Scotland's Last Hope? Bagging the Northernmost

Route: Ben Hope

Munros: Ben Hope

Date walked: 26/08/2021

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 7.5km

Ascent: 945m

I'm consoling myself over yet another cancelled foreign holiday (Malaga just after New Year 2022, this one would have been - Drat, Drat and Double Drat :evil: ) - by catching up on another WR that I hadn't gotten around to writing up from this summer.
One silver lining of the last two year's events, I'll reluctantly admit, is that I've enjoyed some great domestic holidays in various bits of the Highlands, including no less than three separate weeks over the summer. We'd booked a big house near Strathpeffer for a week with family & friends in late August and early September, but I had quite a bit of Annual Leave to spare, so I took an extra couple of days for walking before joining the rest of the family group on the Saturday. In fact, I drove up to Inverness after work on Wednesday, stayed in a Travelodge there, and set off bright and breezy on the Thursday morning for the long drive up to Strathmore to bag the northernmost Munro of them all, the somewhat reclusive Ben Hope.
The minor road that heads up to Strathmore from Altnaharra was certainly an experience - I've encountered single-track roads before that have grass growing up the middle between the two tyre tracks, but never before have I encountered one that has Bonny Blooming Heather growing up the middle :lol: ! My car survived it fairly intact, thankfully :? . On the final approach to the starting point for Ben Hope, I passed the iron-age broch at Alltnacaillich Farm: an extraordinarily well-preserved relic that would have been well worth a proper stop and a few photos, had the Midgies not been out in their zillions :shock: !
It had been a long though extremely scenic drive, and it was a relief to arrive at the surprisingly big and surprisingly busy car park for Ben Hope. Given that I hadn't passed a single vehicle on the way up from Altnaharra, where on earth did all these cars come from :? ? I suspect that most of them must have set off a good bit earlier than I did.
Anyway, I booted up as quickly as possible to avoid succumbing to the usual evil Scottish Midgie nanotechnology (i.e. death from about 9.3 x 10^12 tiny blood-meals!), and set off uphill as quickly as I could manage, hoping to get up above the Midgie Line rapidly enough to avoid exsanguination :lol: .
There is a steep but well-engineered path up the south bank of the Allt a' Mhuiseil burn, and thankfully it did give rapid height gain. The weather was looking extremely promising, with the morning Clag showing every sign of lifting completely as the day progressed, and there were some wee waterfalls on the Allt to admire, amidst some really lovely Highland flora :D .
WR1 - nice waterfall and flora on ascent.jpg

There was a grand view back south down Strathmore on the ascent, and my car was still in view for a lot longer than I'd expected!
WR2 - looking back down to car park.jpg

Looking up to Ben Hope's south ridge, there was still a bit of lingering Clag up there, but it didn't look as though it was going to linger much longer...
WR3 -still some Clag up there on the ridge.jpg

Sure enough, the last of the Clag did clear very soon after this, and some stirring views started to develop over to the west:
WR4 - Clag clearing and fine views developing looking westwards.jpg

With surprisingly little ado, I found myself up on Ben Hope's south ridge proper, with a grand vista back down Strathmore :) :
WR5 - up on the ridge proper now and a grand vista back down into the glen.jpg

Just a wee bit higher up, this cairn I think marked the spot where the main path from the big car park meets a smaller and older path that comes up from further down the south ridge at Alltnacaillich:
WR6 - cairn on ascent - not the summit cairn I think.jpg

It was a bit further than it looked up to the actual summit from here, with a couple of false summits en route, but this is a fairly short walk on the whole, and soon enough I found myself up at the trig point.
Truly I am not worthy of what awaited :shock: ! The air clarity was perfect by now, the Clag had pretty much vanished, and the views were just jaw-dropping.
Star of the Show was undoubtedly Ben Hope's Corbett neighbour to the east, Ben Loyal, which is another of those awesomely monolithic northern hills. Loch na Seilg and Loch a' Ghobha-Dhuibh in the foreground were also just looking unfeasibly scenic.
WR7 - at Hope trig point looking east to Ben Loyal and smaller peak with lochans in foreground.jpg

Me at the Trig Point, sans Bobble Hat but looking very chuffed to be here, as well I might!
WR8 - me at Hope summit and looking very chuffed to be there.jpg

There were several other parties already enjoying lunch at the summit environs while simultaneously taking photos in all directions, so I found myself a comfy spot and did the same (M&S Mini Melton Mowbray pork pies, since you ask :lol: ).
Another extraordinary view east to Ben Loyal:
WR9 - another extraordinary view east to Ben Loyal.jpg

The complex and impressive Corbetts, Foinaven and Arkle, immediately to the south-west:
WR10 - Foinaven I think this one is.jpg

Foinaven again, with I think part of the Conival / Ben More Assynt ridge away in the distance over its shoulder: hopefully those would be my targets for tomorrow.
WR11 - Foinaven again and I think Ben More Assynt in distance.jpg

A zoomed shot of Foinaven:
WR12 - zoomed shot of Foinaven.jpg

A huge view back to the south-west, with Foinaven again, distant Ben More Assynt et cetera:
WR13 - big view back southwards with Ben More Assynt et cetera.jpg

...And northwards, towards the North Coast and Cape Wrath:
WR14 - The North Coast.jpg

Eventually, it was time to tear myself away from those views (and from the last remnants of my M&S pork pies :lol: ) and to set off back downhill. There were further huge views southwards to enjoy at the start of the descent:
WR15 - another huge view southwards at start of descent.jpg

A final zoomed shot southtwards towards distant Ben More Assynt etc:
WR16 - zoomed shot of Ben More Assynt et cetera.jpg

It was a pleasant stoat back down to the car, followed by another long but scenic drive up to the North Coast, and then westwards then southwards all the way down to Ullapool, where I checked into the Morefield Motel (not expensive, and impressive seafood :D !) in preparation for tackling Conival and Ben More Assynt on the Friday.
A lot of driving for a short walk, but undoubtedly well worth it :D !

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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: 216
Corbetts: 38
Grahams: 39
Donalds: 19
Hewitts: 2
Sub 2000: 24

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Last visited: Nov 30, 2021
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