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The accidental Marilyn bagger - fun in the Far North

The accidental Marilyn bagger - fun in the Far North


Postby malky_c » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:50 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Beinn Stumanadh, Meall Meadhonach (Durness), Meall nan Clach Ruadha

Date walked: 21/07/2019

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 23 km

Ascent: 1220m

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Marilyns: Meall Meadhonach, Meall nan Clach Ruadha, Beinn Stumanadh.
Date: 20-21/07/2019.
Distance: 12 + 2 + 9km.
Ascent: 570 + 180 + 470 m.
Time: 4 hours + 50 minutes + 2 hours, 45 minutes.
Weather: Sunny and clear with some breeze. Less sun on Sunday and more breeze.

Saturday was the start of a fortnight of leave for me (well sort of...I thought I'd probably end up going to work on a couple of days so I could claw back some holiday for later in the year). We had been looking at the forecasts in the more exotic northern and western areas in anticipation of doing some interesting things - where would we choose?

The far north seemed like a good bet - initially we headed up with a weekend plan - perhaps Arkle on Saturday and a cycle on Sunday? In the event, we left rather late, and it was pushing 4pm by the time we arrived in Durness. Fortunately I had a few short evening ideas up my sleeve, but first, sustenance was required at Cocoa Mountain :wink: . A quick perusal of the weather forecast here indicated it was probably worth staying up north a day or two more.

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Cocoa Mountain

Then onto Meall Meadhonach, which looked like a good bet for views and a fairly leisurely start to the trip. We parked just east of Smoo Caves and wandered up a good vehicle track towards the hill.


MM map.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


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Whiten Head from Durness

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Beinn Ceannabeinne

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Across the Kyle

Closer to the summit, we struck off across the open ground towards our hill, traversing a smaller bump on the way. Views were great to the east and west - Loch Eriboll and the Kyle of Durness, as well as Ben Hope and Ben Loyal 8) .

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Ben Loyal and Ben Hope

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Loch Eriboll and Ben Hope

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Whiten Head

The ground was typically lumpy and a little moist in places, but actually pretty easy going underfoot. Just before the summit, we crossed into the limestone that forms Beinn Spionnaidh to the south, and the vegetation changed a little.

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Approaching the summit

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Ben Hope

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Parph

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Sgribhis-bheinn across the Kyle

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Kyle of Durness

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North from Meall Meadhonach

The summit was a little more breezy than we would have liked for sitting around, but at least it kept the midges away. Heading back, I slid on my backside on the initial descent - nothing unusual until 10 minutes later I noticed that my phone was no longer in my pocket. It must have slipped out during my slide. I suggested to Jackie to head back to the car while I went back to find it, expecting my large slip mark to be obvious....

After an hour of scouring the hillside, I gave in and decided I would need to come back the next day with our GPS track loaded into Jackie's viewranger. I was pretty annoyed by the time I got back to the car, but there was not much I could do. Time to forget about it and go and find somewhere nice to camp.

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Looks good

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Time to find a camp spot

Jackie had originally had plans of heading out to Faraid Head, but we were now running late, and would be lucky to catch the sunset. We walked the length of Balnakeil Beach and pitched up on lovely short grass on the cliffs above the beach - this turned out to be a marvellous spot to admire the remains of the sunset from.

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Faraid Head

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The bay

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Balnakeil

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Across the Kyle to Parph

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Balnakeil beach

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Sun going down, from the tent

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Almost gone

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Gone

I'd pretty much forgotten about my phone by the next morning, but after a stunning walk back to the cark, it was time to head up bloody Meall Meadhonach again :twisted: .

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Morning at Balnakeil beach

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Fashven

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Sgribhis-bheinn

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Across Balnakeil Bay

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Beinn Spionnaidh

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Parph from Balnakeil beach

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Balnakeil

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Walking out from An Fharaid

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Balnakeil

I thought it was a nice hill, but not so much that I wanted to go straight back up it again! Fortunately the GPS led us right to it - must've walked past here half-a-dozen times the previous evening! We walked back to the car, but it was after 11am by the time we reached it - probably too late to do a larger hill before the evening rain moved in. We decided to be tourists for a bit instead, and drove round to Tongue for lunch at the Weavers Café - a great find.

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Ben Loyal from the Kyle

Thinking we would spend the night in Achnanclach bothy, we opted for an extremely quick wander up Meall nan Clach Ruadha. Parking on the top road out of Tongue, this was an easy approach over heather to a viewpoint that was far out of proportion to the effort required. Ben Loyal and Ben Hope were both on display, as well as the Kyle of Tongue and the coast. Back down the same way, we headed for Achnanclach.


MNCR map.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


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Ben Loyal

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Ben Hope

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Kyle of Tongue from Meall nan Clach Ruadha

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Loch Loyal and Ben Loyal

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Bettyhill and Orkney

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Causeway and Ben Hutig

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Melness

Midges were lurking as we packed up bags for a bothy night - our first in months for some reason. I was so distracted by the midges that I forgot the coal and had to turn back after a few minutes! The walk in was a little squelchy in places, but not too long, and the bothy appeared to be nice and comfortable.


BS map.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


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Crossing the loch

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Photo stop in between midges

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Sron Ruadh

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Approaching Achnanclach

I had never intended this to turn into a Marilyn bagging trip, but it was only 4pm and the one directly behind the bothy looked worth a shot - would the rain hold off for long enough? I didn't think Jackie would be up for it (she was still suffering from the delayed effects of cycling round Loch Ness on Friday), but she decided to come along, and 5 minutes later was swearing at the bog and deer fences of my route choice :lol: .

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Achnanclach

We headed through a gate in the deer fence at the burn coming out of the corrie - I had planned to go straight up the eastern spur of the little horseshoe from here but an ATV track led up to the west, and seemed like the obvious bet. Where this descended into the bowl of the corrie, we escaped west over the deer fence and onto the ridge above Loch Loyal - a great plan, it turned out, as there were great views from here.

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On the ridge

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Ben Hope peeping out

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Ben Armine and Ben Klibreck

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Ben Klibreck and Loch Loyal

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Ben Loyal

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Down the corrie towards Tongue

The wind was quite strong up here, but it didn't hinder us following the ridge round to the final steep summit cone. While a bit grey, you could see a long way from here, particularly east where the ground gradually flattens down into Caithness.

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NE to Orkney

We opted to take the eastern spur back, forming the horseshoe that I had originally planned, but in reverse. We knew there would be some rubbish ground (and a fence) to cross, but in the end it was fairly minimal, and we were at the foot of the corrie as the first drops of rain fell. Great timing!

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Loch na Moine and Loch Craggie

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Nearly back

Since the midges were now rife and the rain was on and off, it was definitely an evening to spend inside.

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Return to Achnanclach

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Bothy fire

We had a cycle planned for the following day, but first was a midge-infested walk out, which took less than 30 minutes.

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Loch Loyal and Ben Loyal on the walk-out
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malky_c
 
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