Date: Saturday – Sunday 16th-17th April 2011
Distance: Sat – 19km + 2km wandering. Sun – 18km
Ascent: Sat – 1100m + 300m wandering. Sun – 550m
A fabulous forecast for the weekend had gone off a wee bit with a prediction of a cloudy Saturday. Best weather east had us dusting off the nearest thing we have to a bogey hill.
We’d fancied a wild camp on Ben Avon for a while but 3 previous attempts had faltered – one abandoned due to weather, one altered to a high Beinn a Bhuird camp.
The last had seen us start this route from Cock Bridge 6 weeks before but a not fully healed twisted ankle had protested at the heavy packs so we retreated after 1 hour.
Left Braemar at 0900 – an overcast day. Parked at Cock Bridge – there is a car park at Corgarff Castle.
A cold wind was blowing from the west. Set off on the track to Inchrory with a degree of trepidation – 4th time lucky?
The glen would have benefitted from some sunshine – it looked better in february. Still the oystercatchers and Peewits were entertaining. These hills must be resplendent in August with the heather bloom.
Great to watch 4 Ring Ouzels competing for territory – normally very shy we got quite a good look. Great to see the summer migrants back.
Followed the track south 600m to cross the bridge over Builg Burn. Sat for a while having a snack here. Ravens were nesting on the cliffs opposite and a few ouzels were singing. Quite a nice spot.
The next 3km does most of the climb – a track runs up to Carn Fiaclach and then on up to Meall Gaineimh. A couple passed us to pick up some bikes at the foot of the hill. It was still fairly overcast and cool at that point.
Rather than climbing to the top of Meall Gaineimh we wandered out to Clach Ban – a very complex large tor. Some huge cups carved into this one.
I’ve read that the pool in the Clach Ban (Woman’s Stone) was visited by pregnant women to bathe in the pool there in the hope of an easier delivery. Not a bad effort to get up there frankly.
The day allowed plenty of time for diversions to tors – time was not an issue. Sat in warm sunshine on Big Brae and had a snack.
Spotted 2 Golden Eagles circling at altitude to the S. Long lazy circles at about 4000ft.
We’d had the whole length of Ben Avon to ourselves – now we started to see folk – a few kitted for camping and a number visiting the summit tor.
Looked out at 0300 – moonlight was patchy due to cloud. Should have got up but went back to sleep instead.
Woke to the Ptarmigan alarm clock at dawn.
Glorious weather – sunny, warm and only a light breeze. This is what we’re after.
The terrain remained good over Carn Drochaid to Carn Dearg – we dropped SE from the 772m point to take an easier descent line. An overgrown pony path led from some grouse butts at NJ 812 020 towards the lodge.
Had lunch at the lodge ruin – a very nice camping spot if needed.
From here we ascended the flanks of Brown Cow Hill. This is heathered and potentially hard work. We took the green line of an Allt for a way and then patches of heather burn.
Made a fairly direct ascent to the bealach between Meikle Geal Charn and Carn Sawvie. From there a track runs along the summit ridge to the other 2 summits.
Quite expansive views although impaired by the roundness of the hill.
From the summit headed NE towards Carn Oighreag. The peat hags were tiresome here – not good on tired legs.
Picked up the track south of Carn Oighreag to take us direct down to Cock Bridge and the car. An icy bottle of Bundaberg Lemon/Lime bitters went down very well.
Great to have finally camped on Ben Avon. Even better to have done the tour of the hill from the NE. A nice diversion to loop over Brown Cow Hill given the Cock Bridge start too.