Anatole's blips

By anatolebeams

Stairway to the clouds

A long cycle ride along the side of Loch Ericht brings you up on to the moor below Ben Alder at Culra. This shot shows the bothy, technically closed for many years due to asbestos, although still being well used despite the sprayed signs all over the walls. Lurking behind is our 'stairway to the clouds', otherwise known as Lancet Edge.

After dumping bikes and walking up to the base of it in some trepidation, we walked up the burnside path past the bothy to its base. The weather was windy and the sunny spells were rather too widely spaced between showers of rain and sleet, so we were rather unsure as to how wise a decision is was to attempt this knife-edged ridge scramble. However, after a short heather bash up to the rock slopes, the scramble was almost completely windless and a total delight. We tottered happily along the exposed knife-edges at the top and thought nothing of the occasional hail shower and distant inspection by a passing attack helicopter.

At the top, the walk proper really began as we had hoped to make it all the way to Aonach Beag, before returning to top Geal Charn and Carn Dearg on the way back. We decided this was a bad move and elected to leave Aonach Beag to another day and walked around Geal Charn with the aim of taking that in next. A combination of stupendous views of widely varying clarity lead us round to see Aonach Beag not far off, so maybe slightly unwisely, we ended up back on Plan A.

From the top of Aonach Beag at 5pm views down to Ossian and beyond were terrific and 40 minutes later saw us on the top of Geal Charn looking back (extra 1). The long walk back along the tops in the evening light was spectacular as the weather settled and the wind dropped. Extra 2 shows the view across to Lancet Edge and the long Leachas on Ben Alder, with the tight pass Bealach Dubh in between.

Extra 3 is the sunset view back at 7.45pm from Carn Dearg. We got back down around Loch Pattack to the bikes as the light failed completely and we had a ride back along the lochside track in the dark, feeling our way around the potholes with a couple of feeble headtorches.

A long 12 hour day on the hills, but one that will not quickly be forgotten.

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