Ben Alder Wild Camping weekend
Ben Alder wild camping weekend 17/19 May 2019
Ben Alder area is good for Munros as there are 6 in the area that make for 2 good days out, but there isn’t much else. So there were only 3 DHCers up for the weekend – Robert S, Alan, and Bob. An old school friend of Bob’s, Malcolm, also joined us for the weekend (“old” in this case means we started school on the same day together some 60 years ago !).
Friday was a nice day and Alan cycled in early to set up camp near Culra bothy, which is closed due to asbestos. Robert was next to arrive around 9pm and was treated to good views of the hills and a glorious sunset.
Ben Alder on the left and Carn Dearg on the right
Sunset over the campsite
Bob and Malcolm arrived just as the light faded. We just got off the bikes as the rain started, so some hurried putting up of tents followed. The rain continued all night.
Rain on a tent always sounds worse than it is, and it’s a real pain when it’s so loud you can’t sleep (thankfully I’d remembered to pack earplugs). The rain was still falling on Saturday morning so no one was pushing for an early start. Given the continuing rain and a sleepless night, Alan opted to bail out and head home for a long sleep. Robert, Malcolm and Bob set off straight up the hill behind the bothy to Carn Dearg. Given the continuing rain the intention was to carry on to the second Munro Geal Charn and then return to camp. However, when we got there we looked at the map and saw how close the next 2 Munros, Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn were so we carried on. We were also all wet through so couldn’t get any wetter.
The rain occasionally eased giving tantalising glimpses of the hills.
On the ridge. It’s stopped raining !
The return route drops down into the valley that heads to Corrour and Loch Ossian, then heads east over the col and back down to Culra. We were all soaked through when we arrived back at the tents so opted to cook in Culra bothy (officially closed, but doors not locked so still accessible). A change to dry clothes, food, some vino collapso rosso, and a dry bothy made a pleasant escape from the day’s rain.
The rain continued all night so little chance of drying boots or any clothes. The rain stopped for a while on Sunday morning, but Robert wasn’t enthusiastic for more suffering in the wet so headed home to dry out. Malcolm’s flight back to London was from Inverness on Sunday evening and festering in Inverness was to be avoided so Malcolm and Bob set off for Ben Alder via the Short Leachas and then on to Beinn Bheoil. There was the occasional shower, but the weather gradually improved as the day progressed so that by the time we did the final descent back to Culra the hills were in view.
Loch Ericht on the descent from Beinn Bheoil
The week before had been glorious weather, but unfortunately the rain made this a challenging but memorable weekend.