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Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jul 29, 2015 6:31 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Avon

Date walked: 27/06/2015

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 42.5 km

Ascent: 1253m

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The last moments of our holidays and the sun returned if only for one day, to give us the long awaited opportunity to visit the tors of Ben Avon. The majority of Munro baggers climb this mountain from Braemar side, starting from the car park in Keiloch on the Invercauld Estate. This "version" also allows adding Beinn A'Bhuird to the round. For us, this approach seemed inconvenient - over 2 hours drive each way from Inverness, and we have already climbed Beinn a'Bhuird on its own. So we started looking for other options for our Avon trip.

Tomintoul as a starting point looked much better for us. In early days of May we climbed Cnap Chaochan Aitinn, a Graham situated virtually next to the bulk of Ben Avon. Not only did we enjoy superb views of the Cairngorm giants, but also investigated a possibility of using Glen Avon as an entrance to the Big A'n :D
The overall distance to cover is over 40km, so it's a longer route than the one from Keiloch, but thankfully, bikes can be used for over half the way (about 25km). Having cycled up a Corbett the week before, I wasn't afraid of another bike challenge.

On Saturday morning I was dragged out of bed by my overzealous husband shouting Tora! tora! The time has come! :lol: :lol: :lol: It was indeed the day to explore tors! Being a panther I absolutely love scrambling over boulders and exploring rocky outcrops, so I didn't need much pressing.

In the end, we covered 42.5km, including 24.5km on bikes and 18km on foot. Time 8.5 hours, and that included all the tor explorations :D

Track_BEN AVON 27-060-15.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Glen Avon track is a good one for cycling, tarmac mostly, dirt track towards the end but comfortable even for a rubbish cyclist like me. Views - fantastic:
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I was surprised that I didn't need to get off my bike and push it on every uphill bit... Only a couple of times to pose for photos :wink:
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Just past Inchrory, we stopped for the last time to enjoy the view of "our" mountain and the route we were to tackle. A track goes about 50m up the slope, then replaced by a path:
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Having reached the Linn of Avon, we secured our bikes by the fence...
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...and for a few minutes enjoyed the quiet solitude of this place:
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...before embarking on the next meowing adventure!
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Above the end of the track, there are a few different paths, ascending the slope at different angles. On the way up, we chose the one traversing slightly to the left. It was generally all right, a few short, wet sections. Higher up, all paths merge into one, more stony and pretty obvious, as it ascends the shoulder of Carn Fiaclach:
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We admired the vast panorama behind us:
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The path took us past the first of many tops, Meall Gainemh (we skipped this one) and soon we entered the world of tors:
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As we continued towards Meur Gorm Crags, I was amazed by the surrounding landscape. Some of these boulders have unique shapes and one can easily identify them as familiar things like, for example, a sleeping pig:
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This one I called "Big-eyed monkey":
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I was tempted to slow down and take a detour to have a better look at some of these weird structures, but cloud was coming in from the west and it looked like we might encounter a shower... So we agreed, we'd reach the summit first, bag the Munro, and only then, time permitted, we would do some tor explorations :D
A happy panther:
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Looking back to the crags of East Meur Gorm, perched on the edge of the cliffs, I made a mental note to pay them a visit on the way back:
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Yes, definitely there is plenty to explore here!
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We climbed to the summit of West Meur Gorm Crag, not because we collect tops, but because we hoped it would be a good viewpoint. Only a small rocky outcrop marks the summit, we saw other walkers leaving this top as we arrived. The mighty Ben Avon was busy that day, but no surprise as it was a June Saturday and a good opportunity to bag a remote Munro.
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Cnap Chaochan Aitinn from West Meur Gorm Crag:
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From West Meur Gorm, we descended to a col (983m). From here, the summit tor lies about 2km SW as crow flies, but I spotted another pair of walkers heading due west towards Stob Bac an Fhurain and decided to follow their footsteps (thanks, guys, for the suggestion, whoever you are :D :D ). It meant visiting the aforementioned top first. And just as well, because as soon as we began traversing above the steep slopes of Corrie nan Gabhar (there is an obvious path), we discovered this superb view, down to Lochan nan Gabhar:
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We spent some time scrambling over the twin tors of Stob Bac an Fhurain, despite windy conditions - I absolutely loved this tor madness!
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Looking east from Stob Bac an Fhurain, to the craggy world of Ben Avon:
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To reach the summit tor, we had to return to the main ridge, about 700m. It looked like more exploring was waiting for us up there:
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The Cairngorms panorama, Bynack More and Cairn Gorm the most obvious, and the northern shoulder of Beinn a'Bhuird in the foreground:
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View back to Stob Bac an Fhurain from near the summit tors:
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The first summit tor, at 1136m, was easy to scramble onto:
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...and we took another 10 or 15 minutes of fun and games here, but the ultimate summit looked even more interesting:
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Another 10 minutes later, on the very top of Ben Avon (Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe) I was celebrating my 176th Munro. Kevin was on his 191, but because we only had one camera, he wouldn't let me photograph him :roll:
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We were lucky to snap some photos of the tors only - just after we scrambled down, other walkers began to arrive, some from the other side, some catching up with us. All right, they might have been faster, but we had more fun on the tors and our explorations were far from over! :mrgreen:
The tors before the invasion:
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One more tor sculpture, I called "Sad baldie and a dog":
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Beinn a'Bhuird:
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Zoom to Lochnagar:
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it was still a bit windy, so we found a sheltered spot amongst the boulders and sat down to rest and have lunch. High cloud was passing over and the temperature felt more like autumn, but generally, conditions were not too bad :D
For most walkers, the return route would simply mean retracing steps on obvious paths. For us, it meant more detours and more posing with tors! Like this one, at 1147m near the true summit, which is not named on the map:
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On the way back, we almost stepped on a family of ptarmigans - mommy and three young chicks. The kids scattered around so fast, that we had no chance for a photo. Mum circled us, pretending to have a broken wing (they do that to distract the predators from chasing the young ones), but because we were not interested in catching her, either, she soon ignored us and run after her babies :D Good luck, feathery friend!
No chance for a ptarmigan video, let's film the tors :lol:
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Weather began to improve again as we walked past West Meur Gorm Crag, and I reminded Kevin about our earlier idea to pop in to East Meur Gorm - he was all for it! But it was me who reached the rocks first and got all paws in it! :lol: :lol:
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EMGC is a fantastic rocky ridge with lots of boulders to climb over. I felt like a kid in a playground and couldn't get enough of it! A few photos just to prove the point - it's worth to spend more time on a mountain rather than rush up and down! Especially in case of Avon. I'm really glad we picked Tomintoul approach, it gave us a chance to visit all these playgrounds en route :D
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Looking south along the ridge:
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Looking north:
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Ready for more fun!
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On top of a naughty rock :wink:
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This one I called "Horse head", Stob Bac an Fhurain in the background:
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Every tor had to be photographed and investigated :lol: We took the full advantage of improving weather - the cloud has passed and the sun was shining nicely - summer at last!
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Watch where you're going...
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The lower top (906m) and view north, with the characteristic shape of Ben Rinnes on the horizon:
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Eventually, Kevin dragged me down to the ground, otherwise I would have played with those rocks forever! We had a quick snack and set off to descend to Glen Avon, which came without any nasty surprises. We enjoyed lovely weather for the rest of the day:
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Back in the saddles, we took about an hour to cycle back to Delnabo car park. It's such a nice place, Glen Avon, that speeding through it without slowing down to enjoy the views should be rendered a criminal offence!

It was, without a doubt, one of the best days on the hills in 2015 so far. I must highly recommend doing Ben Avon from this side (if you don't mind cycling). The tor lurking is really worth the effort, and the view down to Lochan nan Gabhar is breathtaking.

Our summer hols might have been a bit disappointing Munro-wise. We only bagged 6 M's in two weeks, but that due to poor weather. On the other hand, we also climbed 4 Corbetts and 4 Grahams, so it wasn't too bad after all.

I still have three TR's to write from July, the first one includes some underrated Corbetts of Braemar area. So the story is not over yet :D
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BlackPanther
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Re: Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Postby jmarkb » Wed Jul 29, 2015 7:20 pm

Thanks for posting! Looks great, definitely on my to-do list.... :)
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Re: Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Postby Scotjamie » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:47 pm

Excellent tor bagging and great photos. I love Glen Avon so makes sense to follow your advice as soon as I get the chance.
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Re: Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Postby spiderwebb » Thu Jul 30, 2015 6:43 am

Lovely report and photos BP, it is indeed a mountain as with most of the Cairngorms that needs to be explored. Love those Tors :D
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Re: Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Postby basscadet » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:50 am

Looked brilliant :) I was admiring Ben Avon from this side just recently, and boy did it look good 8)
My exploration of the tors left me with a broken foot, so caution folks! :lol:
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Re: Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Postby dav2930 » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:06 pm

Looks a really interesting way up Beinn Avon - and what a great idea to devote some time to exploring all those fascinating tors. (8.5 hours seems an awfully good time for all that distance and exploration!) :clap: Coming up from the south it was the usual Keiloch route for me. Taking in Beinn a' Bhuird as well, the only tor I scrambled up was the summit. I thought that was rather exposed, so I would certainly heed Basscadet's cautionary note: - ouch! A broken foot up there sounds pretty serious!! :shock: .
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Re: Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:22 am

Thanks everybody :D I hoped to advertise this route up Avon as an alternative to Keiloch approach - it's longer, but the tors are the highlight of the traverse :D

We saw other walkers who had come from Tomintoul side, too, speeding past us on the way back, they must have finished the walk in 7 hours or less, but in my humble opinion... Isn't that missing the whole point of hillwalking? Shouldn't we enjoy the mountain to the full? If it means staying up there for longer, so be it!

Speaking of accidents, I fell off my bike last Thursday, was scratched and bruised all over, but it didn't stop me from adding 2 more Corbetts to my tally three days later... This is called mountain madness - and I'm a lost case... :wink:
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Re: Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Postby holtlynx » Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:04 pm

Just like to say this is a great report which encouraged me to gt on with what I had already been planning. To anyone considering Ben Avon (and indeed Beinn a Bhuird), I agree with you; this is a far better route than the slog in from Slugain. I went in the same way as you but went on to Beinn a Bhuird and then out over the northern spur of Stob an t-Sluichd, down into the glen and a simply gorgeous walk out back to the bike along the River Avon, looking back up the Slochd Mor to the northern slopes of Ben Avon, a view few will see. And by the way if you think the tors on Ben Avon are wild, the rocks on Stob an t- Sluichd make them look as regular as Lego blocks by comparison; just the wildest shapes. No pics, I'm afraid; phone out of juice. but thanks for yours; lovely. Robert DS.
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Re: Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Aug 25, 2015 10:48 am

holtlynx wrote:Just like to say this is a great report which encouraged me to gt on with what I had already been planning. To anyone considering Ben Avon (and indeed Beinn a Bhuird), I agree with you; this is a far better route than the slog in from Slugain. I went in the same way as you but went on to Beinn a Bhuird and then out over the northern spur of Stob an t-Sluichd, down into the glen and a simply gorgeous walk out back to the bike along the River Avon, looking back up the Slochd Mor to the northern slopes of Ben Avon, a view few will see. And by the way if you think the tors on Ben Avon are wild, the rocks on Stob an t- Sluichd make them look as regular as Lego blocks by comparison; just the wildest shapes. No pics, I'm afraid; phone out of juice. but thanks for yours; lovely. Robert DS.


Merci beaucoup :D Always nice to know my story was an inspiration.

Accidentally, I have recently talked to Kevin's parents, who are both Munro compleatists, and they did exactly the route you describe, taking in both summits and returning along upper Glen Avon. Sadly, they didn't get any views as the day was cloudy. We didn't consider adding BB simply because we had already bagged it from the other side (we camped near Breamar). The time we spared was used to do even more tor explorations :lol:

As I mentioned in my other posts, we'll be off the hills for at least the whole September due to Kevin's back injury, which looks serious and I will not let him push it too hard at the moment! Instead of mountains, we will now visit castles, gardens and other local attractions. Last Saturday we went to Highland Widlife Park, a different kind of entertaining but well worth the day.
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Re: Tora-tora! Ben Avon from Tomintoul

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Jul 23, 2016 2:00 pm

Great report and great hill: if your'e a biker this is by far the best way up - bit long all on foot - but the people who just rush up from The Sneck miss out to a huge degree
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