Firstly a brief introduction. My wife and I have just moved from sunny north Essex to (briefly) sunny Rogart. We have always loved the hills and first discovered the wilderness of the Scottish mountains on a walking holiday with friends 20 years ago. We have been coming back for holidays ever since. Now two decade's later it's hard to believe that this beautiful landscape is quite literally on our doorstep. I've always had a secret hankering to complete a round of Munro's but never thought it to be a realistic prospect living 500+ miles from the nearest peak. Now, having moved a bit nearer, this dream might now be within my reach?
I picked this route for two reasons. Firstly it's proximity to my new home, and secondly it would be a good walk to do solo as Janet was working that day.
I set off from home at 7am and drove through mist and low cloud until almost on the west coast where I was confronted by clear blue sky and bright sunshine. The highland rush hour traffic was horrendous and I actually encountered another car which caused significant delays and I didn't arrive at the Inchnadamph Hotel car park until 8am I started walking at 8.10am and was immediately confronted with the majestic sight of a dozen young red deer stags grazing in the field next to the car park. I couldn't believe my luck with the weather and by the time I started to climb out of the glen an hour later it was getting really quite hot, too hot! There was absolutely no wind and no shade from the morning sun which made the climb tough going. I had to stop near the top of the corrie to use a small bit of shade and the water of the burn to cool myself down.
Once up on top of the crags I begin the winding ascent up Conival and was soon confronted with the breathtaking view NE over the top of the low cloud I had driven through that morning. Ben Hope and Kilbreck were both clearly visible as distant islands in a sea of white cloud, absolutely breathtaking! I continued the climb to the summit of Conival stopping periodically to marvel at the views in every direction. Once at the wind shelter on top I took a moment for the obligatory selfie and a sandwich before pressing on along the ridge to what would now be my seventh Munro; Ben More Assynt. The ridge was actually quite easy going in the dry, clear summer conditions but I can see how this would be a very different prospect in the winter or in wet, low visibility conditions. Once at the summit of BMA I again took a few pics before retreating back up the ridge 50 yards to the wind shelter for another sandwich.
It wasn't until I was halfway back along the ridge that I saw the distant figures of two other walkers making their way along the north ridge of Conival. I love this about Scotland as it never ceases to amaze me how you can often have the landscape entirely to yourself. Janet and I are always cursing TV programmes on the area in case other people get the same idea as us I ended up converging with the two other walkers exactly at the summit of Conival and stopped for a brief exchange of pleasantries before beginning my descent the way I had just come.
I arrived back at the car park at 2.40pm and was surprised to have made such good time. I expect wetter rocks and poorer visibility would have meant the 8.5 - 10 hours shown as a guide for this route to be a more realistic prospect.
So, 7 down, 275 to go...
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