main route outline |
By car, Dalwhinnie is just off the A9, half way between Perth and Inverness. Alternatively arrive by train, all the way from Euston if you like !
Get to Dalwhinnie, drive up the road to towards the railway station, turning left just before it and continue along 'Alder Road' past some houses to the railway crossing where parking is available. Cycle from the crossing down the lochside, through a gate-house built in the late '90s - if locked, it is possible to get around it. Continue cycling past another house down to Alder Lodge and turn right at the next gatehouse, cycling uphill. Cycle to the highest point on this track, then down towards Loch Pattack. Don't take the track heading off left at the green shed, it's very mucky along this, instead continue to the loch and around its south side. There is a track on the gravel beach to a wire and wooden bridge. A bit further on a peat-bog can block passage if wet, thereafter reach the bridge over the Allt a'Chaoile-reidhe. The track from here has recently been improved, follow it to the bridge before Culra Bothy and leave the bike. Cross the bridge, pick up an excellent path and follow south side of the river. After 1½km, the path turns south and starts to head uphill, follow for 1km, then leave the path and cross heather, grass and occasional hidden boulders to strike up to the north shoulder of Beinn Bheoil. The smallish summit cairn is reached via a fair slog over easy gravel ground.
Leave the cairn and head south-west to reach the next bealach - careful navigation is required if in mist, as the path can be vague in bits. A clearer path is picked up and followed uphill to the bouldery plateau of Sron Coire na h-Iolaire, the summit of which has great views along Loch Ericht. Aim south-west, again navigation will be required in mist, to pick up the path again to Bealach Breabag. Uphill north-west, the path is vague and very wet as it tries to avoid the burns and twists through the rocks. Further up Ben Alder's ridge, Sron Bealach Beithe is attained and followed north-west over an obvious path. After a dip, and on ½km, the summit of a rise is reached, turn north-east, find the lochan and jog over easy ground to the trig point and cairn. Being the highest hill in the area, there's a fantastic panorama to take in, there's also a ruin just north from the summit.
Compass out again ! Easy running west-north-west from the summit dropping slowly on grassy ground for around 2km. The descent steepens and ground becomes wetter then more heather clad as the Uisge Labhair gets nearer. Cross this river just below the junction with the burn coming out of Coire a'Charra Bhig then head directly steeply uphill over heather, then grass. Reach the north-east east shoulder of Beinn Eibhinn, turn right and carry on towards the summit over easy ground, going carefully as the coire drops sharply off on your right. Top bagging ? - there are two tops west of the summit, but expect a detour of just under an hour to reach them and return to Beinn Eibhinn.
From Beinn Eibhinn return down the ridge and continue north-east on the obvious path to the bealach before Aonach Beag. It's straight up Aonach Beag, sticking to the path on the ridge.
As the path is a bit vague on leaving Aonach Beag's cairn, a bit of navigation might be required to aim east. Downhill to the bealach above Coire na Coichille to the north and Coire a'Charra Bhig to the south. Uphill on the path to Geal-charn's small cairn sitting above Coire na Coichille with some cracking views.
Head north-east from Geal-charn's cairn, and reach the edge of the coire. At the edge of the coire, turn right (east) and with some careful navigation, find the ridge that heads north-east between the two lochans - this can cornice over in winter and crampons may well be needed. A good path travels down to the narrow bealach and continues over the wide bump of Diollaid a'Chairn. It becomes more faint, drops slightly, then climbs gently uphill over grass then a boulder-field to Carn Dearg's summit - good views back to Geal-charn and towards Beinn a'Chlachair.
Return to Culra Bothy and Dalwhinnie
Head north-east on a path, then the descent steepens, as it levels out, turn se over grass then heather and some wet sections down to Culra Bothy. Return back to Dalwhinnie.