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Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - A Birthday Treat!!

Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - A Birthday Treat!!


Postby dooterbang » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:22 am

Route description: Ben Hope

Munros included on this walk: Ben Hope

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Spionnaidh, Cranstackie

Date walked: 25/05/2013

Time taken: 60 hours

Distance: 40 km

Ascent: 3000m

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Yep, birthday time again...and how swiftly it comes around! Still can’t believe I’m 21...x 2!!

To celebrate my birthday Kerri had generously booked us a cottage in Kinlochbervie –
http://www.kinlochberviecottages.co.uk/heathercottage.html - this would provide the base to explore the far NW coast of Scotland, the only part of the NW coast I hadn’t set foot on.

After work on the Friday night we headed up to Strathpeffer and booked into a hotel as this would give us more time during the Saturday to fit in the many walks/activities we had planned.


DAY 1
Saturday morning was forecast for sunshine which meant we headed to Tarbet for the ferry/boat to take us to Handa Island - http://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserve/handa-island/ - Handa is an island off the west coast of Sutherland. It is 309 hectares and 123 metres at its highest point. A small ferry sails to Handa from Tarbet on the mainland costing £12 for a return ticket.

The drive from Strathpeffer took 2 hours and provided some stunning scenery as we passed through Assynt. I didn’t take any photos as have many from previous visits but did take a couple of Quinag.
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Tarbet has a public toilet, a restaurant and a cottage, but more importantly the means of crossing the sea to reach Handa. Was reasonably busy with the usual array of tourists and it wasn’t long before we stepped aboard the powerboat and sped off across the sea for the 5 minute journey to a beach whereupon 2 wildlife volunteers greeted us.

One volunteer gave a brief description of the Island and told us firmly “stay away from the cliff edges”! With this in mind we set off in a clockwise direction with the tourists taking an anti-clockwise route. The route was just over 6k long on good paths and provided great viewing of mountains, sea and wildlife. It took us over 2 hours and this included a lunch break.
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To get back to the mainland you simply hang about the beach and wait for the boatman to arrive.
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Next we headed to the cottage and unpacked all of our gear. It was just coming up to 3pm and I somehow convinced Kerri that we should tackle the 2 most Northernly mountains in Scotland – 2 pathless Corbetts!! Kerri is trying to build on her hill fitness and was well up for this.


We drove northwards for 30 minutes and stopped at an old quarry. The first part of this walk is along and old track leading to a farm for 2k. The usual route is to head for the Bealach when reaching the Coire but we decided to make this route more linear and took a line up the SW shoulder of Cranstackie. This was hard going with the last 50M up a steep boulder field but it was great fun. At the summit we met a nice man from Busby who was into ultra marathons, his stories amused and bewildered in equal measure...very fit man who “kept bad company”!
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The cloud was evident but was high enough to give some decent views. The wind had stepped up a few levels so we put on extra layers to combat this and set of NE to Beinn Spoinnaidh.
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The summit was eventually reached after more navigation of another boulder field. We stood on the most northern mountain in Scotland and felt pretty pleased with our efforts.
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From the summit we basically took a line NW back to the farm, ground underneath had a nice spongy feel to it. Soon back in the car and headed to the cottage. A shower, dinner and a burning stove finished off a great first day.


DAY 2
Plan was to head over to Cape Wrath but upon arrival at the ferry/small powerboat the place was heaving with tourists and it transpired we could wait over 2 hours for the bus at the other end when taken over by the ferryman. We decided to alter our plan and headed for Faraid Head but somehow on route we managed to find ourselves slurping hot chocolate and eating truffles at....
http://www.cocoamountain.co.uk/ Durness. Delicious truffles and well worth a visit.

Had no expectations for Faraid Head but this turned out to be a brilliant little walk which had sea stacks, cliffs, sand dunes, beaches, army outposts and wildlife.
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Spent over 4 hours wandering around Faraid Head and could’ve stayed longer but with so much to explore we headed along the Northern Coastline to seek out the Smoo Caves - Smoo Cave is a large combined sea cave and freshwater cave in Durness. http://www.smoocave.org/


The first cave here has a viewing platform which anyone can use but for real adventure there is a man from the Cave Society who will take you by dingy to the other 2 caves if you cross his palm with silver...£4 each to be exact! Only 6 people aloud on the dingy and we shared with a French and Austrian couple. Captain Caveman was well versed in languages and duly provided fascinating facts in 3 different tongues. This was great fun and again unexpected.
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Just enough time in the day to head for Oldshoremore and visit the beach...
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DAY 3
Decided to give Cape Wrath another try! Due to some choppy weather the 9.30am boat across the Kyle was postponed which meant crossing at 1pm, weather permitting. Thankfully all was well and we got on a little boat to make the short crossing. On the other side a 16 seater bus takes you the 10km to Cape Wrath Lighthouse. http://www.capewrath.org.uk/ Both ferryman and bus driver provided many laughs with the stories they told which made this an enjoyable journey.
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Being up Near Durness we still had plenty of time to check out some beaches and an interesting site at Ceannanbeinne - http://www.durness.org/Ceannabeinne.htm
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DAY 4
I turned 21x2 on this day so I made sure it would be very special. For years I’ve wanted to visit Sandwood Bay and today would finally see this come to fruition...but firstly we would ascend the most northern Munro in Scotland – Ben Hope.

I did this 3 years ago with my mate Woodsy and unfortunately never got the views so was well pleased that the cloud level was above the summit. The wind was hitting 30mph but this cooled us down. After doing the 2 pathless Corbetts on day 1 we found this very easy going.
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Up and down in 3.5hrs which included a sheltered lunch near the summit, great start to the day. We then drove 1.5hrs back to kinlochbervie and put on some shorts.

We had some lovely views driving up and down the coastline.
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The weather was forecasting sunshine for Sandwood Bay. Sandwood bay is the most inaccessible beach in the UK and to reach it requires a 4.5mile walk across open moorland. The walk is on a great path and only took as an hour to reach it. When reaching the bay I recommend climbing the south side cliffs which opens up a great view across the mile long beach. A gully provides a route down to the shore.
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At the North end some cliffs provide some easy scrambling
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Glorious Sunshine
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We spent hours here and had it virtually to ourselves – a truly magical place. Got back to the cottage at 9.30pm and had a lovely meal. A wonderful birthday indeed and I couldn’t think of any other way to spend it than being surrounded by the majestic landscapes of the Highlands.


DAY 5
With the sun still shining we decided to head to Achmelvic beach and soak up some rays. This is another favourite area of mine and one I shall visit again and again.
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For lunch we visited the Lochinver Pie Shop - http://www.piesbypost.co.uk/
Super tasty pies...I bought 4 to take home with me!

The time had now come to head Glasgow bound. We stopped in Ullapool for a wander but it felt very cosmopolitan and crowded so we didn’t stay long. On route home we visited the Bruar Falls in Blair Atholl.
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Got back to Glasgow just after 9pm, and yep...it was raining!! This didn’t dampen what was an utterly fantastic sublime trip up the NW Coast. It was great to visit and discover all these new places, Scotland is very beautiful and there’s so much more to see and do than simply bag Munros, which ironically is what I used to do! Big thanks to Kerri for the wonderful present and being able to match me for fitness and enthusiasm - she now has conquered the 3 most Northern mountains in Scotland....no bad for a novice!!
Last edited by dooterbang on Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby mr_ash_37 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:07 am

Fantastic report, thanks for sharing. Those beaches look amaaaaazing! Grt base for a holiday. Grt pics. Thanks
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby soapy27 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 9:41 am

Fantastic report there Dooterbang they beaches are absolutley stunning :D
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby Gable Gable End » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:01 pm

Great report DB.
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby rockhopper » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:21 pm

Jammy sod - you should change careers and become a photo journalist instead :clap:
Next time you're planning a trip you should announce it so that we all know the weather's going to be good :wink: Great stuff, dooters - cheers :)

PS this is all beginning to look serious - any plans ? 8)
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby mrssanta » Sun Jun 02, 2013 2:10 pm

Oooh fantastic, not at all jealous, oh no, well maybe just a big bit! Is there still a tea shop at Cape Wrath?
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby Fife Flyer » Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:12 pm

Great report & photo's :clap: I never get birthday treats like that :(
Been up that way a few times & the scenery is absolutely stunning, some of the beaches are amazing, if only it was 10degs warmer :lol: I suppose if it was 10degs warmer all the halfwits would spoil it though :(
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby mountainstar » Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:07 pm

One day, One day you WILL get some bad weather you jammy so and so :wink: :mrgreen:
Isn't a time you let your physiotherapist Kerri go? I mean how long can you fake that injury? :wink:
Great report and pictures again...sigh!
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby denfinella » Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:44 pm

Wow, what a fantastic report along with even better photos.

I spent six days in Durness at the end of April and we visited a lot of the same places (including Cocoa Mountain!) but our photos aren't anywhere near as good. Looks like you were lucky with the weather!
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby SusieThePensioner » Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:46 pm

Another great report, Paul, and of course, the fantastic photos (as usual) :thumbup:
What a brilliant way to celebrate your birthday :D
We're staying by Clashnessie Beach(Sutherland) the second week in October; would you like to come along and be our lucky weather mascot? :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby gammy leg walker » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:43 pm

Do you ever walk in rain & clag.

Sandwood Bay is on my bucket list.
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:20 pm

Gasda :D .... bonnie part of the world.

We stayed in Sheigra for a week , West of KLB and the NW corner is now a favourite of mine grand country I enjoyed revisiting it grand report :clap:

Corbett tally is building up :D
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:20 pm

Gasda :D .... bonnie part of the world.

We stayed in Sheigra for a week , West of KLB and the NW corner is now a favourite of mine grand country I enjoyed revisiting it grand report :clap:

Corbett tally is building up :D
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby foggieclimber » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:37 pm

Always a pleasure to read your reports from the North-West Highlands.
Love the pics from Sandwood Bay.
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Re: Ben Hope, Sandwood Bay - what a birthday treat!!

Postby dooterbang » Sun Jun 02, 2013 9:06 pm

rockhopper wrote:
Next time you're planning a trip you should announce it so that we all know the weather's going to be good :wink: Great stuff, dooters - cheers :)
PS this is all beginning to look serious - any plans ? 8)
Skye next weekend for the half marathon :wink:
Oh I always take the hills seriously :)

foggieclimber wrote:Always a pleasure to read your reports from the North-West Highlands.
Love the pics from Sandwood Bay.
Thanks - I love the NW Coast.

Collaciotach wrote:Gasda :D .... bonnie part of the world.

We stayed in Sheigra for a week , West of KLB and the NW corner is now a favourite of mine grand country I enjoyed revisiting it grand report :clap:
Corbett tally is building up :D
I know Sheigra and It's lovely and very quiet. Ha, yep I'm Corbett bagging now!

gammy leg walker wrote:Do you ever walk in rain & clag.
Sandwood Bay is on my bucket list.
Had this booked months ago so I guess I got lucky. Have been chasing the weather though rather than ticking off Munros.

SusieThePensioner wrote:Another great report, Paul, and of course, the fantastic photos (as usual) :thumbup:
What a brilliant way to celebrate your birthday :D
We're staying by Clashnessie Beach(Sutherland) the second week in October; would you like to come along and be our lucky weather mascot? :lol: :lol: :lol:
I drove by Clashnessie. The coastal road from Lochinver to Kylesku is stunning. Hope you get the weather nad enjoy the beach.

denfinella wrote:Wow, what a fantastic report along with even better photos.

I spent six days in Durness at the end of April and we visited a lot of the same places (including Cocoa Mountain!) but our photos aren't anywhere near as good. Looks like you were lucky with the weather!
I read your reports before going. Got lucky with the weather but still cloud lurking about.

mountainstar wrote:One day, One day you WILL get some bad weather you jammy so and so :wink: :mrgreen:
Isn't a time you let your physiotherapist Kerri go? I mean how long can you fake that injury? :wink:
Great report and pictures again...sigh!
Kerri isn't my physio, Mountainthyme is my physio...your getting old matey :wink:

mrssanta wrote:Oooh fantastic, not at all jealous, oh no, well maybe just a big bit! Is there still a tea shop at Cape Wrath?
Yes, the ozone cafe.

Thanks for all the kind words.
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