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Bike'n'hike for four. Shame about weather.

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 10:57 am
by scotdavid63
A good friend of ours recently passed his Mountain Leader exams and used to be a serious mountain biker so when he called at short notice suggesting Ben Avon plus BaB it was a fairly easy answer for me, the lad and the big dog. Packed up and headed for Braemar campsite late afternoon on the Sunday, got there at 8pm and nice people helped us check in but also pointed out no check ins after 8.30pm - be warned. Although, there is plenty of wild camping to be had around here.

Start point Keiloch car park, just past Braemar Castle and Invercauld House. Pls remember £2.50 for the car park meter

John had worked out that we could bike well past Slugain Lodge ruin and so it proved - 12.5km or so and that really takes a chunk out of the distance. Key point here, the boy and I are pretty much novices on mountain bikes and some of the biking is rougher than what we have done before (including Beinn Dearg) so there's a bit of pushing here and there. Also, after the ruin, there's an impossible to bike section which then improves after 300m or so but then there are loads of water channel dips in the track so you'll be on and off a lot unless you're as good or better than John (who was on a full sus MTB).
Not long before the ruin there are a few track options, having tried a higher on outbound and the lower one returning I would def go for the lower one. There is another higher option that misses out the ruin, did not try that but was steep to head up.

So, the big issue is that summer had temporarily buggered off and mist/clag from about 750m up. Bit of a shame because no views to be had really. We parked the bikes at a Ford that is about 12.5km into the route. Shortly after that look out for a very small cairn marking a path up the hill - the direct route. If you follow the normal path it does cut back across but def longer by a few hunred metres. The path takes you all the way to the bealach at about 970m then just a question of navigation. Combo of compass/map and occasional checks on OS Maps got us to the big boulders that mark the Ben Avon top - despite the clag/mist the rocks were pretty much dry and are as sticky as Gabbro so good scrambling to be had (although this is the part the dog hates). The boulders also give wind shelter so good for a break and snack.
Off across the Sneck, zero view so pretty bummed about that and had to resort to same navigation to find our way across to BaB. Almost missed the cairn .....

Now, to get off John had plotted out how to get back to the bikes and it's simplest to say that we traversed back the way we had come, dropping 100m or so steadily so that we kept away from the cliffs/bluffs that are marked on maps (and indeed we could occasionally see them). Back at 800m or so we could see again and that made for some nice views of mountains around us cloaked in mist whilst we could see serious distances but only at 800m level !
As I have said in other reports, we like grassy slopes, knees still in good shape, so the drop down (see the file) is pretty straightforward.
Back to the bikes, refilled water bottles and let the dog fill up, then biked out on the lower path at the ruin, warm again by the time we got there !

Re: Bike'n'hike for four. Shame about weather.

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 4:09 pm
by naepace
Cheers for this, I fancy trying the bike on some of the longer approaches, never sat on a bike longer than about 15 mins in 5 years, could be interesting :( :lol: