Five years ago tomorrow, I ascended my 500th Marilyn.

500th Marilyn:

At the time, I set myself the goal of ascending an average of 100 Marilyns per year over the next five years to reach 1000. Today, I ascended my 999th Marilyn. I am however not ascending my 1000th tomorrow, I am saving my 1000th for something special next weekend . My friend John also ascended his 999th Marilyn today. Next weekend we both hope to ascend our 1000th Marilyn on St. Kilda (weather permitting). In preparation for next weekend, both myself and John set out to ascend two Marilyns today to reach 999. John ventured South towards Callander and I ventured North towards Tongue.

The weather forecast for today was for rain in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon with strong winds throughout the day.

For my ascent of Ben Hutig, I drove to the end of the road at West Strathan. I parked in the large turning circle.

Hill: Ben Hutig
Date: Friday 22nd May 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 8.6km, Ascent: 395m
Time: 2Hrs 30Mins

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the road-end, I walked several hundred metres back along the road until reaching the track heading towards Ben Hutig.

Ruin at West Strathan road end:

I didn't take many photos during the ascent as I was walking into strong wind and rain.

Ben Hutig from track:

On reaching the end of the track, as marked on the map, I followed a vehicle track continuing almost all the way to the summit.

Ascending Ben Hutig:

On reaching the upper slopes of Ben Hutig, the worst of the rain was now behind me. Ben Loyal was pretty-much hidden in cloud.

Rain clouds:

During the ascent, I passed a small crag with a large cairn on top. I decided to ascend this during the return.

Heading towards crag SE of summit:

As I approached the summit, the wind was ferocious. I wouldn't have liked to be much higher today.

Looking towards the summit of Ben Hutig:

View during final ascent to the summit:

Lochan below the summit:

It was good to see a large stone shelter ahead of me. On reaching it, I climbed into it to get some respite from the wind.

Approaching the summit stone shelter:

Had the wind not been so ferocious, I would have continued out to the 389m top. Today, I was content to just head back down. I think this would be an outstanding viewpoint on a clear day.

Looking towards the 389m top from inside the stone shelter:

Looking towards the Rabbit Islands from top of crag:

During the return, I ascended to the top of the crag where I stopped to put on some Compeed. Two days of squelching through bog was starting to affect my feet.

I passed numerous sizeable holes in the ground during the ascent and descent. If doing this hill in Winter, one would need to be careful not to fall into any of these holes.

View from top of crag:

During the descent a herd of around ten deer ran across the hill in front of me.

Red Deer:

Ben Loyal eventually made an appearance out of the cloud. It is a fantastic hill; one I definitely hope to repeat.

Ben Loyal (zoom):

Ben Loyal and Ben Hope (zoom):

As I continued back towards the car, as forecast the weather started to improve. Had I set off walking at 12:00 instead of 10:30, I would have avoided the rain.

Looking back to Ben Hutig during descent:

As I walked back along the track, I spotted a colourful Drinker Moth caterpillar.

Drinker Moth caterpillar:

Descent to West Strathan:

On reaching the car, I drove back round to Tongue for an ascent of Meall nan Clach Ruadha. During the drive back, I stopped several times to take photos.

Beach at Achininver:

Looking across the Kyle of Tongue to Cnoc an Fhreiceadain, Ben Tongue and Meall nan Clach Ruadha:

Ben Loyal across the Kyle of Tongue:

For my ascent of Meall nan Clach Ruadha, I parked at the start of the track leading towards Ben Tongue.

Hill: Meall nan Clach Ruadha
Date: Friday 22nd May 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 5.8km, Ascent: 310m
Time: 1Hr 40Mins

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

During the ascent of the track, I came to a gate with a large dog on the other side. A sign advised to bang on the gate for the owner to come out to tie-up the dog to stop it from escaping. I banged on the gate and right enough the owner came out to take the dog away. We had a friendly chat after which I continued on up the hill.

Track leading towards Ben Tongue:

As I made my way up the hill, I could see that getting to Meall nan Clach Ruadha would involve crossing a lot more wet ground.

Meall nan Clach Ruadha from Ben Tongue track:

Kyle of Tongue and Ben Hutig:

Ben Loyal and Ben Hope from Ben Tongue track:

On reaching the track high-point, I commenced crossing the bog towards the NE Top of Meall nan Clach Ruadha.

Looking towards Meall nan Clach Ruadha NE Top and Meall nan Clach Ruadha:

Meall nan Clach Ruadha NE Top and Meall nan Clach Ruadha:

Kyle of Tongue and Loch Craisg:

It didn't take long to reach the summit of the NE Top from which I continued beyond towards Meall nan Clach Ruadha. On the NE Top there are numerous conglomerate boulders.

Meall nan Clach Ruadha from Meall nan Clach Ruadha NE Top:

Meall nan Clach Ruadha:

Loch Craisg, Kyle of Tongue and Ben Hutig:

The final ascent to the summit was fairly arduous due to continuing strong winds.

Looking towards Ben Loyal and Ben Hope from the summit of Meall nan Clach Ruadha:

From the summit, I returned to the car via the same route. 999 Marilyns done, now really looking forward to St. Kilda .