Ben Avon – aborted high camp. August 2009

Date: Saturday 8th August 2009
Distance: 36km
Ascent: 1400m

This is another report where the cameras were in protective custody for much of the walk – so I’ve added in some previous photos from similar spots.

Saturday – the forecast looked glorious – sunshine and low winds – wild-camping weather. The east looked best so we dusted off the potential wild camp folder and pointed to Ben Avon.

Last time we did this was April 06 – still a lot of snow around and we went in and out via Glean an t-Slugain with a camp on Quoich Water.

We’d commented on our “Good Hare Day “ on Carn Liath that the track out to Carn Liath/Culardoch would make an interesting approach to Ben Avon – thought we’d give it a go.

Friday night and Heather wi’ t’ Weather says “collapsing frontal system” – this does not bode well for the sunhats 😕

Saturday – nice morning – checked MWIS print offs in Braemar – still promising but risk of heavy showers – what the hell.

Kicked off from Invercauld Estate car park – £2.50 per visit.

Tarmac road runs about 1.5km to Invercauld House. Just before this an estate track cuts off to the right (N) running through pine woods to Carn Liath and Culardoch.

The estate are feeding up lots of pheasants.

Quite a few Scotch Argus butterflies too:

This is a nice walk – mix of wooded then open heather. As it opens up nice views of the Dee valley W of Braemar.

And up to Carn Liath:

Dragonflies:

Good cowberry crop and some blaeberries:

The track is excellent and leads quickly up to the bealach between Carn Liath and Culardoch.

Views back to Lochnagar:

same view from March 09:

From the bealach a little path drops 130m down into Glen Gairn.

There’s a bridge across the River Gairn at NO 172 999.

There’s a path running W along Glen Gairn here.

Grouse:

Noticed a wee brown thing on the grass as I walked by – a small adder!

My first sighting in 7 yrs – but too quick into the heather for my camera. 😦

The track up Allt an Eas Mhoir was tricky to pick up in the lower reaches but is easier further up.

Quite a nice coire here with a lot of red deer.

Clach Choutsaich from below.

Broke NW to climb onto the nose S of Stuc Garbh Mhor. Here it all went downhill. The cloud dropped and the rain swept in. Temps plummeted and I was wishfully thinking of fleece leggings.

Out with the lightweight waterproofs for a decent field trial.

The plan had been for a sunny tour of the tors round from Stuc Garbh Mhor to Leabaidh an Diamh Buidhe. Instead it was mist and rain.

Dramatic though with black tors suddenly looming out of the mist.

Scrambled up the tors we passed except Clach Choutsaich – couldn’t find an easy way up in the wet.

The tors are impressive and some of the erosion cups worn in are a delight to see.

The tors of the ascent route from Leabaidh an Diamh Buidhe 04/06:

Scrambled up both towers of Leabaidh an Diamh Buidhe – horizontal rain by this point.

An easy walk down to the Sneck from here – limited views of the cliffs of Beinn a Bhuird.

View back to Leabaidh an Diamh Buidhe 04/06:

The Sneck from Ben Avon 04/06:

Had thought to camp near Cnap a Chleirich – thought dawn should illuminate the Beinn a Bhuird cliffs but with cloud rain and 30mph winds decided against.

Took the glen path down from the Sneck to Clach a Cleirich and then back to Quoich Water.

Beinn a Bhuird cliffs from Clach a Chleirich 04/06:

A’Chioch from track to Gleann Slugain 04/06:

Bhuird and Avon pano:

Then the weather gods blew us a raspberry as the clouds lifted a bit and the wind died. We’ve been out in this area before in August with dim lighting and no wind. Midge storm. The kind that your hands have about 50 of the wee sods within a few secs of stopping.

Despite about 24km with the camping gear we felt quite good – 2hrs to sunset and about 8km to the car. Couldn’t be a**ed with the midge so struck back for Keiloch down Glean an t-Slugain.

Again – the track is good and fast progress made. At around dusk near to the Invercauld Estate I saw a stocky cat with a thick tail slink off the track – wildcat? Possibly – nice to think so.

Back to the car at 2115 – drove home.

This is a nice loop – very little extra compared with the out and back Slugain route with the advantage of a tour of a few of the tors. The fact we managed over the whole route with our camping gear is a testament to the ease of terrain. Might repeat this with a good forecast.

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