Reproduced from www.viewranger.com. Map data: Ordnance Survey ©Crown Copyright and/or database right 2016. License number 100043379.
|Follow N track through Bealach Breabag to Loch a Bealaich Bheithe, then follow E bank through Bealach Beithe towards Loch Pattack on E bank of Allt a Cahol-Reidhe. Continue NE to meet estate track at NN 548 786.Follow track to E towards Ben Alder Lodge where you then follow road NE by Loch Ericht. At head of Loch NN 6322 8444 follow SE path to pass under railway at Dalwhinnnie, Take right at roadway and cross to join foot path 100y to SE and join E bound track to follow aqueduct to NN 689 870 then E with river Allt Coire Chuaich as right handrail to camp at NN 701 885.|
|OS Landranger series maps: 42|
|Total Ascent: 941m|
|Total Descent: 791m|
|Max Elevation: 883m|
|Min Elevation: 357m|
So, today, if I am feeling fit, I will do a more challenging up and out from Ben Alder Cottage up through 450m of ascent Bealach Breabag where I will summit at 883m (2887ft) and then descend to around 700m to Loch a’ Bealaich Bheithe. This brings views of the NE facing flanks and cliffs of Ben Alder, rather than a more sedentary walk along the loch shore. If the weather isn’t great, there is the potential for snow.
Ben Alder is an amazing Mountain, 1148m at its summit, and with shielings all around its slopes. Many years ago, we booked into Loch Ossian YH, and took a couple of days away to do Ben Alder, We stayed in the bothy and headed up the hill the following morning on fresh legs. The breeze that day carried the sound of a child crying, and we deviated our route with our dogs to investigate, worried that someone had gotten in difficulty. On discovering around an hour or so later that it was a young deer bleating for its mother, we remained on the route we were now on, for our summit attempt. The smell of pipe smoke on the mountain told me I would hear of a death, Don’t ask, it just does. Soon after summitting we headed off back the way we came, but were distracted by the prolonged presence of an RAF Sea King Helicopter. We saw them often on mountain days, and cracked on.
We stayed again in the bothy and headed back to the hostel the following day to be met by Alan the warden and others asking if we had found the body! We had no idea what they were on about, but figured that was why the helicopter was out. Now, this was June 1995 and it transpires that in the snow melt on the NE face of the mountain, our original planned route, lay the body of a young Frenchman last been seen by his parents in August 1995, who, it was later revealed had died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. He had lain for many months on the mountain, undiscovered, , but preserved somewhat when the snow came. It took many years to identify him, and his death to this day remains mystery.
I am now walking through the Ben Alder Estate. As I follow the track down from the loch, I again pick up The Thieves’ Road, just before Culra, another bothy unfortunately closed due to asbestos in its construction. This area is referred to as Ben Alder Forest, which is funny, because there are few trees. Another example of retention of a name of a landscape feature now lost. The estate covers 60,000acres and offers luxury lodge accommodation at 5 locations on or near Loch Ericht. but Culdenfaw who own the estate do not seem to champion their stewardship of the land, just the luxury and opulence of the properties to rent.
Just before Loch Pattack, I turn east onto the estate road to Ben Alder Lodge, and still on The Thieves’ Road, follow the lochside to Dalwhinnie. At Dalwhinnie, I cross the boundary into Cairngorms National Park. I am now in around halfway, and my route is mostly territory I have never walked before. I might have a sherry in the hotel, but regardless will cross the A9 and follow an aqueduct to Loch Cuaich.
This is another hydro electric resource, its power station generating 2.5Mw of power. at the loch I will walk a little further and see shelter for the night a the head of Coire Chuaich, on the southern slopes of Meall Chuaich.
See you tomorrow.