Alder bike-n-hike

Alder Munros by bike and foot, 30 April - 2 May

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. Mid week on Ben Alder and neighbouring Munros Richard Kermode was leading.

Alder Munros by bike and foot

I met up at Dalwhinnie with Julia and Nigel to cycle in to Ben Alder as well as David who would join us first thing in the morning for the first full day on the hills. We set off in a light drizzle though it didn't last too long and we flew in with Nigel and myself chasing Julia who was on a speedy electric MTB. As we turned of the Loch Pattack track to head towards Culra we met the estate ponies looking for some food as well as getting our first good views to the planned summits for the trip. Once we'd set up the camp and gone through a wee leave no trace chat we settled down for dinner and an early night as the rain came on lightly.

It was a beautiful morning as we woke up and enjoyed breakfast spotting the speeding David cycling towards us. After another coffee and getting his tent installed at the camp the hills were calling as we set off up the steep climb to Carn Dearg.

There was a thin mist swirling on the tops slowly and gaps with bright sunshine it was an atmospheric start that's for sure. As we made the ridgeline up to the summit it felt much colder in the wind and at the top the views didn't quite clear for us. However as we made our way over towards Geal Charn and it's dramatic northeastern corries we got glimpses of the snow banks clinging on as well as the water filled gullies. By the time we had reached the grassy plateau and gone to the fantastic stream for food and to top up our drinking water we had views and hey we're improving all the time with Carn Dearg now clear and the Drumochter hills beyond. A short walk took up to the summit of Geal Charn and a pleasant stop at the top with photos in all directions the mountains were all coming out to say hello.

It didn't take us long to cross the ridge to Aonach Beag and our third Munro of the day though we did stop to enjoy the glorious purple saxifrage all over its lower slopes! The weather forecast had suggested rain in the afternoon so we didn't linger too long and were soon sitting on the top of Beinn Eibhinn for a second lunch enjoying views towards Ben Nevis, Loch Ossian, Glencoe, the Crianlarich Hills, Ben Lawers, Schiehalliion and many other peaks and Lochs.

We headed down the slopes into the Glen and back through the beallach Dubh to return to our camp. We made excellent time and shortly after our evening meal the rain and wind arrived it was into the tents for the night.

Our second mountain day saw Scott cycling in to join us for the day and the morning was lovely, bright and cool. We set off promptly with more weather due in the afternoon of clouds, drizzle and snow possibly?! It didn't take us long to get to the bottom of the long Leachas ridge and we weaved our way up through the broken ground and scrambled into the wonderful ridge that leads into the plateau of Ben Alder. The views back were stunning and we couldn't believe how good the weather was.

On we went as we decided to press on to the top of Ben Alder for an early lunch and the views even surpassed yesterday as we relaxed on the summit. As we looked northeast the wall of weather was visibly moving our way albeit slowly. The route round the plateau rim and then down the broken slopes to the bealach were we were planning to top up our water all went well and only as we stopped did the rain finally catch us and even then not for long as it transpired.

Now on waterproofs we climbed up onto the ridge to Beinn Bheoil and found some shelter from the cold wind for another food and drink stop before walking on to the summit. The best thing was that after some snow and sleet the rain was off and we walked all the way back down to the tents in relatively pleasant weather.

Everyone set off once they were ready and packed up so we cycled back in a scattered formation with me at the rear. Alas the rain was on for most of the au back out to the cars, but we all made it safely and finished a classic and fun adventure in the Ben Alder Hills.

More photos by Richard Kermode and Julia Gow are here on Flickr.

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