After my wife and I had to turn back 4 weeks earlier (due to blinding sleet as we approached An Cabar) I decided to crack my first Munro with a solo ascent on Father's Day.
It really was a case of unfinished business for me; and my plan was to take however long it took to raise a diet coke for my dearly missed Dad. I set off really determined to make it all the way this time and thankfully I did. After checking the weather forecast all week I knew that I could expect quite a bit of rain and so it proved. However, when I set off from the car-park at 11:00; I was wearing my brand new waterproofs, and what a great job they did.
After walking parallel to the road for a short distance I crossed the footbridge over the river before turning right through the gate and on to the path that climbs uphill following the Allt a'Bhealaich Mhoir or river to your right as it is known in English.
The path was easy to follow and after climbing for a while the track started to level at around the 2KM mark and it was a nice gentle warm up for the climb ahead. The path started to come back on itself a few times and then started to steepen.
Now I know that the hundreds of stones in the path make getting up really easy if you have long legs but for myself and I imagine most folk under 5' 5"; it was a decent work out with at times just a wee bit more of an effort that I would have liked. I could quickly feel the sweat forming on my back and thanks to my waterproofs it had nowhere to go.
The path travelled upwards to the summit of An Cabar, and it was at this point that I discovered that I had left my map in the car. Thankfully I managed to meet a trio of really helpful young walkers by the second cairn on the top's summit; and they pointed me towards my destination.
I discovered afterwards that all the temporary small cairns had been erected to encourage walkers to keep to one path in order to allow some of the mountain's surface to recover from errosion. All I can say as the proud owner of a map in the car was that each and every one of the cairns seemed to have been placed to tease me. I started to invent swear words at one point which helped pass the time.
As the mist came down - or was it the clouds came up - the wind picked up and the rained started to fall with malicious intent. I am told that it easy to feel lost up there on days like this; but I knew that as long as I kept to the path that I would be ok and so it proved. With so many cairns I kept on going until I reached the memorial that I had remembered reading about. As the rain pelted down I phoned my better half to let her know I had made it; and then I sat for a little while in the rain before raising my diet coke and toasting my Dad.
As I stood up I could feel just how quickly my sweat had cooled and that reminded me about how little I know about the tricks associated with hill-walking. Why on earth I decided not to take a flask of coffee with me I will never know.
Anyway my return trip through the mist followed what everybody says is the easiest and safest route back - and I would recommend to any novice (this was Munro #1 for me) that you need your head examined if you don't simply retrace your steps back,
Howver, as I approached the summit of An Cabar I suddenly became very aware of the steep stones and I started to get just a little bit nervous about slipping over the edge. I knew I was NOT going to fall over the edge; but I just felt nervous that I might; and that got me thinking about the wisdom of solo walking for a while.
So I decided to try to avoid climbing down those stones; and because i realised that I could not have been the only person who did not like the look of those steps on a wet day; I started to look for a by-pass path. Thankfully I quickly found one that headed off to the right. My nervousness lasted for a little while; but as the path moved away from the edge I quickly relaxed and start to enjoy my tiring but quite enjoyable descent all the way back to the car park.
I had heard so much about the wonderful views from Ben Wyvis that it was a shame that all I could see was the path ahead of me; but I only have myself to blame for deciding to go up at the height of summer ( ).
I would certainly recommend this as a good Munro for a novice like myself; but only if they remember to ensure that (unlike me) they had put their map in their backpack.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.