Assynt and Far North

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Munros in Assynt and the Far North

22-23 September 2018
Two days of guided hiking on the Munros in Assynt and the Far North of Scotland. John King was leading....

Day 1 - Ben Klibreck and Ben Hope

Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck are Scotland's two most northerly Munros. They are isolated peaks, with commanding views over the vast, open landscapes of north and central Sutherland, and are often climbed on their own over two relatively short days. We planned to try and tackle them both in a single day, which gave us the following day to head up the Assynt Munros.

I met Hayley, Isobel, Diane, Al, Paul and Orion at Vagastie Bridge at 8:30am. The forecast was not looking too favourable on Saturday morning, but improvement was due in the afternoon so we decided to go for both Munros.

Setting off through wet boggy ground in the rain was a fairly inauspicious start to the day, but we moved at a good pace and soon we were heading over better ground on the subsidiary top of Cnoc Sgriodain. The rain stopped briefly offering nice views north to Ben Loyal. We took a long traversing path and gained the main ridge of the hill leading towards A'Chioch, then the final summit pyramid. As we headed up the final steepening to the summit, gusty winds blasted across, threatening to knock us over, but a strong push saw us at the top in 2hrs 40 mins. In keeping with many of my previous ascents of this hill, there was no view to be seen!

We descended back to some shelter for a brief stop, then plunged on back through the bogs to the cars. We reached the road at 1:45pm. Time for a brief lunch stop, then we travelled onwards to the isolated settlement of Altnaharra and beyond. It was a very scenic drive down into Strath More, with good views as the weather started to improve!

At 2:45 we set off up Ben Hope. After the stormy conditions we set off fully kitted out in Gore-Tex, but the sun was warm on our backs and we were soon stripping off our outer layers. As we climbed the views got better and better, with some particularly good light over the peaks of Foinaven and Arkle. We reached Ben Hope's summit just before 5pm and took some time to enjoy the panorama, which was magical on the day. Our descent was speedy, Paul setting a commanding pace, and there were some great views of waterfalls on the lower part of the hill. We were back at the cars at 1820, less than 10 hours after starting! We headed our different ways to recover before tomorrow after a big and very rewarding day.

Day 2 - Conival and Ben More Assynt

Diane went home after day 1 (she'd done the Assynt Munros before) and Trevor joined us at Inchnadamph on Sunday morning for day 2. The forecast had been more favourable for Sunday but things were looking ominous en route to the hill with long, heavy showers passing through. As we set off, it was wet but there was blue sky visible and we could see the hills ahead. There was a small dusting of snow on the top, which was exciting to see. A pleasant walk up through the limestone landscape of Gleann Dubh was enjoyed and we made good progress.

From the head of the glen, a steep climb up rough ground is needed to gain the ridge to Conival. Hot work, but we took it steady and reached the ridgeline in time for elevenses. A quick pull saw us above the snowline and along to the summit of Conival. We didn't spend long there and headed on along to Ben More Assynt. The ridge was quite slippy with wet quartzite covered in a thin layer of damp snow but we maintained a steady pace, encouraged to keep moving by some rough hail showers!

As we made the final pull up to the summit of Ben More Assynt the cloud suddenly opened in spectacular fashion, giving a stunning view back to Conival and out over the hills of the far northwest. We took some shelter and had lunch with a view. Before leaving the summit, we made sure to visit both cairns to be certain we had visited the true summit, then headed back to Conival. The cloud came and went, allowing some nice views, but as we descended from Conival a particularly fierce shower came through. We were battered by hail and I was left wondering why I decided not to bring my goggles on the trip!

As we headed back into Gleann Dubh things brightened up again and a pleasant walk back to the cars was savoured. We were back at 5:15 - a good time for the day and all four northern Munros successfully ticked.

Thanks to all in the group for a very enjoyable weekend in the hills!

More photos by John King are here on Flickr.

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