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Blasted on Ben Hutig

Blasted on Ben Hutig

Postby Pastychomper » Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:11 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Ben Hutig

Date walked: 06/08/2018

Time taken: 8.33 hours

Distance: 16.5 km

Ascent: 674m

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I drafted this report the week after the walk and it's taken until now to finish it. Read on for a reminder of balmy summer days...

On the advice of certain WH contributors, we decided to get acquainted with Ben Hutig before any bulldozers moved in.

It was a breezy day so probably just as well to stick to a low hill.

Starting just outside West Strathan, we headed south and joined a track heading up across the moor.
The only way is up

On the map this leads into a large enclosure with no other exit, but the fence was low and someone had helpfully cut a hole in the far corner.

Off the track the ground was dry and tussocky, and remained so for most of the walk. The place was a haven for hairy caterpillars.
Great worm
And the odd frog.

The first peak had some impressive crags that provided some shelter from the wind.
Windbreak at the first stop

There were excellent views of the northern landscape...
E: Eilan nan Ron and Rabbit Islands

SE, Scaraben to the left

Bens Loyal and Hope

And some more islands in the west.

...but Ben Loyal took the prize for the Most Moody Mountain.
Who needs Orodriun?

I've seen some impressive summit cairns in my time,
but this was my first walled summit garden.
Walled garden (taken from the entrance stairs)

We followed the ridge north, getting blasted all the way by the unremitting westerly wind. It felt like a strong Caithness gale, so around 60mph. I'm thinking about adding a single earplug to my list of standard hill equipment.
Heading N

At the next high point was a nice cairn, this one with more of a round vibe.
Here my hat was blown off my head - or should I say it was blasted off? I put it in my bag soon after.

This cairn's purpose appears to be to aid the local fruit growers.

Even the heather was sheltering from the wind.

After some deliberation we chose to brave the increasing wind and follow the ridge to the coast.

One of the craggy points along the ridge overlooked a wide, flat area - the flattest I'd seen all day. I'd been wondering exactly where the mini-spaceport would be put, and it occurred to me that if I was going to build a spaceport on this little peninsula, it might be there. Even as that ran through my head I thought that if I were planning to build a spaceport on such a windswept bog, I'd have said head examined. :lol: (FWIW I'm pretty sure the site is actually further south.)

We followed the clifftop fence around the leeward side of the headland. Outside the fence the land curved abruptly down to nothingness.
The edge

There were several burns on the way but they had clear tracks running to and from passable crossings.
One of the gorges was well supplied with waterfalls.

Another crossing
I love it when I go hill walking and find myself in a completely different environment, it's like being awarded a bonus walk.
Looking up one side

Several ups and downs later we escaped the remaining slopes by descending to Achininver Beach, one of the many north coast beaches that would be heaving with people if it were a bit further south.
In Caithness, this type of land feature is called "'e bay". Apparently all kinds of things wash up there.
The tide was most of the way out, exposing a sand bar and a wide choice of routes.
After making use of the foot-cooling and shoe-washing facilities, and admiring the headgear sported by some of the locals,
A limpet with a wig

we crossed to the road. From the other side we could see we'd missed a shorter track back, but we did get to see yet more wildlife - a vast swathe of amphipods hopping about on the sand, and a small amphibian hopping about on the road. Didn't get a decent picture though.

The entire trip took about eight and a half hours and covered ten miles, but we both felt like we'd done about three times that distance. The going wasn't actually bad but it was mostly trackless and decidedly lumpy. And did I mention the wind? We did Ben Hope the next day and that giant staircase seemed much easier. Hutig was definitely worth it though - it was an excellent walk with an even better outlook. Anyone who thinks Munros are the only hills worth bothering with can, well, take a hike. :mrgreen:

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Re: Blasted on Ben Hutig

Postby onsen » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:55 pm

Good looking circuit, pastychomper...plenty to keep the eyes occupied.
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Re: Blasted on Ben Hutig

Postby Sgurr » Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:33 pm

You probably know that your first walled garden summit was the remains of an original O/S camp where they stayed for weeks at a time. We just went up and back the same way, so really interesting to see what happens on the other side. I suppose the wind was whipping up too much spray for you to be able to spy Orkney. Depresses me to think it is all going to be built up round there.
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Re: Blasted on Ben Hutig

Postby Pastychomper » Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:24 pm

Thanks for the replies, glad you both liked it.

I had read on WH about the surveyors' camp but was surprised at how big it was and still is, I take it the other walls to the southeast were also part of it? I've just looked at an aerial photo on Bing and it looks like there's another wall and enclosure further down the gully that I didn't even notice on the day. I suppose if they were up there for weeks with a load of equipment it would make sense.

Now I'm trying to remember if we spotted Orkney at all. I think that's Dunnet Head on the horizon in one of the pictures, so general visibility was good enough, but the islands further out to sea were obscured.
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Re: Blasted on Ben Hutig

Postby malky_c » Mon Jan 21, 2019 2:11 pm

That looks great 8) . I had planned a very similar route taking in the coast as a stop-off from a cycle tour a couple of years ago. I didn't even do the cycling bit in the end, so still haven't been up there. Glad to see that it is every bit as interesting as I hoped it would be :D . Cheers.
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