Sunday, 25 June 2017

My first Munro!!

Hello there!
Today I want to share with you one last thing that I got up to in May (be warned this will be a photo heavy post!). Over the last year Hubbie and I have been doing a lot more walking and cycling and part of that was building up to climbing our first Munro! A Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet in height and there are officially 282 of them. You can find a great article here about Munros and Munro Bagging if you want to know more (bagging is the term used for climbing them, ie you reach the summit, you bagged it). Now I am not planning on bagging them all by any means but there is no doubt that the scenery is spectacular and, as we are blessed to live in such a beautiful area, it does seem a bit of a waste not to get out there and see it!! So far June has given us a very mixed bag weatherwise but we had some really beautiful weather in May. This is often the way here in this part of the world, we get our best stretches of sunny weather in May, and, now we aren't restricted by school holiday dates, Hubbie often takes a week off work for us to enjoy it. So we set a tentative date in his May holiday to tackle Ben Wyvis. Although a path exists to walk from Dingwall (where we live) it is longer and the terrain is much rougher than the regular "official" path which starts just north of Garve. The day we had picked arrived with promising weather so we drove the 20 miles or so to Garve and parked the car.

It is a popular, well trodden route and the path is mostly well maintained and clear to follow, we have walked the first couple of miles a few times before (it is especially pretty in the snow) and the start is easy going...

After crossing a stream the path swings right and runs alongside it, climbing gently and giving you your first glimpse of what you have undertaken!

The water sparkled in the sunshine as it gurgled downstream, leaping over the rocks and looking very tempting for a paddle! As we hadn't brought a towel we resisted and kept walking...

The path started climbing above the stream...

...until, as the stream started to meander, the path took a straighter route towards the mountain and we left the streams' cheerful noises behind us. We also left the trees behind and headed up into open country, the weather was perfect and there was a cooling breeze which was very welcome! This became the dominant feature ahead of us, but despite first appearances, we knew we were not looking at the summit, just the top of An Cabar. 

Every now and then it pays to stop, turn around, and take in the views behind you!!

The water in this photo is Loch Glascarnoch, a man made reservoir opened in the 1950's as part of the area's hydro electric power scheme (green energy is not a new idea in this part of the world). The dam is barely visible in the photo below but stands 92 feet high and runs for 1673 feet in length so it is a pretty big landmark on the way up to Ullapool!
Then we reached the steepest part of the ascent, the stone steps which zig zag up An Cabar (which I think is Gaelic for "Steps from Hell"! ;-))

The terrain to either side of the path is strewn with rocks so you can take a break and a seat and enjoy the views...

This is our first glimpse through to "our" side of the Ben...

...and this is the view down the way we have come, can you see where the path leaves the stream?

At the top of the steps the path becomes much rougher and offers a few choices to negotiate the terrain and I must admit this was my least favorite part of the walk. I am not that confident over loose scree and am also scared of heights so "less steep loose path but nearer the edge" over "steeper loose path further in" is not much of a choice in my book!

But the views! Wow! This was the top of the hill on the other side of the stream as we climbed higher...

For a while the top of An Cabar seemed to continually remain just out of reach...

But finally we reached the horseshoe shaped cairn!

By now the "cooling breeze" from earlier was a decidedly cold wind and I had added first a long sleeved shirt and then my jacket over my t shirt. We decided to have our picnic lunch and coffee inside the horseshoe shaped cairn and take advantage of the shelter it provided. Not a bad view for lunchtime either!

Here you can see down over Dingwall to the Firth and the Black Isle beyond...

But we knew this was not the true summit, we had climbed to 946m but there was another 100m to climb to reach the true summit across the ridge. We put the coffee away, put on gloves (yes it was that cold despite the blue skies!) and followed the track...

The hardest thing about this last mile and a half was remembering to keep an eye on the path! The views to either side were spectacular....

It was very windy and unfortunately a little black speck got blown onto the camera lense which neither of us noticed until we were looking at the photos the next day. It was also cold and as we neared the true summit and looked back along the ridge there were patches of snow still hanging on. Looking for snow on the Ben is part of the rhythm of the year for us, the first snowy covering roundabout October used to be greeted with excitement by our kids that winter/Christmas was coming and maybe even a snow day from school if they got really lucky! Equally a late re-covering of springtime snow warns us to watch out for frosts, the cold weather isn't done with us yet, and to hold off putting tender plants out into the garden for a little bit longer. But seeing it from this angle was definitely a new experience!

We reached the trig point at the summit almost three hours after leaving the car park, not bad going as we were in no hurry and had taken our time including stopping for lunch.

  After drinking in the views some more (and a few more photos) we turned around to retrace our steps. With the cairn behind us the gentle roll of the ridge finally gave way to the steepness of An Cabar, at this point it looked as though the path just ran off the edge!

I was even less impressed with this section of the path on the way down and we actually took longer on the descent than we had on the climb up!

Hubbie had to help me a lot and also stop and wait for me to negotiate bits slowly but that also gave him time to snap more photos...

...and once we passed this huge boulder I knew the worst was over. Did I mention some of those stone steps wobble under your feet? Ugh!!! 

Our speed increased once more and soon we were back to our old friend the stream (the hill behind it the one we had looked down on on our way up)...

About 40 minutes later we were back to the car. With the coffee at lunchtime seeming a distant memory we were definitely ready to get home for a cuppa! 
All the years we have lived in the Highlands (it will be twenty four this December) we have seen the Ben on a daily basis and it has long been in my mind to climb it "one day". To actually do it was a great experience and I hope you enjoyed coming along with me!


  1. That is a beautiful climb! One day I hope to make it over that way across the big pond. It's on our bucket list. Thank you for sharing your experience. --Andrea

    1. You're welcome Andrea! I hope you get the chance to make the trip over here, although you have a lot of beautiful scenery in your neck of the woods too! Have a great week,

  2. You're making me homesick! Such pretty views and well done for bagging your first Munro.

    1. Awww sorry Rhona! I'm sure you're going to get a warmer, sunnier summer than us though ;-) We were very lucky to get clear weather for maximum views, it turned out to be the best day of the week! Have a lovely week,


Thank you for your message - I love hearing your comments & ideas!