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Why beag for another glas on Ben Wyvis?

Why beag for another glas on Ben Wyvis?


Postby Driftwood » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:37 pm

Route description: Ben Wyvis, near Garve

Munros included on this walk: Ben Wyvis

Date walked: 12/06/2015

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 18 km

Ascent: 1050m

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This was intended as another easy walk, with a leisurely late-morning start, to take advantage of good weather and still having a set of working legs. The best conditions might have been earlier in the morning, which I'd squandered visiting the Falls of Rogie then Strathpeffer stocking up for lunch. But I still had the time and inclination to wander up a hill before I needed to reach Kingussie that evening.

Ben Wyvis has the luxury of a large car park (which was popular but not packed on the day) with an information board and well-made path that takes you 2/3 of the distance and about 4/5 of the ascent. This is complicated slightly by there being three subsidiary Munro Tops, two of them on the "wrong" sides of the hill. I try to include such tops when walking the main peak, but might not have allowed enough time for that today.

After more faffing around than usual, I set off at 11:20, feeling warm in the summer sunshine. The marked path runs parallel to the A835 for a short distance, then set off uphill accompanying a burn. There were already views ahead to An Cabar and the broad flank of Ben Wyvis, with Tom na Callich and Little Wyvis doing their Mini-Me impression slightly further south. With time limited and deep heathery dividing slopes, I wasn't tempted to try combining the groups of hills and kept my attention straight ahead.
DSCF8440.jpg
Approach through Garbet Forest


The path seemed popular (or it might just have been that I was walking at normal times, for once); some were just strolling along the glen, others aiming for the hill beyond. The path turns into steps as it grows higher, though with a few brief looser sections, turning north to zig-zag onto the more gradual west side of An Cabar. I found a suitable stone to sit beside the path and eat the first half of my lunch while a group of young lads passed, already descending. The views were extensive, though slightly reduced by cloud topping the highest hills.
DSCF8445.jpg
Path ascending An Cabar


Nearing the plateau, I also snuck a look off to my left, trying to study the slope down from the northwestern Top, Tom a' Choinnich. A shapeley twin-topped hill much further off also caught my eye (though far out of reach for the day); I'm guessing it to be Carn Chuinneag.
DSCF8451.jpg
North from An Cabar


Reaching the top and cairn of An Cabar, I was greeted by a page among the rocks. This turned out to be an information board about keeping to a single route in order to minimise erosion and damage to the rare moss-heath vegetation. The damage caused is obvious to see, though the cairns used to mark the route to follow are small and only noticeable once heading towards them.
DSCF8453.jpg
Ben Wyvis plateau


I set out, pausing only to photograph the southward view before that was limited by the broad gradual slope. There's a minimal descent from An Cabar - which is prominent from below, but at this level hardly distinguishable from the gentle swelling leading off northeast. Then, doing my best to aim for each cairn in turn, as easy and gradual an ascent as you could wish for. With blue skies and excellent visibility, I could relax and look forward to the rest of lunch.
DSCF8455.jpg
Fannichs from An Cabar


The summit cairn was occupied, but with plenty of space to settle and enjoy a break. Clouds drifting past brought some shade and I topped up my water bottle from a convenient snow-bank (scraping away the top layer to reach some pristine, though icy, snow beneath). This far had only taken 2 1/2 hours, so I could afford to go a little further. The summit also offered views of Tom a'Choinnich (a mile away with moderate re-ascent) and Glas Leathaid Beag, looking much further (about two miles extra there, then two more returning).
That prompted me to decide on a compromise, especially since Tom a' Choinnich offered an alternative descent route (so sparing the moss more of my boot-prints). Glas Leathaid Beag was far enough to make a separate walk, maybe from Glen Glass to the east.
There's a long, though easy and gradual, descent north-north-east to reach an open bealach which had a pool of water (too tiny to call a lochan). Despite that, the moss-grass was generally well-drained and there is far less wear evident on this less-visited side. A path/track and line of fence posts led to the southeast shoulder of Tom a'Choinnich, then another 50 metres of similar terrain reaches the top.
DSCF8464.jpg
Tom a'Choinnich


The clouds gathered and descended gradually; although well overhead, they had turned an overcast grey and were lower to the north and west, hiding the tops of Carn Chuinneag. It was also time to pick my descent, a decision much helped by a path leading northwestwards down to the minor top of Carn Gorm.
DSCF8470.jpg
Strathvaich hills


This proved such easy going that I neglected the path's zig-zags and followed a fenceline directly down (they share the same general route). Someone has put the rocky top to good use, crafting a shelter from the wind. Though my own response to the cooling temperature and changing weather was to continue descending, but not by the path (which leads north and, going by the map, makes a sensible but much longer route to then turn east or west).
DSCF8473.jpg
Shelter cairn on Carn Gorm


I headed due west instead, aiming for a break in the trees at NH428702, just to the right of Meallan Donn. This looked like a reasonable route to reach a track (going by my map), either 1/3 of the way down or failing that, another track crossed the burn much further downhill.
Descending the loose stone of Carn Gorm was more work due to the rocks underfoot and gradient, but after maybe 100 metres these start to blend with heather. This isn't helpful at first until the stones are better bedded and the ground gets easier, if also damper underfoot.By about 450 metres this has turned still boggier, but was still fair going until I reached an old deer-fence some way above the forestry. I followed that for a little way, but no gates were obvious so it was off with my pack, then squeeze between the rusted wires. None of the posts looked sturdy enough for climbing over.
DSCF8488.jpg
Deer fence across Bealach Culaidh


The rest of my descent was over "interesting" terrain. There was indeed an area of grass (and other low vegetation) between the trees, on each side of my chosen burn. But that turned and curved from side to side between deeper (though never too steep or distant) banks, requiring frequent crossings and sometimes squelching through boggier stretches. There were plenty of deer tracks sharing my route, but no forestry track and I wasn't inclined to turn off between the trees in search of one.
So I continued downhill, dealing with some bracken stretches (fortunately no tick attachments resulted), then a last rough stretch before attaining the main track at NH417687. This is harder underfoot, but leads across Allt na Bana-mhorair and then Allt a Gharb Bhaid before turning southwest to intersect with the path from the car-park. I could have taken an earlier track or path to reach Garbat, but wanted to avoid any possibility of having to walk alongside the A835.

The skies stayed grey and cloud crept down to touch the summit plateau, but otherwise the weather held out. With hindsight, I might have chosen to descent southwestward following one of the burns further south, or even tried to traverse the lower slopes above the forest line. But I suspect that those may also involve boggy or rough going and the real purist's route may be a circuit of Ben Wyvis with all three tops, from the east.

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Driftwood
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 308
Munros:205   Corbetts:43
Grahams:19   Donalds:24
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Joined: Jun 9, 2011

Re: Why beag for another glas on Ben Wyvis?

Postby sross » Sun Jul 12, 2015 1:05 pm

Brilliant, we did Ben Wyvis as our first munro, about 10 days earlier, but we had no idea what it looked like on top, because we were stuck in a cloud! So nice to see the views were more than lovely. :)
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sross
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Re: Why beag for another glas on Ben Wyvis?

Postby Driftwood » Sun Jul 12, 2015 8:14 pm

sross wrote:Brilliant, we did Ben Wyvis as our first munro, about 10 days earlier, but we had no idea what it looked like on top, because we were stuck in a cloud! So nice to see the views were more than lovely. :)


It's always good to be able to see the hill that you are (or were) on, even better to get a look at the surroundings too! I maybe missed out on the very longest views (it's suggested that you can see both coasts from the top of Ben Wyvis), but there was still plenty to see in all directions.
And I'm glad that you persisted and managed to enjoy the experience despite the "summer weather".
User avatar
Driftwood
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 308
Munros:205   Corbetts:43
Grahams:19   Donalds:24
Sub 2000:19   
Joined: Jun 9, 2011

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