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Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagger

Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagger


Postby gordon l » Tue Jul 01, 2014 12:35 pm

Route description: Aonach Beag: Four Munros from Culra

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

Date walked: 29/06/2014

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 48.5 km

Ascent: 1110m

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Taking a bike onto the hills adds another dimension to a day trip. It can transform a mundane walk out from a seemingly endless drudge into an effortless cruise, the miles melt away as you slip through the gears and freewheel the downhill sections. It's a time and energy saver which means you can go further and faster, lending extra layers of options to day trip destinations. Well that's the theory. If you don't pack your tools with you, and if your chain snaps before you've even sighted Culra Bothy, you'll finish your day semi-delirious from the sun that blasted you and the midges that nibbled you whilst you pushed, pulled and one-leggedly paddled your bike back,blistered, partially hunch-backed and fantasizing about foot spas. That's if you make it back to your car at all...
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The track from Dalwhinnie is ideal for cycling: a flat, well-maintained and a pleasant cruise along the banks of Loch Ericht, it took us approximately one hour to pass the gates of £20 million Ben Alder Lodge and head up onto open hillside and the banks of Loch Pattack. Our previous night's accommodation had been the"quaint" Happy Haggis in Kingussie where you check in at the fish and chip counter. I wonder if the reception desk at the lodge had salt and vinegar and a jar of gherkins on it.
We opted to take the slightly longer path along the bonnie banks of the loch where a few wild campers were enjoying the priceless views.
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Carrying a mountain bike added a bit of interest to crossing the shoogly bridge but we were making great time until disaster struck with the snap of my bike chain.
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Since first taking a bike into the hills a year ago I've had a bit of a cavalier attitude towards carrying spare stuff like I should have done. Everything had gone so smoothly on trips to Torridon, the Cairngorms, Loch Lochy and more that maybe I had managed to trick myself into believing that it would always be thus. What a dafty. The difference between a bike and a car breaking down is that a car tends to give you some prior warning that all is not well: lights pop on on the dashboard, the engine makes weird noises, smoke appears from odd places... With a bike, it's much more sudden and catastrophic- one minute I was mobile, the next I was kaput (to put it politely).
Determined to make the most of our day, we pressed on to the bothy (which was more downhill than up) and paused to drink in the surroundings before heading onto the hills. It had taken one hour and 40 minutes from the level crossing to the bothy door which was decent, considering the mechanical mishap. Eating a pre-hill sandwich I admired a fellow walker's gleaming Mongoose MTB, glinting in the sunlight, little toolbag nestled beneath the saddle.Next time I would be better prepared I thought, already contemplating what the journey back would be like, compared to what it should have been like.
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The four hills themselves made for a great day out. A straightforward and fairly direct pull up the slopes from the bothy took us onto the summit of Carn Dearg an hour and fifteen minutes after dumping the bikes. The hillside was covered in various plants in differing stages of bloom, cloud berry and dwarf cornel both particularly pretty amongst the cotton grass. (thanks to IreneM for IDing my photos on another forum)
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Ben Alder tempting us back for another visit
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towards Gael Charn
In the foreground the views of Ben Alder drew the eye and further away the Ben and company lurked darkly out to the west.
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Giant snow sugar cubes hovered in a waterfall in the cliffs above Loch Sgoir as we ascended the ridgy Aisre Ghobhainn and popped onto the massive grassy plateau of Gael Charn. A tremendous feeling of empty space was soaked up as we strolled to the summit cairn, a further one km away.
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A dozy dotterel stood in a summery dwam facing Creag Meagaidh-wards as we headed on along the ridge to Aonach Beag and then Beinn Eibhinn, its near neighbour.
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The last two munros were covered in quick succession and then all that was left was to descend over grassy terrain to the Allt Coire a'Laobhair and over the stream to the stalkers path.
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As we descended, Loch Ossian sparkled to the south-west and it seemed like all the slopes were blossoming in their summer finery.
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Knowing that my steed back at the bothy was effectively lame, I jogged the 5km path back, worried about how long it would take to "cycle" back to Dalwhinnie. The path was a pleasure, skirting the stream in the shadows of the mighty Ben Alder to the right and Lancet Edge inviting you back again to the left.
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The journey back to Dalwhinnie took just under two and a half hours although it felt more like two days.
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the looong and winding road
Any rough, or remotely uphill section involved pushing the bike, I tried to cycle on the flat sections in a similar way to Fred Flintstone's approach to driving (left foot on the pedal, right foot slapping the ground) and I eked every mm out of anything remotely downhill for some freewheeling. Thanks to Leonide for taking pity on me and letting me have a shot of her wheels for some of the way out. I may have given up and bedded down halfway along the beach if she hadn't.
Next day, I freewheeled down to my local cycle shop and ordered a new chain, a service and some special puncture-proof slime for my tyres. The owner didn't stock anything to soothe my blisters.
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby smudger71 » Tue Jul 01, 2014 12:42 pm

Hi Gordon,

exactly the same happened to us on a trip a few years ago. Daniel managed t get a puncture just as we left the lakeside, requiring us to push his bike the last 7k and my chain snapped on the return trip. coasting along that road isn't too bad though!!!

looks like you got the weather for it. I can also recommend the lancet edge and the leachas ridges...pretty easy but great fun!!

M
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby gordon l » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:58 pm

Hi Mark,

That's a double dose of bad luck! I suppose these things are bound to happen from time to time. The ridges looked great and we'll definitely be back in the not too distant future. Hope you guys are still enjoying the great outdoors :D
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby Hantswalker » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:40 pm

Great trip and great report.

Is Culra locked up? Are there any notices about repair?
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby Fife Flyer » Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:38 pm

Enjoyed reading your report Gordon :clap:
Real tough luck with the bike, could happen to any of us, we could fill a rucksack with spare bits or keep our fingers crossed - I do the latter :lol: :lol:
Did that same route earlier in the year when the snow was lingering, fantastic days walking & a gruelling cycle, I was dismounting at the hint of an incline :lol: :lol:

Thanks for posting :wink:
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby Silverhill » Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:58 pm

I am so envious of your trip (the walking part, not the staggering :wink: ). I didn't see a thing a few weeks ago. Brilliant pictures. 8) I must return now.

Hantswalker wrote:Is Culra locked up? Are there any notices about repair?

Hantswalker, I stayed two nights in Culra bothy the second week of June. It wasn't locked up.
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:12 am

Oh dear ... I should not laugh :lol:

:wink:
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby gman » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:57 am

Silverhill wrote:
Hantswalker wrote:Is Culra locked up? Are there any notices about repair?

Hantswalker, I stayed two nights in Culra bothy the second week of June. It wasn't locked up.


AFAIK it has unsafe asbestos levels & notices were put up advising people not to use it, but it was left unlocked for emergency use.
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby AnnieMacD » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:15 pm

Oh my, what a shame about the bike. But the hills look fantastic and seems like you still enjoyed the day. I just got a MTB but wouldn't know what to do if my chain broke even if I had tools. Now you're making me wonder if I should use it for long distances off-road!
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby rockhopper » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:54 pm

I do like a good bike 'n hike and this trip is perfect for it ! Cracking weather for it and the view of the bothy with the hills in the background is one of my favourites.

Rather than carry a spare chain, you could just carry a couple of link connectors or missing links like these and a chain tool - that way you can remove the broken link and reconnect the chain - cheers :)
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby gordon l » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:49 pm

Silverhill wrote:I am so envious of your trip (the walking part, not the staggering :wink: ). I didn't see a thing a few weeks ago. Brilliant pictures. 8) I must return now.

Hantswalker wrote:Is Culra locked up? Are there any notices about repair?

Hantswalker, I stayed two nights in Culra bothy the second week of June. It wasn't locked up.

It was a cracking trip to a great area.
Shame you didn't get the views
Collaciotach wrote:Oh dear ... I should not laugh :lol:

:wink:

Just had to grrrrrrin and bear it :D
Hantswalker wrote:Great trip and great report.

Is Culra locked up? Are there any notices about repair?

Cheers, really enjoyed our first trip to the area.Nothing about repairs on the bothy that I noticed, just warnings to keep out...
Fife Flyer wrote:Enjoyed reading your report Gordon :clap:
Real tough luck with the bike, could happen to any of us, we could fill a rucksack with spare bits or keep our fingers crossed - I do the latter :lol: :lol:
Did that same route earlier in the year when the snow was lingering, fantastic days walking & a gruelling cycle, I was dismounting at the hint of an incline :lol: :lol:

Thanks for posting :wink:

Thanks FF.Would be great to do the hills with some snow. Ben Alder beckons this winter perhaps.
AnnieMacD wrote:Oh my, what a shame about the bike. But the hills look fantastic and seems like you still enjoyed the day. I just got a MTB but wouldn't know what to do if my chain broke even if I had tools. Now you're making me wonder if I should use it for long distances off-road!


Ah don't let me put you off. I love taking the bike in for some hills. I do need to learn some basic bike maintenance. Should've stuck in more at Scouts.
rockhopper wrote:I do like a good bike 'n hike and this trip is perfect for it ! Cracking weather for it and the view of the bothy with the hills in the background is one of my favourites.

Rather than carry a spare chain, you could just carry a couple of link connectors or missing links [url=<a href="http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/kmc-chain-connectors/rp-prod25439" class="skimlinks-unlinked" data-skimwords-word="http%3A%2F%2Fwww.chainreactioncycles.com%2Fkmc-chain-connectors%2Frp-prod25439" data-skim-creative="500005" title="" style="">http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/kmc-chain-connectors/rp-prod25439</a>]like these[/url] and a chain tool - that way you can remove the broken link and reconnect the chain - cheers :)

Cheers rockhopper. Already look forward to return trip. What other tracks would you recommend for biking in?
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby gaffr » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:00 pm

Maybe I would have....no would have...... checked to see if the guy with the wee tool bag hanging......etc. to see if he was carrying a chain breaker tool? ....remove a whole link then rejoin etc.....you would have been pedaling back home. :)
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby rockhopper » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:44 pm

gordon l wrote:What other tracks would you recommend for biking in?
Seeing your munro map, looks as though you've already covered many - you may know the following already but some ideas as follows:
Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich and Lurg Mhor
Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil
Beinn Dearg and Carn a'Chlamain (+ Beinn Mheadhonach)

Normally from the Linn of Dee but can be done from Glen Feshie:
An Scarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir

Also, some use a bike for Ben Avon and Seana Bhraigh but haven't done so myself - cheers :)

PS if you're feeling energetic you can also cycle to the top of some, eg Geal-charn Mor (corbett) from Lynwilg :wink: :lol:
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Re: Un-chained Melody- Aonach Beag Ridge Walk/ Cycle/ Stagge

Postby gordon l » Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:34 am

Many thanks for ideas Rockhopper. Think a trip to Torridon may beckon soon.
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