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The trip from Loch Rannoch to Ben Alder is not a well used route as people prefer to head south from Dalwhinnie. However this is well worth it for the variation in scenery.
Cold, very cold, it was -8 at night!
Hazards and warnings
Bogs as you towards the Bothy. Possible deer in Autumn/ Winter
The route from Loch Rannoch to Ben alder is not an overly challenging route, but it allows you to go to some of Scotlands least visited beauty spots. The route takes you from the forestry track on the west end of Loch Rannoch, from here you simply follow the gravel track till you reach an area of forest with a large trailer outside of it. From here you have 2 choices. Follow the longer - but easier forestry track or take the shorter but slower moorland route around its eastern edge. Trust me take the forestry track it is a lot easier, and won't result in you getting covered in Mud - which is never a good thing 1 hour into a 2 day trip! Whichever route you take they both meet up soon after the forested area has finished, and it is a gentle stroll down to the shores of Benalder. When you get there you will be greeted by a rather large, shiny new building which will probably be all locked up. This is apparently a Hunting/ Fishing lodge for clients of the estate owner. After marveling at this wonder of modern technology you follow the path along the western edge of Loch Errict. The path slowly turns from Gravel track, to dirt track, to bog in the space of around 2 miles. It is possible however to use the beach for an easier time, but beware there are a few areas where you need to be on the path to proceed. Eventually you will see a pennisula with pine trees on it. The bothy is on the other side of this, which is a good thing. However the path also seems tyo disappear at this point which means you are travelling over grasslands for the last 1KM. When you get over the hill of the pennisula you should see the bothy, and the bridge which crosses the river. Beware this bridge is not for fait hearted and has a step of around 2-3ft. HAving stoppped at the bothy you can then make your way up the hill towards ther summit of Ben alder. The bets route is to follow the stream which heads North directly up the slope. This is a nasty climb and it will tire you out. When you reach the highest point of this slope you should have ben alder on the left and its sister peak on the right. Straight in front of you is Loch A Bhelaich Bheith.
It was the 29th of Decemeber and we set of from where we staying in Loch Rannoch at 8am in the Dark. When we arrived at the forestry track it was just starting to get light, and the temperature was dead on Freezing. We set off at a good pace up the track, and made good time till be reached the second forested area. We chose to take the route which went around the eastern side of the forest. This was fine at first but soon became a mix of bog and uneven ground which wasn't good on our ankles. We did have the pleasure of seeming a herd of Deer on top of the hill to the east and even merited being checked out by one of the lead stags. After what seemed like an age we re-joined the track. The walk along this part of the route is fantastic as it is mainly downhill, and brings you out at the shore of the Loch. When we arrived at the shore of the Loch we discovered the Hunting/ Shooting lodge mentioned in the description, which at the time seemed so out of place in somewhere that was so desolate. After spending around 5 minutes trying to work what was going with this building we set off towards the Bothy. Our original plan had been to climb Benalder on the first day and have a relaxing return journey on the second. Upon reaching the bothy after what was a long and muddy trek we discovered that there were two other inhabitants of the Bothy. And they were experienced - they had been doing it for 35 years!. They told us that we needed firewood as there wasn't a store. So begrudgingly we decided to leave the mountain for tommorow. In any case we would have scrambling back in the dark had we done it on the first day. After spedning what seemed like forever looking firewood we settled down in the bothy for the evening. I hadn't drunk enough water throughout the day and felt slightly dehydrated which mean that i wasn't really up for a late night. The fact we only had enough firewood to last until 10pm also compounded this decision. After what was a surprisingly good nights sleep (i had never used a sleeping bag in the winter) we arose to a beautiful day. After collecting water from the nearby stream (which was crystal clear) we made breakfast, packed our stuff and set out up ther mountain at about 10am. The climb up the hill took much longer than we expected as we were both tired from the day before and (i'm not a fit as i could be). We reached the top of the hill at around half eleven, and spent another half an hour trying decide whether we had time to climb to the summit. Sensibly we decided we didn't. After a rather unsuall call to 118 to try and get hold our lodge telephone number to check in (yes O2 got signal at the top of the hill!) we made our down the mountain. This not abad experience and apart from a few near misses we reached the bottom in good health. After restocking on the 'Mountain water' we headed back along the path. The walk back was fine, and it was made even better by the fact that a lot of the boggy areas were now frozen solid from the night before. After roughly 3 1/2 hours we returned back to the car with the last reminants of daylight on our side.
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