A Scottish spring & a Globally Rare Habitat on Ben Klibreck

Route: Ben Klibreck

Munros: Ben Klibreck

Date walked: 27/04/2024

Time taken: 7.25 hours

Distance: 14km

Ascent: 750m

I'd have to say that the second half of 2023 was a rum 'un for me, with a family funeral, a daughter's wedding and a performance in Carnegie Hall with my choir (how do you get to Carnegie Hall? - pay a lot of money, basically :lol: !) all within about 6 weeks :roll: - Interesting Times! Add that to a bit of sciatica over the last couple of years (my intervertebral discs aren't what they were a decade ago), some definite Loss of Fitness during the pandemic years, and general increasing decrepitude, and my Munros tally for last year was a rather pathetic Six :? .
I'm well behind with my WRs too :oops: . There's some life in the old dog yet though, hopefully, and I'm determined that this year, I might even get into double figures with Munros, if the wind's behind me. I did say that around this time last year too, though :lol: !
Anyway, Ben Klibreck. I had the last weekend in April free, and it seemed a good chance to get this Awkward Singleton ticked off. I drove up after work on the Friday night and booked into a pleasing old baronial pile south of Lairg for a couple of nights (Aultnagar Lodge; a friendly place and excellent value for money I'd say :) ). The Saturday forecast was a bit mixed, but pretty good by April's generally low standard so far... I got a reasonably early start, and set off from the car park just south of Vagastie Bridge on the A836 around 8:15 a.m.
WR1 - view from the Vagastie Bridge car park on A836.jpg

The initial approach on an obvious ATV track is something of a Slough of Despond, being well squelchy in places, but the ongoing views were definitely lifting my spirits :) .
WR2 - the squelchy ATV track at the start.jpg

With remarkably little ado, I found myself up the first minor rise, Cnoc Sgriodain, which sports not one but two well-built summit cairns, plus grand views over the four lochans on the west side of the Klibreck ridge.
WR3 - Cnoc an Sgriodain cairn with Loch nan Uan and another loch in distance.jpg

There was a fine outlook from the Sgriodain cairn to Ben Loyal to the northwest, with Loch Bad an Loch (nice name!) to the immediate left of the cairn, and all four lochs well seen in this shot:
WR4 - grand view from Cnoc an Sgriodain cairn to Ben Loyal with Loch Bad an Loch to immediate left - all four lochs visble.jpg

Unfortunately Ben Klibreck's summit cone, which is called Meall nan Con (Mound of the Dog, I think :? ), had its head firmly in the Clag at this point :( ...
WR5 - looking from Sgriodain cairn towards Meall nan Con - head firmly in Clag.jpg

I plodded onwards to the bealach between Cnoc Sgriodain and Creag an Lochain, which is the next minor top along the ridge to the north. Now, why do the words "boggy" and "bealach" always go together like ... well, "Highlands" and "midgies" :lol: ?
I took consolation from the fact that several hillwalking books remind one that peat bog is a Globally Rare Habitat, and very much something to be celebrated, even savoured.
Plenty to savour here :roll: !
WR6 - enjoying a Globally Rare Habitat.jpg

Actually it wasn't as bad as it initially looked, although I struggled a bit to savour the last couple of peat hags, even while trying to remind myself that peat hags of course lend their name to our National Mammal, the hag-gis, which can often be seen frolicking amongst them in the spring drizzle ... no haggi about today though, sadly :wink: .
Soon enough though, the terrain started to trend upwards again, and I picked up the good ongoing path that bypasses Creag an Lochain on its western flanks. This was much more like the thing - a really delightful high-level promenade, in fact, with spectacular views out over the flatlands to the west, with all those wee lochs in the foreground :D . The big one just to the west of the Klibreck ridge is Loch nan Uan: there is an alternative (shorter, but steeper and boggier) ascent route for Klibreck that cuts across the north side of this loch to join the ridgeline a lot further north, but I definitely hadn't fancied the sound of that!
WR7 - on the Creag an Lochain bypass path and much more like the thing - Loch nan Uan below.jpg

A bit further along, Meall nan Con briefly lifted its head from the Clag, so I quickly took its photo before it changed its mind!
WR8 - brief view of Clag-free Meal nan Con.jpg

I'd been worried about Snow Issues after seeing Ben Wyvis with a thick blanket of the stuff on the drive north the previous evening, but looking at Meall nan Con from here, it only seemed to have a light dusting... This is Scotland though, and all of that would shortly change :roll: !
WR9 - zoomed shot with a bit of snow higher up.jpg

A very pleasing vista of all four lochs to the west side of the Klibreck ridge from a wee bit further along the Creag an Lochain bypass path:
WR10 - fantastic view of the four lochs from that grand high-level promenade.jpg

Meall nan Con back in the Clag now - maybe for the rest of the day :( ? - and some rain over Ben Loyal to the northwest - or is it maybe snow :shock: ?
WR11 - Meal nan Con back in Clag for the day and some rain over Ben Loyal - or is it snow.jpg

Approaching A'Chioch now, which is the final rise on the ridgeline just before Meall nan Con itself, with the Munro summit briefly Clag-free once again. This would be the last glimpse of it that I got, sadly :lol: !
WR12 - approaching A Chioch with Meal nan Con pretty much out of Clag again.jpg

I took a few more photos while I still had a bit of a view. This was the outlook down the northwest side of the ridge, back towards distant Cnoc Sgriodain:
WR13 - looking back down NW side of ridge towards Cnoc Sgriodain.jpg

Looking back to Creag an Lochain - surprisingly steep on its east side, with a pleasant glimpse of Loch an Fhuarain (looking as chilly as its name would suggest) and lots of Globally Rare Habitat to be savoured down there by the looks of it :lol: !
WR14 - looking back to Creag an Lochain - surprisingly steep on east side with glimpse of Loch an Fhuarain and some Globally Rare Habitat.jpg

It was time to get this Munro bagged, however. The ongoing path becomes a bit less distinct and also steeper on the ascent of Meall nan Con, with quite a bit of boulderfield as well as an initial rock band to be negotiated - not quite scrambling, but not far off. To add to the fun, it now started to snow - lightly at first, but soon enough it wasn't mucking about.
This was the last view that I got back down on ascent of the Meall, before I headed up into the snow shower:
WR15 - last Clag free view on Meal nan Con ascent with patches of snow here and there.jpg

It was harder work in the snow than I'd bargained for, and it was quite a relief to reach the summit windshelter cairn with its broken trig point. My first Munro of 2024 :) - here's hoping that it isn't the last :roll: ...
WR16 - summit windshelter cairn with a lot of snow and trig point remnants - nae view though.jpg

The obligatory fixed grimace at the summit:
WR17 - relieved to have made it to the top and definitely not hanging about.jpg

It definitely wasn't a day for hanging about, so - photos taken - I headed straight back down again. Just as well, too, because that snow shower had gradually morphed into a full-on Whiteout, which lasted for a good fifteen minutes or so. I didn't enjoy it at all to be frank, and I made rather slow work of the Meall nan Con descent - this was all starting to feel altogether more Serious than I'd expected, although thankfully I did have plenty of warm gear with me, including my eponymous Bobble Hat of course!
As I got towards the lower slopes of the Meall, the snow thankfully started to relent a bit, which was a relief as I wouldn't like to have tackled that rock band in a blizzard :shock: ! Thankfully I had much better visibility by the time I reached the rock band, although this was now looking a totally different landscape from the one on ascent. An hour is a long time in Scottish weather!
WR18 - at the rock band on Meal nan Con descent - looking a totally different landscape from the ascent.jpg

From A'Chioch onwards, things became very straightforward again, and it was just a matter of toddling all the way back down that fine bypass path, enjoying the views out west once again, and then getting to savour the delights of the Globally Rare Habitat for a second time on reaching the bealach with Cnoc Sgriodain :lol: !
This was the view back to A'Chioch from the start of the bypass path, with a whole lot of snow on Meall nan Con now:
WR19 - looking back to A Chioch with a whole lot of snow on Meal nan Con now.jpg

I stopped for a quick lunch shortly after that, and suddenly and unexpectedly, the day's best view of Ben Loyal opened up to the northwest - it may "just" be a Corbett, but it's one good-looking mountain :) !
WR20 - suddenly the best view of Ben Loyal on descent.jpg

A zoomed shot of Ben Loyal:
WR21 - zoomed shot of Ben Loyal.jpg

It took me something over 7 hours in total for this relatively easy hill: not all down to decrepitude though, since the snow definitely didn't help. A grand walk, though, and I'm delighted to have ticked off this northerly eminence now :) !

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Comments: 1

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User avatar
Activity: Mountaineer
Pub: Kilchoan Hotel
Mountain: Cir Mhor
Place: Arran
Gear: walking poles
Member: none at present
Ideal day out: A multi-peak walk with good views.

Munros: 240
Corbetts: 43
Fionas: 43
Donalds: 19
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