The glorious weather has even reached the Cairngorms so it was time to venture out on the High Tops. My previous activation of Beinn a’Bhuird (the Bh is pronounced as a V) was from Linn of Quoich and this time I planned to leave my car at Keilloch car park (£2.50 fee) NO188913 and cycle to Sluigan.
The cycle route in is initially on a private tarmac road, soon turning to gravel after Invercauld House and rapidly deteriorating after that to sharp stones and loose gravel. I had planned to leave the bike where the track definitely becomes a path NO136947 but eventually left it at the ruined lodge in the Sluigan NO119952 – this is accessed via the lower path closer to the burn. Walking out of the gorge leads onto a well made path (cycle able if you don’t mind the crossing ditches) which can be seen stretching for miles below the shoulder of Ben Avon and across the river from the corries of Beinn a’Bhuird. The long walk was quite pleasant, nobody around and the wind was just strong enough to keep the temperature acceptable. A short pull up a zig zag path leads to Clach a’Cleirich (the Clerks Stone) at NO114993. The easy part is now over. The route to the summit is straight up the ridge to the left; and it is steep! Once on the plateau it is simply a case of following your planned route to the summit; this is one of the most featureless of the Cairngorm summits and in poor visibility would challenge navigation abilities. In fine weather just head up and leftish to keep close to the corrie wall without giving yourself too much re-ascent (or falling over the edge if you get that close). The summit is marked by a large pile of stones and little else and the activation zone is probably enormous.
I set-up the mast in very gusty wind conditions (I guess gusting from zero to about 40mph) and put out a call on 60m Channel FE. John GW4BVE was straight back and gave me a reasonable if not spectacular report and then spotted me. I was then called by GW7AAV and by now I was suffering severe qrm from what I assume was fishfone on a close frequency but not resolvable. G4OBK then called me and we qsy’d to FM which Phil kindly announced on the spots page. This was a pleasantly quiet frequency; I should have smelt a rat! Three further qso’s with G8ADD, G0RQL (not as strong as usual) and G3OHC and that was that. The band died, the sky was broken and I got no further calls. Shifting to 40m and, if anything, matters were worse. Apart from the CW contest at the bottom end (too fast for me and without a decent filter on the FT817 not realistic to try to play at that end) there was hardly a signal to be heard. I did try a qso with PD4JP but could not raise him and then the mast collapsed for the second time! There was no way I could keep a beam in the air so I had a play on 2m FM with a couple of localish stations and then realised that to get home at a sensible hour I needed to leave.
My descent was by following the corrie edge to the South Top and then the ridge down into the glen. The path was quite small but easily followed once on the ridge and the only challenge left was the river crossing and the bike ride. Needless to say there was no dry way across the river so it was off with boots and socks, roll up the trousers and wade it – very pleasant. My day was completely made by the couple walking in who decided to try to cross without wading – suffice to say the he (longshanks) made it and that his, rather easy on the eye, partner did not – his lack of sympathy and assistance would not bode well for later that evening methinks!
The cycle out was uneventful, if slow to allow my Labrador to keep up (a 3 ½ year old), and I managed to make it home for 2100 and a pleasant dinner. For the statisticians amongst you: cycling 13Km and 270m of ascent, walking 19Km and 1012m of ascent – and the dog ran/walked it all, and some.
Thanks to the chasers for their assistance yet again