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Ben Alder and neighbours

Ben Alder and neighbours


Postby rockhopper » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:01 pm

Route description: Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil from Culra

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Beag (Alder), Beinn Bheoil, Beinn Eibhinn, Ben Alder, Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack), Geal-charn (Alder)

Date walked: 14/07/2012

Time taken: 13.5 hours

Distance: 58 km

Ascent: 2400m

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With a reasonable weather forecast for the Saturday at least, I parked up in the wee car park just before the railway level crossing and set off on the bike along the Loch Ericht track.


Ben Alder 14jul2012activelog.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



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Arrived at the estate office gates and couldn’t see how to get past them – then spotted the wee bike bypass to the right.

Due to a combination of weather and work, it had been four weeks since I had been on the hills or had any exercise – this was evident very early on even on the small inclines in the track never mind the remainder of the day !

Uneventful cycle along the rest of the track and arrived at the divide just up from Loch Pattack where I took the shortcut over to Culra bothy.

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Singletrack sections, some boggy and stony sections until I rejoined the main track then detoured to the bridge and up to the bothy.

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Locking up the bike, a lady walker who had stayed in the bothy overnight with her friend appeared and kindly offered me coffee. I didn’t have a coffee but we had a long chat before and after she fetched water from the Allt.

I then found a feint track at the back of the bothy and headed steeply up the side of Carn Dearg.

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From there on, it was basically a case of heading through the heather with no tracks other than the odd animal trail here and there. One leg thigh deep into a deep heathery hole at one point but fortunately it was dry.

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Go to the top of the ridge. After the steep ascent, my legs were constantly reminding about the lack of recent exercise and I found myself stopping/starting fairly frequently.

Then a straightforward walk to the summit of Carn Dearg.

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Some views from the summit with the cloud quite low and visibility coming and going all the time. It was raining very lightly on and off but not sufficiently heavy to warrant waterproofs. I headed off towards Gael-Charn.

Easy walking with views down to Loch an Sgoir.

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Waterfall down to the loch

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Approach route up to Gael-Charn

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There were also some snow patches higher up on Gael-Charn

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View looking back

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There was a track to the side of the ridge and I was soon up on to the plateau – wide open space with a further remaining snow patch.

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Headed SW to the summit of Gael-Charn

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At this point the clag was closing in and I couldn’t see much. Headed off towards Aonach Beag. No view at all when I got to the summit (here we go again…..)

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Then SW to the bealach before heading up and round to Beinn Eibhinn. Again all in clag with no view.

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I had a think about trying to find a short cut down to the Uisge Labhair but soon gave up as I couldn’t see much in the mist. So, back down to the bealach.

As luck would have it, the mist started to clear a bit and I could see more of where I was going and where I’d been, back up to Beinn Eibhinn and Aonach Beag

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Towards Ben Alder

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I found the start of what looked like a track down to the Uisge Labhair but it soon disappeared (either that I lost it as usual). Cut across the corrie and round the bottom of Sron Ruadh to bring me back up to the track which comes from Culra.

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Lot of frogs about

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Had a long stop at this point for food, drink and a rest. Boots and socks off to try to massage my feet as the metatarsalgia in my left foot was coming back again.

Couldn’t see any signs of a track up Ben Alder, not that I was expecting one anyway. Tried a sort of zigzag route in between just heading straight up. It was steep and I found myself stopping several times – that said, height is gained quickly and I got up to the 1,056m point.

Some views starting to open up as the clag had cleared

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From there it’s just a case of walking east to the summit Ben Alder. Four walkers already at the top and had a long chat with two of them. They were from Newcastle but were only able to come up for 10 – 12 hills per year.

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The weather by now was much improved and the views far clearer than earlier.

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The next stage was down initially rocky ground then steeply down past Sron Bealach Beithe to the Bealach Breabag above the loch. I found this quite hard going and, looking back from the bottom, I may have been better going further south before descending.

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Over the bealach and then up the track to Sron Coire na h-Lolaire. Met more walkers on this section and had a chat with them. They’d stayed overnight in Benalder cottage, the bothy down on the shores of Loch Ericht.

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Looking back

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Over the rocky ground, dropped down the ridge before the final climb up to Beinn Bheoil.

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The sky was looking a bit threatening but it stayed dry. The sun even came out and I got some decent views down over Loch Ericht and back over to Ben Alder.

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From here I headed northwards towards Sron Dreineach but dropped down NE before getting to the end. Suspect I could have come down a bit sooner to get to the track which would take me back to Culra bothy.

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On reaching the track, it was then just a case of walking along close to the Allt, past the bothy on the other side, on to the bridge then back to the bothy. My feet were playing up again and I was having to curl my toes up to take the weight off the balls of my feet.

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Got back to the bothy and met the two lady walkers again. They’d been out on the Aonach Beag four and were getting a fire going for their dinner. Their plan was to stay overnight again and climb Ben Alder the following day via the Long Leachas ridge and were hoping that their dogs would be able to manage. Very friendly people, they again offered me coffee but I had to decline as I still had a fair way to go to get back for my dinner.

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Instead of going back the same way, I decided to try the longer route round by Loch Pattack instead of the flatter, short cut.

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This turned out not to be a good idea. The track was somewhat hillier and it also went through various sections of sand, peat and stones which were uncycleable – also had to traverse the suspension bridge which was interesting. As a result, it took quite a bit longer than it should have to get back to the main track. On the plus side, the vibration through the pedals was helping my feet !

Cycled back along the track past the estate office and then back to the car.

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Quick change as the wind had dropped and the midges were out. A long day but it had stayed mostly dry and the sun was now out making for a very nice evening.

Stayed overnight as I wanted to walk up Geal Charn [Monadhliath] early the following day. As I had the bike with me, I planned to cycle up Glen Markie past Piper’s Burn and approach from the north round the corrie. However, with heavy rain and clag the following morning, I decided against that plan and instead walked up from Garva Bridge…..I guess two days of decent-ish weather would have been too much to hope for…...
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby Stretch » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:45 pm

Great stuff Rockhopper, love the last pic of the bothy with the hills behind. I wanted so badly to do these before I moved away, but never got the chance. Someday I suppose!
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby pigeon » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:50 pm

Another good one Rockhopper,looks like the weather turned out fine in the end.Been thinking about doing these 6 in one go as well,but no sure i could manage to bike in and out on the same day so it will be a camp at the bothy for me :D (plus the fact that i don't have a bike might be a factor :lol: )
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby Bod » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:44 pm

Fine report there rockhopper of a mighty trek/bike all in one day, great effort :clap:
I like pigeon will be looking at a stayover in or around the bothy, don't know when though!? Enjoyed your photos very much, and for me as well the bothy shot with the mountains behind is a stunner :D :D :D
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby monty » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:07 pm

Nice one Rockhopper. Apart from a bit of clag your photos didnae come out too bad. Thats a good effort in one day. :D
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby gammy leg walker » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:57 pm

Another big round under your belt RH,at this rate you will compleate next year,like the comment"4 weeks off" & then do this in 13hrs. :lol: :lol:
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby ChrisW » Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:13 pm

Nothing for 4 weeks then this epic....no wonder your feet were playing up....if I'd have tried anything like this my feet would have kicked me to death :lol: Great hike mate, stunning photos, particularly the ones straight after the weather cleared up a bit.

When I read this "It was steep and I found myself stopping several times" I thought damn, do people normally just keep on walking :shock:

Great report mate, bit too long of a wander for me but great to read all about it :D
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby Alan S » Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:16 pm

Excellent report rockhopper well done on this :D
Love the pic 4th from the end with the wee bothy 8)
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby Graeme D » Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:27 pm

Another fine piece of reporting on some quality hill action there Rockhopper! :clap:
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby PeteR » Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:50 pm

A nice little leg stretcher after 4 weeks off :lol: I think I'd need 4 weeks off if I did all 6 in one day. It was hard enough doing 4 in one go :shock:

It's a smashing area though and brought back great memories seeing the Geal Charn 4 again :D A pity you didn't have perfect weather on some of the tops, but some views toward the end though :D
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby basscadet » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:14 pm

Another unbelievably hard sounding day there :)
I did the same route from Culra without Beinn Bheoil, and I was footsore and weary. :lol:
Trouble with this route is it misses out the best bit of Ben Alder, which sucks. i hate when the obvious way doesn't take in the good bits :?
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby halfaseesaw » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:22 am

That explains your early start on Geal Carn :clap: . That was a monster walk. I hadn't thought about liking the 4 and the 2. I'm aiming for Ben Alder as my 200th so hopefully heading that way very soon. Lovin' your work.
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby Johnny Corbett » Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:59 am

More great stuff. Your walk reminded me of when i did these, no views and raining on the first 4 then blue sky for the next 2 although i took a wee nights break in between at the bothy :D
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby mrssanta » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:03 pm

Goodness RH that was a long day. well done
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Re: Ben Alder and neighbours

Postby pollyh33 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:18 pm

Wonderful report RH and blooming epic too!!! :clap:

I love that as well as telling us about the hills and your route, you include all the people you met along the way. For me, sometimes that's the most memorable part of a walk :thumbup:
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