Ben Alder loop via Loch Ericht and the Bealach Dubh.
This route has been on my bucket list ever since the estate improved the drainage on the trail between Ben Alder Lodge and Ben Alder Cottage. This has been a great success as the last time i rode it the going was soft and boggy in a lot of paces. Contrary to what people have said on some forums we rode nigh on 100% of the loch section,only getting stopped by the high fence/gate which heralds the start of the tough and potentially dangerous hike a bike section round to Ben Alder Cottage. This section requires you to head up above the steep slabs and work your way along and down through deep heather and boggy step ups. We chose to head up from the bothy to the Bealach Dubh as the route up to the Bealach Breabag (Bawbag) between Ben Alder and Beinn bheoil is a crap hike a bike with an equally crap descent until you clear the lochside IMO. Anyway the forecast was for light cloud with sunshine appearing later but Mr Met never mentioned the strong headwind we would encounter going along Loch Ericht. It actually turned out to be a bonus as although it made the riding tougher….it kept those dam midgies away. This route took us seven hours including stops and pics so i would imagine anywhere between six and nine hours for those with a decent fitness. Twenty miles or so of singletrack……you don’t see that very often. Thirty two miles with 3000 ft of ascent (roughly) I don’t use Strava or GPX, Just good old maps and memory. 🙂
The cruise along Loch Ericht.
After contouring above Ben Alder Lodge you cross the bridge with a gate. 200 yards further on look for this wee bridge on your left and follow the trail to the chapel on the loch.
The Chapel. Ben Alder Lodge.
Starting off along the initial doubletrack section.
The sign heralds the start of the narrow singletrack. Head slightly uphill here.
Some nice wee bridges provided by the estate.
Some amazing situations along this trail.
The start of the infamous hike a bike section. A high deer fence and gate requires you to lift your bikes over with someone at the other side catching them. People seven foot high with platform shoes on would be at an advantage here and also at another fence where the difficult section ends.
After crossing another high fence Ben Alder Cottage comes into view and the track improves dramatically.
Ben Alder Cottage and well earned rest.
Wine sir ?
Heading off up the long climb to the Bealach Dubh.
The Vickers plane wreckage at the top of the Bealach Dubh. The last hundred or so metres climbing to here is a toughie.
The descent from the Bealach Dubh all the way to Culra and beyond. Loose with lots of drainage channels but best taken at speed.
The site of the old pony hut. All thats left is a wind assisted glide along Loch Ericht to Dalwhinnie to end one of the best mountain bike rides in Scotland.