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Enjoy youself... you're tougher than you think!

Enjoy youself... you're tougher than you think!

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:52 pm

Route description: Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil from Culra

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bheoil, Ben Alder

Date walked: 16/05/2019

Time taken: 10.5 hours

Distance: 50 km

Ascent: 1480m

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Having returned from a successful wildcamping trip, we still had a few days at hand and weather forecast was good for Thursday and Friday. We contemplated Aonach Eagach but I was worried there might still be snow on the main ridge, so Kevin suggested another "biggie", the infamous hill of rock and water aka Ben Alder.

Many walkers spend a few days climbing the whole group of peaks north of Loch Ericht, camping near Culra Bothy, but we were in a comfortable position: we had already ticked off every peak but Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil. In 2017, we approached Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn from the north (Moy) and we liked it so much that in 2018 we returned to bag Carn Dearg and Geal-Charn via the same route. That left us with the Alder duo, and they could be tackled from Dalwhinie in a day trip if we used bikes.

I calculated that it should take us 2 hours to cycle down to Culra. In the end, it took a bit longer, I was slower on the rougher bits of the track. I admit I'm not the world's best cyclist, but I managed to stay upright this time, which is a success in itself :lol:
Our route follows the suggested line of approach from most guides, biking to near Culra, then walking into the glen and climbing the entertaining ridge of Long Leachas, traversing Ben Alder and then Beinn Bheoil to return down to Culra. It's a long day if including the cycling (at least 4 hours on bike) and involves crossing the shoogly bridge over Allt a'Chaoil-reidhe (quite tricky with bikes!), not to mention scrambling on Long Leachas (not difficult but quite exposed), so this is not a route for beginners. Anyway, you could walk in with overnighting pack and camp at the bottom of Ben Alder. Just as entertaining as doing it in a day :D

Track_BEN ALDER 16-05-19.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

There is plenty of space in Dalwhinie to park,our favourite spot is by the entrance to the water works:
2019-05-16 ben alder 001.JPG

We started from Dalwhinie at 9am with 12 hours of daylight, hoping that it was enough time to return safely to civilization. Just in case we were caught by the dark on the way back, we packed torches and some ways to attach them to our bikes. I don't like cycling in the dark and I was desperate to avoid it, but just in case...
Warning: tree felling is in progress on the southern slopes of The Fara, so if using the Loch Ericht track during the week, be aware you may come across stick lorries and/or forestry machinery working on the road. Expect delays :D
2019-05-16 ben alder 224.JPG

It was a lovely morning, sunny but a cool breeze prevented us from overheating. The track along the loch is great and the initial stage of our little expedition was very pleasant:
2019-05-16 ben alder 010.JPG

Loch Ericht in panoramic mode:
2019-05-16 ben alder 226.JPG

About half way down the loch we met a lorry blocking the road and had to push our bikes through the forest to get around it, that was the first delay. The second one came in the shape of very bumpy road (at least by my cycling standards) as soon as we reached Loch Pattack.
It was not too bad along the loch first...
2019-05-16 ben alder 011.JPG

...but then we reached the shoogly bridge. It looked very unstable and taking our bikes across took time. Basically, Kevin did it one by one, having left his rucksack on the other size first. Eventually, I was allowed to cross, too, and I made sure I didn't end up in the river :lol:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 228 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
As we were mounting our bikes, Kevin almost gave me a heart attack by saying: F***, I lost the GPS!
I was convinced it dropped into Allt a'Chaoil-reidhe when he was fighting the bridge...
But then I remembered Murphy's law and told him to re-check his pockets. Of course, he found it at the bottom of the last pocket he looked into!
With the day (and the GPS) saved, we continued cycling, by now the road was too rough for me so we got as far as the highest point of the track and left the bikes about 1km before Culra. From here, we continued on foot:
2019-05-16 ben alder 019.JPG

Culra Bothy and the wild(camping) bunch:
2019-05-16 ben alder 026.JPG

Ben Alder (left) and Lancet Edge of Sgor Iutharn (right) from Glen Reidh:
2019-05-16 ben alder 032.JPG

Because it took us longer than planned to cycle up, I was seriously concerned about time and even started mumbling something about turning back 'cause we were too late and too slow! My complaints had a huge "reverse effect" on Kevin. He was now angry with me and at the same time, full of confidence that "we can do it just shut up and go!".
We reached the crossing of Allt a'Bhealaich Bheithe, next to no water in the stream. It was here, I took a closer look at Long Leachas and suddenly felt so little, so weak and helpless, no way I can do it...
Panther frightened:
2019-05-16 ben alder 037.JPG

I admit, the Long Leachas ridge seems very daunting from below, and as I was going to experience soon, it requires confidence and good head for heights. Technically, it's not demanding though and there is only one badly exposed section (a short climb up a wide chimney).
2019-05-16 ben alder 038.JPG

As soon as we joined the ridge proper, we found an obvious path which can be followed all the way up to the Alder plateau. The path skirts around most of the difficulties, here and there we encountered some very easy scrambling, but so far, it wasn't as scary as it looked from below!
2019-05-16 ben alder 045.JPG

Higher up, it becomes more steep...
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 054 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
...but staying on the path allowed us to avoid any problems:
2019-05-16 ben alder 055.JPG

We climbed about half way up, but there was still the "bad step" to come and the trickiest part of Long Leachas. My confidence was still on questionable level :lol: :lol: and when I faced the final part of the ridge, part of me felt like turning back and throwing in the towel.
I'm supposed to do THAT??? No way, hosay!
2019-05-16 ben alder 059.JPG

I wanted to express my doubts to Kevin but he pretended he couldn't hear my moaning. He gave me a pack of nuts.
I'm not hungry! I protested.
Shut up and eat. No complaining. You need fuel to get up there.
But I can't go up there!
You can. Now move you a**.
What happened to my gentle, diplomatic husband??? He was replaced by a nasty bully with a tendency to verbal abuse!
That verbally abusive bully pushed me up the steep section and soon I discovered that what looked impossible from below, was just a scramble-ish path when I was on it. I was actually beginning to enjoy it!
We reached the "bad step", but my confidence was growing and looking at the chimney, I noticed good foot- and handholds in the rock, so I should be able to defeat this last obstacle...
Kevin went up first and it didn't take him long to reach the top of the chimney. I was more reluctant but once I started scrambling, there was no way back. Just as well I didn't look down, as the exposure on this section is serious :shock:
About half way up the chimney, I slipped and lost my footing, but managed to wedge my boot between two rocks and saved myself. Only after I was back on good footholds, I felt the rush of adrenaline over my whole body. A few more moves and I was out on the top of the bad step. This time I didn't need to grab Kevin's leg to haul myself out of trouble :lol: :lol:
Looking down the bad step, so steep you can't even see the bottom :lol: :lol:
2019-05-16 ben alder 064.JPG

The rest of the ridge seemed easier now, still rocky but no serious obstacles in sight:
2019-05-16 ben alder 069.JPG

Looking back east to Loch Pattack and Glen Reidh from the upper section of Long Leaches:
2019-05-16 ben alder 071.JPG

Panther's confidence restored!
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 078 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
One more look at Long Leachas from above. I'm not sending that photo to my parents (my dad would have a heart attack, he almost fainted when I showed him a snap from Beinn Alligin and this is much worse :lol: ):
2019-05-16 ben alder 079.JPG

On the top of Long Leachas we took a short break for pictures and hydration.
To my delight, Kevin turned back to his usual kind self and said: See, I told you you could do it. You're tougher than you think!
A panoramic view north from the top of the scrambling section:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 229 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
View to main Ben Alder massif and more distant Beinn Bheoil:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 232 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The summit is still a mile away but it's easy going on nearly flat plateau:
2019-05-16 ben alder 091.JPG

Beinn Bheoil and Loch a' Bhealaich Bheithe from near the summit of Ben Alder:
2019-05-16 ben alder 090.JPG

We reached the summit in 2 and a half hours since starting from 1km above Culra. Now we were confident that we had more than enough time to return to our bikes and cycle out in daylight, as long as we didn't linger on the mountains for hours. We decided however, that after all that scrambling we deserved a break and a good lunch...as log as sandwiches didn't get squashed in transit :lol:
2019-05-16 ben alder 098.JPG

We enjoyed the views, too. To the north and west, we were surrounded by neighbouring mountains, like the Aonach Beag - Beinn Eibhinn ridge:
2019-05-16 ben alder 093.JPG

Schiehallion on the southern horizon:
2019-05-16 ben alder 107.JPG

Geal Charn and Carn Dearg to the north-east:
2019-05-16 ben alder 236.JPG

Ben Alder's trig point and the view west along Loch Ossian:
2019-05-16 ben alder 246.JPG

The hill of rock and water was my Munro no. 253, Lucy ticked off her 110th M.
2019-05-16 ben alder 247.JPG

Panoramic views form the summit are not as impressive and this due to the flat plateau surrounding the highest point of the mountain:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 251 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Kevin getting ready to go, we still had a second Munro to climb today!
2019-05-16 ben alder 108.JPG

At least no more scary scrambling awaited us on the traverse to Beinn Bheoil, just nice walking along the rim of the corrie:
2019-05-16 ben alder 122.JPG

Enjoy yourself! You're tougher than you think!
2019-05-16 ben alder 124.JPG

Distant views: Ben Nevis and the Easains:
2019-05-16 ben alder 134.JPG

Our second target looked like a delightful, easy traverse on a wide ridge:
2019-05-16 ben alder 136.JPG

The "top" end of Loch Ericht and the peaks of Southern Scotland:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 143 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Looking back to the summit of Ben Alder:
2019-05-16 ben alder 144.JPG

Zoom to Lawers group:
2019-05-16 ben alder 161.JPG

One last look towards the Mamores and Ben Nevis, before we descended to Bealach Breabag:
2019-05-16 ben alder 152.JPG

The descent to the col joining the two Munros starts easy but later the ground becomes steep and waterlogged, in misty conditions careful navigation would be needed here. We took it slowly, carefully picking the right way between crags.
Posing at the bottom of the steep descent:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 164 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Now, the only way is up! :lol: First, we have to climb 120m up to Sron Coire na h-Iolaire. There is a faint path to follow.
2019-05-16 ben alder 167.JPG

Weather was still fantastic, but the wind picked up, becoming quite gusty at times. Kevin lost his hat and had to chase it across the slope :lol: Thankfully it soon got trapped in heather and didn't fly very far.
From the summit of Sron Coire na h-Iolaire we could see our second target, Beinn Bheoil:
2019-05-16 ben alder 172.JPG

View back to Ben Alder and the massive Garbh Choire, Long Leachas to the very right of the picture:
2019-05-16 ben alder 178.JPG

Sron Coire na h-Iolaire from near the summit of Beinn Bheoil:
2019-05-16 ben alder 185.JPG

Holding desperately onto my hat :lol:
2019-05-16 ben alder 187.JPG

This route offers many breathtaking views, but my favourite was the the one south across the dark blue waters of Loch Ericht:
2019-05-16 ben alder 188.JPG

Kevin on the summit of Beinn Bheoil, consuming his lunch on his 255th Munro :lol:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 198 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
I made him happy by saying that we have both now reached 90% of all Munros! Lucy only celebrated her 111th, so she is only on 39% now but it's still a great achievement for a wee fluffy lamb :lol:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 202 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Posing with the southern views on the summit of Beinn Bheoil:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 254 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Panoramic view from the summit to Ben Alder:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 260 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
A closer look to the hill of rock and water across Bealach Beithe and the loch:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 203 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
From the left: Short Leachas, Long Leachas and Lancet Edge. Scrambler's delight :D
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 206 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Lovely view back east along Loch Ericht, The Fara to the left, Drummochter Pass Munros to the right:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 210 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
...and to get back to our bikes, we have to descend this nice-looking ridge:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 208 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
It was only five o'clock and we were already on our way down, no problematic obstacles awaiting on the return walk, no wonder I was in much better mood now, back to my meowing self :lol:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 217 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
We descended the western side of the long ridge, eventually picking a zigzagging stalker's path and later the main path leading back to Culra. On lower ground, we were now off the gusty wind and with weather still bright and sunny, we simply couldn't resist stopping once more and admiring Ben Alder, the true king of this area:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 219 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Walking back to the bikes:
Image2019-05-16 ben alder 222 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
I was surprised how quickly we managed to cycle out. Even with me pushing my bike up every rough slope, we still took less than 1.5 hours to return to Dalwhinie. Even the shoogly bridge crossing was easier the second time, and stick lorries were long gone from the Loch Ericht road. Kevin made sure his GPS was tucked safely in the depths of his most secure pocket and we returned to the starting point without any nasty incidents on the way. We covered 50km (30 on bike, 20 walking) in 10.5 hours. No way, hosay! I'd have said only a day earlier. In the end, It turned out, I'm tougher than I think!
One might think, after all that wildcamping, biking and hiking we should be exhausted! Not exactly... On the next day, Friday, we took the last chance to enjoy good weather (forecast for the upcoming weekend was c**p) and spent a few hours lurking atop the cliffs of Cairn Lochan and Stob Coire an t-Sneachda. TR to come soon :D
Last edited by BlackPanther on Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Enjoy youself... you're tougher than you think!

Postby Coop » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:40 pm

Great report, cheers and one I'll read again before I get on these - but that will be next spring or summer now.( I think)
Cheers again
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Joined: Jun 5, 2016
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