Hill: Ben Rinnes
Date: Friday 19th January 2018
Company: Myself and Cuillin
Distance: 7.6km, Ascent: 525m

On waking on Friday morning, looking out the window and seeing clear skies and plentiful stars, I quickly calculated if I had sufficient time to pack a rucksack, drive to Ben Rinnes and ascend to the summit in time to watch the sunrise. I reckoned "yes" but with not much time to spare. I therefore jumped out of bed, got myself and Cuillin ready for the hill and set off from home towards Dufftown. Can't beat spur of the moment, impulsive, spontaneous days out that involve no planning whatsoever .

Despite icy roads, I made it to Huntly in good time so a quick stop at the baker for some morning sustenance was 'required'.

On reaching the Ben Rinnes car park near Edinvillie, I put on my boots and crampons from the outset and my thickest fleece and down jacket, and also put on Cuillin's coat as it was a tad chilly. As it was still dark, with no moonlight, I set off with my headtorch lighting the way. As this was my seventh ascent of Ben Rinnes, and given the straight-forward nature of the route, there was no need for a map.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

During the initial ascent it was great to look up at the stars and also to see Cuillin's eyes reflecting the light of my headtorch as he mostly stuck to the path circa ten metres ahead. During the ascent he was well behaved with the exception of tearing after one ptarmigan and one mountain hare neither of which he stood any chance of catching.

Cuillin lit by headtorch:

The majority of photos taken during the ascent were blurred as long exposure was necessary and I wasn't carrying a tripod. However, the available light improved from about an hour before sunrise.

An hour before sunrise:

Looking across towards Corriehabbie Hill:

While the views to the east were increasingly light, to the west Ben Rinnes was still quite dark (brightness enhanced in next photo).

Ben Rinnes:

During the final ascent beyond Roy's Hill, I could see glimpses of red in the distance. This looked promising for some nice pre-sunrise colour.

Promising first glimpses of red to the east:

The views and colours were as always at their best circa twenty minutes before sunrise. I was now glad I had made the effort to ascend the hill instead of turning over and falling back asleep.

Circa twenty minutes before sunrise:

The final 500m or so to the summit were quite icy underfoot and there was plentiful rime on the summit tors.

I took a good number of photos of the tors as these are the most interesting feature of Ben Rinnes. Despite having ascended Ben Rinnes six times previously, including at sunset, this was my first winter ascent.

Approaching the summit tors:

Cuillin below one of the tors:

On reaching the trig point I took several photos of Cuillin before he made his way over and onto the summit rocks circa ten metres away. As this was Cuillin's third ascent of Ben Rinnes, I think he remembered that the trig point is not the high-point .

Cuillin at the summit of Ben Rinnes:

Cuillin at the summit of Ben Rinnes:

As there was mist swirling around the summit area, I decided to make my way back down a little to view the sunrise as I was unlikely to see anything from the actual summit.

Just below the summit:

Below one of the tors:

Looking back to the summit tors:

The sunrise was nice to see but the colours circa twenty minutes previous were nicer.




During the ascent and descent we met no other walkers which was a touch surprising given we did not get back to the car park until 09:45. This is the first time I have had Ben Rinnes to myself.

Looking back to Ben Rinnes:

I never tire of witnessing the sun rise or set from a hill. I have got to do this much more often.