|Distance:||40.5 km or 25.2 miles|
|Ascent:||3150m or 10335ft|
Munros: Ben Klibreck, Ben Hope, Conival, Ben More Assynt Date: Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 March 2013 Time taken: 17hrs 10mins (incl stops 4hrs - food, photos, chatting, crampons on/off, scenery gazing etc) Distance: 40.5km Ascent: 3,150m Attendees: me
Had been watching the weather forecast all week in the hope that it would remain good for the holiday weekend. On Thursday/Friday with MWIS forecasting 90% chance of cloud free munro tops and the MET office showing <5% chance of precipitation, the decision was made to go. Had dinner on the Friday night and set off just after 7pm - journey up the A9 past Inverness, over the high road from Alness, through Bonar Bridge and Lairg to just past the Crask Inn went smoothly with only a little light snow falling around Dalwhinnie.
Saturday 30 March 2013
Up around dawn, car thermometer showing -7C but little wind and clear skies - was looking good for the day.
Ben Klibreck silhouetted against the early sunrise
Knew that there was a starting point further north but that it tended to be very boggy. Instead, started from south of the Vagastie bridge and initially followed a faint track then up and over Cnoc Sgriodain.
Ben Hope zoomed
Then dropped down before rising back up and getting into the snow properly. Found contouring round below the 808m height in the soft snow was hard going at times with some steep drops down to the left.
Then started more uphill to get to the flatter area around 688m with views to the summit.
And off to the side
From here on the going got steeper but the snow was mostly soft and deep in places so no need for crampons.
Could see another walker in the distance. Arrived at the summit and had a chat with him before he left as he, like me, was also heading for Ben Hope later.
Some more views from the summit
Reluctantly I set off for the return walk
Loch nan Uan
Met another walker lower down. He was camping with his family nearby so hadn't been able to make too early a start. Got back down to the car and had a look back upwards.
Got my stuff together and had some food and drink before driving up to Altnaharra then on to the road which goes north to Hope. Stopped at the Ben Hope car park - very busy with only a couple of spaces available.
Got ready and set off just behind a party of three walkers. Difficult to miss the starting point.
Found the path steep going, pretty boggy and slippery at times. Took a wee detour off to get a photo of a frozen waterfall.
Met more people on the path which wound its way up through the steep sections before eventually levelling out on an easier slope.
Views from further around.
It took me a bit longer in the snow than expected to get to the top.
Met another walker at the top and spent a while gazing at the views and having some food. Just didn't want to leave.
Eventually headed off back down taking a slightly different route before picking up the main path. On the way down I met the walker with whom I'd spoken earlier on Ben Klibreck.
Views southwards down the strath
Went past a wee waterfall
Got back to the car to get changed before heading off. View south past the broch with quite a lot of deer at the roadside.
Over to Ben Loyal
And Ben Klibreck
In one of his recent reports, Foggie recommended the Crask Inn so I headed there for a bar meal. Arrived about 5/5.30pm but unfortunately the owner advised that they were busy with a large party and he couldn't provide a meal (I should probably have booked in advance) - so I headed off down to Lairg for some food instead. Then followed the drive via Strath Oykel to Ledmore junction and up to Inchnadamph.
Sunday 31 March 2013
Set off in the morning around dawn. Sky was clear so was hoping for another good day weatherwise. Sun starting to light up the surrounding hills.
Made good progress along the path past some houses until veering off on to open hillside just past a wooded area. Stayed more or less on the contour line above the river before changing to NE and the start of the steeper section.
Views opening up.
The track was only a little boggy changing rapidly to snow covered - quite slippy and icy at times but there were previous footsteps to follow. Further up as it got steeper the snow got slippier. Got up to the flatter area before the turn to head south and decided to put on the crampons - turned out to be a good decision as conditions got decidedly slippier and icier from here almost up to the summit.
Patterns in the snow
Then onwards and upwards
Over to Quinag
Canisp and Suilven
Got to the top of Conival
View along the ridge
Nice walk along the ridge and went over to what looked like the top of Ben More Assynt
Then walked over to another point as I wasn't sure which was the summit
Spent a while up there all on my own just gazing at the views - chilly wind but the sun was out
Reluctantly again I eventually set off back down the ascent route. Met two walkers further down putting on their crampons at the same spot I'd stopped earlier. Stopped for a chat then meet many more as I continued down - it was getting quite busy. Got back down to the car just after 2pm (BST). I'd had half a plan to drive down and walk Ben Wyvis before heading back to Glasgow. However, this morning's walk had taken a bit longer than planned - it would mean having to rush the walk, probably still having to cover the last hour or so in the dark and then having the drive back to Glasgow.
So, opted to leave Ben Wyvis for another day in favour of a leisurely drive southwards. Stopped frequently en route for some more photos.
Ben Mor Coigach
Beinn Dearg and co
Just down past Braemore junction I stopped for hitchhiker with a very large bag. Gave him a lift down to Ladybank. Turned out he was a paraglider from Preston - interesting conversation as he explained how he and his friends go paragliding, often having to hitch as they don't know exactly where they'll land.
Uneventful drive back down to Glasgow. Arrived back almost exactly 48 hours after leaving having driven nearly 600 miles - back to planning for the next trip.
That's a very fine report and fantastic photo's! I've not done any of those Munros, somehow we've always missed them whilst we've been up that way. Suilven and Stac Pollaidh are favourites that I've at least been up to the ridge even tho I haven't gone to the summit of either, yet.
Suilven and Stac Pollaidh are favourites that I've at least been up to the ridge even tho I haven't gone to the summit of either, yet. Certainly a great area for walking - these two are on my to do list which just seems to be getting longer and longer these days - here's hoping for some good weather in 2014 - cheers
Excellent report..thank you.. Stack Polly is an excellent little mountain..I did it a few years ago with the Missus & 3 mutts one of which was deaf!! & that was hard work trying to keep her on a right path lol....& that waterfall near the bottom of Ben Hope did some swimming in there on a hot summers day..Very nice...Cheers Terry & Aly