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Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it


Postby past my sell by date » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:30 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Avon

Date walked: 22/06/2016

Time taken: 11.5 hours

Distance: 32.5 km

Ascent: 1387m

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Ben Avon presents a problem. Probably the biggest (in Area) hill in Britain, It has 10 tops - although 5 of them have been "officially deleted" . Dashing up to the highest point and back is not to my mind "what it's all about" - although it's still quite an achievement :) However if you simply slog up the appallingly eroded path from the Sneck and back, I'm quite certain that you miss a huge amount of what this fabulous place has to offer. Much better, If you're a biker, is the ascent from Tomintoul via Inchrory which allows you to see the whole hill and still do it in a day.
As this was my penultimate Munro, It needed to be special and I really wanted to do the full traverse including Beinn a Bhuird from Cock Bridge to Braemar, but this requires planning and logistics and therefore a guarranteed spell of good weather, which sadly failed to appear :(
Walking in such a distance and returning the same way I would find totally soul-destroying, so when a couple of passable days were forecast and I decided to include a bivouac on a circiular route from Invercauld.
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Descending to Braemar -The Barns (Tors) of Ben Avon on the horizon
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Zoomed - but I'm still not sure what's what

I drove through Braemar - at least the tops were clear - and left the car park at Keiloch at about 11.00am in "grey" weather with occasional light drizzle and followed the R.O.W to Tomintoul via Loch Builg. The forests at Invercauld are stunning, but there are already lots of photos of them on WH I won't add more. Once beyond the forest, the track to the Bealach Dearg has been remade - though not pretty it gives fast going and I made it to the Bealach in just over 2 hours.
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Stuc Gharbh Mhor from the Bealach
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The descent down the valley
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Near the bottom - Stob Dubh an Eas Bhig on the L I think
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Looking W up the river Gairn valley
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The bridge over the river
I descended the valley beyond, crossed the bridge over the river Gairn and headed up towards the col behind Carn Drochaid. The idea was to Continue roughly N from there to the 1023m Top of West Muir Gorm Craig and continue up the broad ridge to the top.
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Looking back to the Bealach Dearg and Culardoch on its L - a grouse butt in the foreground
The going up the moorland was not good - lots of small hags, and I lost some time: I stopped for lunch beside the Allt Phouple just below the col: there were a lot of Dwarf Cornell one of my favourites :)
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I pushed on and found a small track heading steeply up above the col eventually leading to a much bigger one going diagonally L (on the WH but not on the Anquet 1:50,000 map).
At this point I was hit by a sudden storm - the wind got up and the rain pelted down. I sat on the ground with my back to the wind, and dragged on my waterproof top and overtrousers. Putting on the latter when you are flat on your back is quite a struggle - the more so when you try to put both feet in the same leg :lol: - it's easily done :lol: .
By the time I had finished, the storm was over, but everything was a bit damp :( and I felt quite tired.
Time for a reassessment. Looking at the clock, I calculated that by leaving out West Muir Gorm Craig, I could get to the top - still seeing quite a bit of the hill - and get back to the car in daylight avoiding what could be a rather unpleasant bivouac. Chickening out in fact :lol:
The diagonal track soon gave out but after taking a few of the dextrose tablets that I always carry, I pushed on straight upwards to a barn on the horizon. The ground flattened behind it and I sat down and tried to get my bearings.
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Looking down the Allt Phouple towards Culardoch
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Mount Keen I guess
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The barn is a lot higher on the downside
Working out where you are is not that simple - it would be a nightmare in the mist - the distances are large, the slopes very gentle, and there are spiky rocks on every horizon - but this had to be point 1112
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West Muir Gorm Craig away to my R
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and point 1122 straight ahead
I pushed on towards point 1122, contoured round a bit to the L and came upon a large barn - which had to be Clach Choutsaich. A few moments later the top came into view
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Clach Choutsaich - I can't find any translation of choutsaich
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The top - Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe - the bed of the yellow stag
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A wider view - point 1136 on the R
I contoured round to point 1136 and then continued on the high ground towards the top. I was surprised how much more greenery there was compared to The Cairngorm plateau. I had been worried about finding a good bivouac site but it would have been easy as there was certain to be shelter in the lee of one of the barns
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From point 1136 looking back to point 1122 and Clach Choutsaich
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more rocks
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Looking N down to the 1076m top of Stob Bac an Fhurain
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Point 1136
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Another storm brewing over the top
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Looking S - Stob Dubh an eas Bhig
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A big rock near the top
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Approaching the top
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Barns everywhere
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Foot of the summit rocks
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Summit rocks
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Looking back from the very top
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And in the opposite direction towards Beinn a Bhuird
It took me a while to work which was the highest bit of rock and how to get to it, but it wasn't at all difficult. When I got down I was glad I hadn't taken off the waterproofs. There was another heavy shower - but then the sun came out and it remained dry all evening. Maybe I'd made the wrong decision :(
I left the top just after 6.00pm, headed down the path to the Sneck
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Evening sun on the Bed of the yellow stag
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The summit and Clach Choutsaich - the two biggest barns on Ben Avon I think
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Obligatory pic of the Sneck
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and of the Beinn a Bhuird's Garbh Choire
The path down to the Sneck is very bady eroded and it doesn't improve greatly until you cross the Glas allt Mor where the valley broadens out. After that, the section heading S is excellent. When I turned left into the top of Gleann an t-Slugain, having done insufficient research, I continued along the upper (unpleasantly rocky) track instead of descending into the "Fairy Glen" where the path is much softer. I eventually reached the car at 10.30pm - and was glad to find the Invercauld Arms in Braemar still had a room for the night :D - as I was no condition to drive home.
If ( unlike me) you take the path Left after crossing the bridge over the Gairn, and follow the track up the Allt an Eas Mhoir, I don't think this route to Ben Avon is significantly longer than the standard one - you see rather more of the hill and you can return as I did completing at least some sort of traverse :)
I recommend it
past my sell by date
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby Silverhill » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:38 pm

Thanks for sharing, that looks like a brilliant route! 8) Ben Avon is one of my favourite hills, so I wouldn't mind visiting it again. I missed all that greenery and was quite surprised to see it in your fabulous pictures. I remember it being much more barren.
Good luck for Sgurr a' Mhaoraich! :D
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:17 pm

Silverhill wrote:Thanks for sharing, that looks like a brilliant route! 8) Ben Avon is one of my favourite hills, so I wouldn't mind visiting it again. I missed all that greenery and was quite surprised to see it in your fabulous pictures. I remember it being much more barren.
Good luck for Sgurr a' Mhaoraich! :D

Thanks Silverhill - Yes it is a great hill but being a long way from "anywhere" it doesn't get the footfall that it should.
I didn't see a soul all day, and there were no real "trods" on the plateau E of the summit - which surprised me
Last edited by past my sell by date on Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
past my sell by date
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:18 pm

Duplicate post - not sure how to delete it[
Last edited by past my sell by date on Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
past my sell by date
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby dogplodder » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:00 pm

Having been up the usual way it was good to see pics of your route which probably does this great sprawl of a mountain a bit more justice! 8)
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby past my sell by date » Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:31 pm

dogplodder wrote:Having been up the usual way it was good to see pics of your route which probably does this great sprawl of a mountain a bit more justice! 8)

Thanks Dogplodder - surely it's best to go by one route and come back by the other - there's a lot to see on both and you start/finish at the same point.
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby ancancha » Tue Jul 05, 2016 1:03 am

Sadly when I did Ben Avon I couldn't see a thing due to the persistent rain :( so its nice to see your photos :clap:
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby malky_c » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:53 pm

That looked good, even if it wasn't the plan :) . I'm looking forward to a return to Ben Avon at some point - definitely to do an extended wander around the plateau this time. Just to be awkward, I'll probably end up approaching from Glenmore Lodge.
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby past my sell by date » Thu Jul 07, 2016 5:34 pm

ancancha wrote:Sadly when I did Ben Avon I couldn't see a thing due to the persistent rain :( so its nice to see your photos :clap:


Wow! that's a long way to go in the rain :( I don't go out nowadays when serious rain is forecast

malky_c wrote:That looked good, even if it wasn't the plan :) . I'm looking forward to a return to Ben Avon at some point - definitely to do an extended wander around the plateau this time. Just to be awkward, I'll probably end up approaching from Glenmore Lodge.

It's a great and wild place - in 32.5km I saw not a soul :) I guess you'll cross the Fords of Avon and go up via Beinn a Chaorain and Beinn a Bhuird
past my sell by date
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby rockhopper » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:23 pm

Enjoyed that - interesting route and nice conditions to make the most of this area :thumbup:

Any plans for Sgurr a'Mhaoraich ? - cheers :)
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby timmunro86 » Fri Sep 09, 2016 12:50 pm

Great report! Loved your photos, it looks like you had an interesting day for it. It's always nice when the weather is a bit variable, it really makes for some good views :)

I did Ben Avon this past weekend for the first time and had changeable weather, started beautiful but ended up pretty soggy! But that's OK, I had the mountain bike with me so got home pretty quick :)
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Re: Ben Avon but not quite as I wanted it

Postby past my sell by date » Fri Sep 09, 2016 1:56 pm

rockhopper wrote:Enjoyed that - interesting route and nice conditions to make the most of this area :thumbup:

Any plans for Sgurr a'Mhaoraich ? - cheers :)

Thanks RH.
Re Sgurr a'Mhaoraich; If it were just for me I'd dash up and get it done - it's a very straightforward Munro, but a lot of old friends - from UNI days - would be a bit put out not to be invited so next May is looking favourite.

timmunro86 wrote:Great report! Loved your photos, it looks like you had an interesting day for it. It's always nice when the weather is a bit variable, it really makes for some good views :)

I did Ben Avon this past weekend for the first time and had changeable weather, started beautiful but ended up pretty soggy! But that's OK, I had the mountain bike with me so got home pretty quick :)

Changeable weather is fine Tim, but less so if you plan to bivouac with minimal equipment :lol:
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