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Factor 30 for Ben Alder

Factor 30 for Ben Alder


Postby Fife Flyer » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:32 pm

Route description: Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil from Culra

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bheoil, Ben Alder

Date walked: 19/07/2013

Time taken: 9.15 hours

Distance: 40 km

Ascent: 1021m

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Well what a day, this whole adventure was the brain child of Lightfoot (Paul) who decided to opt for a day out with me rather than a blonde female!

The day started with an early rise & hardly any sleep, the alarm was set for 4.15am but as usual I woke up before the alarm woke the rest of the household (Mrs Flyer). So after a large bowl of cereal, getting the supplies out of the fridge, I headed off to meet up with Paul on the outskirts of Dunfermline. I had my bike in the back of the car with the front wheel removed (otherwise it won’t fit) & Paul turned up just before 5am.

After formal introductions, Paul decided we should just take the one car & squish both bikes in the back of his car, which was slightly bigger than mine.

Then it was the drive north, once again it is surprising how busy the A9 is, even at stupid o’clock!

Anyway we reached Dalwhinnie at about 6.15am & found a parking space fairly easily, there were a couple of other cars nearer the railway crossing that probably belonged to a couple of “wild” campers that we saw later on near Loch Pattack.

So bikes were extracted from Paul’s car, I had to re-attach my front wheel put some air in the tyre and we were ready for the off after slapping on the factor 30. After crossing the railway – obeying the health & safety instruction to check and make sure no trains were approaching of course. We both commented on how there was a slight chill in the air, that unfortunately didn’t last very long.

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The better track


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Looking across Loch Ericht


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My co-pilot just raring to go


We made good time cycling along towards Loch Pattack, that part of the track was fine, a few undulations, but the surface was almost road like. However once we turned left near Loch Pattack things deteriorated rapidly, loose stones & boulders the size bricks, basically very rough & a real bone shaker, which was made worse by the number of airborne insects, swallowing some was almost inevitable & for once I was glad I was wearing glasses.

We had to stop at Loch Pattack for a few photo’s as there was no breeze & the water surface was like glass. There were 3 horses grazing nearby & I did feel kind of sorry for them because if we were getting assaulted by midges & clegs, they must have been getting eaten alive.

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Loch Pattack to prove there was not even a hint of a breeze


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Loch Pattack reflection


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The path/track gets slightly worse


Next obstacle on the way to the bothy was the Altt a' Chaoil reidhe & we had to make a huge decision, I opted to cross the rickety bridge, where as Paul opted for a paddle in what we thought was a shallow ford crossing – however even after the lack of rain recently the crossing was probably about 3” deep – whatever that is new money.

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Could have been a good idea!


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Until one has to dismount & paddle


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And get wet boots


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My preferred crossing method, but not on the way back!


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Bikes & Ben Alder


So by about 7.30am we reached the bothy where we dismounted & chained our bikes to a herding pen or whatever the technical name is for it & slapped on more factor 30. Then the walking began, we studied the map & the WH route & followed the ‘well maintained’ stalkers path. I was in full stride & thinking this is a scoosh, we were making excellent progress & heading towards a bealach. Whilst stopping for a liquid top up, we again checked the map & WH route & realised we were heading in the right direction but going the wrong way. So we decided to plod through the heather & head to pick up the ridge of Ben Alder, that actually turned out to be easier said than done. The heather was thick & the ground very uneven, the only good thing was that there was no bogginess. I found that bit particularly tiring & as the air temperature was rising rapidly, so was my temperature, there was no breeze & lots of flying eating machines.

We eventually reached the ridge & the path we should have been on & the going was alot easier, but still a struggle for me. The ridge up Ben Alder has plenty of scrambly bits, nothing remotely difficult but the sticks were packed away into my rucksack. During one of the numerous scenery stops we noticed someone ascending the ridge of Carn Dearg, so camera came out & zoomed in to get a photo.

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Was this you crawling up the ridge of Carn Dearg

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Carn Dearg which looks quite pointy from this angle


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Bealach Dubb, Carn Dearg on the right & Ben Alder on the left


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Looking back towards Loch Pattack & Culra Bothy


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The ridge going up Ben Alder, a bit of easy scrambling (even for me)


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Paul tidying up the cairn, he wanted the nice white stones on top to assist future walkers


As we neared the summit we noticed we were being caught up rather rapidly by a mountain goat who we later found out is a WH member called Peter (sorry didn’t ask your user name). On reaching the summit we all relaxed took a few photo’s had plenty to drink & slapped on more factor 30. There was no breeze at all & no hiding place from the big yellow thing in the sky. After feeling slightly refreshed we then studied the map & the WH instructions (which proved invaluable) & decided on a route to try & descend by. Peter tagged along with us & we headed along the ridge towards Beinn Bheoil, all was going swimmingly until we looked down & the best descent point was quite a bit before the end of the ridge. It turned out that the descent to the bealach was fairly straightforward & a little fast flowing stream was a very welcome sight. So all water bottles filled & a good splash of water on the napper & slap on more factor 30.

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Paul tidying up the cairn, he wanted the nice white stones on top to assist future walkers


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Ben Alder trig point


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Loch Ericht glass like


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The loch between the munro's, can't make out the name on my map due to all the contour lines!


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The ridge off Ben Alder towards Beinn Bheoil before the descent to the bealach


The climb up Beinn Bheoil was fairly easy, or would have been had it been cooler. Peter must have impatient with me as he galloped off into the distance & was only again seen briefly before he reached the summit. We guessed he would be back at his car before we even started descending, oh to be young & fit.

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Paul's cuddly toy that sit's proudly on top of each summit cairn


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Dalwhinnie in the distance zoomed in from Beinn Bheoil


The descent down the ridge of Beinn Bheoil after slapping on more factor 30, was one of the easier descents you will encounter, there probably was a path but we elected to improvise & descend via the grassy slope. We picked up the path much further down & then had to cross the burn to get back to our bikes.

Once back at the bikes we slapped on more factor 30 discussed the torture we about to endure as neither of us are what you would call ‘cyclists’.

Our fears were unfortunately correct, the cycle over the rough ground to Loch Pattack was worse than torture, my rear end is still sore 3 days later, I am not sure suspension on a bike would ease the pain. Any slight incline & we dismounted as we were so exhausted. When we reached the burn with the rickety bridge, the only option was to paddle through as climbing onto the bridge was classed as far too difficult. Once past Loch Pattack the surface improved but there was a long gradual incline which seemed to go on forever. Once that slight summit was reached there was a rapid descent at warp factor 5 & a dust cloud created behind. Then came the welcome relief of a shelter from the sun as we reached the forest area, what a relief & the drop in the temperature in the shade was incredible. The only other drawback was couple of vehicles heading towards Dalwhinnie which broke our rhythm on very slight inclines which resulted in dismounting & then pushing the bike grrrr.

We finally arrived back at car 8 hours later having slowly roasted absolutely exhausted. The car was literally an oven, we both had cans of deodorant that was so hot is was surprising they hadn’t exploded.

Looking back it was a fantastic day out, Ben Alder is so remote & a superb mountain, whether it is a good idea to go out in the midday sun only dafties like us would contemplate such a thing – thanks Paul, what is your next bright idea?
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Re: Factor 30 for Ben Alder

Postby The Rodmiester » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:59 pm

Well done you two :clap: :clap: Hot stuff!! more ways than one. Some nice photographs there as a record of your day. The 13th photo is of 'The Lancet Edge' something I have yet to climb, must do it next time up there, looks interesting.
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Re: Factor 30 for Ben Alder

Postby Lightfoot2017 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:04 am

Great report FF – and Fabulous photos! Jeez-oh…I’m getting all hot, sweaty and dehydrated just looking at these! They really capture just what an amazing day we had in an amazingly beautiful part of the world. Can’t believe how exhausted I was on the cycle back to Dalwhinnie, though. The HEAT!!!!!!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: I think I aged 10yrs in those 90 mins!!

Glad you managed to capture my cairn-tidying OCD behaviour!! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Next time, something more genteel, I think ….. Hill o’ Beath perhaps? :wink:

PS: Note to any eligible, single ladies out there: OK, I look like a right teat in these pics, :crazy: but I DO brush up nicely when the need arises…. :lol:
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Re: Factor 30 for Ben Alder

Postby Fife Flyer » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:25 pm

Lightfoot2017 wrote:PS: Note to any eligible, single ladies out there: OK, I look like a right teat in these pics, :crazy: but I DO brush up nicely when the need arises…. :lol:


I think you are the wrong site :lol: :lol:
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Re: Factor 30 for Ben Alder

Postby Mountain Sloth » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:43 am

Nice report and great pics FF - Peter here.

Sorry I didn't stop to say goodbye - I hit my straps going up Beinn Bheoil and by the time I looked round you were nowhere to be seen. I cycled back by the other path (the one on the East of the Allt a'Bhealaich Bheithe) purely on the grounds that your track went uphill to start with and I was running on fumes by then! Anyway, the motivating effect of 10,000 clegs helped me keep a decent pace back to the car!

Did you get out again at the weekend? I hobbled up Schiehallion with Mrs Sloth on Saturday which was predictably hard work and absolutely baking (more Factor 50 required).
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Re: Factor 30 for Ben Alder

Postby dooterbang » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:07 pm

I love that cycle in and out :)

Well done guys - cracking day out.
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Re: Factor 30 for Ben Alder

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:29 pm

Mountain Sloth wrote:Did you get out again at the weekend? I hobbled up Schiehallion with Mrs Sloth on Saturday which was predictably hard work and absolutely baking (more Factor 50 required).


Was wondering if you would pop up Peter, glad you made it back safely - Paul & I really struggled with the cycle back, not only the heat but the track was torture :(
Was out on Saturday with Mrs Flyer, having said that no inclines or bikes involved - we walked 10 miles of the Fife Coastal Path from Inverkeithing to Burntisland & loved it, seemed an absolute scoosh after Ben Alder :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Factor 30 for Ben Alder

Postby rockhopper » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:58 pm

Yup - a bike's certainly the way to go for this one - great trip and excellent weather :thumbup:
Can remember taking the more direct rougher but shorter track with some singletrack on the way in and the longer one over the bridge on the way out. Although a bit rougher, I preferred the direct route as it also avoided the ups/downs of the path past the loch - cheers :)
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