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The Great North x 4 with Andrew x 2

The Great North x 4 with Andrew x 2


Postby andygunn23 » Sat Sep 22, 2018 11:30 am

Route description: Ben More Assynt and Conival

Munros included on this walk: Ben Hope, Ben Klibreck, Ben More Assynt, Conival

Date walked: 16/06/2018

Time taken: 27 hours

Distance: 39 km

Ascent: 2968m

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The Great North x 4 with Andrew x 2

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Although some time has passed I remember this particular working week very well. Andrew and I spent a good deal of time discussing where would be the most suitable location for the weekend. The extent of our criteria was “a f#@king big weekend”. The weather was coming in from the southwest and nearly the whole of Scotland was looking likely to be covered in low clouds. Still desperate for an adventure we opted to head to the very far north and do the four remote Munros of Conival, Ben More Assynt, Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck – this offered the greatest chance of any visibility and I guess you can’t really get more of an adventure than these four?

After a quick game of heads or tails it was decided I was to do the driving, and what a heck of a drive it would be!

We finished sharp on the Friday, very sharp. Our intended destination was Loch Assynt where we would try and find a suitable spot to pitch tent before an early rise on the Saturday to get up Convial and Ben More Assynt. Only the 184 miles in the car stood between us and a Friday night beer…

Ardvreck Castle & our pitch for the evening
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Fortunately we found a flat enough pitch, got the tent up by about 9pm, had a quick cooked pot of pasta and a couple of beers before heading off to sleep.

What a stunning morning
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Waking up to views like this instantly justified our decision to endure the 184-mile drive straight after work instead of chosing the early morning rise and long drive before any walking.

Full of beans and high spirits we set off up Conival and Ben More Assynt like rockets. We had managed to avoid the rain so far but it looked unlikely we would escape for long, and right enough just after the turnoff for Traligill Caves the rain began.

The early morning rain hitting the camera
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The first serious bit of incline was up the Allt a’ Choinne’ Mhill, this offered us the chance to practice putting our waterproofs on and off on at least 3 separate occasions. It was proving to be a sweaty and muggy day.

Vast
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At the top of Allt a’ Choinne’ Mhill you are rewarded with a short and easy scramble and some rather impressive rock formations.

Rocks, lots of rock.
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On the southerly ascent towards Conival it was becoming more apparent that the cloud level was making itself very comfortable at the 800m mark and we were very unlikely to get any breaks in the weather.

We stopped briefly at about 799m to enjoy what was looking likely to be our last good views north / northwest.

North, & northwest
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It was peaceful. There was hardly any wind but the cloud was rather unsurprisingly damp – I took only a couple of pictures and decided the camera was best placed in the drysack for the rest of the route.

Approaching Conival and the route towards Ben More Assynt
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The walk from Conival to Ben More Assynt was entirely in near zero visibility, most of our layers were getting damp and it was beginning to seem like a very long weekend was ahead of us.

Once out of the cloud and retracing our steps back to the car the idea that we still had another Munro to attempt today was greeted with mixed emotions. This would be the first time (I can remember) I have been up a hill, reached the car and driven to another start point!

On a positive note on the return journey we were able to work up a bit of heat and managed to dry most of our base layers but some other layers looked unlikely to be dry for the rest of the weekend.

When we reached the car we set off towards Ben Hope, arriving at the car park at 17:19. Although it was June we were unsure if we would be down before dark. Walkhighlands estimated 4-6 hours and I guess we took the assumption that given we had already been walking for a huge part of the day, we would be towards the slower end of this estimate.

Just to be safe we took the sleeping bags and bivis with the bonus potential of sleeping at the summit of the most northerly Munro.

The start
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After the difficult first kilometre of ascent
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As kind of expected the route up was tiring and to make matters more painful the wind was increasing with strength, the cloud was becoming far more extensive and it was beginning to get a bit cold.

I am glad we were able to catch some brief glimpses towards the… is it the Atlantic Ocean or North Sea? Whatever it is, it was good to see. I hope to get back and do these hills in perfect weather conditions one year – I’d love to watch the sunset from the top of Ben Hope, it would be perfect in the winter!

The whatever water
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Andrew then Andy at the summit
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Had there been any real prospect of getting a glorious sunrise I think we would have camped at the top, but with the cold, the wind and the clouds, our decision to get back to the car quite simple really.

We were at the top by 19:14 so getting down before dark was very unlikely be an issue. Finding somewhere else to camp was more of a problem, as I never expected to make this much progress on the Saturday.

As there was still at least another 90 minutes of daylight we decided to drive towards the start of Ben Klibreck. Aware that the start of the Ben Klibreck route was a bit of a bog we opted to pitch the tent near the Vagastie Bridge – whilst probably against the outdoor code we decided we were far enough from the road and obviously wouldn’t leave any trace.

Lying in the tent that night I remember feeling insanely knackered. It was a massive day; it felt like three days rolled into one. Unfortunately I was also covered in midge bites and unaware but also had 4 ticks latched onto various parts of my body!

Our pitch
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If I was to write the Walk Report as a separate entity for Ben Klibreck I would have summarised it as a good easy day walk, but I felt we were bordering on exhausted by this point.

Clearly we hadn’t eaten nearly enough hearty food, our clothes were damp, we had two nights in the tent – but I guess it met all our requirements for a big weekend… careful what you wish for.

Andrew must have been on drugs or something as he went powering off at the start, crossing the bog towards Cnoc Shriodain – this pace thankfully reduced when he rather instantaneously managed to reproduce the contents of his breakfast from his stomach for the sheep to munch on.

Andrew running away.
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Ben Hope? (I honestly can’t remember!)
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When we reached then 487m mark at Cnoc Sgriodain it was still super early but we were both completely finished and the views towards Ben Klibreck looked at the time rather daunting.

Bird. Water. Land. Nothing. Hungry.
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SO FAR AWAY!
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After a quick break we were once again making slow progress towards Ben Klibreck, looking back we realised how far we had come. It seemed as if our spirits lifted when we realised we would actually finish, oh this was also the same time the clouds began to F off…

What we had done already (08:34)– note the partial blue sky
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Nearing the top
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Completely unable to identify but amazing morning views – could it be Ben Loyal?
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The top at 09:12
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We chose to relax at the summit for only a brief 15 minutes so we could get down and back to Aberdeen in good time. I can’t remember a great deal from the walk back other than wanting to tell everyone we met we did not normally look this knackered after one hill!

Assuming a baby grouse and mother?
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Lots of beautiful nothing
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Bahhhh – wondering if Andrew had anymore stomach contents for them…
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Once back down at the car I was able to remove the one tick I had located on my arm and get some fresh socks on – both equally enjoyable experiences.

By now I think we had become a bit delusional but we most definitely got the buzz from managing to complete what had been a super long, tiring and unfortunately damp weekend!

Because I am so far behind in writing these Walk Reports I have probably missed out numerous thoughts, events, and inaccurately described photographs. I can however accurately say that the melodramatic thoughts of “sacrificing” these hills to poor visibility were a common occurrence throughout the Saturday but by the Sunday drive home it was just pure delight that we had managed all four in one trip.

I think I will do these four again, maybe on the bike from Aberdeen, or in the depths of winter but this seemed like more than enough of a challenge at the time…

One final point – we stopped for a Pizza Hut in Inverness and I swear I will never eat something as enjoyable as that in the rest of my existence.

Thanks for reading (again!)

Andy
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andygunn23
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 86
Munros:173   Corbetts:2
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Location: Aberdeen

Re: The Great North x 4 with Andrew x 2

Postby Grisu » Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:45 pm

What an adventure! Great fun to read and I like the pictures, very sympathetic with the emotional ups and downs and the unforgettable taste of the pizza! - well done! :clap:
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Grisu
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 12
Munros:46   Corbetts:2
Hewitts:29
Wainwrights:25   
Joined: Mar 13, 2017
Location: Ostfriesland, Germany (Eastfrisia)

Re: The Great North x 4 with Andrew x 2

Postby mrssanta » Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:13 pm

yes you correctly identified Ben Loyal - that's one I really want to go up!
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mrssanta
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Posts: 2944
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Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Location: north yorkshire moors

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