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Happy miserable in the Cairngorms

Happy miserable in the Cairngorms


Postby skuk007 » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:53 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Bhuird, Ben Avon

Date walked: 26/06/2011

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 22.8 km

Ascent: 1500m

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It seemed as though I had been waiting for this week to arrive for ages. I'd been getting in as much training as I could in the weeks before but still didn't feel fit enough for the Scottish hills - well we'd soon see.

The plan was to spend the first four nights in Braemar YH then move on for four nights in Crianlarich YH. The drive up from Bristol went surprisingly well so I found myself at Braemar YH in plenty of time to bag a bottom bunk.

I was in Room #1 which is right at the top of the building. This meant several trips up several flights of stairs so it didn't bode well for the week when I found myself puffing for breath when I eventually got settled. I felt better after a cuppa though.

After a restless night I was the first one up, eager to get into the Cairngorms. The weather was not meant to be good today with even a mention of thundery rain, however, when I set off in the car for the start it was dry but still very threatening.

Just before getting to the car parking area at Linn of Quoich there was a barrier across the road with a note explaining that due to wear and tear the bridge was not at it's best so traffic was being stopped from using it during repairs. This didn't matter as there was plenty of space to park on the verge nearby. There were only two other cars there before me.

I had brought my bike up in the back of the car to reduce the amount of walking-in and out I had to do so once I'd got it assembled (it would only fit in my wee car by taking the front wheel off) I was ready to go by 07:40am.

Literally 60 seconds after I started cycling it started to drizzle enough to warrant getting off the bike and putting on all my waterproofs. To be honest I found parts of the path quite hard going but I put it down to the fact that I had all my waterproof gear on, a heavy rucksack, it was quite early, and I'm in my late forties (any further excuses most welcome). :lol:

40 mins later I found myself at the ford where I had to cross the Allt an Dubh-ghlinne river. Due to the recent rain it wasn't going to be possible to cross without getting wet boots so after stashing my bike in the heather I swapped into some sandels I'd brought along for this crossing, and one later in the day. There were a couple of wild-campers cooking their breakfast at this point so it was all set up for me to take a tumble - luckily that didn't happen.

I dried my feet and put the boots back on so I could now concentrate on the way up to Beinn a'Bhuird. The path was quite good and was easy to follow and before long I soon found myself climbing up to the ridge of Carn Allt na Beinne.

At about 850m I started heading into the mist, still with all my waterproofs on. Turns out I'd have them on all day until getting back to the car.

Once in the mist the views were pretty non-existent which is a real shame as I'd read the views into Coire an Dubh-lochain were normally very impressive. The wind was picking up now aswell so I was pretty much wrapped up from head to foot. I met one other walker making his way down from Beinn a'Bhuird and we both agreed we must be pretty stupid to come out in this weather.

I lost the path somewhere in a small boulder field so used my GPS to get back on track. There was nothing to see to enable me to get a visual of where I was in relation to the summit so I used my GPS to track it down, and by 10:50 I was there. I then got the camera out for a quick cairn snap before storing it away again.
Bhuird1007.jpg
Beinn a'Bhuird summit

The constant rain was now starting to work its way into my boots and it was a bit nippy in the wind so I didn't hang around long, no point as it definately wasn't going to clear. I took a bearing for the route to The Sneck and set off. The descent to The Sneck was steeper and looser than I'd imagined but with care was quite do-able. I got there by 11:30. The climb up towards Ben Avon was also steeper than I'd imagined so with the wind picking up again and still no let up in the rain I found this ascent quite hard.

I plodded on though, following the path, and by 12:10 I'd finally managed to reach the base of the summit tor. I normally like to see my target so I can see it getting closer. I didn't see the tor until I was about 50 feet from it.
Avon1008.jpg
Ben Avon summit tor

I decided to get the scramble to the top over with before having my cuppa so I went straight up from where the path met it but there is an easier route round the back. The last scrambly bit to the actual top wasn't the easiest I found but the rock was quite grippy so it didn't take long to get there. 10 seconds on the top, nothing to see, wet and windy. Back down for some grub and tea. Couldn't really get out of the wind for this so I can't say I was fully enjoying my Cairngorm experience so far.

I packed up after just 30 minutes and set off back towards The Sneck for my descent. I saw two guys and their dog heading for Ben Avon. Sure I recognised the dog from other walk reports.

20 minutes later I was following the boggy path from the cairn at The Sneck and soon found myself heading out of the mist, but not the drizzle. By this time my feet were proper wet but at least I was on the way down. I took a few pics when I could.
Avon1009.jpg
Looking towards Carn Fiaclach from the path down from The Sneck

Avon1010.jpg
Looking back up towards The Sneck

I was hoping to have time to scout around for the Secret Howff but I wasn't in the mood by the time I got to near where I thought it could be, and I still had to find a way back across the river and through the woods to my bike. As I was coming down the path from The Sneck I did see something that looked like a shelter up on the western slopes above the large Clach a'Cleirich stone but it didn't look very secretive so I'm guessing that wasn't it.

I followed a path which I thought would take me down to the ford in the river but I lost it and arrived at the river too soon (just by the U bend on the map around 116963). I debated whether to just go for it but it looked like it was flowing quite fast at that point. I didn't want to do anything crazy on my first day so climbed the bank again and followed the river for a bit. I soon picked up the path again leading to the ford. I knew I didn't have too long to go to get back to the bike so I just waded across in my boots. It was only ankle deep anyway.

I followed the obvious path on the other side expecting it to carry on towards Carn Fiaclach, with the one I wanted branching off to the left through the trees, but this obvious one turned left and went through the woods. Perfect. It was a bit boggy in places but was certainly a well-trodden path which took me all the way back to my bike by 15:50

Waded straight through again and found the ride back easier than the way up had been. Back at the car by 16:40 thoroughly soaked but happy. Not the best of introductions to the Cairngorms but for the rest of the week the weather was looking up.

Very short video showing some of the route.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp0QtznO_cw[/youtube]
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skuk007
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Re: Happy miserable in the Cairngorms

Postby kevsbald » Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:08 am

Ach, it's a pity ye never had the views - one of my favourite hills Ben Avon and the tors to the North and East of the summit are summit else.
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Re: Happy miserable in the Cairngorms

Postby monty » Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:38 am

Nice to see you back in the hills Steve. Shame about the weather at the moment though. Its just luck of the draw. Well done though. :D
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Re: Happy miserable in the Cairngorms

Postby Vidiprinter » Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:03 am

Good timing with the report Steve as I’m planning to do these hills next week. You might find it easier on the bike if you ditched some of the copious amounts of Sports Mixtures you carry around in your bag!

What’s the track like? My bike is almost as old as me so have my doubts in will last a weeks worth of trips.
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Re: Happy miserable in the Cairngorms

Postby skuk007 » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:46 pm

Vidiprinter wrote:What’s the track like? My bike is almost as old as me so have my doubts in will last a weeks worth of trips.

This track was actually quite good, a few potholes to look out for but definitely not the worst I've ridden along. My bike is quite old but stood up to three days of tracks quite well. Good luck with your hills next week Rich, I'll be checking the weather reports hoping the high pressure returns soon. :)

Monty wrote:Nice to see you back in the hills Steve. Shame about the weather at the moment though.

Thanks Monty, the weather got better as my week went on. This was the worst of it.
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Re: Happy miserable in the Cairngorms

Postby Gable Gable End » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:10 am

quite fancy these from tomintoul!
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Re: Happy miserable in the Cairngorms

Postby Paula Hubens » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:51 pm

skuk007 wrote: I met one other walker making his way down from Beinn a'Bhuird and we both agreed we must be pretty stupid to come out in this weather.


Well done Skuk! Isn't it wonderful when a day has got all the ingredients for being miserable (wet, no views, wind, cold, soaked) you can still enjoy it, just because you're doing a munro!
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Re: Happy miserable in the Cairngorms

Postby get out and climb » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:32 pm

nice report pitty about the weather though :(
im thinking of going up ben avon on sat hope its i bit more sunny and drier though :)
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Re: Happy miserable in the Cairngorms

Postby skuk007 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:15 pm

get out and climb wrote:...im thinking of going up ben avon on sat hope its i bit more sunny and drier though :)

I think next week is meant to be quite warm so let's hope it lasts until next weekend. Don't forget to post some photos of the views I didn't get. :)
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