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Great squelcher of a day

Great squelcher of a day

Postby grummerie » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:58 pm

Route description: Ben Hope

Munros included on this walk: Ben Hope

Date walked: 20/09/2010

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 7 km

Ascent: 946m

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Staying near Achilitibuie in a rented house, I decided to tackle the northernmost of Munros first (I figure a two and a half hour drive from the holiday house is a lot more reasonable than a six and a half hour drive from home... so why not?!?). Rain had been constant overnight and into the morning, but the forecast was for it to brighten up so I set out with high hopes.

Long drive...!! Kept amused by the road-side warnings in alternating German and English, though.
022.Sign that amused me.JPG

Arrived at the Strathmore car park around midday and chose a spot at the northern end - big mistake. This end of the car park was muddy and particularly midge-infested, so after a couple of minutes I re-parked at the southern end.

Set off at 12.15pm with no queries as to where the start-point was...
007.Useful sign.JPG

Where not walking up what felt like part of a stream the path was, in many places, very muddy - not nice peaty mud that is both soft and firm, but proper mud... put-your-foot-down-and-wait-to-see-where-it-ends-up kind of mud... so I was particularly glad to be wearing gaiters.

The ascent was quick and relatively painless, however after a little over an hour I reached the cloud base. So much for it clearing up. There was a brief shower at the base of the cloud but after that just dampness. My pace altered a lot with the various changes in under-foot conditions and the steepness of the climb, but all in all I kept up a pretty good lick. Perhaps it was the lack of visibility, or maybe just me being somewhat out of practice, but this felt like the hill that kept on giving. Two or three times I thought I was rounding onto the summit only to see another mass looming ahead.

I stopped for a quick bite to eat at around 2.05pm - standing to eat as the terrain was becoming a bit muddy and water-logged again. Immediately afterwards the mud-factor increased but this turned out to be the final haul. I arrived at the summit almost exactly two hours after setting off with spectacular views, as you can see...
018.Me and the view.JPG

Although the wind wasn't strong it was cold. And somehow despite there being a decent sized shelter by the trig point I couldn't find a spot comfortable enough to sit in and have the celebratory cup of tea, so I began the descent at 2.30pm.

Again, the descent was pretty painless - the only problem sometimes being the mud factor and the uncertainty of having gained good purchase on the ground below. The cloud base had risen maybe 100m or so, but thankfully the summit hadn't cleared as soon as I had departed!
019.Descending through cloud.JPG

At 4pm I trudged back down to road level having made use of one of the many waterfalls to clean my boots and re-entered the car park, where I was greeted by a couple I had passed close to the summit who had boiled too much water on their camping stove and offered me a coffee - nice way to end the walk having a blether with them.

All in all a very enjoyable walk, but disappointing not to have experienced the view. Kind of to be expected though, isn't it? And so I cleaned up, changed and drove the long two and half hours on mostly single track roads back to the rented house... a little bit pleased to see that even Stac Pollaidh hadn't fully avoided the low cloud of the day...
024.Stac Pollaidh in cloud 2.JPG

A friend of mine has said she wants to keep Ben Hope for her last Munro (with Ben Lomond having been her first). On reflection, I would advise her not to - apart from the sheer distance involved in getting to it, if you wanted to bag your 283rd Munro in typical fashion with friends and family members alike tagging along it is not without its perils: steep in places, rocky at times, and (as I felt) deceptive in height - and then there is also the mud. It would probably put a dampener on the party if your inexperienced Uncle Fred was last seen at 3.20pm on his bum sliding towards a cliff-edge... Just a thought...!!
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Re: Great squelcher of a day

Postby Barnety2000 » Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:43 pm

Looks like typical Scottish weather you had there! :lol:

I am a believer that shelters should not be seen right at the summits of mountains as they do add too much of an anthropogenic feel and spoil the wild feeling...however they can have their uses during times of bad weather, so a limited number must be tolerated! :)
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Re: Great squelcher of a day

Postby goth_angel » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:22 pm

Did this last year and found it far harder work than I was expecting - lots of bog - but enjoyed it anyway. Mind you we got views. (sorry!)
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Re: Great squelcher of a day

Postby Derek Wardlaw » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:06 pm

I was up on Ben Hope a few days ago and it was the boggiest mess I've experienced so far, for its height it is very deceptive and the general paths were strewn with loose rocks, it made for a walk where you had to make sure of every step which was a bit of a pain, most of the paths were running streams. and just to put the tin lid on it the clag was impossible from half way up to the summit, I can safely say I wont be back up there in any hurry...my mate is looking to do it soon, I will be advising him to pack his waders. :(
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