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Ben Avon & Beinn a Bhuird – a solo 40k walk

Ben Avon & Beinn a Bhuird – a solo 40k walk


Postby Mountainlove » Thu Aug 25, 2016 7:19 pm

Route description: Ben Avon via Gleann an-Slugain

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Bhuird, Ben Avon

Date walked: 16/07/2016

Time taken: 12.5 hours

Distance: 40 km

Ascent: 1563m

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I cannot say that the thought of climbing those 2 Munros filled me with excitement. :roll: 40 km over pretty uneventful countryside hardly does and so I had pushed Avon and Beinn a Bhuird out of my radar until I could not ignore them any longer. I was getting close to completing the Munros. A thought which filled me with dread to be honest. Did I really wanted to finish them? I love the whole planning and getting away from it all and Munros have been part of my life for such a long time now. Yes I know I could do them again and yes there are Corbett’s…but Munros which I haven’t climbed are special! Anyway enough of me rambling on.

First question was if I wanted to use a bike or if I wanted to walk. Somehow walking had always sounded better and with the plan standing the adventure could begin.
I woke up in lovely Glenshee where I had camped the night before. It was a nice morning and getting ready I drove to Braemar campsite to have a shower. Well it turned out that I was too early :shock: (rather unusual for my standards) and that they would not allow ’shower guests’ until 9am. Mmm certainly far too long to wait and so I continued into Braemar and used the public toilets for a quick wash at the sink…at least they had warm water. :thumbup: Once I was washed and ready I sat down to have breakfast outside on the car park. It was still early and in no particular rush I made my way towards the starting point.

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Setting off

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Gleann an t-Slugain

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The south top of Beinn a Bhuird comes into view

Setting off I marveled at the beautiful area. A bike would have been great for the first few kilometres, but I actually enjoyed the walk. As usual I had not really paid attention to the walk, as it had seemed all so easy on the walk description. Once I had walked for an hour or so I took a few turns and about 90 min after I set off, Braemar castle came into view. :eh: I was confused and checked the map. Realizing that I took a wrong turn :shifty: and added 3km to the whole walk nearly made me cry out in frustration. :thumbdown: Returning I mumbled curses and found the right track. From there it was no problem anymore. The path climbed steadily and I passed the time listening to an audio book.

Listening to the gruesome description of a man getting murdered, Slugain lodge came into view. I played with the idea to visit the lodge, but decided to do that on my return. Walking on, the path got muddy and soaking wet for a while, before getting to an easy to walk bit again.
My story was certainly more exciting than the walk, but at least I was able to switch off the brain and the kilometres passed in a blur. The path climbed steeply towards the Sneck and I was happy to see the strange looking boulders, as it meant I was close to the bealach. At the top I had to enjoy the views north, before I made my way up Ben Avon.

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The path up the Sneck

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The Snecks boulder stones

Ben Avon is massive. A true giant even in the Cairngorm scale and I once I reached the plateau I was reminded what the Cairmgorms are about…massive spaces with millions of rock and boulders broken up by weather and storms of the millennia.
It was pretty cold too and digging out my gloves and body warmer I was glad when I reached the top. I scrambled up the last few meters and standing at the highest point I looked around me. Pretty impressive! :D Looking for shelter I sat down to eat lunch and let my mind wander.

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Ben Avons top

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View from the top looking back

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The top

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On top of the rocks looking towards Avon

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Having lunch

The weather changed gradually and dark clouds started promised rain. Mmm time to move on. I returned the same way when the heavens opened. I stopped to put my waterproofs on and continued down towards the Sneck and up Beinn a Bhuird .


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The Sneck and Beinn a Bhuird

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The Sneck on the way down


Close to the top the hill flattened out and rain and clouds changed the country side into a strange eerie nothingness which I actually enjoyed. It reminded me about long walks I took in the past.
The clouds suddenly lifted a bit and the a lump of cairns came into view. Not the most exciting top, but at least I had views towards Ben Macdui and co. I stopped and looked and waved. :wave: After all I climbed those hills before and a greeting seemed matching.
There was no point to linger at the cairn and once I took a photo I moved on. The rain stopped once again and cleared the views up Ben Avon. A single beam of sunlight moved across the hill site and I stood mesmerised. How lovely.

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Beinn a Bhuirds summit cairn


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The view across the other site of the Cairngorms

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The clouds lifted and showed views towards Ben Avon

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Ben Avon

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Sunshine

The walk along the whole length of Beinn a Bhuird was indeed lovely and I enjoyed every single step, even more so when the rain completely stopped. I reached the south top when a guy on my bike went past me :shock:. Looking in awe (thats a log way pushing a bike up a hill) I decided to climb down the hill in a straight line. It was easy at the start, but the joy stopped when I reached a boulder field. I hate walking down loose boulders, as it always takes me ages. At the bealach I could see a path sloping down towards the right, but as I wanted to head the fasted way down I ignored it and made my way cross country. It was ok (I guess the path would have been better) but at least I passed a number of grouse butts, which I had always wanted to explore.

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The way down

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Grouse butts

The final way towards the main path crossed a burn and taking my shoes off to walk across it was a great relief for my aching feed. Now it was time to return. As I promised myself I walked past the old lodge and apart from following the path I came, I took the path alongside the burn to see something new. It was lovely and I imagined how people must have walked that path in the past.

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Close to Slugain lodge ruins

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Slugain lodge ruins

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The path from the ruin along the burn

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In the lovely forest

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Something I would not fancy in my garden

Once I passed the old ruins, my old Achilles heel injury made itself known again and for the last 5 kilometres my walk turned into a hobble with plenty of breaks and ibuprofen tablets to numb the pain.
Oh was I glad to get to my car and drive to the campsite for a well-earned shower, before driving to my tent in Glenshee for a beer and some food. Looking back it had been an impressive long day, although it would be a while before I would fancy a return :D
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Mountainlove
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Re: Ben Avon & Beinn a Bhuird – a solo 40k walk

Postby dav2930 » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:52 pm

Great report and pics ML. There's grandeur in the vast spaces of those hills and the corries of Beinn a' Bhuird are very impressive; interesting to see a few small patches of snow holding on in them. A good, long walk to do solo - a bike definitely helps! :wink: :clap:
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dav2930
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Re: Ben Avon & Beinn a Bhuird – a solo 40k walk

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:06 pm

Well, you manage to make even these two seem quite interesting! :clap: :clap: :clap: I commented on one of your earlier reports that it made me realise that the Cairngorms are not all samey dullness. The pics of The Sneck and Beinn a Bhuird, and the later panorama of a small lochan in a high level glen just after the Ben Avon pic, both make the area look very alluring. I really must give the Cairngorms a go (but after the Fainnaichs, Glen Shiel North, Mamores, Knoydart, Assynt, Cuillins again, Torridon again.......)

BTW do you use GPS to navigate in clag, or just map and compass?? I noticed from one of your reports earlier this year that you managed to find a summit cairn on a Cairngorm plateau in quite extensive clag, which seemed like a really impressive feat :roll: I've not done much on plateaus or undulating upland in clag, and when I have, it's generally been pretty challenging :shock:
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Re: Ben Avon & Beinn a Bhuird – a solo 40k walk

Postby Mancunian » Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:50 am

Very impressive walk ML. As you might know i'm travelling once a year to Scotland for a 4 to 5day walk and so far I have ignored the Cairngorms completely for I dont know what reason. They are apparently less rugged and more lovely than the highlands north of the great glen. Great walk although I would not fancy 40km without a ridge walk or at least a nice lake in between.
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Re: Ben Avon & Beinn a Bhuird – a solo 40k walk

Postby Mountainlove » Fri Aug 26, 2016 11:04 am

@dav2930- I agree on the bike, but the walk wasn't that bad.The snow was crazy! I am returning to the Cairngorms tomorrow and it will be interesting to see more snow patches.

@Alteknacker - The Cairngorms are not as bad as you think, just completely different than the west. If you find them too boring you could always use a direct approach. There are enough Gullies! Try Bynack More as a first one in the area. Easy to do in a day and the area is stunning.
Regarding your question I use a GPS. Navigation would be really hard without one, specially on high ground in whiteouts. Saying that I also have a compass which is great to save the battery on the GPS.

@ Mancunian - I know exactly what you mean, I will never join the Cairngorms fan club, but the area is lovely.I would recommend a trip to Braemar and a walk Linn od Dee and you will see. I have yet to see the herd of reindeer up the hills, but for those a trip is a must
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Re: Ben Avon & Beinn a Bhuird – a solo 40k walk

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:56 am

It was great to have bumped into you in the Cairngorms! Hope you didn't get too badly bitten by midges in the evening! We walked through a real swarm of them on our way back from Devil's Point. I sprayed myself with deet but they still got under my clothing, bit my eyelids (I'm now walking around with puffed eyes!). Still, it was a superb day. 1808m of ascent arghhhh, my knees are not happy :lol:

I admit, we cheated slightly with Avon and did it from Tomintoul using bikes. Worth doing that way, for all the tors.
Cheers
BP
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