Another chance to knock off a 2018 WR. You know it's the end of the financial year when the clients go quiet...
This one was a bit mad, direction-wise. I'd intended to do Arkle, but it looked like another day of low cloud and no views in the west and all around the coast. So I checked my roadmap and found Carn Chuinneag. My route to get there took me down Loch Shin where I watched an osprey fishing for its breakfast at about 8.30am. (No big lens, sorry.)
The skies on the way to Bonar Bridge got better and better - this was going to be an easy luxury summer's day it seemed. I felt actually guilty...
Lenticular clouds (?) towards Bonar Bridge
In the grounds of the Glen Calvie lodge was a tree-mounted feeding-box, crammed with hazelnuts. This squirrel was tucking in when I suddenly appeared. It belted up the tree and we watched each other briefly before I hoofed off to leave it in peace to enjoy its brunch.
Apart from the squirrel, no one else was around. The 5-star treehouse seemed to be empty too, judging by the silence.
A place up a tree
I hurried through the lodge grounds, pausing only to look back at the lattice bridge...
... and on into Glen Calvie.
Another lattice bridge up ahead and my easy destination beyond.
Wants a bike really....
The tops of Carn Chuinneag
I was roasting, so at the left-then-right junction where you head off up the stalkers path, I dropped off my rucksack contents and unnecessary layers in a drybag and stashed it down by the burn. A cuckoo was flying and calling in and around the copse, soon joined by another, so I watched them for a while, rehydrating as I did so. Then I grabbed my water and a snack, and with a lighter sack and a lighter step,carried on up in shorts and t-shirt.
Up the track, I looked back down the glen - very pretty.
Looking back down on Glen Calvie and Diebidale Lodge
Through the summery haze, old friends appeared in the distance.
Ben More Assynt appears
Ben Klibreck over on the right
At A'Chioch (488m), even Ben Hope was just about discernible.
View over to Ben Klibreck from A' Chioch, with Ben Hope on left.
All very blue remembered hills, but without the kids...
The it was up the zigzag path, disarmingly veering right over to the west, but trust it - it brings you back, as long as you turn left when the option arrives!
Looking back down on the zigzag stalkers path from A' Chioch
I was quite surprised to see the Assynt hills from up here. By no means gobsmacking views because of the distance and the haze of the day, but a delight to have a direct line of vision to them.
Cul Mor and Cul Beag
Suilven (left), Canisp (middle) and Quinag (right)
Approaching the bealach between the two tops, the view opened up south east to reveal the Strath Farrar hills - where I've yet to explore...
SE to crinkly Strathfarrar Munros
Down at my feet, now off the path and heading up to the summit, I found cloudberry and also mountain bearberry. Not tempted to eat it (nor brew it or smoke it, which apparently is a thing). The leaves have so much tannin in them they've been used to tan leather.
Bearberry with tannin-heavy leaves
At the summit, the Assynt beauties were on parade as I nibbled my fruit and seeds. On a crisper day they must look transformed from here but I'm always very, very happy to see them.
BMC, Culs, Suilven, Canisp and Quinag
Beinn Dearg (left-hand lump) to An Teallach (middle) and BMC to the right
And to the south was the big bulk of Ben Wyvis with Beinn Derg to the west..
Ben Wyvis to Beinn Dearg pano
Loch Morie and Meall an Tuirc windfarm
Dornoch Firth with Struie Hill
The top was windy so the shelter summit cairn was welcome. After lingering up at the top for a good long while, I headed back. The lovely walk back out along the glen, after retrieving my drybag, was a joy. In the stream below me, I could hear fish jumping. As I headed down for a look, two fish looked up at me and shot away out of sight. (I'd make a rubbish osprey.) The trees were full of coal tits, sparrows, nuthatch, butterflies and then back up at the road, a young willow warbler and parent were busy in dialogue.
Elusive salmon or trout
Juv willow warbler
Parent willow warbler
Parent willow warbler (staying still)
As I drove back along Strathcarron - in fact before I even got that far, I was just on the lodge approach road - three Range Rovers zoomed towards me, to a mutual slamming of brakes. Lodge-guests? They were certainly very well-fed looking men.
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