Tuesday, 23 August 2011
A Wander Round Ben Avon
After the days in Edinburgh I felt a need for the quiet and solitude of the hills. The forecast suggested the best weather would be in the east so I decided on a trip to the Eastern Cairngorms – Ben Avon and Beinn a’Bhuird. This proved fortuitous as just hours before I set off I had a request to lead a walk up Ben Avon for the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Walking Festival in September (of which more in another post). Not having been on this hill for several years checking out the route would have been a good idea anyway. As it was I amended my plans to take in the route as suggested by the festival organisers.
Approaching Ben Avon from Tomintoul involves a 12km road walk along a private road up Glen Avon. A bicycle would be ideal for this section but my mountain bike having been neglected for the last few years I decided it wasn’t up to such a trip without a service so I opted to walk in. The evening light was soft with thin cloud cover through which the sun shone intermittently. The hills were purple with heather and the river shone as it twisted and turned through the glen. There was no traffic and the walk was relaxing and pleasant despite the road.
Eventually I came to the foot of Ben Avon and found a good camp site on its lowest flanks just above Glen Builg. A breeze had been blowing all evening but as I pitched the tent it dropped and the midges instantly appeared, forcing me to do the classic madman dance until I’d plastered myself with repellent. Once camp was established the breeze dropped and I was able to keep the tent doors open while I cooked and the sky darkened to blackness as the clouds thickened. There was hardly any sound; just the gentle swish of the wind in the grass.
Under a dark sky rippling with spreading clouds I left camp and climbed the very long north-east ridge of Ben Avon. The light was flat and dull, the air chill with hints of rain. The sky stayed overcast but the clouds remained above the tops and there were expansive if hazy views. Ben Avon is a strange hill, dotted with weirdly shaped granite tors. In this light it seemed grim and austere; a mountain of stone and coldness. Attractive, yes. Beautiful, no. From the summit I descended northwards over Stob Ban an Fhurain, past the impressive tors of Clach Bun Rudhtair and down into Glen Avon.
Back in camp the breeze dropped so the midges could make another attempt on my blood as I packed up the tent.
From the top the photos are:
A distant Ben Avon.
The camp in Glen Builg.
The River Avon just above Inchrory.
Clach Bun Rudhtair