Well, a big one, at least relative to my previous outings anyway. I'll try and get photos attached to this report once my buddy has them uploaded. We set off at 3pm on the Friday, walking the long 15km path to the Culra Bothy. The path itself in the late afternoon sun was lovely, fantastic views, waterfalls, impossibly dark forestry which let in no sunlight, and of course the beautiful Ben Alder Lodge and its other properties which line the west bank of Loch Ericht like small castles. We covered the 15km to the bothy in 3 hours, reaching it at about 6, a little wet too as the heavens had opened just before arrival. After making some food, we set up our tent and settled in for the night (the rain only lasted 30 minutes approx).
When we awoke the next morning after a very cold night (approx 2C), we found a cloudless sky and a hard frost glistening in the bright sunlight. Ben Alder looked fantastic in this light, an impressive mountain it has to be said. After finishing breaky, we set off up Carn Dearg from directly behind the bothy. This initial part of the climb is very steep with no particular path. Once up on to the broad shoulder though a path emerges and the summit can be reached quite quickly after setting off. From here it was a quick descent down the frosty west face and towards Geal-Charn. The ascent up Geal-Charn was again, steep at parts, but altogether less interesting as the summit area is wide and rather featureless. A quick stop to fill up water bottles at a waterfall and some lunch, then we were set for our next task.
The ridge running from this point, over Aonach Beag to Beinn Eibhinn is quite good fun with spectacular views all around. The fine day also allowed us to see very far afield, and at one point we were even able to glimpse the summit of Ben Nevis although it remained shrouded in cloud for most of the day. A sudden and somewhat unusual burst of energy saw me surge ahead to top the last munro of the day, and then we collected our thoughts about the way back to Culra. We had encountered another walker who rather than tackle the bogs in the valley had decided to instead return to Culra by summiting all the munros again. We, decided against this and plowed down towards the bog, hoping to find a convenient place to join the main path leading between Beinn a' Chumhainn and Culra. This was not as difficult as it appears from higher up and I think we would both likely take this route again. Once on the path back to Culra we got into our stride and made it back 8 hours after setting off.
We quickly made some grub, packed up our tent and belongings, and set off for Dalwhinnie. This part of the journey, I don't think either of us enjoyed and our feet/back/shoulders/legs certainly did not! It got dark soon after we reached Ben Alder Lodge, leaving a good 1.5 hours walking in the dark and it is very long when tired and sore. Nonetheless, we made it back to the car and not too long after we were back in Dundee.
Personally, I reckon it took me a further 1.5 hours just to get up the stairs and in the shower, but hey ho. Blisters galore! All in all though a very enjoyable outing and a very pretty part of Scotland that neither of us had ventured to before. We shall certainly be back!
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