walkhighlands

Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 2 of 2

Munros: Ben More Assynt

Date walked: 22/05/2019

After a corker of a day on Sgorr Tuath and Beinn an Eoin (see Part 1), the weather deteriorated for my last couple of days in Assynt.

Part 1 separate WR: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=89861
Day 1: Arrived Saturday 18th May
Day 2: Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh - just Cranstackie in the end - with Mosquito crash remains
Day 3: CALL volunteering, then to Inverness for the Groam House Museum and "The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil"
Day 4: Sgorr Tuath and Beinn an Eoin what a tart of a hill!!

Part 2
Day 5: Beinn Dearg abort - Scoraig instead
Day 6: Quinag abort - more CALL volunteering and Ullapool Museum instead
Day 7: Beinn More Assynt South Top & Glen Oykel
Day 8: Catch up with pal on route to Anstruther
Day 9: Isle of May

Day 5: Beinn Dearg abort - Scoraig instead

This was going to be a magnificent day on the Beinn Dearg 4, but the cloud was doing this...:

Image002 Why not Beinn Dearg 4 by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

...so I'll come back for them. I decided to walk out to Scoraig from Badrallach instead along Little Loch Broom, the other end from my An Teallach visit the previous month.

I parked in the little space by the gate - not in the turning circle. There was one other car, but no one around, and I had the lochside path to myself. Last month had been all woodpecker sounds wherever I went. This month was all Blue Ming Cuckoo. As I walked, peering down in vain for otters on the shore, the male cuckoo companion for this day was flying in a wide circle around me, and eventually settled briefly on a post.

Image005 Cuckoo by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Just ahead of him appeared a white tailed sea eagle. Possibly the same one I'd watched soar over Sgurr Fiona in April - who knows? I didn't get a good photo of him/her, and when s/he disappeared and a golden eagle suddenly surged out from the rocks I didn't get a photo of that at all. Next up was a buzzard - this day would have been perfect for a study in size comparison! - and, at the other end of the spectrum our tiniest bird, a baby goldcrest in the pines.

Image009 WTE by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image010 WTE blurry with white tail by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image024 Buzzard on a post by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image025 Worlds tattiest buzzard by Emma Kendon, on Flickr :lol:

Image028 Baby goldcrest by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (super-cute!! :D )

Another constant companion of the day was this crane boat on the loch. It didn't seem to be doing much and had barely gone any distance by the time I was walking back. Weird.

Image029 Crane boat on Little Loch Broom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Although not a part of my original plans at all, this was a really interesting day, noseying into Scoraig's long-established off-grid lifestyle. Duck eggs for sale here, logs for sale there, and a croft for sale too... Tempted?

Image013 Duck eggs for sale - pre-beer by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image031 Logs for sale by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image017 Croft for sale by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

One of the wind turbines at the south end of the village was sporting a flag of Europe (... just sayin').

Image033 Hugh Piggott wind turbine by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

And cold water was being piped from springs.

Image035 Pond with pipe by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Signs of past crofting snuggled up alongside modern set-ups.

Image015 Old croft building by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image022 Updated old croft by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image023 Modern house by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

All around, there was just a really great feel to the place.

Image037 Cafe protocol by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I stopped at the Lighthouse, looked inside where there's a good summary of the community's history and resources (wind, stone, wood) and also an intriguing board about the resident violin/viola-maker. In the grass outside were whale bones, and a carved, curved seat offered up words of wisdom.

Image038 The lighthouse by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image040 About the lighthouse on Cailleach Head by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image056 Inside the lighthouse by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image058 Geology of Cailleach Head by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image065 Violin making by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image068 Transporting stuff by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image069 Donations box and lizard by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (I did.)

Image054 Whale bones by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image041 Decorated seat by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image047 Legend 6 - honest by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image052 Legend 11 by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

It's a gentle pace out here, (aside from the hard work that goes with crofting that is). This was a Tuesday. The next post collection was in three days' time.

Image071 Post collected Friday - this is Tuesday by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The boatyard is clearly something of a hub for Scoraig, although folk seem to have their own launching places too. And as I walked back out, after my nosey, past a shepherdess feeding a lamb from a baby's milk-bottle, the duck-egg seller had received a delivery of beer. So that's all right then. Vegan beer too :D

Image081 Boatyard by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image077 Launching site by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image101 Beer delivery for duck eggs seller by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

No raptors on the way back, but a delightful pair of stonechats (here's the male), gulls, waterfalls and what I think are just soggy dandelions but they look amazing.

Image103 Stonechatting by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image106 Waterfall by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image107 Wet dandelions by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

As I returned, I found about three viable ways up Beinn Ghobhlach, not that I could see much as I looked up. Still, might make a grand walk for another time. Then it was back to Ullapool YHA to cook up some scran and chat with my footsore room-mate who was taking a break from her WHW adventure.


Day 6: Quinag abort - more CALL volunteering and Ullapool Museum instead

Another heavy-clag day, and since I've already walked Quinag on a heavy-clag day, it was pointless going for a repeat performance today. CALL were wanting vols to do some path-clearing at Glencanisp Lodge, so even though it was out of the way, I answered the CALL call, then visited Ullapool Museum since I've never had time before. As with Cheviot in Part 1 of this WR, loads of interesting stuff to think about - but here's not the place.

Image006 Neil and I finishing our stretch CALL photo by Emma Kendon, on Flickr


Day 7: Beinn More Assynt South Top & Glen Oykel

This was to be my last day in Assynt. A couple of years ago, on BMA's north top, I'd been admiring the view of the ridge to the South Top as well as finding the Glen Oykel valley filled on and off with cloud and so mostly out of sight. I've been wanting to come at it from the other side since then.

[2 x Aug 2017 pics:]

Image010h Rock ridge and clouds - lovely by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image010a Ben More Assynt summit - dramatic cloud by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

As I drove along the road, before my left turn into the Benmore Lodge track where I'd leave the car, I saw a black grouse. Rubbish photo - (stay still, dammit :roll:). Possibly the first black grouse I've seen - can't remember.

Image001 Blurry black grouse A837 by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Anyway, back to the walk: booted up, I set off along the track to Benmore Lodge, just after which I met a Geordie (ahem - or thereabouts) fella with a huge rucksack, doing the CWT. We kept company for about ten minutes, in easy chat about the difference in miles you cover in the Peak District compared to Scotland (him), about route-finding, about the soaking of the day before, and about midges this morning. When we crossed the little wooden bridge our paths diverged, his north and mine east.

Image083 Path-split Bridge and look back to Sail an Ruathair by Emma Kendon, on Flickr [Caption saying 'back' is because I took this pic on the walk out.]

My path quickly deteriorated as the river was too deep and fast-flowing to re-cross to where the path continued. No matter - I was more than happy without a path (usually am), and anyway it crosses back further on. So I marched through the wild ground with a very happy heart, found live deer and less live deer, and when the bridge that brings back the path appeared, I stopped for a snack and a drink.

Image013 Hydro-free River Oykel by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image014 Red deer hind on Sail an Ruathair by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image019 Top of skull - male by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image022 Coffee stop just north of re-joining bridge by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The two hills to my left, Black Rock and then Sail an Rhuathair, and the sounds, first of River Oykel rushing, then of the Allt Sail an Rhuathir tumbling and babbling, had been my new companions for this stretch. Finally the ground rose, and as I swung left to ascend Meall an Aonich up its broad grassy shoulder, I could see Ben Hee and the other hills to the north and east, most of which I was struggling to identify.

Image026 SE shoulder of Meall an Aonaich by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image030 Ground beetle by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image031 Cairn on Meall an Aonaich by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Golden plover were calling and occasionally flitting past, and then came the distinctive wind-up croak of ptarmigan as I walked in the sun through the grass and quartzite...

Image032 Grassy lanes between quartzite boulder fields by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image033 Ptarmigan by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Up at Eagle Rock I paused for a look at Breabag and thought about a coffee. In reality the wind was too strong, so I put the flask away and decided to wait til there was a bit more shelter down in the bealach.

Image036 Picnic at Eagle Rock - Braebag with corrie - Canisp behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image037 Up to BMA South tops and Conival - Quinag invisible by Emma Kendon, on Flickr [Actually, Quinag is faintly visible...]

Image038 Back to Sail an Ruathair - Black Rock - Loch Ailsh by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Looking down to the east, as I rose up Carn nan Conbhairean, the terraces in the hillside were becoming more obvious.

Image039 Loch Carn nan Conbhairean down on right - East by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image040 Looking back up to Eagle Rock by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image041 Buttercup path up Carn nan Conbhairean by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

And then I hit clag.

Image042 And cloud from here on up by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I carried on up to the top of Carn nan Conbhairean but didn't bother with the South Top. Instead I dashed back down to get my views back. They're what I'd come for. The tops weren't shrugging off the clag, so the ridge view I'd wanted from this angle weren't happening.

My descent brought me above Dubh Loch Mor and under the south ridge, with cloud filling its troughs and gullies. The view of the ridge was impressive from here, I liked it a lot!

Image043 Ben More Assynt South top and ridge to North Top by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Across the way Breabag was looking very handsome, and I imagined CWT-guy looking up at these quartz shenanigans too as he plodded along with his heavy pack. He'd said to wave from the top of BMA, but even if I'd gone to the top, who waves in a cloud?

Image044 Breabag Tarsainn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image045 Breabag to Breabag Tarsainn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I loved Garbh Choire. It's one of those things when you're up on a summit, and you know from the map there's a corrie below, you can't necessarily imagine (or you don't generally bother) what the atmosphere's like in the corrie beneath your feet. I certainly didn't from the top of BMA 20 months previously. But today, looking over to the corrie from down here, just south of it, I was loving its darkness, its secrecy and its drama.

Image046 Garbh Choire with Quinag behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image049 Garbh Choire pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I was also really enjoying this view of Breabag's wonderful folds and contortions. It reminded me of one of the photos from allangilly's superb WR on Arkle and Meall Horn (https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=89528).

Image050 Breabag - folds like Arkle by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

So now, down on the west side to drop back to Glen Oykel, which just involved a bit of careful navigation to find the one good gap between all the otherwise steep drops.

Image051 Glen Oykel by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

A hind was munching on the grass in my path, so I waited til she sensed me, and then carried on once she'd sauntered off. When I got to the point where she'd been grazing, for some reason a tiny little mud-cave, about the size of my boot, caught my eye. In it was a bird-poo, a white one, not a grouse one, and I was peering to see if I could see any footprints when a little froglet crawled up out of the grass beneath.

Image055 Froglet and poo line by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

He was very entertaining. He clambered on up, and settled for a moment on the bird-poo. As you do? :?

Image057 OK - froglet on poo by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Then on he went, and he just sat, peering, looking awe-struck, into the massive mud-cave (massive if you're a froglet).

Image058 Froglet arrives in cave by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I put my hand down, and he crawled into it, so I picked him up and we had a froglet-y-human peer at each other, then I put him back down but on the grass so he could hide. He didn't want to go back there, and only crawled out of my hand when I put him back in his mud-cave, where he turned and peered into it again. So I left him there.

And I hope the massive-poo-bird didn't come back and eat him... :crazy:

Image061 Froglet zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr [Stay alive, wee man.]

Image064 Looking back up descent by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Then it was just a leisurely long walk back above and then beside the River Oykel.

Image065 Path back south by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image068 Crossing the waterfall by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Above me I heard a mobbing, looked up and there was an osprey - possibly one of the Loch Shin ones.

Image070 Osprey being mobbed by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image073 Osprey silhouette by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image077 Butterwort in flower by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image078 Another butterwort with midge by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
(That's what we like to see...)

Image084 Salmon-friendly cross-river fence by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image086 Fishing boats on Loch Ailsh by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image090 Cuckooflower or ladys smock by Emma Kendon, on Flickr


Day 9: Isle of May

On the way back south, a puffintastic day on the Isle of May

Image059 Puffirotti by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image022 Tern in flight with sand eel by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

etc.... - and home.

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Comments: 3



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Ascent: 1475m
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Date walked: 24/06/2018
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EmmaKTunskeen


User avatar
Location: West Sussex
Activity: Mountain Walker
Mountain: Ben Mor Coigach
Place: Assynt
Gear: Knee-strapping
Ideal day out: Epic ridge-walk with humbling history and a falcon, osprey or an eagle

Munros: 25
Corbetts: 17
Grahams: 9
Donalds: 4
Wainwrights: 41
Hewitts: 41
Sub 2000: 2
Islands: 12



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Statistics

2019

Trips: 5
Distance: 44 km
Ascent: 2359m
Munros: 4
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 1

2018

Trips: 6
Distance: 79.4 km
Ascent: 3471m
Munros: 1
Corbetts: 5
Grahams: 1
Hewitts: 3
Wainwrights 5

2017

Trips: 8
Distance: 118.45 km
Ascent: 6818m
Munros: 9
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 1


Joined: Aug 19, 2016
Last visited: Aug 03, 2019
Total posts: 159 | Search posts