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Glen Avon and some Eastern hills

Glen Avon and some Eastern hills

Postby malky_c » Sun May 16, 2010 11:04 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Brown Cow Hill, Creag an Dail Bheag, Culardoch

Date walked: 16/05/2010

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 53 km

Ascent: 1350m

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(28.3 km and 250m of ascent of this route was done on bike)

I've been eyeing up this route for months now, as it seemed like a great way to combine the rather unexciting Brown Cow Hill with some more interesting summits and a different approach. Also, it almoxt exactly mirrors a route I did last February from Bridge of Tromie in length, climb, amount of cycling, number of hills and general character (link: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4514). I had intended doing this earlier in the year,when these summits would benefit from a bit of snow (topographically they are fairly uninteresting), but at the same time I didn't fancy trudging over 15 miles of knee deep snowy heathery plateau!

Glen Avon.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

An earlyish start saw me on the bike just before 9 am following the track from the Queens View viewpoint carpark just outside Tomintoul. For the benefit of someone who was asking recently, this is a fairly well surfaced track, and joins a tarmac road after a mile or so (Continuing down the minor road and crossing the Avon means you can follow tarmac the whole way. I came back this way). Glen Avon is scenic in a Glen Tilt/Glen Tromie kind of way, with lots of grazing and woodland lower down, before becoming more craggy (but surprisingly dry and green) higher up. In fact it reminded me more of some of the remote Mid Wales valleys (Elan, Ystwyth) than a typical Scottish glen. Automatic gates(!) at Torbain were a surprise, and then the tarmac ran out just over a mile short of Inchrory. The track was still very well surfaced here, and continued to be so all the way to the point where Glen Avon forked off West. At this point I took a rougher track up Glen Builg. This was still fairly rideable, but had some very steep hills in it. I stopped at a ford and ditched the bike. This surprised me by only taking about 45 minutes. I had assumed it would take longer, but the tarmac made things very quick.

On foot now, I used a short length of steep track to start my ascent of Brown Cow Hill, leaving this to skirt past Meikle Geal Charn and head straight for Carn Sawvie. There were a few peat hags and some thick heather, but for most of the route, the heather had been burnt back, or else there were runs of grass, so the going was easy. 50 minutes saw me at the top, contemplating whether this was the dullest Corbett ever. I decided it wasn't - that award goes to Carn Ealasaid, a few miles to the NE! Generally, I am the kind of guy who thinks that there is no such thing as a dull hill, but Carn Ealasaid had previously put that theory to the test.
Loch Builg, Ben Avon
East from Brown Cow Hill

Brown Cow Hill was OK as it had a feeling of remoteness to make up for the lack of features, also a pleasant view over to Ben Avon's NE tors. This view was to improve with each subsequent hill. I returned to Carn Sawvie and made a quick descent on an un-marked track to a bridge over the Gairn. This was on its last legs and will probably die under the weight of an unfortunate walker in the near future. Luckily it held my weight.
Knackered bridge
Across the Gairn to Brown Cow Hill

A track led from here up to the slopes of Culardoch, where a massive new deer fence had to be negotiated. I did see a stile over it, but it wasn't on my line so I had to climb over. Rough heathery ground and a surprising number of drainage ditches gave way to more pleasant upper slopes. The view from here was pretty good - I had forgotten how lush the area around Braemar looked. Lochnagar featured prominently, along with the Glen Shee hills, Bheinn a Ghlo, and of course Ben Avon. There was an impressive amount of snow left up there, and the cornices on Bheinn an Bhuird which could just be seen poking out behind were huge. I met a guy on the summit who was walking a coast to coast route taking in a load of Corbetts. He had started at Kingairloch a couple of weeks back, and was hoping to finish at Spey Bay in a few days. Seemed like a really interesting route - certainly very original. Hopefully he discovers the joys of Walkhighlands and posts up a report when he's done!
Meall Gaineimh and Loch Builg from Culardoch
Braemar, Morrone, Beinn a Ghlo and others from Culardoch
Carn Liath and Beinn a Bhuird, Beinn Bhrotain in background

Another quick descent towards Carn Liath, passing some strange heather growing laboratory en route. Anyone know what this is?
Funny farm on Culardoch
Lochnagar fom Culardoch/Carn Liath col
Even away from the estate tracks, there were trodden paths to follow, so the going was easy all the way onto Carn Liath. There is often talk of this having two summits (as you can see on the map), but in reality, there are about 5 bumps of similar height. The most southerly one is not even one of the highest, but it has the best views to Breamar, the Dee valley and Lochnagar. I had lunch here.
Lochnagar from Carn Liath
Glen Clunie/Morrone
Beinn a Bhuird, Ben Avon
Ben Avon tors from Carn Liath
Creag an Dail Mhor
Ben Avon and Glen Gairn
Ben Avon summit tor

One thing that had crossed my mind, and the guy on Culardoch had added fuel to the fire, was the possibility of doing Ben Avon on the way back to the bike. At this point I was really torn, and it seemed much more interesting than the featureless upper Gairn. The weather had improved from overcast to lovely and sunny, and I was sorely tempted. In the end, the extra 800m of ascent on what was already a reasonable day out was the decider, and I didn't bother.

As it turned out, the walk back down the Gairn and the side of Loch Build was very pleasant, and it was nice to have the opportunity to explore one of the remoter, less visited valleys of the Cairngorms. The path marked on the map was not heavily used, but saw enough traffic to keep it obvious, so was a pleasure to walk on.
Back up Glen Gairn
Glacial deposits near Loch Builg
I had a final break next to Loch Builg, and then got back on the bike. Definitely an area I will be returning to, probably to do Ben Avon and Bheinn a Bhuird from the NE. Also some good opportunities for mountain biking through routes on some of the estate tracks.
Costa del Builg
Culardoch from Loch Builg
Culardoch from Glen Builg
N down Glen Builg
Glen Avon near Inchrory
Glen Avon near Torbain
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Re: Glen Avon and some Eastern hills

Postby gaffr » Mon May 17, 2010 7:44 am

Well that was a fair day out! even if the biking bit is 'merely an extension to your stride' :) Yes there was something recently about getting about by bike in this neck of the woods.....I've only been downhill from the loch to the R Avon and didn't think that I could pedal that section uphill. Had to think a bit ....Carn Elasaid...ah yes!....after looking at my map... above the ski area of the Lecht. I had been on a couple of other, more interesting hills on that day prior to this one, albeit connected by motor, so it kindof had faded somewhat. :lol:
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Re: Glen Avon and some Eastern hills

Postby kinley » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:47 pm

Wow - missed this - big route! :shock:

Nice jaunt round the Corbetts though :)

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