Monday, 19 August 2013

Alder Munros, August'13

Manny was leading a bespoke trip into the Ben Alder area, objective : do all 6 Munros in the day starting and finishing from Dalwhinnie ! No lazy day or comfortable overnight at Culra ! Here's his tale of the trip.

Rich and myself biked ten miles into this famous and remote estate from Dalwhinnie. The early morning looked promising with sunshine and well broken clouds. The legs were waking up nicely by the time Loch Pattack, then Culra bothy were reached, the few inhabitants from within already moving out & about and the splendid view across to Ben Alder tempting us to go that way first , but glad we didn’t. Our initial steep slog directly up the side of Carn Dearg in sun and warmth, was tempered just before the summit by thick cold mist rolling in on a north-ish wind – unfortunate timing!

We managed only a few glimpses of the dramatic deep corries and lochans as we continued along what is usually a fine ridge walk in clear weather. We were making good time with a steady pace and we soon covered the featureless grass to Geal-charn, the steep climb up Aonach Beag and finally the narrowest section along to lovely Beinn Eibhinn. The mist played tricks on the eyes here with the two distinctive points above Lochan a’Charra Mhoir both appearing to be higher than one another, but we covered both in any case!

We were both getting a bit cold in the wind and it was a relief to drop off SW and below the mist, and as we did the sun appeared and the clag started to break up, soon having us peeling off a few layers! A shame to have missed the terrific views of the ridge behind us, but we could see that Ben Alder lay perfectly clear in front of us – the jewel in the crown!

We climbed steadily up the steep side and crossed the Bealach Dubh stalkers path, onto the grassy expanse of Alder’s north flank, spotting frogs, newts and a billion Blaeberries as we went. It was much warmer now and we strolled across the grass to the final rocky summit, delighted to be well rewarded for our patience in the mist this morning. We lingered for a good bite to eat and photos on top before making a bid for our final goal, Beinn Bheoil. A few miles and one last climb and we breezed over the top, being watched by many ruddy Red Deer, perhaps now getting nervous of the time of year?
It was an easy walk back to Culra, and had a quick blether with a pair of resident old codgers munching their dinner, before we started the long bike out. The views into sublime Ben Alder Lodge gave rise to dreamy discussions of what to do with such wealth, invites for a cup of tea perhaps, or maybe even “The house is stuffed with Swedish girls”… our blood sugar must have been low by this point!

A grand day out indeed, with fine views, six Munros and fine craic with Rich all day long.