Monday 8 July 2013

Conival and Ben More Assynt.

Beinn an Fhurain and Conival from near Inchnadamph Lodge

We travelled over to Assynt from our campsite near Altnaharra hoping for good weather. The campsite had no internet connection (not that we had expected it to !) and we could only pick up Radio 2. Being based in London, the weather forecast (we had found) was inaccurate to the point of being useless. The Radio 2 forecast for today was "drizzle" for the North West of Scotland.

Loch Assynt and Quinag from Gleann Dubh

We set off from Inchnapamph in sunshine, having chatted to another group of walkers, who assured us that the forecast was good.

Our confidence in their competence was dented almost immediately, when they headed off up the drive to Inchnapamph Hotel. Realising their mistake, they headed north up the road to Kylesku. We took a sharp right past Inchnadamph Lodge and on into the hills, thinking they must know another route. Shortly, they came puffing past us, sweating in the heat (it was hot) looking sheepish.

Rafe - Conival and Breabag

We were chatting away to a very well spoken gentleman, in moleskins, who gave us lots of information about fishing for trout in upland loch's, should we ever have the urge to try it. Rafe had a bit of a hobnob with his aristocratic terrier. They headed off on a track to the north east, while we continued into Gleann Dubh.

River Trallgill

We met our naviationally challenged friends again very soon. They had stopped for a drink and a rest (it was hot).

Jim and Rafe in Gleann Dubh with views to Conival

The walk in was beautiful, along good tracks, dwindling to a path alongside the River Trallgill. The views ahead to an ominous looking Conival. As we continued south east the sun became hazier and the cloud started to loom around the summits. (It was still hot !)

Waterfalls on Allt a'Choinne Mhill

The path headed off up the lower slopes of Conival, we followed the Allt a'Choinne Mhill, through bog and past waterfall. It was a bit of a slog (it was hot !), but we made good progress and a fast ascent.

Jim ascends to the scramble into the hanging valley (NC297209) Conival

We had a brief, but entertaining scramble on the first rocky bit of the day. Rafe had fun, leaping about, but there was just one point in the little scramble, that required us to try out his new harness. Jim gave him a helping lift over the crux, leaving Rafe looking bemused.

Rafe and rocks - Ascent of Conival (NC297209)

The hanging valley, above the rocks, had a wonderful otherworldly feel. A gateway between the green and soft world of the glens below and the wild and rocky mountains above.

Views west from the bealach - ascent of Conival

The cloud was starting to come in, and we decided to have a spot of lunch before being enveloped in the swirling cold. So on the bealach we slipped behind a rock and enjoyed a couple of butties and Rafe his gravy bones (other dog treats are available !).

A good place for a first lunch (NC301203)
Views to Na Tuadhan from the ascent of Conival

We continued up Conival's north west ridge and into the cloud.

Jim and Rafe on Conival's north west ridge

The views were slightly impeded.

Jim and Rafe on Conival's summit plateau

Each time there was a break in the cloud, I took many photographs, thinking that these may be the only summit views of the day.

Jim near Conival's summit

After a short rocky plateau, Conival's summit soon came into view, our first Munro of the day.

Summit of Conival (Munro 158, 980m)

We had the usual photographic session on the summit, before heading off eastwards along the rocky ridge towards Ben More Assynt.

Conival's east ridge from near the summit

The cloud was swirling about, giving us brief, tantalising views of the ridge ahead and of the shining hills around.

Jim and Rafe on the Conival - Ben More Assynt ridge

And gradually, the mist started to lift, the views improving by the second.

Jim and Rafe on the Conival - Ben More Assynt ridge

The going was quite strenuous, rock and scree, with no grassy rests for Rafe's feet.

Jim on the Conival - Ben More Assynt ridge

Looking back to Conival

We had a high level, undulating, rocky ridge walk, above some of the wildest and most remote areas of Scotland. The ridge was never so narrow as to feel exposed, but it was a wonderful airy walk.

Na Tuadhan cliffs from the Conival - Ben More Assynt ridge

Views north west from the Conival - Ben More Assynt ridge

The wind was getting up as we neared Ben More Assynt across the ridge.

Rafe nears the summit of Ben More Assynt

Looking back to Conival on the Conival - Ben More Assynt ridge

And by the time we reached the summit of our second Munro, it was blowing a hoolie, impossible to stand up atop the summit rocks. So after a very quick photo, we retired to the shelter of the rocks just below.

Views north and west from Ben More Assynt summit (Munro 141, 998m)

Ben More Assynt East Top from Ben More Assynt

Conival from near Ben More Assynt

Then we followed our outward route back, across the ridge to Conival. The wind had dropped almost immediately and we made good time in warm sunshine.

Rafe on Conival summit - time for a second lunch

A second lunch was had in the summit shelter.

South from Conival summit

Jim and Rafe descend from Conival - views to Beinn an Fhurain and Na Tradhan

Before desending back into Gleann Dubh.

Loch Assynt from Conival

It was hot !

Views south from the bealach and of Allt a'Choinne Mhill

And we never saw that group of walkers from the car park again !

Conival from by Allt a'Choinne Mhill

But the well spoken fisherman and his aristocratic terrier arrived back at the car park soon after us. They'd had a successful day - enough fish for both their tea's.

Conival from Gleann Dubh

Conival and Ben More Assynt get a bit of a bad press - I suppose because of the other glorious hills hereabout - but we had a great day, with wonderful views.

Rafe, ready for another walk? at Inchnadamph

Route:  Car park in Inchnadamph (NC252216), A837 N for 50m, track E past Inchnadamph Lodge, turning SE past Glenbain Cottage, Gleann Dubh along N bank of River Trallgill, footpath NE along W bank of Allt a'Choinne Mhuill, continue into hanging valley and to bealach between Beinn an Fhurain and Conival, SE to Conival (Munro 158, 980m), E to Ben More Assynt West Top (974m), Ben More Assynt (Munro 141, 998m), return to start.

Statistics:  Ascent: 1265m  Distance: 17km  Time: 8 hours

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