I was at last out yesterday with a lot of pals from the Moray Mountaineering Club meeting up with Graeme and Penny on their last Munro after 100 days of wandering round the Munros. The chosen last Munro was the local Ben Wyvis so we had a big party out on the hill. It was an early start as this was my first Munro since my last operation 3 weeks ago and I was hoping I could manage the day. It was an early start and I had a full car with 3 other friends, the car park was empty apart from two other cars in the Ben Wyvis car park.. We went early as I was worried about my fitness and slowing everyone down when we arrived the midges were horrendous, it was boots on and go. We made reasonable time once we left and there is a great new path now that takes you from the car park to the hill, through the Garbat forestry and then onto the open hillside of An Gaber. The midges were still awful so we kept moving and met Andy and his family on the way up. They to had left early. It was to bad to stop as the midges were still about, we lost the midges as we hit the ridge and the wind. This was once a boggy path now it is great walking and se were soon out of the midges and into a bitter wind. This is pretty steep all the way up to the first top An Caber at 936 metres. We could see a crowd spaced out below us and met a walker descending he had been up early and said it was windy and cold on the tops.
We all enjoyed the views and the incredible panorama of hills from Ab Teallach to Seanna Bhraigh and then the Moray Coast, spoiled at times by the huge wind – farms at Garve and the Fannichs or is this just my opinion? We had some good company as we met old pals and some new ones, it was to be a slow ascent so plenty of time to take in the views and enjoy the company. I was feeling a bit rough but I was going okay and whilst others were feeling the cold I was still in my shorts and extra jacket. The main man Graeme and Penny met us on the top of An Caber a big hill on its own at 946 metres, we had a chat and from here it is a fair wander along the plateau to the summit some 2 kilometers away on Glas Leathad Mor at 1046 metres.
By now my mate Don Shanks another Mountain Rescue Leader met us – he is called “Long Shanks” as he walks effortlessly on the hill, a man brought up in the hills of Kintail. By now some were catching us up and a few steamed past but would have a long wait as Greame and Penny were enjoying their last Munro and the group were spaced out all over the hill. We met a couple of young families with babies in tow it was a bitter wind but the babies seemend to cope better than some of the adults!
This plateau is now a protected area and a site is an important breeding ground for the Eurosian Dotterel, and represents at least 2.4% of the breeding population in the UK. The site is designated as both a National Nature Reserve and a Special Protection Area. There is even a sign on the top that looks so out of place to me? This is Clan Munro country and the rent was set as long as you if requested could get a snowball from the mountain in mid summer by the King! There was still snow in the huge Corrie as I had a wander round the edge looking at some cliffs I had climbed in winter many years ago. This meant I arrived about 5 minutes before the Munro King and Penny and then the party started. I enjoy looking into these wild places that many miss on their rush to a summit and on a quiet day you can wait and watch the wild life but not today as the mist was coming and going all afternoon.
There was a plan in 1980 for a Ben Wyvis railway all the way to the summit from Dingwall as part of a Ski resort for the mountain! It is worth reading about but never got approved, there has been a few other ideas but all have collapsed. This is now a fairly eroded plateau and shows how popular this hill is with easy access from Inverness and Dingwall. A few ski on this mountain in winter and the huge corries hold the snow but costs and I think the closeness of the sea and away from the big cities derailed this.
It was fun on the tops and a party when Graeme and Penny arrived and all had fun,It was pretty cold on top and the mist was down but all were happy. I was a bit sore after my efforts so had a slow descent down and was soon out of the crowds and mist. The descent was hard going and the body feeling it and in the end maybe a bit too long for me at this time. It was still wonderful to spend time with friends and hopefully soon the body will recover. I cannot think of a better story than Graeme and Penny wonderful walk in some wild weather and how much I enjoyed following their progress and adding my bits to his blog,
What a day – It was pretty painful in the end and I missed the party at Foggwat Hall that night as I was pretty exhausted sorry.
Was it worth the effort of course!
Congratulations again to Graeme and Penny.