walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
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.

Under Ben Alder

Under Ben Alder


Postby Beaner001 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 11:02 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bheoil, Ben Alder

Date walked: 15/08/2017

Distance: 46.2 km

Ascent: 1830m

8 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Ever since I was a boy my ambition had been to climb the mighty Ben Alder- even before I had ambitions of climbing all the Munros. The further i get onto my journey the more i was beginning to think of giving it a shot. I sent a few feelers to my dad and we came up with a day during the week when we both had holidays from work. Tuesday the 15th August.

The Mighty Ben Alder lies in the Ben Alder Forest, this is where my Granda and his brother grew up, they worked for the estate before and after the War and gave a lot of their lives to the area. Johnny was a shepherd and game keeper on the estate (Latterly moving to Etteridge Farm on the A9 a few miles North of Dalwhinnie) and Granda worked as a forester and latterly on the launch up Loch Ericht where he drove the toffs on their wild goose chases after the red deer. He often told stories of the people that came from far to take pot shots at red deer knowing nothing of the land, they had only the sport and blood on their minds, more keen on the kill than the why. I guess the only thing that has changed is the hardiness of the people. Geez I miss them.

Dad and I had taken the bikes for the long haul in up the estate road along side Loch Ericht. As we were getting ready at the railway crossing at Dalwhinnie we got speaking to a local council worker that remembered the MacBean's and we were duly informed that there are now MacBean's in Aviemore not far from Boat of Garten where my Gran brought my dad up (she was a Cameron) so we come from fine ilk. The bikes made short work of the track, soon we were at the first of the estate buildings, a spectacular gatehouse.

IMG_6949.JPG
The gate house


The dogs were enjoying the trot along side the bikes, I had taken them out a few weekends in a row to get used to this and also get my bum used to the saddle. Dad, hadn't and he paid for it later in the day :lol:

We had to stop a few times to let the estate vehicles pass safely and to their credit they all said thanks and seemed very friendly. No lifts were offered though. We passed the next estate building and before we knew it we reached Ben Alder Lodge where we branched up to the right. I have to say I think the Swiss owner of the Estate - Urs Schwarzenbach has made a lovely job of the buildings and gates etc, he supposedly couldn't make his mind up and it all cost him a lot of dough to get right. Fair play, i think it fits very well with the area and think my ancestors would like what he's done.

IMG_6951.JPG
Meall Chuaich over the dogs right shoulders

IMG_6953.JPG
Breaking out of the Ben Alder Forest


Once past the buildings the track takes a steep climb out of the Ben Alder Forest and dog legs past Meall Beag and once at the top we got a good free wheel down to Loch Pattock. We passed the estates Garron Ponies as they grazed the marsh lands next to the loch. The Garron ponies are a hardy breed of pony used in the deer stalking as they can cover the rough hillside terrain that the deer are shot on. They take the deer back to the waiting vehicles now, in the past it was the launch that took them back down the Loch to Dalwhinnie and my Granda would have all the toffs at one side of the launch and the deer on the other, only in bad rain as it soaked the toffs and his excuse was he had to weigh up the boat. He really had no time for the arrogance of these people and what they stood for but he understood their value to the land and the area so he kept his thoughts to himself till his later days.

IMG_6956.JPG
Rain showers towards Ben Alder

IMG_6958.JPG
Zoomed


I ambled across the shoogly bridge first and while waiting for dad at the other side the dogs swam in the water, Roy nearly caught a Brown Trout, i am no fish expert so i am prepared to be corrected if it was not a brown trout. He let it go though.

IMG_6960.JPG
Dad coming over the bridge

IMG_6964.JPG
Alder Lancet Bothy


We continued along to the bridge and took a left over it to be at the opposite side of the Allt a' Chaoil-reidhe to continue along the bank.

IMG_6966.JPG
The famous Culra Bothy

IMG_6968.JPG
The heather slowly turning


We were heading for the Long Leaches. While on the path before we cut over to the Leaches Lochy went missing, I shouted for a minute on him and it was not like him to not return, all the while Roy was fussing over an area of the heather. I could not see over a slight brow of a hill and i thought he had gone off investigating, however as time went on he still did not return, I decided to break off the track and look at the area Roy was fussing over, I peeled back the heather and to my surprise there was a huge hole in the ground and right at the bottom was Lochy. I had to shout over to dad to come and hold my ankle while i reached down to grab his harness and pull him out. Now one of two things happened here, there was some sort of dead animal (dog or sheep) swallowed up in the mud at the bottom of the hole and he had gone in investigating or he had not noticed the hole as it was covered by heather and just fallen in. Either way if it was not for Roy fussing i doubt he'd have been found and he too like that other beast would have faced a long and lingering death at the bottom of that hole. It sometimes pays to take two dogs. :shock: (approx grid ref NN 51066 74416).

I washed Lochy in the nearby stream as he was caket in rotten mud. He duly stayed by my side for approx 5 minutes (the time it takes a Springer to forget how lucky they were). :lol:

IMG_6971.JPG
Loch Pattock colours

IMG_6973.JPG
Approaching the Long Leaches


We cut over towards the Long Leaches firstly taking about 30 mins to find a suitable and safe crossing point over the Allt a' Bhealaich Bheithe, it was in full spate after recent rains. I have since heard a few people have struggled with this water. We sat out a rain shower and continued onto the Leaches. It was easy to start with but we had to take care on the scrambly sections as the rock and grass was wet. We sat out another couple of showers and soon broke onto the start of the plateau.

IMG_6974.JPG
Dad topping out of the Leaches

IMG_6977.JPG
Looking up the plateau towards the short Leaches


The mist was low and we could not see our way forward towards the summit. We followed the ridge and the wind and rain battered us, however we soon came across the cairn at the top of the Short Leaches and knew to continue South before a slight south westerly direction toward the summit.

IMG_6979.JPG
Cairn of the Short Leaches ahead


The small shelter below the summit came into view which we investigated before we summited in the mist, it gave way slightly but nothing could take from our joy at getting onto this mighty mountain. We sat for a while in our thoughts, took on food and water before we continued along the plateau past the loch. The clouds broke and we got views towards Loch Ossian and also all the way down to the end of Loch Ericht at Dalwhinnie.

IMG_6981.JPG
Ben Alder summit cairn and Trig

IMG_6984.JPG
Rainbow over the distant Dalwhinnie


I later read the sad story of the young Frenchman that was found dead on the cliffs facing Loch a' Bhealaich Bheithe, he was unidentified for a while, his poor parents searching frantically for any trace of him. This made me think of my buddy Lewis whom we lost in August last year. He lay for weeks in a Berlin Morgue as he'd no identification on him, all we know is he had fallen to his death from a balcony, he went off the grid for many years and i can only guess the horrors of our pasts eventually caught up with him. Even though you don't see someone for years the loss is still strong when you spend so much of your young adult life with a close group. Many a dram was taken at his last jump. :?

IMG_6991.JPG
The bealach 833m

IMG_6985.JPG
Bheoil


The decent down to the bealach is a tough one, care had to be taken as there was no distinct path but we knew the height was around 833m meaning the re ascent was a breeze, we popped in by the Munro Top and then continued onto the Bheoil.

IMG_6992.JPG
Bheoil Munro top

IMG_6987.JPG
The fairy hill of the Caledonians - Sìdh Chailleann

IMG_6993.JPG
Bheoil Summit

IMG_6996.JPG
The Way Back

IMG_6997.JPG
Summit Bheoil



We noted that light would soon be giving to dark so we motored on as we wanted to be well on our way on the bikes by the time it be dark. Coming off the Bheoil i got a fantastic picture (in my mind) of the Mighty Alder as she eventually relented and gave us a full frontal :lol:

We raced down the last of the Bheoil making sure to keep the dogs at heal as we passed the place Lochy had fallen down and we stopped for some more water. Once on the bikes the torches were used and we cut across the rougher track to save some time and distance as due to the dark we'd not be cycling the dodgy track anyway. Once we rejoined the main track it was a free wheel all the way down to Ben Alder lodge. Dads arse was getting saddle sore so we had to stop a lot. The dogs still continued to pound along next to us, they never cease to amaze me with their endurance. I certainly felt the bikes made a hard day a lot easier, dad would have preferred to walk and take longer but I will be using the bike again.

IMG_7004.JPG
A parting gift from Alder


I could not have had a better day in the hills, we were back on the land of our people, we both certainly felt the tingle on the walk and it felt great knowing that another two MacBean's have set foot on the top of that fantastic mountain. I will certainly be returning one day with my son to do what me and my dad did, who knows it may become a tradition....

And lastly I come to the title, a fantastic poem written by Hamish Brown:

Under Ben Alder

I saw the stag fall,
Heard the shot
Tremble round these corries
Dusty with snow.
A grouse continued to gabble
And a trout held its position
In the peaty shadow pool,
A grey cloud chased a white cloud
In trivial pursuit,
A raven dipped a wing...
That was all the notice
The world took of a death
Under Ben Alder.
Would mine be more noticed?
I just hope to God
It will be as clean.
User avatar
Beaner001
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 743
Munros:234   Corbetts:26
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:5   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:1   
Joined: Sep 17, 2013
Location: Aberdeenshire

Re: Under Ben Alder

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:49 am

Very nice contemplative and evocative report of a truly fine area. The light in some of the pics is superb.

I was in this area 3 weeks ago, and was properly impressed. And also, as you were, moved to the contemplation of universal things - in my case, the demise of the Caledonian Forest, rather than my own demise ...

PS I agree completely on the benefits of a bike for routes like this, and have done many walk-bike routes. I find it's particularly useful if one is doing linear ridge routes.
User avatar
Alteknacker
Scrambler
 
Posts: 2736
Munros:167   Corbetts:29
Hewitts:205
Wainwrights:78   
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

Re: Under Ben Alder

Postby spiderwebb » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:28 am

Great evocative report there Matt, you didn't fancy my route then :lol:

I can sympathise with your dad on the bike, which is why mine is still in the garage unfixed from its last outing out of Blair Atholl, despite buying the most comfy saddle and wearing my old padded cycling shorts my a£$% just doesn't seem to fit now :lol:

So glad to see you found Lochy, a few nervous moments there I bet :( but as you say a few minutes and all forgotten, at least from the dogs perspective :D
User avatar
spiderwebb
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 1495
Munros:97   Corbetts:15
Grahams:3   Donalds:1
Hewitts:108
Wainwrights:68   
Joined: May 18, 2011
Location: Miltonduff, Elgin

Re: Under Ben Alder

Postby martin.h » Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:07 pm

Great report Matt, interesting and informative, when we get to do these mountains it'll be nice to follow in the footsteps of the family of someone I know.

I bet you were relieved that Lochy has Roy as his guardian angel, that was a close call, phew!!

We've just invested in some bikes to help with the long walk ins around the Cairngorms, not used them yet so the joy's of "saddle soreness" are still to be discovered, can't wait :lol:

We're up to Glen Shiel for the week next weekend, fingers crossed for an indian summer :D
Cheers.
User avatar
martin.h
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 509
Munros:206   Corbetts:17
Grahams:10   Donalds:7
Sub 2000:2   Hewitts:146
Wainwrights:214   Islands:19
Joined: Jul 31, 2011
Location: Halifax, West Yorkshire

Re: Under Ben Alder

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:25 pm

Beautiful report, with lots to think about - but that's part of the beauty of being out in our amazing landscape, really enjoyed reading this :clap: :clap: :clap: Lochy's adventure was truly scary, having once lost a dog on a cliff walk in the Western Isles it's not an experience I'd wish on anyone else, but all credit to Roy for calling mountain rescue :D . I've made our 2 aware of what they must do in similar circumstances :lol: :lol:

It's an amazing place to hail from, I've many happy memories of camping by the Culra Bothy in beautiful June weather many years ago :D Many thanks.
User avatar
Huff_n_Puff
Walker
 
Posts: 897
Munros:249   Corbetts:16
Grahams:8   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:18   Hewitts:4
Wainwrights:1   Islands:18
Joined: Apr 13, 2012

Re: Under Ben Alder

Postby Beaner001 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:31 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Very nice contemplative and evocative report of a truly fine area. The light in some of the pics is superb.

I was in this area 3 weeks ago, and was properly impressed. And also, as you were, moved to the contemplation of universal things - in my case, the demise of the Caledonian Forest, rather than my own demise ...

PS I agree completely on the benefits of a bike for routes like this, and have done many walk-bike routes. I find it's particularly useful if one is doing linear ridge routes.


Thanks, I use a very fine iPhone for my pics :lol: stand and snap and sometimes get lucky.
I have just read your report, wow thats an epic, very well done :clap:
Yep, the bike will be used again soon, dare I say it before the winter :shock:

spiderwebb wrote:Great evocative report there Matt, you didn't fancy my route then :lol:

I can sympathise with your dad on the bike, which is why mine is still in the garage unfixed from its last outing out of Blair Atholl, despite buying the most comfy saddle and wearing my old padded cycling shorts my a£$% just doesn't seem to fit now :lol:

So glad to see you found Lochy, a few nervous moments there I bet :( but as you say a few minutes and all forgotten, at least from the dogs perspective :D


Nope you can keep that route to yourself :lol:
Yes it was a hairy few minutes but I never really panicked too badly, not sure why not. He's a bugger, I was once walking them along the river and they both dissappeard into the bushes and when I went through they were right in the middle of a new gypsey site and being held by a guy, I thought oh no here's a fight to get them back but the guy was really nice, that was a missed heartbeat moment :shock:
Cheers

martin.h wrote:Great report Matt, interesting and informative, when we get to do these mountains it'll be nice to follow in the footsteps of the family of someone I know.

I bet you were relieved that Lochy has Roy as his guardian angel, that was a close call, phew!!

We've just invested in some bikes to help with the long walk ins around the Cairngorms, not used them yet so the joy's of "saddle soreness" are still to be discovered, can't wait :lol:

We're up to Glen Shiel for the week next weekend, fingers crossed for an indian summer :D
Cheers.


Hi bud, good to hear from you,
Sure was pleased to get him out of the hole, I was screaming at Roy to come back so he did not dissapear too but he would not leave that spot, good lad :clap:
The bikes are a great buy, you'll enjoy the free wheel out :lol:
Hope Glenshiel is nice for you both

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Beautiful report, with lots to think about - but that's part of the beauty of being out in our amazing landscape, really enjoyed reading this :clap: :clap: :clap: Lochy's adventure was truly scary, having once lost a dog on a cliff walk in the Western Isles it's not an experience I'd wish on anyone else, but all credit to Roy for calling mountain rescue :D . I've made our 2 aware of what they must do in similar circumstances :lol: :lol:

It's an amazing place to hail from, I've many happy memories of camping by the Culra Bothy in beautiful June weather many years ago :D Many thanks.


Gee thanks,
Yes I wish we could have camped and did the other four too but dad was back to work the following day :(
I hope we never have to experience anything like the cliff or the hole again but we can never say never being spaniel owners :lol: numpties
Thanks
Matt
User avatar
Beaner001
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 743
Munros:234   Corbetts:26
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:5   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:1   
Joined: Sep 17, 2013
Location: Aberdeenshire

8 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: DavidJB, frankie, marc_geurtsen, wolfie44 and 42 guests
cron