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It's grand up north - part 3, high camp on Conival

It's grand up north - part 3, high camp on Conival


Postby mrssanta » Sat May 05, 2018 5:21 pm

Route description: Ben More Assynt and Conival

Munros included on this walk: Ben More Assynt, Conival

Date walked: 01/05/2018

Time taken: 23 hours

Distance: 19 km

Ascent: 1600m

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We were doing a grand tour of the far north and had been up Ben Klibreck and Ben Hope on two gorgeous days. Ben Klibreck here viewtopic.php?f=9&t=80231 and Ben Hope here viewtopic.php?f=9&t=80238&p=373168#p373168 . The next stop was Conival and Ben More Assynt. But first we had the gorgeous drive around the north coast via Durness. It was a beautiful sunny day with bright sunshine and vivid colours from the water, the beaches and the mountains and it would have been good to linger a bit longer but by the time we had stopped for a real toilet, fuel, sorted our kit for the next walk and had a brew and a second lunch we had used up all our spare time.
The weather forecast was for increased wind and rain or snow on Wednesday afternoon so we had decided to camp up high for an early start in the morning and hopefully be coming off the tops by the time the wind got up. There was the small matter of a rather steep slope up the Allt a' Choinne' Mhill meaning that the best spot was likely to be in the little hanging valley at 700m.
After adding crampons, ice axes and extra baselayers to our kit (as I had been quite chilly the night before) we set off from Inchnadamph at about five o'clock.
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The start of the track with Conival in the distance

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Looking back down the glen with a fairytale castle where I expected to see unicorns frolicking on the lawn

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Lovely evening with Conival on the left and Breabag on the right, the path from Glen Oykel comes between the two

We met quite a few people coming down Gleann Dubh as we walked up, some had been on the mountains and others had walked over the bealach from Glen Oykel on the Cape Wrath Trail.
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Upper part of Gleann Dubh, looking towards Loch Assynt and Beinn Garbh on the left

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gaining some height now, looking over to Cul Mor in the distance

It's a pleasant walk up a good path by the River Traligill where Rudolph kept an eye out for dippers, until the point at which the CWT meets the path up Conival. Thereafter the path becomes rough and eroded and very steep, so that we were delighted when we found a completely flat bit at about 650ish metres with a handy rock to sit on and a wee sheltered place for the stove. I cooked up the blow-up pasta followed by rice pudding, while Rudolph put the tent up. With an extra baselayer despite the frost I was cosy all night.
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ooft it is a bit steep here, especially with big rucksacks

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wide vista of hills. we think the ones in the far distance are An Teallach and the Fisherfields

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Not a bad view from your dining room! Cul mor on the left and Canisp on the right with Suilven peeking out behind

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Last rays of sunshine on Breabag

In the morning we left the tent and the sleeping gear and set off shortly after 8am up through a band of slightly scrambly rocks reaching a patch of snow which crossed the path for a short distance. Here we put on our crampons and had a play about, taking a slightly longer route so as to practise in the snow. It was very hard and icy at this point.
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This is the hanging valley we had been aiming for last night but I think the campsite we found was much better! There is a herd of deer in this picture.

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First view of Ben More Assynt

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Hazy view out to see across Loch Assynt and Quinag

Once up to the bealach we rejoined the path which was easily followed without further need of crampons to the top of Conival. Quick apricot geobar for me and off we went again.
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approaching the summit of Conival

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Looking north east with Ben Hope in the distance

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Top of Conival

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and again

The route across to Ben More Assynt looked quite a different matter and as the snow was still very hard we could not have managed without the crampons. There was one stretch where we were walking on snow for a few yards then rock for a few yards and it did not seem worth putting the spikes on and off, but we had to go carefully on the rocky bits so as not to trip over the points.
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there's a short down scramble just off the summit of Conival where we had to put crampons on in a small space. Not a good place for anything to go sliding downhill.

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the amazing folded cliffs of Na Tuadhan

By the time we started the ascent of Ben More Assynt the snow was softening a little so most of it was manageable without the crampons until the last section. In the flat light it was quite difficult to see the shape of the ground here, but we made it to the top, going to both cairns just to be sure. It was cold and windy here so no hanging around for us.
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crampons back on again for this last bit

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Rudolph on the top

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and me

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Little bit of weather coming in from time to time

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Looking back towards Conival on the way back, with Cul Mor on the left of the summit

As we faffed around with our crampons on the return journey we met three men going very fast . They caught up with us on Conival the second time around and kindly shared their tomatoes with us :-) which made my cheese and egg wrap into a gourmet feast (almost).

We reached the top of Conival at noon for the second time and stopped in the summit shelter there for lunch and a brew. No happy mugs picture here because I forgot :-(

Coming down we were surprised to find that the frozen ground near the top of Conival had turned into some quite clarty yellow mud! Back at our patch of snow from first thing in the morning we had another play at bum slides and axe arrests, then back to the tent to pack up and then the long walk out down the River Traligill, where Rudolph definitely saw a dipper this time! It was raining very slightly, just too much to manage without a coat but not enough to be unpleasant.
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A brave tree

As we came back to Inchnadamph we were serenaded by a song thrush in the top of a tree. What an amazing variety of tunes he had. It had been quite a long day and we got back to the car at about 4pm. This was pretty slow but I suppose we did a good bit of faffing around with crampons, tents and the like!
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Beautiful spring trees at Inchnadamph where we were serenaded by a song thrush

Before the next adventure we decided to go for some food in Ullapool. I'd recommend the Seaforth Bar where we were served quickly with the most enormous portions of lovely grub.
and thence to Ben Wyvis viewtopic.php?f=9&t=80245
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mrssanta
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Re: It's grand up north - part 3, high camp on Conival

Postby mrssanta » Mon May 07, 2018 7:12 pm

for what it's worth, GPX track

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

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mrssanta
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Re: It's grand up north - part 3, high camp on Conival

Postby malky_c » Tue May 08, 2018 10:09 pm

More good luck with the weather, and a nice camping spot 8) . I've still only been up here once - tried to make a circular route of it by walking over to Dubh-loch Mor and going up a loose gully from there. It was sort of successful, but not the most comforting of routes!
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Re: It's grand up north - part 3, high camp on Conival

Postby Alteknacker » Sun May 13, 2018 2:32 pm

You sure got your share of good weather on this tour!

Love the view from your "dining room" on the first night. :D Hope to be close to here doing something similar in the near future.

Assynt looks just amazing, as ever. And the incredible cliffs of Na Tuadhan were a new one for me.
Weren't you tempted to return via Na Tuadhan? Or even via the ridge that extends south from Conival?
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Alteknacker
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Re: It's grand up north - part 3, high camp on Conival

Postby mrssanta » Mon May 14, 2018 9:59 pm

malky_c wrote:More good luck with the weather, and a nice camping spot 8) . I've still only been up here once - tried to make a circular route of it by walking over to Dubh-loch Mor and going up a loose gully from there. It was sort of successful, but not the most comforting of routes!

yes we are not so keen on loose gullies ourselves, prefer a good bit of Terra Firma under our feet
Alteknacker wrote:You sure got your share of good weather on this tour!

Love the view from your "dining room" on the first night. :D Hope to be close to here doing something similar in the near future.

Assynt looks just amazing, as ever. And the incredible cliffs of Na Tuadhan were a new one for me.
Weren't you tempted to return via Na Tuadhan? Or even via the ridge that extends south from Conival?


ah yes, see answer to Malky! it would have made a long route with some downhill scrambliness and then a bealach to cross.
I think it was our turn for good weather this time, as we had rotten weather last summer. We have another week next week too so we are hoping for another clear dry week.
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mrssanta
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