MWIS said 90% chance of cloud free tops and wind negligible impact. No rugby match for the boy so off we went. Late start due to various reasons, got to Old Bridge of Tilt Car Park at 10.45am. Not worried as light well past 4.30pm now ! Car park busy but not full, dog happy as the preverbial pig in **** despite being crammed in the back of the Landcruiser with two bikes.
First, doing this clockwise was a smart move - the return journey back from the Ford where you hit up to Beinn Dearg (about 1km past the Bothy) was almost unmarked so "fresh snow" ! For bikes there it's def better as also because almost no uphill whereas the route in has both up and down. The first 0.5km after the Ford is uphill though.
Second, we are novices on the bikes so I suspect that experienced mountain bikers could do this a lot faster as we were on and off the bikes regularly on the way in. This was only our fourth bike experience ...
So, the WH route is pretty much spot on, not difficult to follow the tracks through the forest at the start. Once out of the forest it was a picturesque lunar landscape with a scattering of snow and tufts of grass, mud, rock sticking through. Made reasonable time to the Bothy, got there in 1hr 45mins and had some lunch. Met various sub groups of people heading out - they'd had a Burns Supper/birthday party for 19 overnight ! To a man they were in good spirits, sounded like they had a great night. Two chaps heading down told us 2.5hrs to top and back (to the Bothy) so that cheered us up having taking a bit longer to get in that we might have planned.
So, parked bikes at Ford and headed up - GPS said about 11.5kms to here. Folks coming down all seemed happy but visibility not as per MWIS (the damned 10%) and wee bit of wind and snow so got a march on and sped up. Unlike the paths you can see on the OS 25k, the path we took (and everyone else based on footprints etc) takes more of a contour over from about 800m and then goes straight over the top at 931m rather than going a wee bit around it.
We were super lucky, got to the top and the mist cleared for a few minutes so some very decent views and we were largely above the cloud. Pretty much 2.30pm now and 15.16km on the GPS (3.65km from Bothy and 1.5hrs walking). Pretty cold up top and time marching on so we bashed back down the hill to the bikes and trudged up the other side of the Allt. Now about 3.40pm so bit of pressure to get on down the hill - back in the car park at 4.53pm so best way I can summarise is that cruising downhill in fresh snow (on an abvious track) was quite a thrill. Neither of us stayed on tthe bike all the way down, several skids and a couple of Fords were pretty tricky (mini cornices of their own).
Walked the bikes and chatted a nice chap on the last 400m, he'd done the walk (all 29km) and a drive from Edinburgh so hats off to him (Charles !).
For us, cracking adventure, become less novice-like on the bikes and the only request would be that we were part of the 90% cloud free forecast rather than the other 10%. Long day, don't underestimate this trip !
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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.