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A Tough Day on the Assynt Munros

A Tough Day on the Assynt Munros


Postby roscoT » Wed May 11, 2016 10:14 pm

Route description: Ben More Assynt and Conival

Munros included on this walk: Ben More Assynt, Conival

Date walked: 07/05/2016

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 17.6 km

Ascent: 1351m

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conival and bma.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


A double hangover from both the previous day's toils and the subsequent night's drinking left us feeling somewhat sluggish at breakfast. Luckily, as we were staying at Inchnadamph lodge, we did not need to drive anywhere to reach our targets for the day - Conival and Ben More Assynt, the area's only munros. Forecast suggested cloud would clear by midday, but a blustery wind would continue throughout high up. That turned out to be somewhat inaccurate and somewhat of an understatement respectively. A hat trick of 'un's would be completed by a fair degree of underestimation by these two idiots:

Imagestarting off by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The walk starts on an undulating track for a few kilometres, over the River Trallgill and past an attractive holiday cottage, with Conival peeping out behind Fuarnan nan Each, eventually forking on grass - left to the hills and right to the caves. We decided to take a detour and have a look at the caves first.

Imagecloud-covered conival, right by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageCanisp by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageFork by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

We should have studied the maps in more detail beforehand, as we only found 2 cave entrances and, after looking for others furthers north (and failing), we cut our own track back over the river, with decent views back to Loch Assynt. Euan came a cropper leaping a burn, jarring his knee. Some anti-inflammatory gel thankfully soon put paid to this.

ImageCaves by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020470 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageLoch Assynt and Quinag by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBefore by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageOuch by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

There was a path next to the river, however after consulting our map and the WH route, we realised the hill path must be higher up, so clambered up steep lumpy ground to try (and again fail) to find a path to the valley to the west of Conival. It seemed there was no path to be found, and after consulting the GPS route, it seems WH would rather you walk over lumpy undulating stuff than follow a gentle path along the river then climb? Oh well. Across this moorland, the wind suddenly picked up, flapping our clothing and chilling our bodies. This was the start of a wind that would not relent for another 6 hours :shock: We saw a family of roe deer nearby, however I managed to delete the one good photo of them (a likely story I know).

Imagewindy by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Large grey boulders herald the arrival of the path alongside the burn, which rises steeply over stones and bog. It's a long way up to the bealach, but does provide a lot of fun in picking a line, if you are that way inclined. There is also a fun wee scramble up the back of a hanging valley just before the bealach is reached. Coming over the top, the wind picked up still a few knots further. Views behind were still good, but Conival remained shrouded in dense grey cloud.

ImageP1020494 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020495 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020501 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageCanisp and Suilven behind by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageFrom the bealach by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Walking into the gloom, the route hangs right and zigzags up the stony flank of Conival. The wind continued to batter us, with sleet slicing our faces intermittently. With some relief, the stone shelter at the summit appeared through the mist and we stopped, frozen, for lunch. It was at this point that Euan decided to deploy his group shelter, in a somewhat unorthodox fashion :lol: In any case, he smelled terrible, so I decided to stay outside. We were not quite in mortal peril yet.

ImageP1020513 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020514 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020518 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020519 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageMingin by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageSummit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageGroup shelter fail by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

My feet were somehow wet and getting pretty cold, so I wanted to keep moving. As we approached the top of the ridge to Ben More Assynt, the cloud miraculously cleared and we had 15 minutes of half decent views all around. The ridge is great fun, with a couple of little knife edge bits, some steep descents as well as ascents, but it was a bit of a slog into the wind. We met a couple of Scandinavian lads down here who were staying at our hostel, who advised they had had approximately zero views at the summit. Oh well. Managed to spot someone back on the approach to Conival who had turned back (either that or our paths had somehow not crossed). We would see a few more turn back before the end of the day.

Imageridge from Conival by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageNa Tuadhan and north by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020548 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020553 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020554 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020557 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020560 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imageonward by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageQuinag by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020577 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagelast snowfield by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020585 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

By the time Ben More Assynt was reached, the cloud again began to roll in, and after a fun game throwing stones and an apple core (which lasted far longer than it should have for two supposedly mature adults), we started to beat our retreat. 4 hours in, the exertion against the wind to this point meant we just wanted to get down. Climbing back over the ridge seemed harder than going the other way, with one particular steep snowfield causing some difficulty.

ImageBMA summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagebackward by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020601 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Past Conival we went, pain and discomfort etched on our faces. The wind seemed to increase even more, with hail slicing out cheeks. In our haste to get to the bealach in the gale, we very nearly strayed off course and into the steeper west side of the hanging valley, but luckily realised our mistake in enough time to correct it. Foot placement over the rocks was pretty difficult.

ImageP1020604 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The bealach reached, now out of the clag, we descended quickly all the way to the river (the way we SHOULD have came up) and the path. We flopped along the now busy path back to the hostel to dry our clothes and bodies, thoroughly knackered. Luckily, it was only 4.30pm, so we had plenty time to recharge - for the mighty Quinag beckoned us!

A tough day but, as an old man told us wistfully days later, "a bad day on the hills is better than a good day in the office". Writing this from my office, I could not agree more.

Imagebealach, canisp, suilven and cul mor by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagedownward scramble by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020615 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020620 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
User avatar
roscoT
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 227
Munros:121   Corbetts:23
Grahams:13   Donalds:14
Sub 2000:14   Hewitts:5
Wainwrights:3   
Joined: Jul 26, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: A Tough Day on the Assynt Munros

Postby Alteknacker » Wed May 18, 2016 8:12 am

Still looks like an amazing place, perfect weather or not!!!
User avatar
Alteknacker
Scrambler
 
Posts: 2429
Munros:162   Corbetts:28
Hewitts:190
Wainwrights:71   
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

Re: A Tough Day on the Assynt Munros

Postby Gordie12 » Thu May 19, 2016 12:15 pm

"Interesting" day Ross and similar to my philosophy that a bad day in the hills always beats any day in the office.

Having done Canisp and Quinag last year I'm looking to head back to walk these two this year but as it's a drive up and back in a day I'm happy to wait until I know I'll get a decent day.
User avatar
Gordie12
Walker
 
Posts: 1730
Munros:112   Corbetts:62
Grahams:17   Donalds:21
Sub 2000:35   Hewitts:18
Wainwrights:17   
Joined: Sep 6, 2012
Location: Nr Forfar

Re: A Tough Day on the Assynt Munros

Postby roscoT » Mon May 30, 2016 12:32 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Still looks like an amazing place, perfect weather or not!!!


Definitely still worth it, as always, Alteknacker!

Gordie12 wrote:"Interesting" day Ross and similar to my philosophy that a bad day in the hills always beats any day in the office.

Having done Canisp and Quinag last year I'm looking to head back to walk these two this year but as it's a drive up and back in a day I'm happy to wait until I know I'll get a decent day.


Interesting it most certainly was, it was more the wind than the clag that made it uncomfortable - swirling around the ridge and inescapable! If you wait for your decent day, I'm sure the ridge walk will be stunning!
User avatar
roscoT
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 227
Munros:121   Corbetts:23
Grahams:13   Donalds:14
Sub 2000:14   Hewitts:5
Wainwrights:3   
Joined: Jul 26, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: A Tough Day on the Assynt Munros

Postby simon-b » Mon May 30, 2016 6:18 pm

roscoT wrote:If you wait for your decent day, I'm sure the ridge walk will be stunning!

You're right Ross. I was lucky enough to do these on a sunny day and the ridge was delightful, well worth doing in both directions. But like us all, I've also had my share of bad weather on the hills.

Nice report, described the day's ups and downs well.
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simon-b
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1872
Munros:282   Corbetts:28
Grahams:7   Donalds:12
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:156
Wainwrights:214   
Joined: Jan 2, 2012
Location: Wakefield, West Yorkshire

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