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Ben Stack and its narrow ridge looking out to sea
by litljortindan » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:19 pm
Route description: Ben Stack
Grahams included on this walk: Ben Stack
Date walked: 09/09/2013
Time taken: 4.25 hours
Distance: 6 km
Ascent: 680m5 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).
I always like a trip to the north west if the weather forecast looks favourable. Reading the BBC runes of cloud, sun and shower I persuaded myself that there would be a small corner of Assynt that would for at least the afternoon hold a good chance of decent walking conditions.
So to Ben Stack. I was here once before and recalled it as being a very fine hill with a view that seemed to extend to the east coast.
I took the hill road to Bonar Bridge and from the viewpoint it looked a bit grim to the north west. But the Beeb had indicated that this might be the case for inland areas. Undaunted then, I pushed on through the rain for another rare drive along the A838.
The drive along lochs Shin, Merkland and More is bleak or beautiful depending on your outlook or mood. It is certainly very desolate. I had briefly considered the alternative of driving via Ullapool but I find it refreshing to take a different route to one I have done to death.
Turning the corner between Merkland and More made my spirits soar as a large swathe of blue sky was revealed beyond the grey rainy cover that had accompanied me for the last hour.
I parked and made my way along to the track that aims for Leathad na Stioma, the obvious band of rock that runs from ground level to the 500m contour. There is a fairly definite path that runs up the south side of the rock band.
And so I peched my way up to the 500m contour. To be honest, nothing much to see on this stretch, just a broad blank slope though the view back along Loch More is pleasant enough.
It is only once you get beyond that 500m contour that a view of the west coast opens up. There is then a flat half a kilometre of ground to cross to reach the base of the summit cone, sat on its 500m plinth like a pyramid. The way up the east ridge is very pleasant, on short grass with open views east, south and north. I had an added bonus of some cloud and mist passing by around and above me though not entirely obscuring the views.
Once I got onto the level summit ridge I took time to take in the views, particularly to some small hills on the horizon; there is indeed a trough of low lying land running east all the way from Ben Stack to Bens Griam.
Once I'd caught my breath I elected to follow the more northerly of the twin summit ridges and really enjoyed the short traverse out to the western end with grand views up and down the western seaboard. It really is a superb little ridge and a fantastic viewpoint. I didn't let the presence of the Ben Stack monster/thing bother me.
There was a bit of a cold blast from a westerly whilst I was setting up self timer pictures but the V between the summits afforded a pocket of mid summer for lunch. After that I sauntered past the trig point and let the hill carry me back down to the car. Lost the track a bit at the bottom but the ground all the way is fairly easy going if boggy in places. Overall probably easier going up than down because a large proportion of the grass is tussocky.
The summit was capped in cloud when I got back to my car but there was a very fine sunset glow to the east from Bonar Bridge to Inverness. On the radio a Peter Campbell of Skye was being interviewed about his new book and he remarked on the brilliant sunset colours on the Cuillin he could see from Portree. His book is published in English and Gaelic and he described how each language had shaped the writing differently, something like the difference experienced when passing from one field to another on a walk. I reflected that this was a bit like the difference between going up and down Ben Stack.
When I was on Ben Stack first time round I had gone up the west ridge. My recollection is of that being steep with ledges linking together small grassy flat areas that could be used breathers and for about turning to see the westward view. Aesthetically, east to west always appeals to me but I'd recommend either route.
As an aside, on approaching Lairg I noticed what seemed to be a wooden sheep statue. I made a mental note of this as my wife is very fond of sheep and also because I just recently bought and read her grandfather's book on signs and symbols. Sure enough, at least according to Wikipedia, Lairg holds the largest single day sheep market in Europe...now you know!
by Johnny Corbett » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:17 pm
by denfinella » Tue Sep 10, 2013 7:07 pm
by litljortindan » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:56 am
Johnny Corbett wrote:Good stuff, looks a cracking hill with lovely views.
A great hill if you like sea views. Thinking of a winter return -the gentle east ridge would lend itself to that I think.
by litljortindan » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:32 pm
denfinella wrote:Nice report, and a lovely hill for sure. Fantastic views for a relatively short walk and modest height! And nice weather as a bonus...
Weather was a bonus after a gloomy drive up. Short true but I think the proximity of sea and lochs makes that relative 680m seem a mighty summit!
by kevsbald » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:57 pm
by litljortindan » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:06 pm
kevsbald wrote:Some lovely shots there.
Certainly a good hill for the camera, especially if you like sea views.
Oddly enough I've been disappointed with the camera I used (Nikon compact) and was testing a Fuji bridge camera on the same walk. The Nikon was definitely the better of the two, at least in that bright sunshine.
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