Wednesday, 29th. May, 2019:
This was the final day for Steve Chalk, Chris Powell, my son Tommy and me before we were obliged to head back south so, having had a good evening in Ullapool, we woke early and headed for the hills of the north. A three hour drive up the wonderful west coast to Durness and then around Loch Eriboll brought us, at last, to Loch Hope and the foot of the northernmost Munro. I've written before that stopping in a car park at the foot of a hill and then going up and down it by the easiest route isn't ideal - but sometimes circumstances dictate that there is little alternative... so that's what we (or, at least, Chris, Tommy and I) did; Steve and his dog had climbed this hill at an earlier date. The highlight, really was the wonderful view that opened up as we hit the summit; Ben Loyal stood out to the east while, beyond its serrated top, the north coast and Hoy shimmered in the sun under piled-up fair weather cumulus clouds. Before we headed on down, I made a respectful nod to the north west side of the hill where Andy Nisbet (and Steve Perry) had died in February; Andy had been my group instructor for the Winter Mountain Leader Award at Glenmore Lodge back in the mid 1980s and you couldn't hope to meet a kinder, more patient, more sensible gentleman. Rest in peace.
A return to the car park saw Chalky greet us with an unexpected hot drink and, before long, we were heading south to Altnaharra and Ben Klibreck - a brilliant journey of far horizons over this desolate south western end of the Flow Country. We checked out the isolated Crask Inn (not serving food even for pre-booked tables that evening) before parking the car by the Vagastie Bridge and, again, climbing the hill by, pretty much, its easiest route. It was, in truth, a grassy plod but, even though the clag closed in on the summit, the sunny views on the way up were certainly worth the admission price! Once off the hill, it was time to head south and we managed to get to Inverness for a late curry and then over the Drumochtar Pass to camp (in the drizzle again) near Dunkeld a few minutes after midnight. It had been a good few days.
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