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Ullapool3 - Conival & Ben More Assynt with Nathan79

Ullapool3 - Conival & Ben More Assynt with Nathan79

Postby mountain coward » Thu Sep 23, 2010 6:04 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben More Assynt, Conival

Date walked: 07/09/2010

Time taken: 6.8 hours

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Stats: 11 miles, 3564 feet of ascent, 6 hours 50 – me, Richard and Nathan79 off the website :D

I always say that the mark of a truly great hill is one you enjoy even in less than perfect weather – these are two such hills!

Sent a text to Nathan to see if he’d arrived at Ullapool SYHA on the Tue night and actually took my phone out to the pub – and even left it switched on! (didn’t buy it a drink though). Anyway, he mustn’t have got my text till the next morning when he sent a text just after 0800 saying he was heading for Conival & Ben More Assynt as it looked a nice day. He said 1030 so, with it being just 0905 (I’d just got up) I thought plenty of time for brekkie and even considered going back to bed for half an hour! After a while I started to wake up properly and think - I realised he might mean he was setting off up the hill (half an hour away) at 1030 and not setting off from the hostel at that time. I was helped in this deduction by the realisation that Youth Hostels throw you out in the morning at 10...

I quickly rang Nathan’s phone but it went to voicemail so I left him a message querying which he meant. He rang me back and said he was en route to Inchnadamph at that moment! Eek! By now it was 0950! I quickly bolted a bowl of Alpen down and told Richard we had to set off in a minute (he was already ready and had done the flasks and everything – he’s so organised!). We chucked everything in the car and were heading up the road by 10.

I shot past everything we caught up with and made it to the carpark bang on 1030 – phew! We’d swapped car details and so I parked next to his car, got out and did my usual of introducing myself... but completely forgetting to introduce poor Richard! I’m so rude... I rectified my mistake when we’d got our boots on and then we were off up the road from the carpark...

We walked quite a way up the road when I realised we’d gone way too far and we should have turned up the glen just after the river. Nathan got out his printed Walkhighland notes and we turned back for the track to Inchnadamph bunkhouse. I think my error was because I never realised there was an Inchnadamph Hotel AND Lodge...

We set off on the landrover track up the glen at a good pace. The track eventually changes to a single walkers’ track after a wooden hut. Nathan was in front and setting a cracking pace up the glen – so cracking in fact that Richard and I started to struggle to keep up! I was trying to stay an even distance between Nathan and Richard so Nathan didn’t feel we were lagging and Richard didn’t think I was abandoning him. I was getting a bit out of puff and realised there was no way Richard and I could keep that speed up when we reached the ascent of the hill!

At the foot of the steep burnside route up to the col, we paused for a minute and I managed to position myself in front so I could get us to do my usual slow and steady plod up the steep bit. It felt much quicker to the top of this bit than it initially looked and, although a bit soggy and getting eroded, quite pleasant. There were nice, green, mossy waterfalls up the burn and it was in quite a gill. All the scenery was magnificent apart from the fact that everything was topless (not me for a change!) – every summit was shaved off by cloud.

At the top of the climb up the burn the path crosses it and heads up scree to a small craggy area. We stopped here for a break as it was sunny and sheltered – it looked very windy up top again though. I spent a lot of time watching the clouds scud above us and tried to assess whether it was as bad as yesterday (Canisp hurricane day). I thought it looked nearly as bad and wondered aloud whether we’d be turning back?

After our break we headed up the scree to the small crag. It was very stepped and easy to ascend and took us onto a nice col with, unfortunately, no view whatsoever down the back at that stage. We could see our path setting off zig-zagging up Conival and a couple we’d been following just ahead. It looked quite steep but wasn’t worryingly so. The wind did start to get very playful though...

We were quite a way up the zig-zag and I kept an eye on my 2 companions as it was pretty misty. Richard was up with me but Nathan seemed to be having problems. We waited for him to catch up and it turned out he was getting cramp in his thigh – ouch! :(

The zig-zag up the scree was pretty short and steep and we were soon up it. From there the slope eased off and it became firmer underfoot. We headed up into the mist and saw a summit-like hump looming – when we got there we saw we still had some climbing to do. There were a few false summits looming as it was so misty – had it been a clear day, I’m sure we’d have known we were nowhere near... Eventually it totally flattened out but the next hump in the mist wasn’t the summit either. Then we started to curve round slowly to the east, still going level and on a pleasantly narrow ridge. Eventually we were heading east, seemingly for ages. We kept checking the map and the instructions and started to think we’d missed the summit and were setting off along the ridge to Ben More Assynt.

Eventually, the cairn and shelter loomed out of the mist with the couple we’d been following installed in it. Turned out they were on Walk Highlands too but not posters. We all squashed into the shelter and had some refreshment. Nathan showed us a novel use for his flask when he used it to roll it along his thigh to try to sort out the cramping muscles – very resourceful!

After about 15 minutes, I started to get cold – as did the other lady in the shelter. Also, I was starting to get traditionally nervous as the book had mentioned the words ‘narrow in places’ for the ridge to Ben More Assynt. Although at that particular place it was calm, I just knew the strong winds were waiting for us out on the ridge (as they were southerly so would be a direct crosswind). We all set off along the ridge but I decided I’d be happiest if I cracked on and hurried along it. We communicated this to Nathan and left the 3 to continue at their own pace behind us while I rushed off with Richard.

Anyway, the rocky ridge went on into the mist... it went up and down... it had the odd slightly clambery bit... but it never really got narrow at all! In the end, apart from the gale which, on parts of the ridge, started blasting at us from the side, we both started to thoroughly enjoy it – that’s not to say we weren’t becoming knackered with all the ups and downs though, especially towards Ben More Assynt where there is quite a big up and down! Everyone we met was quizzed by me as to whether the ridge got narrow and scary anywhere, and also how much further it was (it’s always nice to have some idea when you can’t see anything).

Suddenly, after climbing up from the large dip, we saw a lump looming out of the mist and just to its left were the two northern summits. As we turned to them it became horribly gusty so we clawed our way along the rocks, visited both summits, clawed our way back to the lee side of the rocks and made an immediate return to the ridge. We were shortly met by the couple but no Nathan. We asked where he was and they said he was just behind them. We found him on the top of the peak before the big drop down still having trouble with cramp. We told him it was just one more down and up but he decided to come back along the ridge and leave the summit until next time.

The ridge was just as enjoyable in reverse. We were soon passing Conival’s summit and then descending back down the scree zig-zag. The mist actually cleared for a few moments at a time and we saw the gorgeous views of chains of lochs over the back of the hill – looked a fascinating area. I got a couple of not-very-good photos as they were too misty to get what I wanted to show.

We found a completely different part of the small crag band to descend – much more fun – about twice as high as where we’d gone up and a nice gully to descend. Still all very easy though. All the way back down I was looking back to get a decent photo of Conival – the cloud stayed stubbornly on top! I took quite a few photos on the return though (it’s rare I take any on the way to the mountain) so was lagging behind all the way back.

At the bottom of the steep descent, we shot off back along the burn at another cracking pace but I have to say the walk out seemed to take forever to me – Richard later said the same. It seemed a lot longer than on the way in. We’d debated about visiting the Traligill caves but changed our mind when we got nearer to them, partly as they will be a good rainy-day option on a later date.

Eventually we reached the cars where we had a small picnic at one of the picnic tables while we aired our boots and socks etc. After a while it started to get midgy so we packed up and went our separate ways. Thanks for your company Nathan.

Pics in descent order as I only took them on the way back (so like walking the route backwards! :D )

Beinn an Fhuarain fm Conival col.jpg
Behind Conival.jpg
The Short Clamber on Conival.jpg
Crag Band out of Conival corrie.jpg
Conival from ascent corrie.jpg
Descent down Glen Dubh.jpg
Canisp from Conival descent.jpg
Black Cloud over Breabag.jpg
Mossy Waterfalls.jpg
Breabag fm Conival descent.jpg
Conival coming out of mist.jpg
Conival in sunshine.jpg
River Traligill,Conival Behind.jpg
Traligill River, Conival Behind.jpg
Last edited by mountain coward on Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:18 am, edited 3 times in total.
mountain coward

Re: Ullapool3 - Conival & Ben More Assynt with Nathan79

Postby walk aboot » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:37 pm

Again, great report, MC, brilliant description :) . Yup, like that, a hill you like in any weather :D .
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walk aboot
Posts: 2465
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Re: Ullapool3 - Conival & Ben More Assynt with Nathan79

Postby mountain coward » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:13 pm

We're definitely going for these 2 again - Richard wants to do the ridge between Ben More Assynts main summit and the south top and I'm going to go and have a look at it so we'll be going up between Breabag and Conival... If I can't do the ridge, I'm just going to do the South top and then Breabag :D
mountain coward

Re: Ullapool3 - Conival & Ben More Assynt with Nathan79

Postby mountain coward » Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:05 am

Adding photos...
mountain coward

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