Wednesday, 27th. May:
This was the second day of a trip to Ben Alder Forest with Chalky and Sasha the Dog and, having walked in over Carn Dearg (Corrour) and Sgor Gaibhre on the previous day, we were hoping to have a big day out. The dog, however, hadn't weathered the previous day and the night very well so Chalky decided to walk her out to Corrour. The bothy's other two occupants were also heading out later in the day so that left me to attempt an ambitious six Munro round taking in Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil before descending to the north and ticking off the hills along the ridge between Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack) and Beinn Eibhinn. I left at around 8.30.am. and headed up into the mist. Once on the extensive, flat bealach between Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil, awkward navigation and some steep ground led up onto the Ben Alder plateau and, after a bit of white out on the extensive summit snowfields, I gained the cairn in driving rain and strong winds. It wasn’t pleasant so I pushed off, half expecting to have to return to the bothy but, despite an awkward descent back to the bealach, things improved on the climb to the subsidiary top of Sron Coire nah Lolaire and breaks appeared in the mist on the ridge to Beinn Bheoil. The ridge beyond revealed tantalising glimpses of Loch Ericht below and the hills to the north and I was able to get down to the valley below quite quickly, picking up the stalkers’ path that leads to Culra, now visible below. I left the path to cut down and cross both the Allt a Bhealaich Bheithe and the Allt a Bhealaich Dhuibh before picking up a faint track up into Coire an Sgoir and then heading up to the ridge. I turned east and plodded up to the summit of Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack) with a rising wind and heavy snow driving in behind me. The summit was no place to hang around and progress back west along several kilometres of high ridge into the driving snow was clearly not an option so I headed back down, enjoying the terrific setting of Loch an Sgoir and the substantial snow bridges surviving over the Allt Loch an Sgoir before picking up the excellent stalkers’ path from Culra to Ben Alder Cottage and following it home in blustery rain showers. I got back at around 5.30.pm. after nine hours on the hill and, with the bothy to myself, set to with cooking and fire making for the rest of the evening. Despite the many reports of a haunting, the only disturbance that night came from the resident mice.
The next morning, low cloud and more blustery rain didn't quite dissuade me from attempting to take the Geal Charn ridge back to Corrour but, after more snow on the Bealach Cumhann and an awkward crossing of the Uisge Labhair, climbing into Corrie a Charra Bhig brought more snow and strong winds and I turned tail down the valley for Corrour. A brief stop at the Youth Hostel (where Chalky had left me a note) led me on to the station and the beginning of the trip home.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.