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Ben Wyvis being kind

Ben Wyvis being kind

Postby GeorgiePorgie » Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:28 pm

Route description: Ben Wyvis, near Garve

Munros included on this walk: Ben Wyvis

Date walked: 22/09/2012

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 14 km

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Finally, after some considerable time, I have now become a member of the fabulous WH website. I can't believe it has taken so long. I have found great pleasure in viewing the many and varied walk reports from all over Scotland's landscape and beyond and I would now like to include and share some of my many outings which I have done walk reports for stretching back as far as 2012.

After a week of variable weather it came as a surprise to find that the forecast for the weekend was to be excellent with great visibility. High pressure was sitting nicely over Scotland bringing warm, sunny and windless conditions – perfect for walking.

Creag Meagaidh, a Munro on Loch Lagganside was to be my next objective however, with a social night out with friends planned for Saturday evening, travelling to Lagganside would make it a long travelling day. Alternatively, I chose another Munro and one in which I had not visited yet – Ben Wyvis, NW of Dingwall in Rosshire. Being just over an hour’s drive away, this walk proved a sure bet with hopefully great views from its summit plateau.

Arising early on Saturday morning, I was heading off by 6.20am. The roads were quiet and I experienced an enjoyable drive along the Moray coastline to Inverness, then northwards across the Kessock Bridge onto the Black Isle. Turning left at the Tore Roundabout, I then headed NW up the A835 through Contin and Garve to the deserted forest car park at just before Garbat. Last night had been a cold night, proof of which showed by the frosty layer on all vegetation; Autumn indeed was on its way.

Frost on bracken.JPG
Frost on the bracken

Ben Wyvis is a huge bulk of a mountain, clearly seen from Inverness and as you travel along the Moray Firth. Its size and appearance are obvious amongst the lush rolling hills and plains of the Black Isle with nothing to match its prominence.

First view of Ben Wyvis and the Glas Leathad Mor.JPG
Ben Wyvis from the approach path

The Glen Affric hills further eastwards are probably its nearest match. What makes Ben Wyvis so unique is its long and broad 3km walk along its moss-covered plateau to its summit, the Glas Leathad Mor. Sadly this mossy blanket has been severely eroded by thousands of walkers and an ugly scar can be seen all along the plateau to the summit trigpoint at 1046m, 3432 feet. Scottish Natural Heritage are indeed attempting to control this erosion by placing notices that instruct walkers to stick to the central path. This has been a success at certain parts, shown by the moss re-growing on a few old trails, however there is still much to do.

Once ready with my boots, gloves and hat on, I set off along the pleasant path running from the car park and parallel with the A835 for a short distance. The Forestry Commission (and other organisations) must be congratulated here for constructing a good, well-drained path from here all the way to the summit of An Cabar at 946m. The car park is even called the ‘Ben Wyvis National Nature Reserve’ and has lovely information boards at the start of the path.

Info boards at start of walk.JPG
Info boards at start

The vegetation was frosty-looking. This however wouldn’t last once the sun rose into the sky. Crossing a well-constructed wooden bridge over the tumbling water of the Allt a’ Bhealaich Mhoir burn, a wicket gate was entered which took the path in a SE direction gradually upwards through a young forest plantation and the burn to my right.

Allt a Bhealaich Mhoir.JPG
The Allt a' Bhealaich Mhoir burn to my right

This was a pleasant part of the walk and gave me my first glimpse of the steep-sided bulk of Ben Wyvis which lay straight ahead. At such an early hour the quietness was a delight along with the mixed woodland and tumbling water from the burn. Sadly I saw no wildlife.

An Caber before sun breaking through.JPG
The An Cabar profile before sun up

Within 500m, the path intersected a forest main track which crossed the same burn at a well-constructed bridge. A nice picnic table was also sited here – a beautiful place to enjoy a rest or a picnic. Unfortunately, I could not stop here as I continued up the path which would take me to the open valley, the Bealach Mor between An Cabar and Little Wyvis.

Final look back to An Cabar.JPG
An Cabar at sun up with obvious path heading upwards

Within a short while I was out of the plantation and onto open ground. The burn was still with me for company. The towering bulk and steepness of An Cabar could now be seen in all its glory and an obstacle which would have to be tackled to eventually get on to the Glas Leathad Mor plateau. Little Wyvis to my right looked much tamer.
The sun now began to break over the steep slope of An Cabar gradually blanketing the ground in warm sunshine. The cold frost would not survive for long. The path continued to meander towards the base of the mountain and I knew shortly that a good sweat-on was on to climb its steep slopes. The views from this relatively low point were good with one of the prominent mountains displaying a thin layer of snow. Winter was not far away now!

The path now began to zigzag up the lower slopes which were easy. Further up the path, builders had laid massive flat-faced stones as a stairway climbing to the summit of An Cabar. This made the ascending so much easier – just like climbing a long flight of stairs! It was on this stage that two ptarmigan came out of the undergrowth and began to hop up the flagstones as if trying to help me. I couldn’t believe how tame they were undeterred by my close presence a few inches behind. Both of the birds displayed their upper camouflage of rustic brown and pure white below, another indication that winter wasn’t too far away. As they waddled over granite rocks, it was indeed difficult to detect their presence due to their magnificent and perfect camouflaging.

Ptarmigan on path.JPG
Ptarmigan on the stoned path

Big rock on path.JPG
Big rock on ascent

Looking towards Little Wyvis.JPG
Little Wyvis from the ascent path

Heading on up the stepped pathway, altitude was gained quite quickly and in didn’t take long until I reached the rock protruding outcrop signifying the summit of An Cabar. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the summit as I now observed the path climbing a gradual slope to the now obvious cairn of stones. Before heading on upwards, a few minutes were spent looking at the ever-improving views which now truly began to open up.
An easy stroll took me to the small cairn, but unbeknown to myself I was able to see a further larger cairn which surely was the summit of the Munro Top (An Cabar). Thankfully this was the true summit. The summit cairn displayed a notice which brought your attention to the erosion problem on this mountain plateau as discussed earlier in this report. Sitting down here for some refreshment, the stony seat felt cold with its frosty coat. The sun had not yet penetrated up this far.

An Cabar cairn.JPG
Summit cairn of An Cabar at 946m

It was a hard slog to get to this point however, but now the 3km that lay between me and the summit of Ben Wyvis would now be much easier over an undulating, mossy and springy ground. Ahead of me now could be seen the ugly erosion scars which would indicate the way to the summit. All the way along this plateau, the short undulations were dealt with easily – I hardly noticed the effort in climbing the short ascents to each round knoll.
The views were absolutely stunning now; a panorama of mountains could be observed including the Glen Affric & Strathfarrar Hills, Torridon & Ullapool Hills, Suilven and Ben Hope away to the far north and as a contrast the flat coastal scenery of Invergordon, the Cromarty and the Moray Firth. I’m also sure that I could make out the Cuillins of Skye. Sadly, the views to the south were very poor as I couldn’t view any of the Cairngorm range but could possibly view Ben Nevis.

Looking NE on the Glas Leathad Mor towards Ben Wyvis.JPG
The Glas Leathad Mor looking towards Ben Wyvis summit

After an enjoyable stroll across this undulating landscape, I soon had the summit cairn in sight. All that remained was for a final rise to the highest point on this plateau. The trigpoint at the summit was surrounded by a small windbreak of large rocks – quite useful in bad weather. Once again there was the obvious rusted fence post marking a boundary at one time; how many hills have I done in Scotland that have these ugly things on their summit ridge or plateau. It’s as if the mountain has to be shared between landowners. Putting this annoyance to one side, I now concentrated in soaking up the amphitheatre of hills. Walking to the east of the summit, I soon reached the fertile mossy covering that is so cherished by the scientists and environmentalists. I was now able to look down the steep slopes to Coire na Feola, a wild and lonely place of streams and peat hags. The air was so still that you could hear almost every channel of water running from the corrie out into the open ground.

Summit of Ben Wyvis, 1046m, 3432 ft.JPG
The summit trigpoint of Ben Wyvis at 1046m

Oil platforms at Invergordon.JPG
Oil rigs at distant Invergordon

Coire na Feola (2).JPG
Coire na Feola from the summit

Distant hills from summit.JPG
Distant hills from the summit

Retracing my steps now I was able to view the two prominent hills continuing along the plateau to the north – Tom a’ Choinnich, a Munro Top and Carn Gorm, a Graham. I was tempted to carry on scaling these two hills but looking down to the left, the route passed through difficult terrain as well as a large area of felled forest. Instead I retraced my steps and headed back the way I had come.
Shortly after leaving the summit, I met my first contact of the day, a fit young lad striding out to the summit. After this, I now met a string of people at various sections of the descent. It pays to get out early to get the hills to yourself. The descent of An Cabar produced many walkers heading up this popular mountain including a party of walkers consisting of approximately twelve people.

On descent of An Cabar.JPG
Looking down to the Bealach Mor on the descent of An Cabar

The weather was now beginning to warm up nicely as the sun now shone its warmth on all the surrounding landscape. I stopped for a quick bite to eat and tea break at a large rock on the way down from An Cabar. Just before heading down through the forest plantation, the young lad who I had first met just off the summit passed me in a hurry mentioning something about attending a football match in the afternoon.
Going through the wicket gate, I now just had the short walk to reach the car park now brimming full with cars. On the drive back to Forres, I made a brief stop at the Rogie Falls to view them. Once done, it was back in the car for the enjoyable drive back to Forres.

On such a perfect day as this it would have been crazy not to get out onto the hills; too few days are experienced like today in Scotland! Ben Wyvis is a very popular mountain amongst walkers bringing no major challenges to climb it. The improvement to the path has certainly made this area accessible even to the less experienced walkers. This was my 35th Munro climbed and one to be cherished due to the spectacular views from the summit plateau.
Final look back to An Cabar.JPG
An Cabar from the approach path

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Re: Ben Wyvis being kind

Postby rockhopper » Fri Sep 25, 2015 10:05 am

Welcome :thumbup: You certainly picked a good for this walk - nice first WR as well :clap: - cheers :)
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