The Ben Alder group 33km 2238m 11.45h 10/07/1994
Darren, Colin, and I are with Andy in his new car. We drive to Dalwhinnie, cross over the railway for a run down the side of Loch Ericht. The steep slopes of The Fara are dressed in forestry as we stop for a locked gate. In the old days you sought out and had a dram with the keepers of the various estates and that in turn gave access to parts of Scotland few people then saw. A chance meeting with the stalkers here gave me a combination for one of the locks on the gate. Seek out the right one and we’re thro. Pass a turreted gatehouse of Benalder lodge to a large open area with white shed and park. Andy is worried about his new car having heard that the garrons here eat the rubber from wipers and windows. I assure him this only happen in winter being the garrons liking the taste of road salt; this does not apply in summer. We gear up, take the river path to a sagging rope plank bridge, its middle just above rushing water and cross for the heather slopes of Carn Dearg @1034m. The boys push on once we reach the broad ridge and there`s a groan from Andy. We turn to find that his new car canny be seen for ponies, Ach well. A break at the cairn, views of Loch Pattack and the surrounding hills. Over Diollaid a`Chairn, where a narrow ridge separates Loch Coire Cheap from the more picturesque Loch An Sgoir lying below Sgor Iutharn`s lancet ridge. A wee scramble here sees the green plateau of Geal-cha`rn @1132m, SE lies Ben Alder`s large snowy mass and jagged crags. The day, bright so far brings cloud in from the W and a rain shower. Quicker now, over patches of hard snow for a narrow col with huge corries on either side for Aonach Beag`s larger cairn @ 1116m. The shower passes. A drop of 140m to a neck then easy walking for the long top of Beinn Eibhinn @ 1102m. its twin cairns, some 300m apart. A break at the western top, before we return to and drop steeply with the Allt Criche for the floor of the glen. Across the basin with lochans, burns - bleached tree roots exposed in the peat hags - to where a stalkers path heads for Bealach Dubh. Another leg bends E past the crags of Beinn a` Chumhainn, for Benalder cottage and Loch Ericht. We can make out the trees that hide Corror shooting lodge. The rain comes with meaning this time as we don waterproofs and climb a broad slope between crags. Grass then heather, to stony ground and say hello to mist as we reach a snowfield then a cairn. From here an off compass bearing, finds stone walls, the trig point and cairn of Ben Alder @1148m. We can see nowt. We eat here in the wet as I relate the story of “Clunys cage” being somewhere down there in the mist and how he hid up here for nine years before making his way to France to die of a broken heart. The rain eases, time to go. The lochan Garbh Choire is under snow – a pacing of 450m SW then a SE turn, rounds the corrie for a cairn then down to Bealach Breabag and a sunshine welcome. Up the other side, an easy grass climb for Sron Coire na h-Iolaine @ 955m then a smooth ridge walk with a rise for the summit of Beinn Bheoil @ 1019m. Here we met two females coming from the top, who having canoed in were spending the w/e at Benalder cottage. Some chat about the haunted nature of their abode, then move on. We walk between two lochs. W Loch a Bhealaich Bheithe and E the waters of Loch Ericht, some viewpoint. Ben Alder, still with cloud and as we descend, the long and short leachas still on my todo list. Down N and pick up a good path that leads past a blue tin Culra lodge back to the car. So a great if long day, a baggers delight, and apart from the ladies, saw noone on the hill. The car had long tongue marks on it when we got back nothing a good hosing down couldn`t shift.
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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.