was certainly not over heating. We both have Paramo jackets and they don't have a waterproof membrane and you really can get drier in them even in damp conditions.
I vividly remember though back in the 70s with impermeable waterproofs and cotton base layers, on many occasions taking off a steaming wet t shirt at the end of a walk and hanging it in a foosty youth hostel drying room full of similar items!
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Re: Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Postby mrssanta » Sat Aug 28, 2021 8:37 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Made a great read, though :clap: :clap: :clap:

Also, thank you 😄
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Re: Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Thu Sep 02, 2021 4:15 pm

I love your two reports from this area. What role models you and Rudolf are for the Stoics, rotten weather, rotting bike and still you keep going. No views, wind and rain and still some great photos. Wow :clap: :clap: :D :D

These hills are very special for us, they are the only ones we have done using public transport, a train, tramp and camp circular from Dundee, walking in from Dalwhinnie and out to Corrour. (Yes we got good weather too 8) ). It was a chance conversation with another hillwalker at Corrour station that persuaded us to go for broke and complete the Munros - time will tell who breaks first :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Water, water everywhere! four north of Culra.

Postby mrssanta » Thu Sep 02, 2021 9:41 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:I love your two reports from this area. What role models you and Rudolf are for the Stoics, rotten weather, rotting bike and still you keep going. No views, wind and rain and still some great photos. Wow :clap: :clap: :D :D

These hills are very special for us, they are the only ones we have done using public transport, a train, tramp and camp circular from Dundee, walking in from Dalwhinnie and out to Corrour. (Yes we got good weather too 8) ). It was a chance conversation with another hillwalker at Corrour station that persuaded us to go for broke and complete the Munros - time will tell who breaks first :lol: :lol: :lol:

Thank you 😊
One of our earlier plans was a similar type through trip, but it never happened. We're both thinking a return trip is very much in order, hopefully with better weather. Roll on retirement!
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mrssanta
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