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Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart


Postby weaselmaster » Tue May 05, 2015 10:00 pm

Route description: Ben Aden, by Loch Quoich

Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Aden, Sgurr a' Choire-bheithe

Date walked: 02/05/2015

Time taken: 19.5 hours

Distance: 45 km

Ascent: 3038m

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Last Summer I was sat on top of Sgurr na Ciche looking across at Ben Aden. So close - yet so far it seemed. A challenging scramble down, then back up, we were already running on empty having come across from the Quoich Dam. I decided there would be another time. The months pass. Allison has unexpectedly got a Friday/Monday off - the elusive 4 day weekend. I hatch an audacious plan to head into Glen Dessarry and round up a number of awkward Corbetts in one swoop - 5 plus 3 Munros - oh yeah! We've been up for a bit of reconnaisance and the snow is almost away - let's do this thing!! Then the weather deteriorates and there's a big dump of snow across the northwestern hills. The weekend forecast is for gales and rain. 4 days into Knoydart is not to be. So what can be salvaged???

The Proposed Big Route

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The Plan B Route

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Plan B is to do ben Aden and Sgurr a'Choire Bheithe from Loch Quioch, then drive round into Glen Dessarry and pick up what we can manage. Friday's got the best forecast, so Ben Aden will be done in good weather. We drive up to Kinloch Hourn, spending Thursday night in Coire Shubh. A sunny morning arrives, we drive along to the start of the walk and find a place to leave the car off the road - not too many spots near the beginning of the walk. It has been a while since we've been on an overnighter and there's a bit of anxiety about what's been left out the packs. All the recent snow has made packing (light)crampons and axes necessary which adds to the burden. Finally we;re off - the bridge over the Caolie Water looks a bit too scary for use so it's across the river - easy enough. Just mind the dead stag by the roadside which Allison managed to completely miss despite being 3 feet from it :lol: There's the faintest of tracks that follows the lochside roundthen a more definate path once the corner is turned. The Dessarry Munros look stunning with a layer of new snow and the effect is enhanced whrn Sgurr na Ciche pops into view. Walking is little effort when there's such scenery to feast the eyes upon.

No much space hereabouts to park
ImageP1070274 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Bridge over Caolie Water - no thanks!
ImageP1070276 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We'll take the wet route
ImageP1070277 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Quoich
ImageP1070279 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Track
ImageP1070281 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sgurr na Ciche comes into view
ImageP1070282 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Walking into this scene isn't bad...
ImageP1070285 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ben Aden appears
ImageP1070287 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The next obstacle is the Abhain Chosaidh - fortunately the water level is quite low and crossing is easy. We're walking on the old road - which has been overgrown by moss and grass in places but nevertheless makes for easy going under foot. Ben Aden now begins to come into view to the right of Sgurr na Ciche, with Meall a'Choire Dhubh in front of it and the two small dams at the north west end of Loch Quoich. There doesn't look to be too much snow on Aden. We cross the dams, with their red lifebelts and rest behind a big boulder by Tom na Cruiache to have some lunch. Since we'll be returning this way we dump what we don't need and I take 1 rucksack leaving Allison to climb unburdened - like she has her own Sherpa :roll: Starting out on the track I gag at the stench of two deer carcasses rotting :sick: We leave the track and start up the steepish flank of Meall a'Choire Dhubh, avoiding bands of crags. To our right is the undulating crest of Sgurr a'Choire Bheithe - tomorrow's climb, and to our left the rough lines of Garbh Chioch Bheag & Mhor. As we reach the summit of Meall a'Choire Dhubh we get a good look at Aden - there are plenty of crags and gullies holding snow, but there looks to be a straightforward line up the centre of the peak, heading to the left. We drop down into Bealach a Choire Chruaidh, navigate our way round lochans and snow beds, all the while aware of the knobbly might of Sgurr na Ciche to our left. I had hoped to include it in our walk today, but there's quite a drop down to the start - I reckon to about 550m. That means about two and a half hours added onto the day - that's not going to happen! Aden will suffice.

Abhain Chosaidh
ImageP1070294 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Meall a'Choire Dhubh in front of Aden
ImageP1070298 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070300 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Aden pano
ImageP1070304 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Aden with the dams
ImageP1070306 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070308 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Meall a'Choire Dhubh/Aden
ImageP1070309 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View up Loch Quoich
ImageP1070311 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ascending Meall a'Choire Dhubh
ImageP1070312 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The humphybackit Sgurr aChoire Bheithe
ImageP1070313 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Looking to Aden summit
ImageP1070318 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Garbh Choich Mhor/ Sgurr na Ciche
ImageP1070320 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ciche/Aden pano
ImageP1070322 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The remainder of the ascent of Aden is without incident - avoid the crags, skirt the rocky bits, occasionally a wee scramble. The views back along Loch Quioch are fine and as the summit is reached the view to Loch Nevis alluring. We spent a little time on top, marvelling at the scenery and pleased to have reached this out of the way lump of rock. We decided to descend into Coire na Chruaiche, following the river down. This would make for an easy ascent, although it misses out on the views you get topping out over Meall a'Choire Dhubh. We are watched by deer as we pick our way down, crossing and re-crossing the Allt as required by rocky walls. We can eventually make out the track heading to Lochan nam Breac below us - we still have to head back to Tom na Chruaiche to pick up the rucksack. At least going this way misses the dead deer. Re-acquainted with her burden, Allison groans a bit as we set off along a rather indistint path for the Lochan. I'd read there was a nice spot to camp on the beach at the east end of the lochan, so that's our aim, not far. we rise a little and suddenly the lochan open before us, hemmed in by the steep mountainsides we haven't been able to see it before now. Right enough there's a sandy beach at the end and we cross the shallow Allt to find some dry sand above the waterline which makes an ideal spot to pitch. We have Beaky, the lightweight tent and I'm never completely sure how to pitch the thing. After a few attempts we get something that looks to be serviceable (as long as there's not a big wind :wink: ) and weigh the pegs down with rocks before getting the stove out and cooking up a feast of noodles. A very peaceful night is passed with no cars, no people no nothing, just the lapping of the little wavelets on the sandy shore.

Moving close to Aden summit
ImageP1070323 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070331 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Quoich
ImageP1070332 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070334 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070336 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sgurr na Ciche
ImageP1070338 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070341 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070344 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Nevis
ImageP1070346 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit Aden
ImageP1070348 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070349 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070353 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070354 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070356 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Descent route - follow the river
ImageP1070360 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070362 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch na Breac, Looney Bin beyond
ImageP1070365 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Pitch
ImageP1070368 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Morning brings more glorious sunshine, although it remains cold. Looney Bin arises right in front of us, angular head decorated with snowy triangles. We breakfast, enjoy a cup of tea with added sand and prepare to go off up Man Unndalain towards Sgurr a'Choire Bheithe. I had paid little attention to the contours when route planning and am somewhat abashed to realise that we have to climb up to 550m before dropping down below 200m on the other side of the pass before we can go up the mountainside. Surely we might be able to just climb up direct from the pass and avoid losing all that height? To be honest I wasn't feeling very well -bit of a headache, sore throat and nausea and my legs felt like lead weights. We had a look at the side of the mountain near the top of the pass. There were lots of crags which looked like they could be weaved around. But we had big packs on and the wind was steadily rising, now at the buffetting stage. We clambered up the 565m knobble to have a better look, but I just didn't fancy trying to go up that way. Damn! - I hate losing height needlessly. We set off down the other side of the pass, crossing 3 deer skeletons on the track picked to the bones. At least they don't smell. Beinn Sgritheall looked superb on the other side of Loch Hourn. I called for an early lunch as we descended the track, looking over at the steep sides of Looney Bin. Didn't feel much revived but at least the nausea was subsiding. Set off up the steep grassy hillside after the last of the crags - grinding out the metres. On top of the ridge and things ease off - it's a very straightforward walk up the 816m rise, then over some soft snow to the summit at 913m - just a snifter under Munro height. The views down to Barrisdale Bay are sweet, Rhum on the skyline, Loch Quoich not looking too bad either.

Morning on Loch na Breac
ImageP1070371 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070372 by 23weasels, on Flickr

heading up Mam Unndalain
ImageP1070376 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Looney Bin to the R, Loch na Breac in distance
ImageP1070377 by 23weasels, on Flickr


Crags on Sgurr a'Choire-Bheithe - maybe not today
ImageP1070378 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Beinn Sgritheall
ImageP1070383 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Heartbreak -heading down the pass
ImageP1070384 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Up here
ImageP1070385 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Towards summit
ImageP1070389 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ladhar Bheinn/Sgritheall pano
ImageP1070390 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Barrisdale Bay
ImageP1070391 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Looney Bin
ImageP1070394 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Barrisdale
ImageP1070396 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit, looking up Loch Quoich
ImageP1070402 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Rhum
ImageP1070404 by 23weasels, on Flickr

And to the west
ImageP1070405 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View along the ridge, heading east
ImageP1070406 by 23weasels, on Flickr

From here on in things get interesting. There are two rocky tops to be crossed over to progress along the ridge. The first involves a mild scramble down the far side, but the second outcrop is more awkward. It's quite exposed going up to the flat top section - an area of level rock that reminds me of a smaller scale version of Beinn Tarsuin's "tennis court" up in the Fisherfields. However coming down the east side is more problematic, especially with big packs. It looks like the north side is the easier route, but that;s choked with snow and it's a long way down. We think of lowering the packs down, but it seems likely given the small target to drop them on that they'll spin off the side of the mountain - not a good outcome. So gingerly I creep down, finding enough footholds to manage the troublesome section. Allison follows and with relief we're onto simple stuff from then on. But it just keeps on going - like the advert for Duracell Batteries the undulations never stop. Looking over to Loch Nevis the surface of the water is whey coloured - very strange. Snow showers come and go over Loch Quioch or Kintail, but seem to miss us each time. Onto the untidy top of Sgurr Airidh na Beinne then onwards, dropping some height to more mini-tops before we get to Meall an Spardain - officially the last bump along the long, long ridge - only of course it's not, there are still more bumps to go up and down after that. I'm tired and start to hallucinate - seeing bears appearing out of peat hags - oh Lordy! Finally we can see the shoreline of Loch Quioch below us - it's only a matter of time til we get back to the track. We meet with a path and follow this towards the Abhain Chosaidh, crossing just where a wonderful waterfall cuts through a fissure in the rock. Here we stop for some sustainance. It's time to break out the emergency malt loaf and brew a coffee with the Jetboil -ah the restorative powers of squidgy brown loaf. Recharged we cross the river and make for the return path. It seems a long way, but at least there are no more ups and downs to negotiate. Turning the corner of the shoreline we plod on across the marshy ground to the Caolie water and the car. It's just shy of 8pm - 11 hours walking - a big day by recent standards, especially with big packs. We're both famished and decide to head back to Coire Shubh to pitch and cook. Driving the few miles back along the road, hoping no-one else has nicked our spot. When we arrive a large herd of deer are in occupance, but melt away uphill as we draw up. A rapid tent pitch, a tasty South Indian Pepper Curry is conjured and devoured and we crash out as the rain starts. Really glad to have climbed these two hills - definately members of the "awkward squad". I just love Knoydart and feel blessed that we've had another couple of days with good weather - or at least good visibility for this most magical kingdom.

First of the rocky outcrops
ImageP1070408 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Second and more awkward knobble
ImageP1070411 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Wee tricky bit on descent
ImageP1070415 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Looking back on the tricky bit
ImageP1070417 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Nevis turned to whey
ImageP1070418 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Towards Sgurr Airidh na Beinne
ImageP1070421 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Looking back on the ridge
ImageP1070423 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Meall na spardain, Garich in the distance
ImageP1070427 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Almost the last undulation
ImageP1070431 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Waterfall
ImageP1070432 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1070433 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Stats
ImageP1070434 by 23weasels, on Flickr
User avatar
weaselmaster
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby AnnieMacD » Tue May 05, 2015 10:53 pm

Amazing account and what a beautiful area. Your camping spot looks like the most remote and most desirable spot in Scotland! You guys deserve a medal for perseverance. Your photos are wonderful too.
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby weaselmaster » Tue May 05, 2015 11:19 pm

AnnieMacD wrote:Amazing account and what a beautiful area. Your camping spot looks like the most remote and most desirable spot in Scotland! You guys deserve a medal for perseverance. Your photos are wonderful too.

Cheers, Annie.
Yes it was a lovely spot, hemmed in by rough mountains and wonderfully alone. About 10-15 degrees warmer would have been the icing on the cake!
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby dooterbang » Tue May 05, 2015 11:53 pm

Brilliant stuff yet again :clap:

I concur with Annie, what a fab camping spot - looked bliss. Perhaps you may have to revisit when warmer.

Had to laugh at the bear antics. I experienced something similar when walking out of Glen Nevis in the dark after walking for 20 hours when doing the Mamores, I thought people and animals were jumping out of rocks. Wierdly it didn't worry me though as I was too delirious :D

Some nice photos in there, captured the area well.

Cheers.
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby Mal Grey » Wed May 06, 2015 10:04 am

Outstanding report, what a place Knoydart is, and the pictures and story do it full justice.

And you camped at one of my "top 3 on the wish list" campsites, Lochan nam Breac.
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby Beaner001 » Wed May 06, 2015 1:17 pm

For a plan B what a belter of a trip, really enjoyable reading :clap:
What a spot for camp at the end of the loch :D
I've still to venture into Knoydart, cannot wait now :lol: :lol:
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby weaselmaster » Wed May 06, 2015 2:10 pm

Beaner001 wrote:For a plan B what a belter of a trip, really enjoyable reading :clap:
What a spot for camp at the end of the loch :D
I've still to venture into Knoydart, cannot wait now :lol: :lol:


Just make sure you choose good weather for it - it's such a special place (as far as i'm concerned) that to miss it through clag would be a great shame. i'm also aware that the route we used would have been more awkward in places once the bracken and ferns get growing again
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby robertphillips » Wed May 06, 2015 2:53 pm

well done guys :clap: :clap: great report long days are ok if the weathers good, done these 2 and tagged on slat bheinn a brutal 15 hour day not to be repeated. :lol:
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby scottishkennyg » Thu May 07, 2015 10:00 pm

Quality..A1 TR.. :clap:
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby rockhopper » Thu May 07, 2015 11:07 pm

Superb - what a great way to enjoy this area ! :thumbup: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Your big route did look a bit big :shock: - think you made the right choice - cheers :)
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby weaselmaster » Thu May 07, 2015 11:25 pm

rockhopper wrote:Superb - what a great way to enjoy this area ! :thumbup: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Your big route did look a bit big :shock: - think you made the right choice - cheers :)


Yes, i think it was a bit ambitious for an old geezer.
Going back up there tomorrow night to take on the southern corbetts from Loch Arkaig - nice to see the forecast has improved for Saturday at any rate :D
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby Alteknacker » Fri May 08, 2015 1:11 am

Another top report, with some wonderful pics, as usual. :clap: :clap: :clap:

But please share: how do you manage these incredible top speeds (22.3 kph on this occasion!) :shock:
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby Graeme D » Sun May 10, 2015 4:09 pm

Top drawer. Quality big days the Weasel way! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby weaselmaster » Sun May 10, 2015 9:57 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Another top report, with some wonderful pics, as usual. :clap: :clap: :clap:

But please share: how do you manage these incredible top speeds (22.3 kph on this occasion!) :shock:



It's either
a) the use of superpowers, Xmen Style,
or;
b) a glitch in the machine and its recording of pace,
or sometimes;
c) a long bumslide

I'll let you take your pick :lol:
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Re: Ben Aden - Amongst the Gods of Knoydart

Postby grahamyarr » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:27 pm

I've been really enjoying your reports and finding them quite inspiring as l'm currently working through the Corbetts and hopefully will get to the Grahams at some point as well!

Definitely like the look of this route for the spring, by the way I think I bumped into you both on the shoulder of Beinn Eibhinn on a cracker of a day at the start of May this year. Hope you're well!
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