Ben More Assynt and Conival
Area: Scourie to Lairg
Munros: Ben More Assynt, Conival
Date walked: 30/09/2009
Time taken: 5 hours
Distance: 17 km
Ben More Assynt and Conival sits high in an area in the north of Scotland between loch Assynt and Loch Shin. The shortest approach to these Munro’s is via the Inchnadamph Hotel by the side of the A837. However a much longer day can be had by walking or cycling in along glen Oykel past Loch Ailsh and approching the Munro’s from the South. There is a good path into the Glen from the hotel but as height is gained there are some buttresses to clamber up and then a boulder field is entered which covers the top of this plateau.
I drove from the Crask Inn, near Ben Klibreck (Tuesdays walk), to Inchnadamph Hotel car park and parked up for the night. There was a sign in the car park saying “No Campervans” but I was here to bag the Munro’s and since I was only vehicle in the car park I didn’t think there would be any issues. I awoke early and after breakfast I was ready to set off on the walk at 8am. The weather was being kind after the recent rains and it was nice and dry with little wind.
I decided to cycle in and see how far I could get on the bike, so I left the car park, crossed the bridge, and turned right onto the path. The path meanders up and down for approximately 2kms past a couple of houses until a small copse is reached. About 100m before the copse I decided to leave the bike and continue on foot. I don’t think the bike saved much time really and it would have been easy enough to walk in instead. When I reached the copse there was a small fork in the path. The main path continues onwards following the river Traligill and a smaller path heads slightly left into the hillside. On reflection I should have stayed on the main path but in my infinite wisdom I took the small fork and headed up the hillside. The path was very small and very boggy as I followed it for approximately 500m so I then decided to leave the path and head directly up the pathless hillside. I now realise that I would be making my own path from now but the underfoot conditions on the hillside are reasonably dry and the walking was easy. I traverse the hillside for 1km keeping to the same contour and I re-join the main path which I should have stayed on earlier at about the 400m contour line.
From here the path continues up the hillside. Again it’s boggy and due to the recent rains many walkers have walked to the side of the main path creating more erosion and widening the extent of the boggy ground, with the water cascading down the hillside in places. The path continues ascending upwards in a North east direction and after about 800m it crosses the burn. It continues east up a buttress that at first glance suggests climbing/scrambling will be required but in fact as I approach the buttress I find a good line up through the rocky ground and I am soon on the path slightly above the Bealach at 800m. The weather has been good so far but above me the summits are in the mist so I stop for some refreshment and some photos.
It’s now 1km and 200m in ascent to the summit of Conival with its large round shelter Cairn at the summit I now have approximately 1.6km to the summit of Ben More across an undulating boulder strewn landscape. The path disappears into the boulders underfoot and I just headed directly over the two subsidiary tops between the two Munro’s. I was in the mist with poor visibility so I never had to worry about scary views but I did find it tedious and when I got to the Ben More summit the wind was raging. I had no views whatsoever being in the clag so I sat down just below the summit, changed the battery on my gps and had more refreshments. I was not looking forward to the return trip over the boulders to Conival due to the boulder field conditions but it had to be done. However it did not take long and I was soonback at Conival with no issues and then I headed back down the hillside. I retraced my steps across the heather and as I got close to my entry point I dropped down to the main path. Collected the bike and cycled back to the van. That concludes my 4 days in the far North but I hope to come back again someday.