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Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops! Now With Photos

Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops! Now With Photos


Postby mountain coward » Thu Sep 23, 2010 6:11 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Wyvis

Date walked: 08/09/2010

Time taken: 6.25 hours

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Stats: 17.5 miles, 4293 feet of ascent, 6 hrs 15. On own (Richard has more sense and also wanted a day off)

As Richard wanted another day off after our ascent of Conival & Ben More Assynt he went off to do his own thing and I went for an ‘easy’ day on Ben Wyvis. However, at that stage, I wasn’t sure whether I was going for the whole thing (including all 3 tops) or just An Cabar to Tom a’ Choinnich. I was determined at least to do the full ridge though. It all depended on the weather and how I was feeling when I got there.

I set off in gleaming sunshine (but still quite windy) and sped rapidly across the Dirrie More – what a superb drive that is from Ullapool! Despite it being 25 miles, I was parked in the Wyvis carpark within half an hour – round our way it would have taken an hour! I’d had a good lie-in so it was 1130 when I arrived.

Heathery Ben Wyvis.jpg


It was pretty warm going up the great new path through the forest and I soon ended up zipping off my legs. I was feeling pretty tired to start and soaked my buff in the burn (take that how you want :D ) – sticking it back on my head made me feel miles better. I soon reached the foot of the steep path up An Cabar. I was a little waylaid on the first part of this section as it contained the best bilberries I’d seen all year – I was soon looking like a heart-attack victim with blue lips...

An Cabar.jpg


There were people ahead as I started to ascend the massive stone-pitching – the steps are about a foot tall – quite big for stone pitch steps! This ensures reasonable progress but is quite tiring, even for someone with my leg-length. I soon caught up another couple having a rest – she was finding it hot – she should’ve soaked her buff too! :lol: There was a lone figure further ahead making rapid progress but I soon saw this involved cheating by missing poor ol’ An Cabar out and taking a path below it straight for the main summit! (I met her later however and had to forgive her as it was her local hill so she probably did it most weeks).

Ascending An Cabar.jpg
Halfway up An Cabar.jpg
Looking down An Cabar.jpg
Little Wyvis fm An Cabar.jpg


The climb up to An Cabar is pretty strenuous and I was a little unhappy near the top where the new path goes on the right-hand side over the craggy bits! I would have preferred the old route up the middle of the ridge myself. Another lady at the summit later said the same thing. By the cairn of An Cabar I was now in thick mist but the way is obvious so I plodded off along the gentle and pleasant ridge on one of the paths.

I soon came across another cairn on what appeared to be a summit but decided it was much too soon – getting the map out confirmed I was only partway there as it is a couple of miles. I plodded sightlessly on along the easy ridge... The map indicated that, to my surprise, there were crags over the right-hand side – I peered over and there was some broken crag and steep slopes. Soon the summit cairn appeared with 3 people and a dog. I sat for a short while and had a coffee and ate half of the slice of Richard’s wonderful tealoaf I’d brought and joined in the conversation a bit but the others were all dog-owners so had much more in common.

Ben Wyvis's Craggier Side.jpg


After about 5 minutes I’d zipped my legs back on as it was getting pretty cold, taken a bearing along the rest of the ridge (I needed NNW), saw a path setting off in that direction, put my compass back down my t-shirt and set off along it. I keep making that mistake! After about 5 minutes descent of the ridge I popped out of the mist. What I saw ahead was completely wrong! Instead of the ridge curving left and going up to Tom a’ Choinnich, it gently petered out on a slight downhill and some rocky ground – hmmm... I fished my compass out and checked it – I was heading east! I went across to the left side of the ridge and peered back into the mist – I could vaguely see I was over a valley with more mountain the other side – totally wrong. Further study of the map showed I’d come along the short eastern spur of the mountain – duhh! :oops:

There was nothing for it but to go back to the summit cairn where the others were just leaving – I felt really stupid! I took another NNW bearing and set off along it – soon another path materialised. I decided to follow it but keep my compass in view and check it continued NNW... It did and I soon re-descended out of the mist to the correct view – Tom a’ Choinnich rising to my left across a col. I noted that the tops out the back of the mountain were out and in full sun. They’re a couple of miles away so I debated for a while whether to go for them or not. In the end I decided I really wouldn’t want to do them separately, they were in lovely weather and that I should go for it and not be so lazy!

Glas Leathad Beag & co.jpg


You are best to first ascend the shoulder of Tom a’ Choinnich on a narrow trod and then set off across for the ridge which takes you out on the long walk to the tops. It was good going so I ran all the downhill bits and some of the flat bits.

Just before the top, there is another hill – this is the steep bit. It was short but quite a grunt up it – I was glad to get to the top and continue the gentler ridge across a dip to the top.

En Route to Glas Leathad Beag summit.jpg


The top came much sooner than I thought and I touched the cairn and turned round to see spectacular weather forming over the main Wyvis ridge. The sky had gone very black and the crags looked magnificently brooding. I took a few photos while heading back to Tom a’ Choinnich. There was a superb corrie below me on the right above Wyvis Lodge and its loch on the return – looks a beautiful valley going past the lodge.

Tom a' Choinnich from Glas Leathad Beag.jpg
Glas Leathad Mor.jpg
Returning to Tom a' Choinnich.jpg


I was soon puffing up the back of Tom a’ Choinnich – the ascent of which seemed to go on forever... At the top I briefly surveyed the long route back to the An Cabar path. The Forestry Commission sign had assured there was a path back along the forest edge but I couldn’t see one – I could see it was very rough ground however and quite a few miles. I thumped rapidly straight down the ridge down the rough, steep hillside. Even my legs felt the strain – not my knees (they never do) but the roughness was giving my feet and ankles quite a bashing and I felt like I was getting shinsplints!

Ben Wyvis from Tom a' Choinnich descent.jpg


I reached the bottom of the ridge and crossed the peat-hagged col looking for the path coming from the little hill next door. By the time I started to ascend the slight hillside going up to the forest I knew there was no path. I couldn’t decide whether to just follow the edge of the forest (where the path should run) or follow the burn through the trees to the forest road which ran through it about a mile away... but first I had to get to the burn where I knew walking would be much easier along the bank.

The peat hags and tufts seemed to go on for ages until I finally reached the burn. I then found there was a nice deer path going along the far bank - and more juicy bilberries! When I reached the point where the burn disappears into the forest I still couldn’t decide whether to try to follow it or just to continue along the forest edge. I saw a gate back on the far river bank but couldn’t see an obvious path leading from it into the woods – the river had become wider and more awkward to cross by now too. I wavered for a while, climbed up the bank along the forest edge (seemed quite a climb as by now I was pretty tired) and had another look. Still couldn’t see anything useful so decided it was the forest edge walk.

Shortly after I’d ascended quite a bit more through various bad bogs, I looked back again and could see a faint path under the forest edge across the burn heading for the gate. Never mind, I’d gone this way now... I squelched on...
After a short while I saw a stile over the deer fence into the forest. That must mean a path I thought... I climbed over it and saw a slight path heading into the trees and a firebreak. The firebreak continued but the path gave up immediately. Never mind, the firebreak would do, despite it being very boggy indeed...

A few minutes into the forest I noticed a dark shape ahead. It made me feel uneasy – I knew it shouldn’t be there. I peered and crept closer and a large stag materialised looking challengingly at me not too many yards away. Ooh-err! I know mostly stags are afraid of us but thought he’d probably see this as his territory and me as a threat or a competitor. I started to worry... It was too far for me to run back to the stile and was uphill anyway – I can’t run uphill... and I’m damn sure I can’t run as fast as a stag anyway. We stared at each other. I thought my only chance if he charged me was to run round and round a tree! Would look funny anyway. :lol:

I thought if I hid briefly, he might take the chance to leave so bobbed into the trees. After quite a few seconds, I peeped my head out to see the firebreak was clear. I still had to pass where he’d been though. Filled with trepidation I set off creeping down the firebreak. As I got closer I heard his high-pitched warning bark to the others – he was still very close indeed... I continued even more cautiously and after another minute or so was relieved to hear more barks but much further away – phew! But the whole ride stank strongly of deer which continued to make me feel uneasy all the way down it.

After about a mile vehicle tracks appeared in the soft ground. The firebreak then headed back along Ben Wyvis in completely the opposite direction to where I wanted to go! I assumed though, that the vehicle track meant I must be heading towards the forest road proper. I also knew I hadn’t reached the burn I was following earlier so hadn’t lost too much ground.

Luckily in about half a mile the firebreak did reach the forest road where it was only about another mile back to the carpark. I had another quick coffee, got quite midged, then plodded wearily back to the car. I was surprised to see the whole walk had only taken just over 6 hours.
Last edited by mountain coward on Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:18 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby LeithySuburbs » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:05 pm

mountain coward wrote:he’d probably see this as his territory and me as a threat or a competitor


or even worse... his new date :lol: :lol: :lol:

Must be the time of year for Ben Wyvis. Doogz compleating on Saturday and I was up on Sunday. Couldn't see a thing but still enjoyed the walk. I would definitely return on a clear day as it is a reasonably short walk :) .
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby Glenrothes » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:17 pm

MC,

did you not have a GPS?

Quite handy for the moments you seemed to be having and you might have had a bit more time to take a photo or two :lol:

I know what you mean about the 'stone staircase' though.............
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby mountain coward » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:34 pm

LOL to the stag date - oo-errrr! :lol: Mine wasn't a reasonably short walk! :D

I don't need a GPS - I just need to keep an eye on my compass in mist instead of just taking a path heading in the right direction... I've been caught out like that before on Whoap in the Lakes (behind Ennerdale). I followed a path going in the right direction there and it did exactly the same - it also veered off by around 90 degrees without me noticing - it's impossible to notice a very gentle curve in a track over a distance in a mist! Not sure whether a GPS would have had the supposed Forestry Path on it or not but it definitely wasn't there!
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby walk aboot » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:40 pm

That was close r.e. the stag, 8) and a bit :shock: .

Huh, seems everyone has done this hill except me (despite meaning to on a couple of occasions) :? .
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby Glenrothes » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:46 pm

mountain coward wrote:I don't need a GPS - I just need to keep an eye on my compass in mist instead of just taking a path heading in the right direction... I've been caught out like that before on Whoap in the Lakes (behind Ennerdale). I followed a path going in the right direction there and it did exactly the same - it also veered off by around 90 degrees without me noticing - it's impossible to notice a very gentle curve in a track over a distance in a mist! Not sure whether a GPS would have had the supposed Forestry Path on it or not but it definitely wasn't there!


The GPS would not show you paths or forest road unless they were on your data-mapping software, but with an 8/10 digit map reference number, you would always know EXACTLY where you are or in your case were, and which way to go, via your map/compass you can then navigate safely and away from rutting stag on your wee bimbles :wink:
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby mountain coward » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:07 pm

A gps wouldn't plot where stags to avoid are though :D

Seriously, the map and compass were at no time at fault - nor was I lost as such in the forest... I would have wanted a proper path through the forest if I hadn't found the fire break but there wasn't one anyway so a GPS wouldn't have helped there - I don't think maps or GPSs usually show fire breaks. I assumed the fire break would take me to the forest road, which it did, albeit slightly in the wrong direction later on. But the 'route' according to the Forestry Commission on their sign (although not shown on the map and presumably not on GPS as the path doesn't really exist) was to follow the forest edge all the way back to the An Cabar path. I was just being opportunist and trying to escape the extra uphill and the bogginess when I took to the fire break - it worked on the uphill bit as it was downhill all the way, but it didn't work on the bogginess as it was nearly as bad!
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby malky_c » Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:59 am

Good effort MC - not many people bother with the other tops (well not Tom a Choinnich and Glas Leathad Beag at least), but they are well worth a visit, and sounds like you got the best weather there. Took me 3 or 4 visits before I got round all of them!

Interesting to see more about the new path. I remember you mentioning it on my report back in April, but I didn't think that a new path would have been constructed through the miles of bog you have to cross at the end, as not many people go that way. Seems like it is maybe just a short stub to alert people to other posibilities than An Cabar.
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby skuk007 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:47 pm

Another good read MC, can't wait for the photos.
I would think we've all got a little lost at some point in our walking, still feel a bit silly though. :)
Hope you told Richard how lazy he was - day off indeed.
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby mountain coward » Sat Sep 25, 2010 1:05 am

skuk007 wrote:Another good read MC, can't wait for the photos.
I would think we've all got a little lost at some point in our walking, still feel a bit silly though. :)
Hope you told Richard how lazy he was - day off indeed.


He's coming with me on my trip to Crianlarich this next week and has already said he's going to have some more days off!! :o I've offered him Creag Mhor down Glen Lochay as one of them :lol: He probably doesn't remember that Creag Mhor is also going to include at least its top and preferably the next-door Corbett Cam Chreag! :lol: I've decided that hoods on walking coats come in useful... for dragging unwilling participants! :lol:
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby mountain coward » Sat Sep 25, 2010 1:10 am

malky_c wrote:Good effort MC - not many people bother with the other tops (well not Tom a Choinnich and Glas Leathad Beag at least), but they are well worth a visit, and sounds like you got the best weather there. Took me 3 or 4 visits before I got round all of them!


Ah - takes a Welshman and an Englishwoman to show these Scots they're supposed to do the whole thing eh? :D
To be honest, the trip out the back was the best bit in my book...

malky_c wrote:Interesting to see more about the new path. I remember you mentioning it on my report back in April, but I didn't think that a new path would have been constructed through the miles of bog you have to cross at the end, as not many people go that way. Seems like it is maybe just a short stub to alert people to other posibilities than An Cabar.


I suppose it would be a bad area and a long way to try to build a new path. On re-reading the Munro book when I got back, I see there was actually a faint path through the forest from that gate that I saw back across the burn. But it isn't marked on the map and I wouldn't have fancied a mile or so of pathless forest, crossing and re-crossing a burn, if it didn't materialise. Which way did you get back from your round of the tops? Or did you do a completely different route? I'd be interested to see a report on that...
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby malky_c » Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:33 am

Last time I used a completely different route from the other side, but I previously did a walk quite similar to yours (click).

The link isn't really to a proper walk report, more just a note in my walks diary. I just followed the edge of the forest back to the well made path up An Cabar. It was very wet and boggy, and I didn't see any path at all, but to me it seemed preferable to trying to follow a burn or fire break through the woods.

Ooh - just looked out of the window halfway through this post. There is actually a very light smattering of snow on Wyvis just now!
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby mountainstar » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:59 am

mountain coward wrote:I soon ended up zipping off my legs.

soaked my buff in the burn (take that how you want :D ) – sticking it back on my head made me feel miles better.

After about 5 minutes I’d zipped my legs back on



Some neat tricks you've got there! :D , The 2nd trick I'd like to see in the Glencoe meet! :crazy: :wink:
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby mountain coward » Sat Oct 02, 2010 2:38 am

It can be very handy zipping off your legs if they get warm - you can then just stuff them in your pack and continue! :lol:
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Re: Ullapool4 - Ben Wyvis & ALL His Tops!

Postby bootsandpaddles » Sat Oct 02, 2010 8:19 am

I did this walk on Monday. From Tom a'Choinnich I dropped down to the Allt a'Gharbh Bhaid where it enters the forest NH433679. There is a stile here and then a faint path follows the burn until you get to a bridge where you can get on to a forest track that leads back to the Ben Wyvis path at NH416672. No probs!
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