927 m. |
Translation: Hill of the bay
Pronuncation: byn hope
I repeat myself: May 2009 in Scotland was not an extremely dry hillwalking holiday. The day on which Frank and I climbed Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck was a particularly stormy and wet one. But let’s start at the beginning. After about two hours of driving through nice parts of Northern Scotland with many miles on single-track roads ( 🙂 ) we reached the parking a mile north of Alltnacaillich farm on the east bank of the Strathmore River.
We climbed the path by the stream coming down the steep western face of Ben Hope. This was fun since the going was quite good, though boggy in places. After 200m we reached a slightly more level section on top of the first tier of crags. From there we still followed the well-trodden path through the distinct second tier of crags. At an altitude of about 500m we reached the steepish but broad southern slopes (or developing ridge) of the hill and trodded up this first grassy, then gravely and sandy stretch of the climb. The gradient became less steep higher up but the very strong north-westerly wind started to become a real impediment to walking. Battling our way upwards we met several other walkers with whom we exchanged a few shouted words: The loudness of our words was not a sign of any bad feelings much rather it was impossible to understand normal speech because of the raging wind. Then, less than two hours after we set out we reached the summit cairn and trigonometry point. A short break in the lee of the stones, no views of anything, no barren plains stretching out to the Atlantic Ocean, no Foinaven, no Ben Loyal, no sunshine reflected from lochs. Nothing, just plain Scottish rain, storm and clouds engulfing us and the hill. Ahhhh!
The way back was the way up reversed. We stumbled and were blown over from time to time on the higher slopes. We slithered and slid on the steep descent down the western slopes. The stream by the path had swollen by now. In fact things were quite scenic once we were out of the bad wind. Very soon we were back at the car. This was a no-frills, very “direct” walk, Munro completed, no views, no exciting north ridge. A pity we missed out on all of this. But nonetheless we could see that Ben Hope is a hill with character and unique features. Maybe to be done again on a better day!?
Max elevation: 948 m
Min elevation: 1 m
Total climbing: 962 m
Total descent: -974 m
Total Time: 03:13:48
Description Ben Hope is a fitting peak to be the most northerly Munro, standing as it does in splendid isolation not far from the northern coastline of Scotland. The west side of the mountain, which overlooks Strath More and the head of Loch Hope, is very steep along its whole length, with two tiers of crags, the higher one forming the edge of the main south-north ridge of Ben Hope. The east side of the mountain has three fine corries, but they are rather remote and inaccessible, and consequently seldom visited. The north ridge is very steep and rocky with one difficult section, but the south ridge is much broader and has no difficulties, and is the usual route of ascent.The route starts at a large shed beside the road just over 2 kilometres north of Alltnacaillich and goes up a path beside a small stream to reach the main ridge 2 kilometres south of the summit of Ben Hope. The ascent of this broad grassy ridge is easy. An alternative route starts from Alltnacaillich and goes up a path beside the burn of the same name. This gives access to the lower part of the south ridge which is followed for its whole length of 5 kilometres, joining the previous route halfway up.