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Scotland: Ben Alder Group – a tale of two breakfasts

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Scotland: Ben Alder Group – a tale of two breakfasts

Postby edhyatt » Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:31 am

Ben Alder Group – a tale of two breakfasts

Date: May 2010

Hills: Ben Alder group

Who: me

Weather: Mostly dry, light rain, bright sun, a little snow, cold winds

Time: 20 hours

Distance: 24km + 22km + 14km

Ascent: 1100m + 1400m + 200m


A pre-dawn alarm has been aided by sundry groups of early-morning students trolling down the road. So coffee…then breakfast and the requisite latte for the incumbent. A shower. A taxi. The train.

Fruit and yoghurt. Espresso at Edinburgh.

At Perth the story begins; breakfast....

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Think oil and grease - then fry it and you will be close; everything I squeeze with my fork oozes, the potato cake, the hash brown, the unfamiliar square sort-of-sausage thing. I won’t eat again until I am on the first top some seven hours, 12 miles and another train journey away. I’ll die relatively young if I indulge in this sort of a feed too often.

Later and the sun is trying its best and mostly winning along the loch side path to Ben Alder Lodge; the preliminary lodgettes are pretty indeed, looking freshly hewn as I later discover they are. The going is far nicer than I expected and time passes quickly, the occasional glimpses of distant hills adding a little clip to my pace.

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Once the track is forsaken the group of long-contemplated hills hove’s into view – it looks a long way away and rather fine with snow-rimed edges picking out the topography; more importantly my inner-coward is happy to see no real cover on the ridge I intend descending the next day – just as well as my snow hardware is resident in Newcastle.

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Just before the emerald green greenness of Culra bothy I stash some food for tomorrow night. Hoping I will actually find my way off the plateau in order to retrieve it; evidently I have and did.

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The sun – have I mentioned the sun? – is beating down as I turn off the path to Loch a’ Bhealaich Bheithe and up onto the Northern spur of Beinn Bheoil. I only get slightly lost on the way and squelch happily through a mossy bog for a couple of hundred metres before the true way is regained.

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It is about 17:00 and the evening has turned soft and mellow – the sort of time you often want to be walking a high ridge on your own; a few tents down at the lochan are distant company.

A day is called at Bealach Breabag and my ideas for a summit pitch on Ben Alder end with that decision…it feels like enough. Supper is taken in the tent porch as a keen (bloody freezing) wind carrying brief snow flurries has picked up and is scouring the pass.

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My veranda faces onto the Southern tip of Loch Ericht and over Rannoch to distant hills, the names of which I have not a single clue.

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It is a cold enough night that leaves me regretting a decision to switch to my shoulder season bag, but at least the down jacket which went on around 03:00 is not languishing at home.

Icy water from the platy turns itself into acceptable coffee courtesy of free Starbucks Via (sponsored link) samples; yesterday’s breakfast would be most welcome at this point. The mists are swirling as a circuitous (some might say tortuous) way is made up to the summit of Ben Alder….I think…not that I could see anything apart from mysterious corries, rotting cornices and swirling fog as I traversed what I took to be the rim of the hill.

Decaying old relic well past its prime. And a trig point.

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Somehow I need to join the ridge upon which sits Beinn Eibhinn; the direct approach seems best and so due West from the summit is the way to go. Sod’s Law dictates that a few moments after I leave the Ben Alder summit the cloud scurries away and bright sunshine takes over. Ho hum.
Anyway, I am rambling across the plateau on still crunchy snow.

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And we can see how good my navigation is…

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The descent is quite steep at times and I am aiming for a small lochan at NN 46686 72372 near the head of Uisge Labhair. Breakfast seems like both a good idea and a fine excuse to stop for a bit. Squished Shredded Wheat (a mere eight) with whole milk and carbo powder is almost palatable if somewhat sandy thanks to the Palatinose. Some time is taken eating this lot, time spent in an unhealthy contemplation of the ascent of the flank of Beinn Eibhinn. It looks a mite tough.

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A little respite is taken snapping other very distantly toiling compatriots…

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Quite some time later I almost bestow a Papal kiss of relief on the crest of the ridge as I reach it.

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The rucksack is dumped (but not the GPS logger – that would be a step too far) and I scamper on jelly legs along West to the summit of Beinn Eibhinn, then head back to chat to a group which has just traversed the tops from the other direction. It transpires that they were the tents I had seen yesterday – and that their water bottles froze solid overnight.

Time sort of slips away then as amidst spells of sunshine, flurries of snow, handfuls of trail-mix, and a mite of stinging rain as the roller-coaster of tops unravels North-East over Aonach Beag and Geal-Charn. A fellow walker kindly shoots me (you wish) on the descent towards Aisre Ghobhainn – about which I had some concerns were it under snow. It isn’t and the path down is clear and airy.

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Looking up past the walker just left of centre the path runs just to the left of the snow.

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The way reverts to rolliness on the final pull up to Carn Dearg where I shuck the sack and scramble to the top chest bursting with boyish pride….only to see the other top; instant deflation. It is a slag-heap of a summit.

I am kind of tired now – the going has been harder than I imagined on sometimes pathless terrain (it would seem churlish to blame it on my legs or inability to navigate well) and after descending to Coire Odhar I hang a sharp right, squelch a bit then enter free-fall in a direct drop to the bridge over the Allt a’ Chaoil-reidhe just down the valley from the bothy.

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Clutching my retrieved and happily intact food-drop I have a nose around the bothy for a bit, timing my arrival with that of a group of seven who have just arrived with coal, whisky, and a mountain of food. A real seat is nice. An offered chocolate bar nicer.

Such luxury weakens the spirit however – and so I wend my lonesome way back down the valley, with only a few wistful glances back to the promised revelry, the warmth of companionship…that sort of thing…

A pitch bathed in sunlight and just a few steps from the gurgling chatterbox of the Allt a’ Chaoil-reidhe means that I won’t be lonely tonight though.

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The wind is quite keen, but shielded in the tent with the lee door open it almost feels like the summer has arrived. Although once out there the chill soon bites.

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Another pasta special is consumed with the hills and bothy forming a fine backdrop to my repast.

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I blink awake at about 04:00 as it gets light and languish for a while before setting out in inconspicuous ninja-style attire into the freezing pre-dawn. It is difficult to walk off the cold and I am wrapped up until I reach the Alder Estate Offices by which time the sun is beginning to do some work.

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And joy be, there is a café at Dalwhinnie.

A full breakfast arrives and eyes widen, arteries close.

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edhyatt
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Re: Scotland: Ben Alder Group – a tale of two breakfasts

Postby rlown » Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:38 am

=D>

Very nice, other than your breakfasts :D

I love tales from beyond as well, so that was very refreshing.

Thanks for sharing,

Russ
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Re: Scotland: Ben Alder Group – a tale of two breakfasts

Postby edhyatt » Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:49 am

Be careful what you wish for....I've another thirty or so I can load up :whistle:
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Re: Scotland: Ben Alder Group – a tale of two breakfasts

Postby rlown » Thu Nov 26, 2015 12:28 pm

Bring'em in, Ed.. This is the slow season on this forum, and we like to read as the snow falls :) or as the drought continues :(

We absolutely love to read everything!!
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