My last day for this trip, and as I was facing a 12 hour drive, I wanted something enjoyable but achievable, and that wouldn't take too long. So Ben Wyvis it was! Has been on the list for some time, but somehow it had never managed to reach the top of the list before...what a mistake! I had a wonderful morning, and will definitely be back.
Reading on MWIS that strong winds were forecast, I left the dogs behind today, and was glad I did. Although they would have loved the lower slopes, they wouldn't have been a fan of the wind up An Cabh, and I wouldn't have been a fan of having to carry the pup back down all those wet, slippy steps!
Aided by the clock change, which I managed to forget was happening, I arrived at the car park by 08:15 in the morning. Thinking it was 9:15, I was still confused by lack of cars on the road and was slightly wondering why I was the only car in the car park. It happens every year, you'd have thought I'd have learnt by now!
After faffing about for a bit, trying to decide how much warm kit to carry, I finally set off. There was definitely a winter nip in the air, but it was dry and quite calm down in the shelter of the forest. As others have said, the walk is on a well marked path the whole way, and you'd have to try very hard to get lost, so I was free to enjoy the morning without distraction. The burn was roaring down the valley in fine style - I don't know how fast it normally moves, but it seemed to be draining a fair amount of water of the hill.
Out of the forest and onto the heather fields. Although not in flower, still lovely to walk through, with ptarmigan and dotterel and some little birds doing an amazing acrobatic display in the sky - there was plenty to keep me entertained. Of course, my poor photography skills were no match for the wildlife, and I didn't really manage to get any good shots.
I was a bit more successful at taking a couple of the views behind me whe. I stopped for a breather to the south/west
The weather forecast was for low cloud base, so i was quite encouraged to see the view behind, hoping that the visibility would last until I reached the top!
Before long, all thoughts of a gentle morning jaunt had been replaced, by the huge shadow and daunting looking challenge of An Cabh. I took a couple of snaps, but then put the camera away - time to focus and work off that enormous breakfast!
Climb started ok, and was blissfully out of the wind. Last bit felt a little never ending in a stiff breeze, and I was very glad to finally see the cairn appear on the horizon. But I did make it, and was just in time for some wonderful views - they were better in real life, you could see further through the haze...it more than made up for the exertions!
Whilst I was happily snapping looking eastwards, the cloud was sneakily moving in behind me. So when it was time to turn to go along the ridge to the summit, suddenly there was no view at all. It was actually rather lovely though, crunching through the snow in the cloak of silence and haze that the cloud brings. Didn't quite make up for missing the views...but still enjoyable!
At the summit, the cloud did clear briefly to allow a few shots, but then it was a very chilly walk back facing into an increasingly strong wind.
Just as I was heading back down from An Cabh, I saw the first of the day's other walkers fighting their way up against a now fairly sustained bit of bluster. I let them pass and then enjoyed being a child and leaning into the wind until it fully supported my weight - getting the balance was tricky, fun to feel weightless but didn't want to get blown over! Having misread the wind and continued leaning as a gust passed, I fell flat on face, and felt a bit silly, and was glad there was no-one around to see!
I ambled on down, passing a few more walkers and one seriously impressive chap who was running up (!), and then came flying past me running down. The views improved a little and the wind dropped as I descended but a steady drizzle prevailed, so perhaps not the best option to have shed my wet proof and be walking in a down jacket which got soaked through.
Almost back at the car, I turned to take one final photo of Ben Wyvis. I had thoroughly enjoyed the mornings jaunt, and it's definitely one to come back to on a day with better views. A wonderful final memory of the trip to sustain me until our next visit.
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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.