Culra Bothy, and Aonach Beag (Alder) by bike and foot !

Route: Aonach Beag: Four Munros from Culra

Munros: Aonach Beag (Alder), Beinn Eibhinn, Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack), Geal-charn (Alder)

Date walked: 24/07/2017

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 20km

Ascent: 1085m

Each year I try and add something to my love of the hills, this year it was to be cycling, and wild-camping. The former I wasn't really concerned about, but the latter I was terrified of. I hadn't been on a bike for 16 years never mind ridden one with full camping gear for two hours plus. Anyway, I borrowed a bike and bought a second hand pannier in perpetration for two sunny days that were coming up.

I drove to Dalwhinnie unpacked my 'trusty stead' and headed to the level crossing full of expectation. ImageBike by Paul Goldie, on Flickr

After 100 meters of cycling my chain came off, and my pannier had snapped; I was not happy :crazy: Fortunately, I had bought some bungees which I used to lash everything to the rack, and the remaining pannier: i had come to far to give up at this stage!

The cycle took 2 hours and was pretty demanding. One of the reasons for finding it so tough was that I took the moorland path rather than the track going by Loch Pattack. This path which was not really suited to my bike, or skill level (I ended up pushing it for the last we bit). Anyway, the reward was immediate to my front was majestic Ben Alder and the Lancet Edge.
ImageIMG_2275 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
I found a nice spot and pitched my newly purchased Wild Country 2 tent in what can only be described as 'midge hell' conditions; I was being eaten alive. Therefore, after pitching the tent it was straight into the tent for the night which was a pity because it was such a gorgeous spot.

The next day I rose at 6 pm which I consider to be a good sleep, and prepared to set off for the day. At this stage I hadn't decided which walk to do but I researched Aonach Beg and Alder so I headed in the general direction via Culra Bothy. As many will know the Bothy is closed but I had a wee peak in as i had never been in one before. I only stayed a matter of seconds but it looked pretty smart. This could be next years addition to my love of the hills; staying in Bothies!
ImageIMG_2277 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
ImageIMG_2279 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr

I am not a 'bagger', and don't 'tick off' Munros' therefore, I decided that I would leave Carn Dearg and go up the Lancet Edge as it would give a more varied day, plus I like a bit of scrambling. There was no real track up to the start of Lancet Edge, and the going was tough because the flora and fauna were in full bloom.

Eventually the accent began. About 3/4 of the way up it gets pretty steep and the scrambling kicks in. It was really good going and involved lots of hand-on-rock, and using your whole of your body to ascend the steep craggy rocks.

ImageIMG_2281 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
ImageIMG_2287 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
ImageIMG_2289 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
ImageIMG_2291 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
I eventually reached the top and the views were stunning. You could see across to Ben Alder and across to Loch an Sgoir. It was so nice I decided to do a bit of mountain yoga :clap: , yes you read it correctly: mountain Yoga! My body is wrecked after 10 years in the forces, running, and mountain walking. So my thing is to stretch before, during, and after walks!

Anyway after 20 mins of Vinyasa Flow! I headed of to begin the ascent of Geal Charn, this was reached with ease from the Lancet Edge.
ImageIMG_2292 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
However, as I gradually went up the convex slope to the summit I thought that in poor conditions this peak could be a challenge to find. Then to my surprise, I woke an entire heard of deer who were sunbathing on the plateau. They really didn't expect to see me and they didn't want to move from their prime sunbathing spot.
ImageIMG_2294 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
ImageIMG_2296 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
After a bite to eat at the summit of Geal Charn, I set of along the long sweeping ridge towards Aonach Beag. The wind had picked up considerably at this point which was disappointing as it got in the way of my other hill 'vice': lying in the sun like an iguana :o . Image
The accent up Aonach Beag was fairly straight forward
IMG_2299 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
leaving just Beinn Eibhinn at 1102 meteres still to climb.
ImageIMG_2302 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
The views back across the route I had travelled were stunning, this walk really does give you a sense of remoteness that you get from few other hill (that i have completed anyway).
ImageIMG_2304 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
I could see across to Corrour really clearly now, and I thought that it would be great to do an overnight stop of between the two train stations one trip. ImageIMG_2305 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
Anyway I reached the summit of Beinn Eibhinn, and then headed back down to the Bealach between this peak and Aoanch Beg and headed down to Coire a Charra Bhig. Once I descended here the sun kicked in big time! it was like cooking a BBQ with a duffel coat on, totally scorching!
ImageIMG_2306 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
ImageIMG_2307 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
As I headed for Bealach Dubh the ground was really really tough going. I read somewhere that contouring the hill round and retaining height was the best way to proceed. However, as a soloist who is super conscious of not getting ankle injuries I ended up just descending into the the glen and reascending up onto the very good path that skirts NNW side of Ben Alder.
ImageIMG_2310 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
After reaching Bealach Dubh it was a straight forward but stunning walk back to my campsite. ImageIMG_2311 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr

Al in all it was a great experience. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will return to do Ben Alder from Culra because approaching this range from the west misses out the stunning Cliffs on the East side. ImageIMG_2280 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr
One final thing worth mentioning was the 'Indiana Jones' type experience I had gong across a rickety suspension bridge across the river on my return to Dalwhinnie. There were slats missing, and some serious creeks from the slats which remained.

ImageIMG_2315 by Paul Goldie, on Flickr

Overall a great wee trip in a stunning place!

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Activity: Munro compleatist

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Trips: 1
Distance: 20 km
Ascent: 1085m
Munros: 4

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Last visited: Oct 24, 2020
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