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Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!


Postby mountain coward » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:33 pm

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

Date walked: 30/08/2009

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Pal Richard and I again (a couple of years ago at the end of May)... plus mountain bikes for the first bit.

While staying at one of the wooden lodges at the Braemar Hotel (fantastic lodges) with my parents and Richard on a Munroing trip (well, my parents weren’t Munroing), I decided it was time for a proper long walk and informed Richard that the next day we were going for Beinn a’ Bhuird and Ben Avon. I did tell him the mileage wasn’t much short of 30 miles and that it would be a long, hard day so he couldn’t say he wasn’t warned!

Early-ish the next morning we stuck the bikes on my trusty ol’ Sunny and drove to the Invercauld Estate Walkers’ carpark (can’t remember if you pay – think it’s a small amount). Set off through the estate on the bikes and managed to cycle about 2 miles through the forest to it’s edge where we chained the bikes either side of a stoutish tree and set off on foot up the track alongside the Slugain. The way through the forest was pretty well signposted for walkers. The track alongside the Slugain would be cyclable at least as far as The Fairy Glen by anyone who was any use on a bike but I’m afraid that doesn’t include us! :lol:

The track is stony and quite rough but is a landrover track so no navigation is needed. At The Fairy Glen the track splits for a short while up the hill – you can either go up through the Fairy Glen or stay on the landrover track. On the way out we stuck with the landrover track...
The Slugain.jpg


Not long after the top of the hill, Beinn a’ Bhuird hove into view, still looking quite distant but the track ceased to be a rough landrover track and became a more pleasant walkers’ track heading straight for it.
Beinn a'Bhuird.jpg
There is a subsidiary south ridge on the eastern edge of the mountain with a track up it which we were heading for. In about another 4 miles, there was a dip down to the river which had to be crossed. Rich doesn’t like river crossings and seems to have an inordinate fear of getting wet so was much longer persuading himself to cross it than I was (I just took my socks and boots off and waded across – my feet were dry by the time he boulder hopped across).

The path then becomes indistinct for a while as it crosses some very gently rising heather towards the ridge for about another mile. The track up the ridge is excellent until about 2/3 of the way up when it gets more vague. I wanted to collect the South Top but Richard wasn’t interested so he carried on slowly up onto the plateau while I bagged it – it was a bit further and harder than it looked, especially when I was hurrying!

I then crossed the plateau to join him around the area of the impressive buttresses of A’ Chioch. He had by now seen along the long escarpment into the distance and was looking a bit mutinous - he really hates plodding across long (to him dull) plateaux. I just tried to engage his interest in all the corries, corrie lochans and buttresses along the escarpment and tried to keep his mind off the sight of the summit cairn – about 2.5 miles away if you follow the escarpment. I thought it was superb! Just my kind of thing!
Beinn a' Bhuird corries.jpg
The Long Day.jpg
Looking across to Ben Avon...


We eventually reached the fairly substantial summit cairn where we had a bit of a break but I could see bad weather heading for us from across the valley behind us so we didn’t stay long. I also wanted to bag the top of Cnap a’ Cleirich and studied the various vague lumps to see which I thought it was. I had completely got it wrong, although I didn’t know it at the time, as it was much further south than I thought – very much on the edge of the plateau.

Richard really wasn’t interested in doing it but I convinced him it was nearly on the way (the lump I was looking at wasn’t far off route at all!) He grumbled quite a bit on the way to it and even more so when, as we reached the top, a fierce blizzard hit us (this was the end of May!) I couldn’t see a thing in the squall and we ended up descending the wrong side of this lump and completely wrong for ‘The Sneck’. I was setting off towards another ridge going off to the north-east but was confused that we were over crags when we should only really have been over steep scree and grass slopes... As it cleared, I managed to get my bearings and realised I was totally wrong and that the sneck was the other side of our ‘lump’ to the east of us. Richard was by now totally unimpressed and wanting to give up but I calmed him by saying that we didn’t have to go back over the lump, we could traverse just above the crags to the top of The Sneck. And so we did...
Heading to The Sneck.jpg


The Sneck was far more steep and loose than anything I was expecting in that area of the Cairngorms and had big crags immediately to the left of the path so it was my turn to be a bit unimpressed.
Beinn a'Bhuird fm The Sneck.jpg
I made my way down the scree cautiously and we had another break on the col. There was a superb little desolate valley heading off to the north – Sluichd Mor.
Sluichd Mor.jpg
Beinn a'Bhuird&The Sneck.jpg
Stob an't Sluichd,B a'Bhuird.jpg
The ridge we nearly ended up going along!


The climb up from The Sneck to Ben Avon is exceedingly easy on a great path and we were up there in no time. Richard was most impressed with its summit as it consists of a huge, 3-section rock tor!
Ben Avon summit.jpg
He was all over it like a rash! I clambered about on it a bit more carefully. On our way into the gap between 2 of the rocky sections, following the path, we found a lady ptarmigan lying right on the path between rocks – not a great place to nest if that’s what she was doing. She may just have thought she was hidden though – she blended in perfectly – just hope no one stood on her later! I didn’t take a photo of her as I didn’t want to stress her.

I really liked Ben Avon. The plateau area was absolutely huge and had long, wide ridges in all directions, seemingly going for miles. Each ridge had at least one shapely tor.
Stac Garbh Mor, Ben Avon.jpg
If I’d been on my own, I’d probably have gone in for a spot more ‘top collecting’ but I knew Richard wouldn’t stand for any more off route stuff or waiting around so I thought I’d probably best save that for another time. I fully intend to do Ben Avon again but explore the area of the Allt an Eas Bhig as that is more or less where the headless tailor was found in 1938 – a story I found most interesting! I did decide, however, that we needed to descend south to collect 2 tops on the way back so we headed off to the southern escarpment. We were getting a great view of where Lochnagar should be – it was in blizzards nearly all day!
Where is Lochnagar fm Ben Avon.jpg
Lochnagar getting blizzarded!


The descent from Carn Eas to Craig an Dail Mhor should have been down the side of a burn but I got impatient and just took us down the slope – it was pretty steep – almost a grass cliff. It was Richard’s turn to be not keen on the descent – he thought I was nuts – but it wasn’t far to the col and we managed to stay the right way up... :D

By now he was grumbling a lot more about the pathless walking on heather – something he really hates! I told him the best way back to the main path was for us to head south-west to Carn Eag Dhubh and that it wasn’t far (actually about 2 miles back to the path from there). By the time we reached the path he was pretty grumpy!
Path to The Sneck.jpg
Looking back...
It is then only just a little over half a mile to reach the bit of the path we’d come out on so he bucked up a bit now he was on familiar territory and the end was in sight. Only about another 4.5 miles to the bikes.

We stopped for a break at the Slugain Ruin – I normally love the old ruins as I find many of them really atmospheric but not this one!
Slugain Ruin.jpg
I don’t think there is a ruin in Scotland with less atmosphere! From there we decided to take the track down into The Fairy Glen – a much nicer track than the one we came out on. Unfortunately, the light for decent photos had gone by now...
Fairy Glen,Slugain.jpg


In another hour or so we were relieved to get back to the bikes. We arrived back at the chalet at 2200 – just in time for tea and our beds! Quite a long day! I enjoyed it though...
Last edited by mountain coward on Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby Paul Webster » Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:22 am

Lovely pics there MC! What don't you like about the Slugain lodge - the legendary 'secret howff' is said to be near there :D

That is a bit of an epic walk; we climbed Beinn a'Bhuird one New Years Day and it was dark - and very cold - when we waded the burn in Glen Quoich on the way back...
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby mountain coward » Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:26 am

Yeah I know - I was very frustrated that, despite the great descriptive hints as to where it is, I never saw where it was!

I found that the Slugain Lodge, unlike The Fairy Glen, really didn't seem to have any atmosphere - I think it must not be a very old building (even though it's already ruined). Either that or nothing much happened there :lol: The ruin I've found the most atmospheric so far was Altanour, but I think that's partly its situation at the head of Glen Ey.

And Richard found that walk far too 'epic' for his liking (distance wise of course - definitely not enough 'excitement' for him!) :lol:
Last edited by mountain coward on Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby missMHK » Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:16 pm

Wow - photos are amazing MC. The summit of Ben Avon looks like castle grayskull or something out of lord of the rings!
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby mountain coward » Tue Sep 01, 2009 2:47 pm

Thanks! It's a fantastic place but even without doing Beinn a' Bhuird, it's a long walk from anywhere...
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby benno » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:24 pm

Ah these are good hills! Thanks for the great report MC!

I did them up Glen Quoich a few years ago. That summit tor on Avon is amazing - quite massive when you're right up to it. It was so windy that I had to crawl along it to reach the highest point. I have a good picture of me clinging on for dear life - will post it in a couple of days.
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby mountain coward » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:26 pm

We want a close-up of your face - the concentration and the grimace and the fear about whether you get blown off the top or not! :lol:
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby benno » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:28 pm

It wasn't pretty I seem to remember, will look it out, but slightly more relaxed than when I did the Inn Pin - I keep that picture safely under lock and key!
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby mountain coward » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:42 pm

At least you've done the In Pinn - I wish someone would remove it with some dynamite!
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby HighlandSC » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:58 pm

Could it be argued, purely technically speaking (does that make sense?), that the Inn Pin is actually safer than a lot of exposed scrambling? You know, since you're roped up and if you fall nothing is actually going to happen (apart from maybe taking a nice swing over a big drop :lol: )
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby mountain coward » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:02 pm

And smacking hard back into the rock! Ouch! I don't trust ropes anyway - just my hands and feet - I'm not a very trusting person!
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby HighlandSC » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:11 pm

I know what you mean with trusting things/rope/equipment. Clearly I'm massively inexperienced, done little walking, and never any outdoor climbing, but have done a couple of years casual indoor climbing and I did find when starting that the biggest problem is trusting your equipment and belayer. Break through that barrier and it's game on.

I might change my mind when I see the In Pinn first hand, but right now the thought of an easy roped rock climb seems a lot more appealing than some of this unroped exposed scrambling.

Do many people take falls from the In Pinn? Or do they all tend to get up, if only by clinging on for dear life?
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby mountain coward » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:19 pm

Probably not unless they get horrendously sick and dizzy like I probably would if I was up there! I keep looking at the short end of it and, if I'm going to have to be on a rope anyway, wondering if it isn't easier (obviously not technically but easier on the nerves) to climb up that end as it's only about 40 foot and not over the huge drop!
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby HighlandSC » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:27 pm

Hmmm...the power of the human mind eh! Suppose it is useful to stop us from acting like Lemmings!
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Re: Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon - the Long Day!

Postby mountain coward » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:32 pm

Or apparently all those Swiss cows that have suddenly starting doing a lemming act and jumping off the high peaks! That was on AOL or Yahoo news yesterday!
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