Festive Fails with just a little hope..
by basscadet » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:26 pm
Route description: Ben Hope
Munros included on this walk: Ben Hope
Date walked: 22/12/2012
Time taken: 12 hours
Distance: 31.54 km
Ascent: 2628m2 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).
We left on Friday night, met up at my folks place in Rockfield, before heading north after a mega-breakfast on Saturday morning. The weather forecast was atrocious, but as we drove past Rosehall up to Inchnadamph, the skies were clear. We headed up the glen a way and found a campspot sheltered from the strong winds, the plan being a bit of caving in the afternoon followed by Conival & BMA on Sunday. Unfortunately we had only just made camp when the heavens opened, and boy did they open! So the rest of the day was spent eating Chrismas fayre and drinking copious amounts of tea whilst watching the puddle in the porch get bigger and smaller depending on the current precipitation. The river we camped alongside tripled in size and the flooding got closer and closer…
A fun filled night later, we awoke to still calmness without a hint of rain. The tops were claggy, but generally a good day for walking so we left sharp and headed up the glen along an excellent path. With all the caves in the area, a lot of burns just come straight out of the hillside and the waterfalls were beautiful, a truly memorable day was on the cards.
At the head of the glen, we stopped for a bite to eat as we had been too eager to get going to pause for breakfast, and that’s when the drizzle came on.. We made our way up the path, now a rocky scar, up into the snow. By this time though, it was getting windy and the precipitation was getting heavier.. Onward we struggled through steep drifts, each steep section leading to an even windier corrie, until I went over a lip and couldn’t progress for the wind.. Now I’m not a fair weather walker, and I have nothing against a bit of windiness, but at 750m, I couldn’t see a way up to the top.. I can do 60mph winds, but not 80! Dougie was a bit behind after stopping for a kit faff, so I went back and told him we had another fail on our hands.. Been a month since we had managed to the top of anything..
So we turned round for the descent, wind in our faces now, and grimly descended back to the glen.. Even down there, the wind was strong and the rain showed no signs of relenting. I think I was the coldest and wettest I have been this year, and I’ve seen some dreichit weather! A memorable day for all the wrong reasons..
Back at the tent, I packed up while Dougie went for the car.. Oooh the heating was nice
So we had planned to walk out to a bothy to stay that Sunday night but the thought of going back out into the storm, and the not knowing if we would get across the necessary rivers had us looking for shelter elsewhere. We had bonny drive up to Durness, where we found the Bunkhouse quiet but open. The storm raged on and I found it hard to believe we would be going anywhere the following day, but again we were pleasantly surprised by the suns appearance on Christmas eve morning. It was another bonny drive along the coast, and down to Ben Hope, where the path was handily well signposted.
About 200 yards from the car though, I was unnecessarily climbing up a boulder, when I lost my balance and fell, a rock denting a bumcheek rather heavily. I lay there laughing and rubbing it, Dougie also cracking up once he realised I was fine. Ooh it was sore though.
The path was somewhat steep, boggy, and eroded but the waterfalls we passed were spectacular and with the weather being so nice, there wasn’t much that could dampen our spirits.
Pretty soon we were up on the ridge and stopped for something to eat before we hit the snowline.
Some lovely views were opening up and it was slow progress as we stopped to enjoy them frequently (nothing to do with the lack of walking recently making us unfit!)
The snow was icy and largely crusty enough to take our weight and a couple of false tops later, we saw the trig. Finally we had bagged something! Felt good after the failures of recent weeks, and what beautiful views along the coast and up into the flow country.
Enough of a breeze to make it chilly though, so after some photos we were off to retrace our steps back to the car. Just as we got back, the heavens opened again, leaving us with that slightly smug feeling which can only be obtained by getting the best out of the day
There was a broch up the glen, which I thought looked worth a visit so we drove down and sat in the car waiting partly for the broch’s guardian to move, and partly for the rain to subside a little.
T’was rather disappointing though, we tried the door, but it was blocked off, walked all the way round without a way in evident, so I finally scaled the walls to find the broch completely filled in! lol
So the conversation turned to where we would spend the night. My folks had assured me that Crask Inn would be open, as they know the owners, but when we got there there were no signs of life.
We had passed a lot of good camp spots and with the weather improving, we got ourselves cosied up in a fine spot for an assault on Klibreck on Christmas morning.
It was a beautiful, still, chilly night with a thousand stars and a big bright moon. We had got into the habit of having dinner and drinking until 8 or 9, having a snooze until midnight, then getting up for some tea and pudding
Christmas morning came, and we were awoken by the pelting rain. I stuck my head out the tent but where Klibreck had been the night before was just a clagfest. We packed up, but sat in the car looking out at the rain not keen to get started. It wasn’t a hard decision to decide to leave Klibreck for another day.
We drove south toward Lairg, and we started to see a glint of some sunshine through the clouds to the south east. We decided to head over to Golspie – my home town – and climb ‘The Ben’ (Bhraggie that is)
After a nice, memory invoking drive down Strath Brora, and a brief visit to the Broch at Dunrobin (had to be done after the rubbish broch the day before) It was looking nice when we pulled into the carpark beside the Swimming Pool in Golspie.
We set off up the road toward Rhives and were soon winding our way through the forest on an unrelentingly cambered path. There has been a lot of MTB tracks and new forest tracks since the last time I was there (probably 17 or 18 years ago) which was a little bit surreal Some parts were so familiar it was like I was just there yesterday and some parts were completely alien. We stopped in a wee shelter built for the mountainbikers, for some home made fudge before doing the final section up above the trees.
Even this section of the path has been changed to make it more MTB friendly. We paused to take photographs at the Statue, before heading to the true summit.
We continued along the track, going down the back way. I took us down the wrong track at one point – why do the forestry folk feel the need to change the tracks so often? But we were soon at Golspie Tower, where we found a new path signposted ‘Dunrobin Woods link path’ Now I’m a local, and there are many woods nearby, none of which were ever called Dunrobin woods, so I had to see where it went Well it snaked through the forest in a way I felt was almost designed to make you lose your sense of direction, but it eventually led out onto the Backies road, where a path had been constructed onward to Big Burn Woods – Must have been rebranded for the 21st century
Big Burn is a beautiful wee gorge, and I can recommend a look to anyone who is up that way. Part of the gorge was blocked off due to a recent rockfall, but we jumped the tape and managed to survive.
Further on there was evidence of a recent landslide which had taken out most of the path, but generally all the lichen and ferns looked beautiful, and the gorge was just as I remembered it. After a quick look at the Sutherland Clan gathering stone, we found ourselves back at the car, heading back to Rockfield for Christmas Dinner
Not the best bagging trip - 1 out of 4 intended is pretty rubbish but quite a fun one none the less. Hope all your festivities were just as good
by PeteR » Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:02 am
by Scotjamie » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:03 am
We did Hope and Klibreck in sun and the other top two in utter clag, but without the flood that you guys experienced.
Shame about the Crask - don't know if the same ex-military man and his partner still own it but they did us proud!!
Enjoyed the report, (apart from reference to the b*st*rd Sutherland)
- say hi to Dougie
by basscadet » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:34 am
Scotjamie wrote:Nice one Seana... a bump on the 'cheek' is a pretty good result in terms of injury for one of your trips
Scotjamie wrote:(though I hear that Dougie got the the mumps from you).
Thats nonsense! I'm pretty worried I'll get it tbh.. I'm not immunised and have never had it Should find out by the end of the week...
Scotjamie wrote:Shame about the Crask - don't know if the same ex-military man and his partner still own it but they did us proud!!
Aye, still the same folk
Scotjamie wrote:Enjoyed the report, (apart from reference to the b*st*rd Sutherland)
- say hi to Dougie
Thanks, I didnt think I put much effort into this one really.. Too much 'festive spirit' to be funny, witty or compos mentis
PeteR wrote:Well done on reaching the summit of Ben Hope I seem to recall a very windy day the day I bagged that one I also remember the waterfalls on the initial climb too. Quite impressive. Shame about the rest of your trip, what with the weather. At least you were out and about though
Och aye, if a trip goes to plan I feel hard done by.. give me some bad weather, forgotten kit and an injury and I'm a happy girl
by kevsbald » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:40 am
Erm, are youse an item?
by Mountainlove » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:33 am
Happy new year to you!!
by basscadet » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:53 am
kevsbald wrote:What perseverance! Well done to you both.
Erm, are youse an item?
Erm, Aye, for like ages now.. You been on the moon or something?
Mountainlove wrote:Oh you were so lucky to get away!!! Not so lucky for the weather , but it does sound you had some great days out!! Well done for getting up Ben Hope...it is a beautiful place up there! Mmm lets hope that 2013 will be the best year of sun - ever
Happy new year to you!!
Aye, extremely lucky to get soaked to the knickers repeatedly
Hope you have a happy new year as well.. I'm just hoping my bad weather faerie goes and lingers with someone else
by kevsbald » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:35 am
by rockhopper » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:43 pm
by simon-b » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:31 pm
Great report, lots of nice pictures .
by basscadet » Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:57 pm
simon-b wrote:Top marks for effort, BC, the weather must have been rough to stop you from reaching some of your targets. Nice to see you had a bit of luck on Ben Hope, my experience of rain, gales and no view from there is the more usual one, I think. I know what you mean about 80 mph winds, I got blown off my feet on a little English hill (Catbells, 451 metres) yesterday.
Great report, lots of nice pictures .
Och aye, I've been uber wary since I almost met my end in the Fannaichs last January.. dangling over the edge of a 2000ft drop by the wrist strap on your axe makes you take stock
At least after this trip I know my 2 man tent can take a battering T'was a bit draughty without the inside doors shut though
rockhopper wrote:Some nice wanderings there and the Ben Hope views look great - pity about the rest of the trip but how often have we said that about the weather this year Well done on getting away anyway and happy new year to you both - cheers
Thanks RH, Happy new year to you too
I kent it would be a miracle for 3 adjacent days of decent weather in December, but you have to go to see what you will get
by Graeme D » Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:49 pm
Nice to see Bhraggie again and the wee mannie!