Couldn't HOPE for a better day!
by jakeyboy » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:10 pm
Route description: Ben Hope
Munros included on this walk: Ben Hope
Date walked: 28/07/2011
Time taken: 7.5 hours
Distance: 7.5 km
Ascent: 946m5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Sutherland, the county of my birth. A place as dear to me as Scotland itself, and here it was bathed in the early morning sunshine as the haar lifted gently and slowly burned away in the warmth of the rising sun. As the deer glanced cautiously from behind the heathered hillocks, we drove through the lochan-dotted landscape towards Ben Hope. Dipping down briefly into Altnaharra, which was steeped in thick morning mist, we saw the sign ahead for "Hope" pointing West, we followed that road. The latter part of this road could prove a nightmare since there are very few "passing places". We were lucky enough to meet just the one car with no problems. This minor road eventually connects with the A838 Durness to Tongue road, but coming South from Altnaharra the car park for Ben Hope lies just North of the Dun Dornaigil Broch which is unmissable. Not far past the broch, there is a small plantation of Pine trees on your left, just past these trees there are some large farm sheds on the same side. So to save you going half way to the A838 like we did, (don't ask!) check the right side of the road for the car park before you reach these farm buildings!! The large sign there says it all "Way up Ben Hope".
All the reports I'd read stated that it was a steep ascent, and they weren't wrong. A boggy start surrounded by midges, took us up the right side of some bonnie waterfalls, and a large stone slab about half way up these falls, afforded us the time for photographs, and some early adjustments to Laura's attire. Continuing upwards, the views backward were instantly gorgeous. The rising sun behind the mountain just beginning to light the greenest of glens. We strode on.
The path eventually levels out a little and then, beyond a gently sloping grassy area, the path steepens again over more rocky terrain and zig-zags ever upwards. This is a really quite draining section of path, and the going gets even tougher further up. We stopped at the beginning of the steepest part for a rest, and some overdue food and drink. This is where we realised something - we hadn't re-filled our water bottles from the stream, and we were too far ahead to really consider going back so far to re-stock. We decided just to ration what we had, as best we could. The heat though, made for an uncomfortable final stretch to the summit cairn.
By the time we had reached the final portion before the summit, we had been passed by at least two other couples of climbers. We were to encounter more arrivals once we were at the summit and consequently more heading up as we headed down. This was indeed a busy hill today, the glorious weather no doubt having much to do with it's popularity on this particular day. Water shortage aside, the steep trek was well worth it. The views were phenomenal in all directions, and apart from a slight haze, the visibility all round was more than adequate for any ardent photographer, as you'll see from my accompanying snaps.
After refreshments, (with minimal watering!) It was time to put away the cameras, and head off on the descent. We had spent an hour on and around the summit, and were well rested. I had particularly noted Ben Loyal and quietly earmarked it for further investigation regarding a possible future Sutherland outing. Of course, there is still Ben Kilbreck to consider, but for now I was happy to have bagged my 10th Munro in good company, good weather and an all round satisfying holiday fortnight!! The steepness of the descent was very hard on the feet, but also proved very fast. We were of course, delighted to reach the stream again and though not quite desperate, glad of a long cold drink! It seemed like very little time before we were nursing our poor tootsies back at the car.
Conclusion: Ben Hope is a superb short day's climb. The steepness ensures a more rapid ascent and shortens the descent time remarkably, (perhaps to the detriment of the feet a lttle) and the views are decidedly breathtaking. Having spent an hour at the summit, Laura and myself would perhaps be safe in claiming a total time of 6.5 hrs, rather than the stated 7.5, but we'll avoid being pedantic. Besides, 7.5 hrs is a very good time for us regardless. I doubt I could recommend Ben Hope more highly, just remember to take plenty of water, and re-fill before you go too high!
by FestinaLente » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:35 am
by jakeyboy » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:45 pm
FestinaLente wrote:So envious of the weather and views. Climbed Ben Hope previous Sunday and after about 50mins of climbing was into the mist rain and wind. No views for me. Also thou I possess Contact Lenses I instead wore specs and in that weather had to often halt progress to wipe/dry the specs cause vision impaired.
That's a shame FestinaLente, you really did miss out. Scottish weather eh! Try to do what I do, and monitor the weather well in advance, and double-check the day before you go, just to be sure. Not a lot you can do if the weather changes on your way up there though. Bad luck, try another time and I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Thanks for reading the report.
by PeteR » Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:04 pm
by jakeyboy » Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:33 pm
PeteR wrote:Cracking report and great photos. You had a smashing day for it I had the views when I did this hill a few years back, but boy was it windy on that final ascent to the summit Fairly flat on the ground to get up there. The summit shelter was quite a relief. And Ben Loyal comes highly recommended for your next visit, although I need to return to thios one too, as it was windy that day too
Cheers Pete! It was flat calm almost all the way up, we were thankful for a brief breeze at the summit. As we came down, we met people battling the heat and begging us to tell them there was respite at the top So I guess it wasn't all good, no happy medium Thanks for reading the report. All the best
by Gary1904 » Thu May 31, 2012 4:32 pm
by jakeyboy » Thu May 31, 2012 7:37 pm
Gary1904 wrote:I can't wait to do this mountain, althoygh because I live in Glasgow I'm qute worried about the weather, it can't be a planned day, you just need to wake up one morning and wait for a nice day, I would hate to drve about 6 hours only to clib up and get no views ..... nice read from your experience though, hope I get a day like that
Best thing to do is check one or two of the weather websites the days before. That's what I do and I'm a lot closer to these hills than you. But check and keep checking until the night before your planned climb. It works for me every time. Makes sense I reckon. Try here -> http://unitedkingdom.meteoconsult.co.uk ... gdom_2.php
Or here -> http://www.myweather2.com/
They're really quite accurate most of the time. Good luck!