walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
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.

Hope in the highlands - the Sutherland massif!

Hope in the highlands - the Sutherland massif!


Postby Jaxter » Wed May 04, 2016 12:26 am

Route description: Ben Hope

Munros included on this walk: Ben Hope, Ben Klibreck

Date walked: 30/04/2016

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 21.5 km

Ascent: 1696m

8 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Our usual super early start saw us driving through Sutherland in the most amazing early morning light. This was my first visit to the 'proper north' and it was stunning. An inversion over the firth set the bar high early on, and as A roads turned into bumpy single track roads we were able to see our targets for the day.

Inversion
Image

Staggy McStagface
Image

We were relieved to discover that the bridge past Alltnacaillich was open so we were able to sail straight through to the parking area at the bottom of Ben Hope and save ourselves a few miles yomp along the road :D

We were the first to arrive and quickly booted up and readied ourselves for Scotland's most northerly Munro. However, just as we were about to set off it started raining. Disappointed, the waterproofs were straight on, and we set off up the path to Ben Hope. Luckily there was little scope for getting it wrong... :lol:

(Taken later, hence blue sky :wink: )
Image

There was no easy walk in here, this path is brutal and rocky and really gets the blood pumping. Any cobwebs quickly dissipated as we climbed steadily beside a series of waterfalls. The rain soon eased and we were treated to some magical views.

Back down the Glen
Image

Up to the crags on Ben Hope
Image

After a while, the path crosses the stream and becomes flatter (and boggier) for a time, before steepening again towards the bealach. Fortunately it stopped raining fairly quickly, visibility returned and jackets were stripped off for the majority of the ascent, otherwise it would have been seriously hot work :lol:

Coming out of the shelter of the cliffs, we could feel the wind picking up. The views everywhere were amazing, the mountains themselves seem so isolated - big bumps on a big flat plain. Looking further west, I was excited to see a larger mass of awesome looking mountains, which turned out to be Foinaven and Arkle. Deciding that they were definitely worth coming back for, we pressed on. The way ahead was clear and there was a path to guide us for now.

Looking back
Image

Image

Across to (I think) Sail Romascaig
Image

Now into the snow, we were still able to follow the path and there was a set of invisible man footprints too for reassurance. Eventually the snow became too deep to follow the zig zags and we began to make our own route, following the curve of the cliff up and up and up.

Image

Walking was hard work here as there was a lot of snow; fortunately mostly relatively stable and we were able to progress without too many sinkages.

The distance here is deceptive, plenty of false summits to get our hopes up as it was hard to judge our height without anything else close by. The wind was very cold now and jackets were back on.

Stopping on a false summit for a quick breather, we could see the bad weather starting to close in on some of the distant peaks and figured we had better get more photos while we could. The views out to the North Sea were awesome.

Image

Me walking off in the distance
Image

Towards Foinaven and Arkle with angry clouds
Image

Looking back
Image

Approaching a rockier section, I could see 2 rocks that looked like an entrance to something. We later decided that they were the Gates of Hope... :lol:
Image

Finally coming over the final bump, I could see the trig point a short distance away. Now completely exposed, the wind was pretty brutal, snow was being whipped around and it was freezing, but wow it was worth it - the views were awesome :thumbup:

Me standing by the trig
Image

I realised I'd have a bit of a wait so I settled down in the shelter looking north. Not a bad spot to sit in!

Image

North
Image

Other North... :roll:
Image

Unfortunately, a large cloud decided to sit on top of Ben Hope and when i was finally joined, he wasn't greeted by the same views that I had enjoyed...you snooze you lose pal... :lol:

Luckily a few minutes later it cleared and summit pictures were taken.
Image

I decided that i wanted to sit on the trig point but managed to get stuck and required assistance.
Image

Success :D
Image

It was very cold, so we had a quick macaroon and set off back down. Sinking into the soft snow made for a much easier descent and we found ourselves loosing height very quickly. It began to get rockier which slowed us down and eventually we were out of the snow altogether and soon back to the boggy bealach.

Here we started meeting a lot of people on their way up. It was strange suddenly seeing people in such an isolated spot! But the sun was out and it was a lovely day...for now :shock: 8)

Managing to get some pictures of the amazing waterfalls which we had missed on the way up as we had been concentrating hard, we arrived back at the car park, now much busier, and chucked all our stuff in the car.

Image

We set off down the road but after a couple of minutes, a squealing sound started coming from the car :shock: ...after crawling around on the ground we worked out where it was coming from but as neither of us were car mechanic-y enough to diagnose, we were clueless :crazy: Going for the 'maybe it'll stop in a minute' method of repair, we continued slowly :roll: and to our great relief it did stop! We later wondered if a small stone had got stuck in the wheel...but the important thing was that we could continue :lol:

Getting stuck into our sandwiches and a Toblerone, we enjoyed the views and started to scope out the mass that was Ben Klibreck, an absolutely huge mountain!

Finally locating the correct parking area we readied ourselves. The skies were blue and the sun was shining so waterproofs were off as we crossed the road and headed along the ATV track heading for the ridge. Klibreck is notorious for being a bog trot so we were not surprised to find ourselves squelching through some very squidgy ground :shock:

Klibreck ahead
Image

Ben Loyal
Image

Ben Hope, zoomed
Image

Legs were feeling quite tired on our second ascent of the day but we made steady progress up Cnoc Sgriodain, eventually arriving at a huge cairn - sadly not the summit but the views of our route were visible and it looked a long way!
Image

Ahead to Klibreck
Image

Image

Views out to Ben Loyal were amazing and this mountain is one I definitely plan to return to climb.
Image

Hope seems a long way away... :lol:
Image

Loyal and Hope
Image

Now walking on a lovely mossy carpet, we dropped back down into a bog before heading back up the next bit of the ridge. There were a few of these ups and downs before the bypass path headed off left. There was plenty of snow but the path looked ok so we went for it, not really wanting any extra ascent :lol:

Halfway along, suddenly the weather started throwing hail at us :shock: It was windy and exposed so this was painful and an awkward manoeuvre saw me put on the waterproofs and add more layers whilst standing in snow trying not to get blown off the edge... :shock:

View from the bealach
Image

Sadly visibility was gone as well so we plodded along through the clag, eventually coming out at the bealach and following the path over the top of what must have been A'Chioch. The clag cleared very briefly here and we were able to see ahead for a few minutes.

Image

However, it didn't last, and before long all we could make out was the bulk of the final cone looming out of the clag. We headed off, initially scrambling over craggy rocks before following a sort of path across snowy rocks. It was very steep and as the clag and wind were unrelenting I had to wait to make sure we didn't get separated.

Magically, everything started to clear as we approached the top and we were able to see views back along the ridge and towards Ben Hope.
Image

Frantically taking pictures, I made a dash for the summit, hoping it would be clear, but sadly it was not to be, and I arrived in a howling gale of clag and snow :lol:

Trig-gate at the summit :lol:
Image

There was little shelter so I sat down behind the fallen trig points to wait :roll:
Image

The conditions were horrible so we headed back downwards fairly swiftly. Feeling lazy, I tried for a bum slide down some deep snow and to my great joy it worked! We were down most of the way back to the bealach in a few seconds :lol:

Image

The weather started to clear a bit here as well and we were able to see again.
Image

Feeling pretty knackered by this point we marched on, deciding to take the bypass path again and avoid climbing over Creag an Lochain (By decided I mean climbing it was vetoed by my companion... :roll: )

Image

The weather was better now, with only the odd shower as we marched back along the ridge, squelched through the bog, picked up the track and made it back to the car, feeling knackered but satisfied. Loading up on more toblerone, we set off back down the long and winding road back towards Inverness, and dinner.

Cute wee hoose at Bonar Bridge
Image

I really enjoyed my first foray into Sutherland - it's an amazing part of the country. Ben Loyal and Arkle and Foinaven are definitely high on my list of priorities next time I can get that far north 8) :D
Last edited by Jaxter on Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
Jaxter
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1178
Munros:199   Corbetts:116
Grahams:47   Donalds:45
Sub 2000:52   Hewitts:50
Wainwrights:53   Islands:24
Joined: Aug 8, 2011
Location: Glasgow

Re: Hope in the highlands - the Sutherland massif!

Postby ancancha » Wed May 04, 2016 1:04 am

A fun read with good photos of beautiful scenery Jaxter :clap:
Team Jaxter are fair covering the ground :!:
User avatar
ancancha
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 986
Munros:84   Corbetts:3
Grahams:1   Donalds:1
Joined: Jun 30, 2014
Location: Killadysert

Re: Hope in the highlands - the Sutherland massif!

Postby jamesb63 » Wed May 04, 2016 7:21 am

Very nice report Jax ,and laced with some great pics :clap: :clap:
this is the way I plan to do these 2 so good to see them both :D
User avatar
jamesb63
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 397
Munros:218   Corbetts:2
Sub 2000:2   
Joined: Apr 14, 2015
Location: Alexandria

Re: Hope in the highlands - the Sutherland massif!

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Wed May 04, 2016 12:54 pm

You make it sound such fun and some lovely pictures.
User avatar
Cairngorm creeper
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 664
Munros:139   Corbetts:20
Grahams:6   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:15
Wainwrights:9   
Joined: Jun 4, 2013
Location: Nr. Grantown-on-Spey

Re: Hope in the highlands - the Sutherland massif!

Postby arjh » Wed May 04, 2016 8:59 pm

Great report, Sutherland and Assynt are my favourite places in Scotland - the mountains rearing up out of the wilderness are so impressive.

Foinaven in particular is one of Scotland's great mountains, and despite not being a Munro is a full-on day out with a long walk in and plenty of summits on the massif, you'll love it! :D
User avatar
arjh
Scrambler
 
Posts: 80
Munros:90   Corbetts:23
Grahams:9   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:252
Wainwrights:131   Islands:6
Joined: Sep 5, 2015
Location: Sussex

Re: Hope in the highlands - the Sutherland massif!

Postby Collaciotach » Wed May 04, 2016 10:47 pm

Good photos a' chaileag :D
User avatar
Collaciotach
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 1730
Munros:282   Corbetts:117
Grahams:30   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:20   
Islands:28
Joined: Aug 8, 2011
Location: Gaidhealtachd an Iar

Re: Hope in the highlands - the Sutherland massif!

Postby Jaxter » Wed May 04, 2016 11:45 pm

ancancha wrote:A fun read with good photos of beautiful scenery Jaxter :clap:
Team Jaxter are fair covering the ground :!:

Thankyou! Team Jaxter...aye I like that :lol: :D



jamesb63 wrote:Very nice report Jax ,and laced with some great pics :clap: :clap:
this is the way I plan to do these 2 so good to see them both :D

Cheers - hope you get good weather. Amazing place! :D :D



Cairngorm creeper wrote:You make it sound such fun and some lovely pictures.

Cheers - it was :D



arjh wrote:Great report, Sutherland and Assynt are my favourite places in Scotland - the mountains rearing up out of the wilderness are so impressive.

Foinaven in particular is one of Scotland's great mountains, and despite not being a Munro is a full-on day out with a long walk in and plenty of summits on the massif, you'll love it! :D

Thanks :D Aye Foinaven looks ace, and Ben Loyal too. Shame it's so far away, although I guess that's part of what makes it so special :roll: :D



Collaciotach wrote:Good photos a' chaileag :D

Thankyou :D :D
User avatar
Jaxter
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1178
Munros:199   Corbetts:116
Grahams:47   Donalds:45
Sub 2000:52   Hewitts:50
Wainwrights:53   Islands:24
Joined: Aug 8, 2011
Location: Glasgow

Re: Hope in the highlands - the Sutherland massif!

Postby Magoo82 » Thu May 05, 2016 10:09 am

Good stuff. Looks like there's still plenty of the white stuff up there. I'm hoping to drive up tomorrow to do Ben Hope (once i've spoken to my gaffer to arrange the day off!) but i'll just be doing the one. I'm not as energetic as you!
User avatar
Magoo82
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 139
Munros:173   Corbetts:5
Grahams:1   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:1
Wainwrights:2   Islands:15
Joined: Apr 2, 2011
Location: Coldside, Dundee

8 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: chazzyboy19, MJ Miller, Roger T, sjfleming and 38 guests