Area: Durness to Loch Shin
Munro: Ben Hope
Date walked: 28/09/2009
Time taken: 2 hours 22 minutes
Distance: 7 km
Ben Hope sits on its own in the far North highlands high above Loch Hope. The summit sits on a small plateau with steep crags and slopes dropping steeply 550m to the West and a steep Corie dropping 400m to a small Lochan to the East with a further 150m more gentle descent to the twin Lochs, Loch na Seilg and Loch a Ghobha Dhuibh. There is a superb ridgeline to the north which veers to the north East for 1.5km as it descends steeply and this would make for an exciting and alternative ascent for those brave enough to attempt it. The summit views would be superb on a good day with a range of Corbetts to thefar East including Foinaven and Arkle with the Corbett Ben loyal to the west. Cape Rath sits alone at the top of Scotland to the North West with the Orkney islands to the North East. Its closest Munro neighbour is Ben Klibreck 22km aproximately to the South South West
I had taken the long drive to Torridon from Dunfermline on the Saturday but because of the high winds and rain I decided that the Torridon hills were best kept for another day. I therefore choose to drive a further 200km to Sutherland and walk Ben Hope the most northerly of the Munro’s. As I left Torridon the weather improved slightly and the sun even came out but it didn’t last and after a long drive I approached the parking area at the base of Ben Hope with the rain pelting down. It was Sunday afternoon and I was not impressed. This was not a great start to my holiday. I now decided I would wait and hope for better weather on the Monday morning before doing this walk. Better weather hahahahahhaa. I got up on Monday at 8am with two large horse heads peering through the campervan window. The horses were actually knocking on the window with their noses looking for food. They were drenched because it was still raining and had been all night long. Well, nothing for it but to get walking and it looks like I am going to get wet.
After breakfast I was on my way. It was now 0910 and I was heading off up the hill side. The first part of the hill was boggy and in fact apart from extreme uphill sections it was all boggy. The only good news was that there was a good path most of the way and it’s a short walk but it’s quite steep in places and quite tiring. The bottom section takes me up alongside the Allt a Mhuiseil for the first kilometre with lots of rocks and boulders to walk up. The burn was flowing in a torrent with spectacular waterfalls that needed to be seen with the naked eye to be appreciated. The path soon crosses the burn upstream and then closely follows the very steep craggy cliffs to the West finally heading North North East all the way to the summit.
There are a couple of boulder fields where the path becomes less distinct but by continuing North heading in the same direction as before, bearing in mind that there are serious steep crags to your left, there are no issues.
The summit, in fact most of the mountain, was in the mist so there was no point in hanging around so I took some photos and headed back the way I had come. It’s not a mountain that you can run much on but I tried my best. I found the best approach to coming down was to follow the clear stony path that the water was descending on. The water has washed away all the dirt and it leaves a sound clear path albeit wet with a capital W. Better that than falling on your bum due to slipping on the boggy bits. It didn’t take long to descend back down to the campervan and it was a shame to miss the reportedly spectacular views from the summit so a revisit is a must.