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Ord Ban and a walk on the wild side

Ord Ban and a walk on the wild side

Postby Graeme D » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:45 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Ord Ban

Date walked: 19/04/2014

Time taken: 1.4 hours

Distance: 3.1 km

Ascent: 190m

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My cousin Ruth, her husband Mark and 8 month old daughter Isla were over for a couple of weeks from Western Australia, and it being the Easter weekend, they had rented out a house in Aviemore for 3 nights. Myself, Debbie and Ailsa were joining them along with my brother and his partner, my mum and dad and my aunt and uncle (Ruth’s parents).

We couldn’t get access to the house until 4 o’clock on the Saturday but we all headed up early on Saturday morning to spend the day doing things locally before heading to the accommodation. Most of us had elected to either go skiing/snowboarding or else head up to the Ptarmigan and spend the day there watching the snow sports. My brother is a keen snowboarder so he was going to do that with Mark while his partner Jos is a qualified ski instructor so she was going to teach novices Debbie and Ruth. The grandparents were going to look after the grandchildren in the Ptarmigan and I was going to go walking.

Ailsa with my mum and dad at the ski centre

Debbie raring to go

The skiers and boarders - Mark, Ruth, Debbie, Gordon and Jos

I had initially intended to participate in the skiing, not having set foot in a pair of skis since the age of 12, but thought that 3 novices might be one too many, so I opted out. My sights were set initially on the Corbett Geal Charn Mor across the A9 from Aviemore, but by the time I had driven up to the Ski Centre and seen everybody suited and booted and off up the funicular, I reckoned I could do with something shorter. Time for a drive down to Loch an Eilein and a wee saunter up Ord Ban.

Once I had negotiated the minor road to the car park and got over the shock of the £1.50 car park charge, I got booted up and Lucy and I headed off along the path towards the loch and the toilet and shop facilities in the old buildings near the shore.

Now, I’ve set off hillwalking from some pretty busy car parks before - Ben Lomond, Snowdon and Ben Ledi to name but a few – but this was the busiest yet. However I was under no illusions that once I established a route up onto the hill and left the loch behind, the crowds would melt away.

I set off down the track along the north western shore of the loch with a very small, light pack. I had briefly considered going malky_c style and wearing shorts, but (fortunately given the benefit of hindsight) went with long trousers instead. The 1-50,000 OS sheet looked woefully inadequate in terms of showing any clear path or route up the hill through the trees and having not really had my sights on this hill in the first place, I had failed to do sufficient homework by studying previous reports.

Loch an Eilein

A couple of hundred yards down the track and I veered of onto what looked like an old landrover track that followed the fence as it contoured around the base of the hill. A short distance before the cottage, a gate in the fence offered an easy way across the fence.

From here I was aware only that I had to continue ascending while making a big arc round to the north, basically just seeking out the line of least resistance through the crags, trees, heather and seemingly tinder dry dead bracken.

First set of crags on the wild flanks of Ord Ban


More substantial crags

Height was quickly gained and, sweating like a pig despite only wearing a short sleeved top, I soon broke out of the trees and into more open terrain which eventually lead mo out onto a craggy promontory by an old dead tree with open views back down over the loch and across Rothiemurchus to the mass of the Cairngorms.

The living and the dead side by side

On the rocky viewpoint

Down to Loch an Eilein with the castle now visible, Cairngorms providing the backdrop

Meall a'Bhuachaille

A short while later I stumbled across what looked like traces of a faint path, which eventually coalesced into a definite path leading up to the summit, adorned with a massive boulder and circular trig pillar.

Now we're getting somewhere!

Aviemore from the summit

Lucy and the Gorms

The boulder makes a good makeshift camera tripod

Lucy taking a breather

After emptying most of the contents of my bladder (my drinking bladder that is!) into a wee nook in the rocks for the manically panting and overheating Lucy and taking a few summit shots, I headed off on a path leading down in a south westerly direction before turning due south back down to the edge of the forestry. A broken down section of fence offered the option of heading into the forestry, and as I guessed I was going in there sooner or later and the (now much fainter) path seemed to head into the trees at this point, I dived in. This was no Crock or Hare Cairn, but some delicate moves were still required at times to avoid death by impaling. I eventually left the trees by another broken down section of fence but after a brief section of open ground, I then came face to fence with a seriously bad ass deer fence and no obvious sign of a gate or style. The map offered no help whatsoever so, after a quick glance around, I hauled up the bottom wire just far enough to allow Lucy to squeeze under before performing some delicate high wire acrobatics to get myself across.

Exit from the forestry

Deer fence

From there it was a short descent down to pick up the loch side track for the walk back to the car, during which I contemplated tomorrow's outing on Geal Charn Mor, one that ultimately never happened as my arm was well and truly bent into going skiing instead.

On the loch side track

Castle in the loch

Lucy finds a handy looking branch to drag into the loch

A labrador in her element

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Graeme D
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Re: Ord Ban and a walk on the wild side

Postby malky_c » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:16 pm

Nice little walk :) . I had problems finding a non-overgrown route, but I didn't have a map with me. Looks like it wouldn't have made a whole load of difference. I did find an overgrown zigzaggy path directly down to the carpark on the way back though.

Never mind shorts, I think I was dressed in my Sunday best (well, jeans and a jumper that didn't have holes in it at least) for this one :lol:
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Re: Ord Ban and a walk on the wild side

Postby rockhopper » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:22 pm

It's a nice viewpoint but you're right about the route - basically just head through the trees and undergrowth in an upwards direction with the occasional vague track appearing/disappearing and then find some tracks near the top. Went up here on the way back from a trip to the loch a couple of years ago when on our Coylumbridge summer holiday - got directions from the car park attendant but I was in sandals at the time (not to be recommended !). He did warn me about tics but I seemed to manage to avoid them - cheers :)
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