Hills: Ben Griam Mor and Ben Griam Beg
Date: Friday 8th July 2011
Company: Myself and Beinn
Distance: 12km, Ascent: 910m
Time: 4Hrs 30Mins

Ben Griam Mor and Ben Griam Beg have been on my wish-list for a number of years. These hills are situated between Kinbrace and Forsinard in the heart of Sutherland flow-country. There is an RSPB reserve at Forsinard.

In April 2010, I got a good view of these hills from the summit of Morven when I also ascended Scaraben, Smean and Maiden Pap –  previous report.

I travelled up to Sutherland yesterday, ascending a couple of easy Marilyns en-route – Meall Dola (above Lairg) and Ben Horn (above Golspie/Brora) – brief report. This morning I drove to the starting point near the Garvault Hotel.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

Stags at Kinbrace:

The sign at the Garvault Hotel advised this morning, “Open all year round” and “Open to non-residents”. I thought great, I’ll get a pint in there when I come off the hill – the Garvault Hotel claims to be one of Britain's most isolated hotels. When I got back off the hill another sign advised, "Closed today" .

I initially followed the path which eventually leads to Loch Coire nam Mang.

Path at start of walk (nr. Garvault Hotel):

Ben Loyal and Garvault Hotel (zoomed):

The views were pretty-good right from the off and it looked like it was going to be a really nice day despite awful forecasts.

Ben Griam Mor:

Heather in bloom:

Seeing neighbouring Ben Klibreck, Ben Loyal, etc. was a good reminder of how far North these hills are.

Very remote Grahams: Ben Armine and Creag Mhor across Loch Badanloch:

Ben Kilbreck and Ben Loyal:

During much of the ascent, I was accompanied by Golden Plover.

Golden Plover:

Looking back towards start:

Despite walking over lots of Cotton grass, Bog Ashpodel, etc., it was remarkably dry underfoot.

Cotton grass en-route to Ben Griam Mor:

The final ridge up Ben Griam Mor was quite straight-forward.

Wide ridge onto Ben Griam Mor:

View from slopes of Ben Griam Mor:

Loch Coire nam Mang and Loch Druim a’Chliabhain:

Small crag on Ben Griam Mor:

We reached the summit of Ben Griam Mor, one hour and fifteen minutes after setting-off.

Approaching the large summit cairn:

View from summit of Ben Griam Mor:

Beinn bagging the summit:

From the summit of Ben Griam Mor, Ben Griam Beg looked a fair distance away - with quite a drop in between the hills. We continued on, descending the wide NE ridge.

Ben Griam Beg from Ben Griam Mor:

Looking SE, it was good to see Morven and its neighbouring hills away in the distance.

A distant Morven and the Allt Airigh-dhamh:

The two lochs Loch Coire nam Mang and Loch Druim a’Chliabhain also looked quite nice – I would be visiting them later.

Loch Coire nam Mang and Loch Druim a’Chliabhain from descent of Ben Griam Mor:

Descent from Ben Griam Mor:

There was only one steep bit during the descent – important to stay to the left in descent to avoid the crags.

Looking back at steep bit:

By the time we reached the flat area between the hills, Beinn was feeling the heat. We stopped for a while at the Allt Airigh-dhamh for Beinn to have a good drink. Midge-net was essential!

I took a photo of a small butterfly which I have identified as being a Small Heath Butterfly.

Small Heath Butterfly:

Ben Griam Beg:

Looking back to Ben Griam Mor:

During the ascent of Ben Griam Beg, we passed the remains of a fort. I have seen many fort remains on hills – this is one of the best I’ve seen.

Remains of fort on Ben Griam Beg:

Fort wall:

We eventually reached the top and its broken trig point.

Bits of trig point at summit of Ben Griam Beg:

To get back to the car, I opted to skirt round Ben Griam Mor rather than go over it. We made our way down towards Loch Druim a’Chliabhain so Beinn could have a cool down and a good drink.

Descending towards Loch Druim a’Chliabhain:

During the descent I was surprised to see the remains of a circular wall as well as straight walls.

Fort lines and circle:

Beinn in Loch Druim a’Chliabhain:

It would be nice to camp near this loch (outwith midge season).

Beinn at small sandy beach of Loch Druim a’Chliabhain:

Looking back to Ben Griam Beg:

I never enjoy skirting round hills as its hard on the knees and feet.

Skirting round Ben Griam Mor:

Looking back to skirting rise from Loch Druim a’Chliabhain:

We eventually reached the high-point and then made our way back to the car.

Looking towards starting point:

These hills were as good, if not better, than expected and I got some sunburn on a day I was expecting rain .