Sat 22nd Aug
Great day out in the mountains. 40km, 7.5 hours total time.
Ben Avon circuit, with a detour to Dubh Lochan, returning via Upper Glen Gairn. Great day, overcast but a nice 15 C with a southerly breeze to keep it fresh on top of the Torr.
Fantastic streams scenery, with them full after all the rain, tumbling waterfalls down every stream.
Saw 4 prize red deer stags close to Dubh Lochan, and a large herd on the southern skyline on way down to Glen Gairn (via Allt an Eas Mhoir). Also lots of Ptarmigan in their summer plumage on the high ground. Glad to have had the bike waiting for me on the descent.
Up to the Slugain ruin by bike until the track got a bit rough, then on foot through the narrow ravine. The weather was glorious, sunny and warm for the first time in ages, and a bit of a contrast to my trek up Lochnagar a couple of weeks ago. The last time I was here was about thirty-five years ago, en route to Beinn a’Bhuird and Ben Avon. Less birds at this time of the year so red grouse, meadow pipit, mallard, swallow, wren, chaffinch, goldcrest, crossbill, buzzard, raven and a green woodpecker, welcome as they have declined in the last few years. The warm weather also brought out dragonflies, adder, common lizard, and a variety of butterflies. A great day.
Something akin to Duncan’s long day out here, but in reverse. Biked in from Keiloch up Gleann an t’Slugain as far as the old ruin (cp 20). Then ran up to Dubh Lochan (cp19), on to the top of Ben Avon (cp21) coming back by Creag an Deal Bheag (cp22). Lots of new ground for me. Was hoping for a fine day but the cloud was down, visibility above 900m was dire and the wind was vicious on the tops. Very glad of map and compass, especially approaching the Sneck and dropping off the top of Ben Avon. Just started to relax with the latter when I came across some serious south facing snow fields, with the path / stream disappearing into them. Condition was poor for running shoes (hard-packed with melting surface), so had to contour / climb again to avoid. Eventually managed to get round the end and drop to my descent route along the stream side. Seemed a long way back to the bike from the top end of the Gairn.
Plenty of ptarmigan on the high ground and saw a green woodpecker in the forest on the way back.
I had a free day yesterday so under Andy’s instructions I did km intervals in the morning before going for a long walk with my Mum. We had planned to go up Derry Cairngorm but as the weather wasn’t great decided to stay out of the clouds and do a low level walk. We ended up starting at the Keiloch car park and walking up to the Slugain ruin and on through the upper reaches of the Gairn. Over the shoulder of Culardoch and back to Invercauld House. It was only when I was out for a jog round Loch Kinord this afternoon I thought about the challenge points and wondered if any were on our route. I was pleased to find I had got two without even trying. If I had checked the map before we set off I would have taken my Mum on a little detour to the fog house at Invercauld on our way back but will have to save that one for another day.
Following Duncan’s lead, we set out to try for the four Ben Avon points, albeit by a different route. Quite a challenge.
Parked at Braenaloin (Gairnshiel) and cycled up the Gairn to Loch Builg and turned left until we came to the old footbridge where we left the bikes. It was a straightforward cycle but into a headwind and conserving energy for the rest of the day, it took us about 1:45hrs.
From here there is an unmarked 4X4 track giving easy access towards Carn Drochaid.
A path, good at times, faint at times, leads on to Clach Choutsaich and the Ben Avon plateau. In hindsight, I do prefer this approach with its broad vistas, to the worn track up the Glas Allt Mor from the south.
A detour around the Ben Avon bowl and a mere four hours in total bags our first point.
Down by the Glas Allt Mor and leave the path at Clach a Cleirich to contour round to cp19 Dubh Lochan.
Continue south to NO116967 and a decision required as to whether to do an out and back to Slugain ruin or directly back to our bikes via upper Glen Gairn.
We were tired but decided four points are better than three. Easy jog down and back and then took stony track across to cp22.
Very glad to be back at our bikes about 8pm and the tailwind gave an easy one hour bike back to the car.
A very long but worthwhile day.
A long day in which was not clear wheter Gaba, one of our Dogs or myself were most tired. I was definately waiting for him on the way down and he ignored a large herd of deer croosing just in front of us. Training coming good? Well cycled up to Slugan Ruin, a regular jaunt on route to the many rock and ice venues on Beinn a’Bhuird. A short steep push then cycled on tp the substantial new drain. From there headed to new ground for me up To Creag an Dael Beag. a fine spot made supurb by an eagle. Steep scree was then followed up to the rifge over two Muntoe tops to the summit of Leabaidh an Dambh Bhuidhe. a fine summit with once again thick mist.
A good path leeds down and would normally take you back to the bikes. But the drive to tick cp19 led me to traverse horizontally SW, over several rivers to eventually get to Dubh Lochan, which memmory tells me is a fine situation but was struggling for motivation as not obvious which was best way and much much time was wasted.