Friday 15 July 2011

Ben Loyal - Holiday in the Far North and West of Scotland - Day 8.

After the regular pre-breakfast trot around Grummore clearance village, we set off, rucksacks packed and boots proofed, to Ben Loyal.

Freddie, Jim and the dogs, crossing the moor with Ben Hiel to the left
and Ben Loyal ahead

Ben Loyal

Our previous experience on Ben Klibreck and the almost completely dry weather since our arrival in the area, gave us the confidence to plan a route from west of Loch Craggie (renowned for a wet bog) rather than coming at the mountain from the north.

We set off from a parking area beside the A836, near to Allt Craggie. We were pleased to find that the bog was almost completely dry and we could pick our own route across the moor towards Bealach Clais nan Ceap. The way was hardgoing at times, but lightened again by the wildflowers and the occasional hopping frog - as well as the great views.

Tongue Bay from ascent to Bealach Clais nan Ceap and Ben Loyal

The views opened up as we ascended, not too steeply until we reached the bealach, then stiffenning as we made our way towards the saddle between Sgor a'Bhatain and Sgor Chaonasaid, two of the tops of Ben Loyal. The route also became rather damp underfoot.

Creag Riabhach and Loch na Creige Riabhach, with Loch Loyal beyond
from the ascent of Ben Loyal

Once onto the saddle, the ascent eased and the summit crags beckoned.

Ben Hope from the crags near Sgor Chaonasaid

We made our way north to ascend Sgor Chaonasaid, with some excellent bits of scrambling. Jim and Freddie went the hard way (so they said), whilst I chose a route which the dogs could take, or could bypass safely whilst still in my sight.

Sgor Chaonasaid, Ben Loyal

Jim and Freddie, after a hard bit, Sgor Chaonasaid

I reached the summit of Sgor Chaonasaid, at 712m, first, with the dogs.

Ben Hope and beyond to Foinaven from the summit of Sgor Chaonasaid, Ben Loyal

But they soon caught up, to take in the seriously breathtaking views from the summit.

Tongue Bay and the North from Sgor Chaonasaid, Ben Loyal

The next summit on our route was Sgor a'Bhatain, with more easy scrambling. Followed by a grassy bealach before An Caisteal. It didn't look far, but distances can be deceptive, and it was quite a steep pull to the summit, with dipped slabby rocks to negotiate near the top.

Ptarmigan on the ascent of An Caisteal

Views of Loch Loyal and beyond
from the summit of An Caisteal

An Caisteal is the highest point on Ben Loyal at 764m, once again with great views. The craggy coastline to the north and an open land of mountain and moor, hardly touched by man, around the rest of the compass.

An Caisteal, the highest point on Ben Loyal, with views to Tongue Bay

We continued south and had lunch just below An Caisteal's crags, out of the wind. We watched a herd of Red deer grazing in Calbhach Coire, until they caught the scent of the dogs and went bounding over the ridge and out of sight.

Looking back to Sgor a'Bhatain and An Caisteal

South again to Beinn Bheag (744m) and finally to Carn an Tionall (716m) on grassy slopes.

View south from Carn an Tionall

We turned north again, back towards Beinn Bheag and then made a bee line descent towards Loch na Creige Riabhach.

Jim and the dogs descend towards Loch na Creige Riabhach

Views north from the descent towards Loch na Creige Riabhach

We stopped here for a second lunch and the dogs opted for a cool down.

Loch na Creige Riabhach

Hal has a swim in Loch na Creige Riabhach

Then onwards, across amazing peat hags and down a stream bed to Bealach Clais nan Ceap

Descent to Bealach Clais nan Ceap

We met a PhD student who was doing some research into the dwarf birch trees which grow hearabouts. We were able to point him towards some that we had seen just a short while earlier in the bealach.

Looking back to An Caisteal

And then back across the dry bog in the afternoon heat to the car. Another great hill day.

Jim, Freddie and the dogs yomp across the moor
towards Loch Craggie

Ben Loyal from the north

Route: Car parking area on A836 by Loch Craggie (NC608514), south east across the moor, contour around Ben Hiel at approx 270m, ascend to Bealach an Ceap (NC590498), ascend to saddle between Sgor a'Bhatain and Sgor Chaonasaid, Sgor Chaonasaid (712m), Sgor a'Bhatain (708m), An Caisteal (764m), Beinn Bheag (744m), Carn an Tionall (716m), return north to bealach between Carn an Tionall and Beinn Bheag, descend to Loch na Creige Riabhaich, descend to Bealach Clais nan Ceap, return to start.

Statistics: Distance: 13.2km  Ascent: 850m  Time: 6 hours

After a restful evening at the campsite, I had an evening walk around the Grummore clearnance village.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

Setting off from Glen Feshie - it was chilly - before the sun had a chance to peep over the hills...  Off we go! Jim - Setting off near Auch...