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Conival & Ben More Assynt

Conival & Ben More Assynt

Postby stuliv83 » Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:21 pm

Route description: Ben More Assynt and Conival

Munros included on this walk: Ben More Assynt, Conival

Date walked: 31/08/2014

Time taken: 7.25 hours

Distance: 18.5 km

Ascent: 1144m

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We had been staying in Lochinver for the weekend hoping to get some good walking in. Saturday was dry, but the cloud was so low that we felt that keeping our powder dry for the Sunday (80% chance of cloud free munros!) was the best option.

When it comes to Assynt, picking just one walk is hard. Sulliven seemed to be the obvious choice, but I had been put off by some of the walk reports commenting on how boggy it had been even after dry spells. The weeks leading up had been wet. So we decided to leave it for another time, and go for height by getting the third and fourth most northerly munros.

As we drove along Loch Assynt, the clouds were prevalent and low, but the day was warming up and it seemed likely that the sun would burn them away. As we approached the Inchnadamph hotel, we passed a walker heading up the path, so we wouldn't have the hills entirely to ourselves.

We got parked up, and as we started to get ready, the midges descended exponentially. After a couple of minutes we hastened our departure, and got the rest of our gear organised on the move.

I usually quite enjoy a gradual walk in (as long as you're gaining some height). Its the best way to ease yourself into a walk. The munros where you get out the car then hit steep gradient straight away are absolute leg killers. In the route description it seemed like it'd be my kind of walk. The cloud, while still shrouding the summits, was lifting and we got our first glimpse of Conival ahead. Meanwhile, the path meandering on, becoming less and less there, as we trouped up by the stream. Every time you stopped, the midges descended making it quite unpleasant.

Things only got worse as we turned left and headed up the hidden valley. Going was soft at best, and boggy at worst. It was impossible to pick a route, and when you stopped to do so, the midges attacked. I usually have a low point on a walk (usually near the start, luckily) and this was it.

We crossed over the burn higher up, and things just got better. It was like the moment in the Wizard of Oz when the technicolour kicks in. Same environment, totally different feel. The breeze picked up, and the midges disappeared. We even go to do a bit of hands on the rocks and pull yourself up climbing. This was more my kind of walking now.

ImageIMG_2167 by stuliv83, on Flickr

It got even better as we poked our head over the top of the mini climb and saw a large group of deer. I grabbed the camera as they scampered off, but I wasn't quite quick off. There had been stalking on all week, so they obviously weren't hanging round to see if our intentions were honourable.

ImageIMG_2168 by stuliv83, on Flickr

At this point, the focus became more about whether or not we'd get a view at the top. The cloud was lifting and coming back in, and it seemed like it was going to come down to luck as to whether we'd get a view at the top. We needn't have worried, as the cloud was visibly clearing revealing view of those weird and wonderful Assyntian hills.

ImageIMG_2177 by stuliv83, on Flickr

At this point the climb was become more and more rocky, but I was really enjoying it. We got over the top of the slight false summit, and go our first proper glimpse of Conival with a bonus view along the ridge to Ben More Assynt. It was impressive. There's something about the glimpse of the summit that really perks me up. There should be a name for it. Its almost feverish.

ImageIMG_2174 by stuliv83, on Flickr

Before I knew we had hit the top, making this my 30th munro. The cloud had lifted enough to maintain the view across to Canisp and Sulliven, as well as Loch Assynt, and it was worth every irritating midge and foot in the bog on the way up.

ImageIMG_2184 by stuliv83, on Flickr

We had make good time - having left at quarter to nine, we reached the top at quarter to eleven. With the majority of the walk ahead, we pressed on will the going was good. We probably underestimated the ridge a little - both in our reading of the map and from the top. It was tougher going than it looked. It was a good hour of rock hopping. I do enjoy leaping from rock to rock, and the knees do to take a bit of a doing and concentration levels are at maximum. There was a sneaky bit, just when you though you were uphill all the way to the summit, where you had to lose some height again.

ImageIMG_2187 by stuliv83, on Flickr

I had hoped the ridge would be a bit more ridgey (Carn Mor Dearg Arrete being the ultimate in ridges in my limited experience), but it was enjoyable none the less, and it was a well deserved lunch break at the top, where the clouds had cleared even further, and the wind had dropped just enough to make stopping not too unpleasant. The views to the east and north were impressive in their own ways too. We walked to both cairns at the summit just to make sure, and started to head back to Conival. By this time, energy was starting to sap from the rocks, but we were perked up again by the views from the top. They had got even better in the two intervening hours.

ImageIMG_2190 by stuliv83, on Flickr

By this point we were in familiar territory and simply retraced our steps back. Fortunately the heat of the daytime sun had really dried up the boggy areas by the side of the streams in the hanging valley, and going down was a lot more enjoyable. As a bonus, there was a constant breeze keeping our unwelcome west coast friends away.

The converse of enjoying a walk in, is the walk out when you're done for the day! Mentally when the tough bit is done, its easy to switch off and think you're nearly done, when you've actually got a good hour left to go. Fortunately there were some sweets left to perk us up. The day had turned from a cloudy morning, to a gorgeous afternoon, and the views behind us as we returned to Inchnadamph were simply stunning.

ImageIMG_2191 by stuliv83, on Flickr

We were back at the car shortly before four, finshing in the traditional way of the munro walk, tired but happy. There was time left for a wander round Ardvreck Castle, before fish and chips for dinner in Lochinver.

ImageIMG_2194 by stuliv83, on Flickr

All in all, a great day walking in a part of Scotland that looks different. You can't ask for much more than that.
Posts: 7
Munros:96   Corbetts:3
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:1
Joined: Jun 16, 2012

Re: Conival & Ben More Assynt

Postby Silverhill » Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:40 pm

Well done for keeping your powder dry for this day. How fantastic is that when the cloud lifts as the day gets on! :D They look like a nice couple of hills.
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