Staying at the folks for the weekend the weather was just too good to miss a day in the hills even if it did coincide with a celebrity wedding and a cup final!. So sandwiches made I headed off early and promised to be back in time for afternoon tea and a catch up. Heading north towards Tongue on the single track road I turned off after Altnaharra onto a very narrow single track road and was very grateful not to meet anyone. The grass up the middle in places gave an idea of how much it’s used!
Ben Hope finally came into view and just as I came to a broch a sign saying 2 miles to Ben Hope appeared on the opposite side of the road. I arrived at the Ben Hope car park easily spotted by another sign showing way up Ben Hope. There was a solitary car parked with a pair of wellies outside the drivers door. Maybe someone who had been travelling just a little too long.
I had a look at my WH instructions and the weather and hoped the compass and map could stay in the pack for a change. The path was pretty straightforward, meandering up the side of the burn beside a series of lovely waterfalls steep at first then levelling off as the first heathery plateau was reached before steepening again. The path then wound it’s way round the side of the hill to avoid the Crags before steepening again. There wasn't going to be much respite today.
The couple I had seen arriving in the car park just as I started my walk were now making their way up behind me. This brought out a little competitiveness in me keeping me striding up to the next steep section of boulders where I had little water and view stops while puffing up the hill. No sign of the top but once over the second steep section I finally saw the crags and a great view started opening out encouraging me to quicken my pace yet again to see what was beyond. Again a bit of respite as the path levelled off before the third steepening ascent over the final boulder field.
All of a sudden the top came into view quicker than anticipated. No that can’t be it surely, I had only been on the hill an hour and 40 minutes, but it was. My competitive streak had got me up in record time (for me!) and rewarded me with a nice quiet top and cairn to sit at and enjoy the views across to Ben Loyal and Klibreck before company arrived. One of my favourite cairns with a bit of shelter but an opening to be able to see the lovely views and great expanse of Sutherland and Caithness.
I reclined and enjoyed my sandwiches. As the wind picked up a bit I took a few more photos, tried out the timer and then the next summiters arrived just in time for me to get them to take a picture that was straight! I reluctantly tore myself away from the views and headed back down the same footpath. I passed 19 people on the way down a crowd for me on the mountains compared to recent weeks. My last trip meeting no-one. You wouldn’t have thought there was a wedding and two football matches on. What better place to be than the hills on a clear sunny day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I arrived back at the car just as the last couple were about to head up Ben Hope. Another walk highlander the first I'd met since joining the forum. Due to my short outing I had a wee visit to the broch on my way home, still having enough energy left to scale the wall and turn back for a great view of the days achievements. a grand day out.
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