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Ben Alder circuit in normal Scottish summer conditions!

Ben Alder circuit in normal Scottish summer conditions!


Postby Christie22 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:20 pm

Route description: Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil from Culra

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bheoil, Ben Alder

Date walked: 04/08/2018

Time taken: 11.5 hours

Distance: 50.5 km

Ascent: 1080m

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I had wanted to walk this circuit for many years but I had always been slightly put off by the length of the expedition, when combined with the long cycle-in needed to make this a single day's outing. It was absolutely fine, although it certainly was a long day best reserved (for me) for the longer days of summer. The time and distance above include the travel from Dalwhinnie.

Although the MWIS forecast had, realistically, warned me, I was still somewhat miffed to find that the weather was less than perfect. Summer of 2018 has really spoiled us! Summary of what I found - low cloud and strongish wind all day. Drizzle/rain for about 90 minutes before noon and then the cloud lifted to give great views between about 12:30 and 3:30, before descending again. I was so lucky to have the wonderful views from summit to summit and I got the chance to appreciate that Ben Alder is indeed a magnificent big hill and that its neighbour is beautifully situated.

Here are a few images, taken when the weather allowed, in more or less the order of the anti-clockwise route that I took:

P1050719.JPG
Cloud lifting over the top of the Leachas
P1050721.JPG
Boulder field between Leachas and Ben Alder summit
P1050725.JPG
Ben Alder plateau looking south to cliffs around Garbh Choire
P1050734.JPG
Looking over towards Beinn Bheoil
P1050739.JPG
Ben Alder summit above the cliffs of Garbh Choire
P1050742.JPG
Around top of Garbh Choire, looking towards Beinn Bheoil


Some other comments on the day:

Cycling to and from Dalwhinnie was easier than I expected, mainly due to the quality of the track surfaces. I got to Culra in about 2 hours and took 90 minutes to return. See my report against the separate WH section on that route.

The bothy was closed and locked

P1050714.JPG
Closed Culra Bothy


The stalker's path from Culra up Choire Bheithe is in great condition and there was evidence of recent work to keep it that way.

20180804_105346.jpg
Typical view of stalker's path


the cut-off towards the Long Leachas is clearly marked by a small cairn:

20180804_105401.jpg
Cut-off towards Long Leachas


To get to the Long Leachas, it's necessary to cross Allt a'Bhealich Bheithe. Although there has not been a lot of rain recently, I didn't find it to be particularly straightforward. It might become really exciting in spate!

P1050718.JPG
Allt a'Bhealich Bheithe

I had read that the Long Leachas is much less challenging than the short Leachas. I'm sure that is the case, but the LL is still worthy of your close attention in the slippery conditions I experienced in the wettest and windiest part of the day.

P1050773.JPG
Sideways look at the Long Leachas


The descent to Bealach Breabag is fairly steep and consists of that classic combination of wet and boulders that is very familiar to those who walk in the Scottish Highlands. I went too far towards the end of Garbh Coire before I started down. You might want to have a recce a bit earlier. There is a path which is absolutely obvious - but only when you are looking up from the bealach! Actually, having re-read the WH route information, I wish that I had paid attention the first time because it does tell you where to start the descent.

20180804_140723.jpg
Bealach Breabag and south end of Loch Ericht


On the way up to Beinn Bheoil, I recommend that you take the very small detour to Sron Coire na h-Iolaire, for a spectacular view of Loch Ericht. Don't do it if you don't want to see how far it is to Dalwhinnie!
P1050746.JPG
Loch Ericht from Sron Coire na h-Iolaire. Dalwhinnie at the far end.

The descent from Beinn Bheoil to Culra is one of the gentlest and prettiest that I can remember.

P1050754.JPG
Approaching the end of the ridge running north from Beinn Bheoil
P1050775.JPG
Looking north to Loch Pattack, Culra Bothy and lots of wide open space


There was a surprising number of fellow walkers for such a remote hill, although I guess it was a weekend day in holiday season. They were split roughly 50/50 between campers and day trippers. A few had approached from Corrour.

Finally, one ever-so-slightly-political note. I had been a good boy and checked the 'Heading for the Scottish Hills' website before I left, to find out about any plans for deer stalking in the area. I found that Ben Alder Estate had not uploaded any information. Instead, a walker is expected to 'follow reasonable direction given locally'. That's fine, unless you travel all the way to some remote location to find that the local direction precludes the route that you had planned to take. When I got to Dalwhinnie, I saw this board:

20180804_081202.jpg
Estate Information Board


My gripe is that if the estate staff knew that there was going to be no stalking before 20 August, why did they not upload that info to the website and put my mind at ease? Maybe one of you good people out there will spot something that I have missed!
Christie22
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 9
Munros:228   
Joined: Jul 18, 2014

Re: Ben Alder circuit in normal Scottish summer conditions!

Postby prog99 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:37 am

My gripe is that if the estate staff knew that there was going to be no stalking before 20 August, why did they not upload that info to the website and put my mind at ease? Maybe one of you good people out there will spot something that I have missed!

The number is on the mountain bothy pages for both Culra & Ben Alder Cottage. Its always worth checking there as well.
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prog99
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 978
Joined: Aug 14, 2013

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