Hills: Conival and Ben More Assynt
Date: Saturday 2nd November 2013
Company: Just myself
Distance: 17.7km, Ascent: 1235m
Time: 8Hrs 10Mins

It is nice to be able to walk to the hills from your accommodation. This was the case yesterday morning when I set off to ascend Conival and Ben More Assynt from Inchadamph Lodge hostel.

According to Friday’s North-West Highlands MWIS forecast the weather was supposed to deteriorate late in the afternoon. I therefore decided to head off reasonably early a) to take advantage of the limited daylight and b) to get back before the weather started to take a turn for the worse.

I set off sufficiently early to miss the revised Saturday morning North-West Highlands MWIS forecast which apparently advised that the weather would be deteriorating sooner than had been originally forecast. Come on MWIS get it right!

The morning sky was nice and red, so shepherds (and hillwalkers) be warned.

‘Red Sky in the Morning’ from Inchnadamph Lodge hostel:

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I set off walking along the vehicle track leading to Glenbain. I last walked along this track to ascend Conival and Ben More Assynt in 2004.

Looking towards Conival from track near Inchnadamph Lodge hostel:

It didn’t take long to reach Glenbain where I stopped to take a photo of the Allt na Glaic Moire waterfall. The burn was in spate owing to the thunder and heavy rain the night previous.

Allt na Glaic Moire waterfall from Glenbain (zoom):

A short distance beyond Glenbain the vehicle track changed to a path which I followed for a further circa 2.5km to reach the base of Conival.

Conival and Breabag (718m top) from Gleann Dubh path:

On approaching the base of Conival, I could see an eroded mess of a track leading up Conival. This track could really do with some repair work.

Conival and River Traligill:

As I gained more and more height the views become increasingly good. The weather was still really nice – a calm between two storms.

Coigach hills and Canisp from ascent of lower slopes of Conival:

Ascent of Conival:

Coigach hills and Canisp across Loch Mhaolach-coire:

The circa 400m ascent alongside the water was fairly hard work. I eventually reached a short wall with at least two paths leading up to it. During the ascent, I took the path to the South which involved a short scramble up the wall. During the return, I took an easier non-scrambling route a short distance to the North.

Short wall during ascent of Conival:

Once above the short wall, the gradient eased and I had a short break before continuing on towards Conival.

View from above the short wall:

Looking towards col between Beinn an Fhurain and Conival:

During the next section of ascent, Quinag came into view. It is a fantastic triple Corbett.

Loch Assynt and Quinag:

Suilven also started to make an appearance from behind Canisp.

Canisp and Suilven:

I was really impressed with the views during the ascent. It was worthwhile getting up and setting off early to get superb views across Coigach, Assynt and to the North towards Foinaven.

Panorama from Conival:

Beinn an Fhuarain definitely caught my eye during the ascent. This looks a really nice hill with some impressive crags below its summit.

Beinn an Fhurain:

Loch Assynt and Quinag:

It wasn’t long before I was above the snow-line. This dusting of fresh snow extended along the ridge from Conival out to Ben More Assynt.

Ridge from Conival out to Ben More Assynt and Ben More Assynt South Top:

Panorama from Conival:

The ascent was a bit slippery here and there as I was wearing my three-season boots which have fairly-worn soles.

Approaching the summit ridge of Conival:

Breabag from Conival:

Approaching the summit shelter of Conival:

On reaching the summit shelter, I decided to put on my crampons for the continuation out to Ben More Assynt. The snow wasn’t hard so I arguably didn’t need to use them. However, given I had carried them up there, there was no harm in using them to allow me to progress more quickly along the ridge.

Summit shelter:

View from summit shelter of Conival:

Heading out to Ben More Assynt:

Looking back to Conival from ridge out to Ben More Assynt:

The walk along the ridge was fairly pleasant albeit there were a couple of sections where it was very windy.

On the ridge between Conival and Ben More Assynt:

Ups and downs on the ridge out to Ben More Assynt:

Looking back to Conival:

Loch Shin from Ben More Assynt:

As I approached the summit of Ben More Assynt, I wasn’t sure which of the two tops was highest. I visited what turned out to be the summit top first but also visited the other top before returning back along the ridge.

Approaching the summit of Ben More Assynt:

Lower top near the summit of Ben More Assynt:

It was originally my intention to also head out to the South Top. However, I could tell that the weather was changing earlier than forecast. The wind was picking up and clag started to shroud the hill. I therefore decided to head back along the ridge towards Conival.

Looking back to Conival from the summit of Ben More Assynt:

I didn’t take any photos during the return as the visibility had decreased substantially and I had taken plenty of photos during the ascent.

Circa half-way along the ridge between Ben More Assynt and Conival, I met Mark, Ali and Sheena who had set off circa 45 minutes after myself. On reaching the summit of Conival I also met Graeme, Joe, Fiona, Drummond, Ella, Alan, Jane and Carol who were taking shelter in the shelter and in two bothy bags. By now, the wind was getting significantly stronger and with the windchill it was fairly Baltic! Ella and Fiona joined myself on the return from Conival summit back to Inchnadamph.

The descent was fairly unpleasant given the strength of the wind. On reaching the River Traligill, at the base of Conival, we stopped for a bite to eat before continuing back out to Inchnadamph.

During the walk out we encountered heavy rain which persisted throughout the afternoon and evening.

Nice to visit these hills again .