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He should have known better – Part 2

He should have known better – Part 2


Postby Clach Liath » Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:27 pm

Route description: Beinn a' Bhuird

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Bhuird

Date walked: 20/08/2011

Time taken: 11 hours

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I had slept surprisingly well, that is after the battle with the zillions of midges that had frustrated attempts to put up the tent. They even had a go at the dog such that his coat became a writhing black mass.

I had chosen a nice spot just south of the ruins of Slugain Lodge to camp. This is where the stream disappears for a short distance underground. I had hoped that the relative lack of dampness there would mean that the little b*****s would be less bothersome, particularly as up in Glen Quoich there was a stiff breeze. It was not to be.

IMG_3933.JPG
Camp site just to the south of Slugain Lodge


Fortunately a combination of insect repellent and a brief increase in the wind allowed for a hasty demolition of a meal and a hurried retreat into the confines of the tent unaccompanied by the terrors. I had bailed out of my intended sweep of Ben Avon and Beinn a’Bhuird with all their attendant tops. Tiredness of body and mind, lack of motivation and deteriorating weather had clinched it. The three and a half miles from The Sneck to Slugain Lodge had passed by pleasantly enough. The clouds lowered and curtains of rain passed by to the south by way of justification of my decision.

http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=14927

There had been a respite whilst I was fighting off the be-toothed hoards and eating, but as I lay in my tent listening to the rain pattering on the fly that justification was confirmed. And I dozed off even though Jet had nicked my thermarest.

IMG_3931.JPG
Jet beats me to the sleeping mat


We were briefly disturbed around 11pm by lights passing by and Jet let out low growls, hackles raised. By then the rain had stopped. Oh well, I would have to hope the weather would be OK in the morning.

Decamping was swift because the enemy was still at large. I was off by 8am. Dark clouds hung heavily as I passed by the ruins.....

IMG_3934.JPG
Slugain Lodge


…. and the reedy pool a little further on.

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Pool just to the north of Slugain Lodge


A little beyond the junction with the land rover track that takes the high route above the Lodge, I met the threesome that had been responsible for the lights. They had dumped their bikes back by the Lodge and were finishing their breakfast. We had a brief chat and I continued.

The path towards Beinn a’Bhuird leaves the one that goes towards The Sneck at a small cairn and is a peaty trail through the heather. After the rain it was a bit squidgy. It takes a bit of a circuitous route down to a ford across the river. Although there had not been much rain, the water was quite lively so I imagine that the crossing here can be difficult when it is truly in spate. I managed to get my left foot wet slipping off a rock. Meanwhile Jet happily splashed through the obstacle.

On the far side, I decided to have some breakfast whilst the clouds briefly broke up and allowed some patches of sunlight to slide along nearby hillsides. The main path down Glen Quoich is improved like the one towards The Sneck from here. But the way up Beinn a‘Bhuird continues along a further peaty path immediately on the other side of the river. At the start it looks more like a drainage ditch but as the heather shortens it becomes more pleasant to walk along. The path swings to the right, to the left and then to the right again and makes a long ascending traverse up the side of Carn Fiaclach on a good path.

With the added weight of the tent and other overnight gear it felt a bit of a grind up the slopes. Occasional showers passed by and ahead the cloud base was just about at the level of the col between Carn Fiaclach and the main bulk of Beinn a’Bhuird. The poor dog plodded along just behind me. He too was out of energy.

As height was gained the wind strengthened. Just before the col I set bearings for the south top and from there the top of Coire an Dubh Loch. The slopes here are uniform and wide. The bearing kept me away from the steep broken ground shown on the map to the east and eventually to the cairn of the south top on the broad expanse of level plateau. I did not stop and set off northwards. I recalled the last time I had crossed the plateau on a day in May when the ground was two inches deep in snow melt. Today the ground was fine for my weary limbs. Shortly before reaching the corrie rim Jet disappeared to round up four walkers who were overhauling me.

There is a path along the corrie rim and then peters out as you cut across to the top of Coire nan Clach where it re-appears and takes you to the more substantial cairn on the main summit. “Summit” is a bit of a misnomer as it is just another high point on the plateau. It provided little shelter from the wind. The cloud remained down and Jet’s coat was covered in beads of water from the dampness of the cloud. We were glad of the break and joined the foursome. It was just midday.

We spent a good 20 minutes resting and feeding. There were hints of brightness but it was very chilly. Another walker joined having come from the east.

IMG_3937.JPG
Soggy doggy at summit of Beinn a'Bhuird


So the next objective was Stob an t-Sluichd, a top almost 2 miles to the north east. I set my compass to a point between two spot heights intending to pick up a stream that would then lead to the head of Garbh Choire. As it happened, that became superfluous. About 15 minutes after leaving the top the cloud broke up. There were clear views across to the east to Ben Avon and to the north. The top of Beinn a’Bhuird remained in cloud for the time being though. The terrain was easy, as were the gradients. It was as well.

Stob an t-Sluichd lies about 10 miles from Keiloch, which was my destination for the day. So there was a bit of a psychological barrier to overcome to generate the will to proceed that way – a 4 mile detour. From that northern arm of Beinn a’Bhuird Ben Avon presents it bulk across Garbh Coire with its tors on the skyline like castles.

IMG_3938.JPG
Ben Avon from Stob an t-Sluichd


Although it is such a long way off the normal bagger’s territory there was quite a strong path along the ridge of this top.

IMG_3939.JPG
Stob an t-Sluichd


The western slopes of this top are the site of an aircraft crash. Pieces of the wreckage from 1945 remain there.

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Wreckage on Stob an t-Sluichd


Nearby there is a memorial plaque.

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Memorial on Stob an t-Sluichd


The following sites provide more information on the circumstances surrounding the event.

http://www.braemarlhg.com/jan-vella-dfc.html

http://www.archieraf.co.uk/scs/oxfordph404.html

I left Sron an t-Sluichd at around 1.35pm. There is around a 300 foot climb back over Cnap a’Chleirich. As I was fairly tired I thought about skirting this top to the north, but in the end (as the weather was improving) I thought I would take it in. So there follow some of the views from that top.

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Stob an t-Sluichd from Cnap a'Chleirich


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Ben Avon from Cnap a'Chleirich


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Beinn a'Bhuird summit dome from Cnap a'Chleirich


After a further intake of food (the last I had), it was off to the east on a good trail which led to the eroded section down to The Sneck and where I had been 22 hours earlier pondering whether I should be climbing up the way I had just come.

I knew I was tired. I did not take any more photos! My pace grew slower and slower. At Clach a’Chleirich, the erratic boulder at the end of the defile between Cnap a’Chleirich and Carn Eas, Jet ignored a German Shepherd that bounded over playfully to him. He was shot too. It was still 7 miles back to the car. From this point the improved path is reached. The old direct route up to the boulder is replaced by a sweeping zig and zag of the new path which drops a couple of hundred feet to the valley floor. The scenery was splendid but I did not really appreciate it as different parts of my legs took turns at hurting more than others. A couple of pairs of walkers passed me, commenting on my large pack (I know). On the return I took the upper route around Slugain Lodge and met a threesome looking for the secret howff. The lower route is certainly the more picturesque.

On I went. And went. And went. I just wanted to be back at the car now. I sat down to rest on a couple of occasions. Even a couple of cyclists with flat tyres managed to overtake me! More cyclists came past. I was sorely tempted to relieve them of their bikes – but I would not have been able to move fast enough to do this. On I went passed the holiday cottages, eventually by Invercauld Lodge, and then into Keiloch.

The car park at last! Even then there was no relief. The midges would not allow me to deboot in peace. So sack and dog were thrown into the car (well not the dog) and an escape was made.

These are fabulous remote mountains - perhaps not as shapely as those in the west. But they have grand open aspects and plenty of interest to them. The original plan of mine was perhaps over ambitious. These mountains demand respect, and time, to appreciate.
Last edited by Clach Liath on Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Clach Liath
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Re: He should have known better – Part 2

Postby Belgian_Hiker » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:13 pm

Nice report !
When I see the pictures, they look somewhat similar to the Vosges mountains in France.
Good effort - well done !
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Re: He should have known better – Part 2

Postby Belgian_Hiker » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:19 pm

Here is what I mean ( or maybe I need glasses :wink: )

DSCN0948-800.jpg
Le Hohneck 1364 m
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Re: He should have known better – Part 2

Postby Clach Liath » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:32 pm

Belgian_Hiker wrote:Here is what I mean ( or maybe I need glasses :wink: )



No - I do not think you need glasses. I agree. :thumbup:

Never been to that part of France though.
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Re: He should have known better – Part 2

Postby gammy leg walker » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:47 pm

Top drawer walk report Clach Laith :)
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Re: He should have known better – Part 2

Postby Clach Liath » Sat Sep 10, 2011 5:00 pm

gammy leg walker wrote:Top drawer walk report Clach Laith :)


Thanks, GLW. Hope the route descriptions are useful to those using this forum.
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Re: He should have known better – Part 2

Postby dogplodder » Sat Aug 16, 2014 11:43 am

Know I'm a bit late..... but that was a great read and I felt your pain at the end of the road. 8)
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