Two Ronnies and the Foss Mine

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Attachment(s) Corbetts: Farragon Hill, Meall Tairneachan
Date walked: 29/03/2019
Distance: 17.15km
Ascent: 878m
Views: 13

Back in the Game

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Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Klibreck
Date walked: 26/02/2019
Distance: 14.25km
Ascent: 930m
Views: 13

Lochnagar repeat

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Attachment(s) Munros: Lochnagar
Date walked: 21/09/2018
Distance: 19km
Ascent: 930m
Views: 7

Auchnafree Hill while holidaying in Crief

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Corbetts: Auchnafree Hill
Date walked: 05/09/2018
Distance: 13.5km
Ascent: 623m
Views: 7

Vrackie with Ewan and Ally

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Attachment(s) Corbetts: Ben Vrackie
Date walked: 08/08/2018
Distance: 10km
Ascent: 787m
Views: 8

End of a lovely week

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Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn nan Aighenan, Ben Starav, Glas Bheinn Mhor
Date walked: 06/10/2017
Distance: 20.4km
Ascent: 1964m
Views: 8

A walk i spent more time stationary than i did moving

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Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Tulaichean, Cruach Ardrain
Date walked: 05/10/2017
Distance: 12.5km
Ascent: 1019m
Views: 10

A long way back

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Attachment(s) Munros: An Socach (Affric), Mullach nan Dheiragain, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan
Date walked: 09/09/2017
Distance: 50.69km
Ascent: 2300m
Views: 186

Horseshoe of Beauty

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Attachment(s) Munros: Sgorr Dhearg (Beinn a'Bheithir), Sgorr Dhonuill (Beinn a'Bheithir)
Date walked: 20/08/2017
Distance: 20km
Ascent: 1326m
Views: 159

Under Ben Alder

Munros: Beinn Bheoil, Ben Alder

Date walked: 15/08/2017

Distance: 46.2km

Ascent: 1830m

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.

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.

Meall Chuaich over the dogs right shoulders

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.

Rain showers towards Ben Alder


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.

Dad coming over the bridge

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.

The famous Culra Bothy

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:

Loch Pattock colours

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.

Dad topping out of the Leaches

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.

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.

Ben Alder summit cairn and Trig

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. :?

The bealach 833m


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.

Bheoil Munro top

The fairy hill of the Caledonians - Sìdh Chailleann

Bheoil Summit

The Way Back

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.

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.

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Comments: 5


User avatar
Location: Aberdeenshire
Interests: Hillwalking, Books, films, wildlife, Football (Following the Dons now my football career is over), Family & Friends, My Dogs
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: A nice dram
Mountain: The Matterhorn
Place: Home
Gear: Meindl Bhutan Boots
Ideal day out: Any day out walking with my two Springer Spaniels, preferably on the hill but enjoy taking them to the park with a tennis ball too
Ambition: Compleat

Munros: 229
Corbetts: 26
Grahams: 3
Wainwrights: 1
Hewitts: 2
Sub 2000: 5

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Joined: Sep 17, 2013
Last visited: Apr 25, 2019
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