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Autumn on Ben Hope

Autumn on Ben Hope


Postby Yettie » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:36 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Hope

Date walked: 05/10/2009

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 12 km

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The popular route up Ben Hope is from the parking area beside the Allt á Mhuiseil. This is the shortest way up but it is very steep and eroded. I set out to try the longer route which follows the Leitir Mhuiseil ridge. It starts from the ruined broch at Dùn Dornaigil and goes up next to the farm buildings. After a short distance I reached a farm track and this lead uphill, until a path branched off to the left and continued to the ridge. A rougher walk follows the Allt na Caillich up, by a dramatic waterfall, to reach the same point.

Ben Hope medium.JPG


At the point where the route crosses the Allt na Caillich (The Stream of the Old Woman) I found a memorial to a young man who lost his life on the mountain. I don't know what the circumstances were, but it was a reminder of how mountains need to be treated with respect. At this point my eye was caught by the way that the blue water disappeared over the edge of the waterfall, contrasting with the brown hillside behind. I felt that it was something that I needed to paint, so out came my sketching equipment.

Allt na Caillich, Ben Hope medium.jpg


The crossing of the burn was easy enough and the route continued along the ridge, climbing steadily. The well-worn path followed the edge of the crags with airy views down into Strathmore. In bad weather it might be better to walk on the short heather further back from the edge. The dramatic cliffs called for a sketch in pencil.

Leitir Mhuiseil ridge, Ben Hope.jpg


Ben Hope - the Leitir Mhuiseil ridge 2 medium.JPG


I followed the edge of the escarpment for two miles, until I reached the point where the main path joins it. The red deer rut was in full force, so all the way I was accompanied by the sound of stags roaring on all sides.

From here a steep climb up grass and scree eventually led to the summit. The views from the top were tremendous, taking in most of the mountains of northern Sutherland. To the north was the sea and the northern coast as far as Caithness. The Orkney Isles were on the distant horizon.

Ben Hope - view to the Orkney Isles medium.JPG


The morning had been sunny and I had been very warm while climbing. However there were patches of ice on the summit and, when the sky clouded over, the temperature fell dramatically. I went over to have a quick look at the crags on the North Ridge, but it was getting too cold to stay any longer. The weather was heading downhill and so was I!

Ben Hope - the North Ridge.JPG


Going down the steep slope was more difficult than climbing up. The surface was very loose in places and it would have been all too easy to slip, with the added danger of the distracting views! It was getting late by the time I was back down on the ridge, and it had started to rain, so I decided to continue on down the main path. It was very wet and slippery, with heavily eroded sections, confirming that the ridge route is much more pleasant. I found a couple of subjects to sketch on the way down. Watercolour was out of the question in the rain, so I used pencil and applied the colour when I got home.

Ben Hee from Ben Hope medium.JPG


Waterfall beside the path on Ben Hope medium.jpg


Autumn on Ben Hope medium.jpg


The final two miles along the road back to the starting point was a bit of a slog, but there was the compensation of the stags challenging each other on the slopes below the crags.
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Yettie
 
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Re: Autumn on Ben Hope

Postby John Burgess » Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:44 am

Thanks for that report. Those sketches and paintings are lovely - a really nice change.
I did the same walk a while back with a friend on a very wet day and we decided against crossing the stream where your first watercolour was painted. We crossed about a mile upstream then made our way back to the ridge. We were fortunate enough to be offered a lift back down the road though :D
At least your photo from the top shows me the view we didn't have!

All the best,

John
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Re: Autumn on Ben Hope

Postby monty » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:30 pm

Hi Yettie,
Nice walk. I was up there in late september. I remember the Broch at Dùn Dornaigil. There is a large park area there and as I arrived it was pouring with rain. Another car came along and I got out to meet the guy. He was fascinated by the depth of the wall structure in the Broch. I thought it was funny watching him trying to climb up the wall in the rain :lol: . There is an excellent tourist guide on a post giving information. I was thinking, Looking down to the river as it meanders through the shallows below the Broch, that it would be wonderful to get the kayak down but the water was roaring along at a huge rate of knots.

Back to the walk :D , I continued on my way and walked up the tourist route. It rained most of the way. Your report is far more interesting than mine. I can now see the views from the summit and just love your sketches. Tremendous. well done.
monty
 

Re: Autumn on Ben Hope

Postby Stretch » Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:12 pm

Really enjoyed the artwork here Yettie! It's a nice addition to the fine photos. We sure are a creative bunch on this site :lol:
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Re: Autumn on Ben Hope

Postby Yettie » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:32 am

Thanks for the comments. I'm glad I was able to provide the missing views from the summit! It sounds as though I was lucky with the weather.
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