Ben More Assynt and Conival

Loch Assynt as seen from the slopes of Conival

Route Introduction

Ben More Assynt and Conival are two Munros which neighbour each other in the Assynt area of the northern Scottish Highlands. This route card explains the quickest and easiest way of getting to both summits for a peak bagger.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Tuesday 17th September 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. These were Munro numbers 220 and 221 of 282 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these Munros too.

Ben More Assynt and Conival Route Stats

Mountains: Conival (987m) and Ben More Assynt (998m)

Total Distance: 17.8km / 11miles

Total Ascent: 1,070m / 3,510ft

Approx Walk Time: 6.5 hours

Grid Reference Start: NC 251216

Ben More Assynt Route Report

The Lead Up

View of Ardvreck Castle from the shores of Loch Assynt and our camp spot
View of Ardvreck Castle from the shores of Loch Assynt and our camp spot

The day before this walk, we had driven up to Loch Assynt from Cockermouth, Cumbria. It was 350 miles and over 6 hours of solid driving. With a fuel stop (one), coffee stops (a couple) and a McDonalds stop in Inverness (crucial) – the entire journey took closer to 8 hours. It was dark when we reached the car park at Loch Assynt.

There were a few camper vans in the car park when we arrived. As I’d been there before, I knew to follow the path down to the Loch side and set up camp opposite Ardvreck Castle. There was a cool breeze. I noticed the tent structure didn’t look quite right. In our tired haze we’d fitted the central pole (the one that gives width to the tent) upside down. With a few frustrated huffs and puffs we corrected the schoolboy error and made our beds. For this leg of the adventure I had decided to swap out my Thermorest Neo Air Uberlite in favour of the X Therm plus my winter sleeping bag.

I slept well, but James had a fitful sleep and woke really early. We didn’t dither and got our camping kit put away, then I did the opening door reveal of Castle Ardvreck – a nice surprise of James who hadn’t seen it in the dark when we’d arrived.

It had rained in the night so the tent was a little damp, so we stored the inner and outer separately. We spotted two majestic stags by the castle as we de-camped.

The Ascent

Adventurer Nic and James, all smiles despite the drizzle on Conival

After walking back to the car we ate breakfast and drove to the start point for the walk (a small car park, just south of Inchnadamph).

We packed our day bags and set out, crossing the main bridge over the River Traligill.

We walked past the Inchnadamph Lodge. It was nice to know we were booked in there later so that James could work on an article for Sidetracked magazine.

Keeping on top of his day job during big adventures is a struggle for James and I feel lucky to be able to focus on the challenge full time.

The initial part of the walk is on the Cape Wrath Trail, the section linking Inchnadamph with Kinlochewe to the south and Cape Wrath to the north. It’s a trail I’d love to walk in full in the next couple of years – from Fort William up to the iconic lighthouse at Cape Wrath. The full trail is approximately, 330km / 200miles in length.

The initial track soon turned into a path and we crossed a concrete bridge to follow a muddy path beside a stream, before walking carefully over wet slippy rock. It was a good 5km walk in before the terrain started to get steeper. We were feeling strong and overtook a couple, who were taking a rest on a rock before overtaking a single male hiker on the ascent up to the col at 750m.

We gained the ridge and walked south along to the summit of Conival, our first Munro of the day.

The Summits – Conival and Ben More Assynt

Thumbs up from Adventurer Nic, a selfie with James on the summit of Ben More Assynt

We met a couple, eating lunch in the shelter which marks the summit of Conival.

After pausing for photo we headed east along the ridge towards Ben More Assynt.

The terrain became increasingly rocky. It was drizzling on and off, with cloud sweeping over both Munro peaks.

Our Cicerone guide book described the ridge perfectly – ‘The ridge from Conival to Ben More Assynt is a wonderful airy traverse to a high, remote hill. At times it narrows a little, but never deliciously so’. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

We make it to the summit of Ben More Assynt in the best weather of the day with clear views over the vast remote landscape.

At 998m, Ben More Assynt is only 2 metres shy of the magic 1,000m. The summit is marked by a small cairn.

The Descent

Because it’s a linear walk, we saw the same people we’d passed earlier in the day along the descent as we retraced our steps. First following the ridge back to Conival and then off the mountain towards in the Cape Wrath Trail and Inchnadamph.

Wrapping Up

We nicknamed these Munros ‘Ben More Or Less’ for Ben More Assynt and ‘Evil Kenevil’ for Conival. Find out why we nicknamed all 282 Munros here.

We took the car the short distance to Inchnadamph Lodge and checked in. Similarly to an earlier stay, we were in the annex. A different room but conveniently situated next to a small kitchen.

Ironically, I was carrying a small injury, not caused by the extensive mountain climbing activities but by an ill-fitting wedding outfit I’d worn the previous weekend!

As James headed to the main hostel building to work on his writing, I hung the tent up to dry (from the previous nights rain) and wrote my journal. Another task was to update my Munro bagging spreadsheet with much of the detail that makes it into these posts. I then cooked a Pasta Bolognese Summit to Eat meal and served it with extra spaghetti for a calorie boost.

It was then that we had a surprise email. It was from Adrian Trendall of All Things Cuillin to say that he had a cancellation and was free to guide us on the Isle of Skye at the end of the week. This would mean us completing our Black Cuillin Munros! But it was risky taking the slot. Not an easy decision as the forecast was for one foggy day with a chance of rain, and one dry and sunny day. After very few opportunities had presented themselves to climb on Skye this summer, we decided we had to go for it. So a new plan was formed… an early night tonight and Ben Wyvis tomorrow.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Ben Klibreck

Ben Klibreck, seen from the starting point of the walk

Ben Klibreck Route Introduction

Scotland’s second most northerly Munro is Ben Klibreck. This route card explains the quickest way of getting to the summit for a peak bagger.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on 22nd August 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. It was Munro number 191 of 282 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag this Munro too.

Ben Klibreck Route Stats

Mountain: Ben Klibreck (962m)

Total Distance: 9.75km / 6.1miles

Total Ascent: 780m / 2,559ft

Approx Walk Time: 4 hours

Grid Reference Start: NC 545305

Ben Klibreck Route Report

The Lead Up

James and I left Achnasheen on a Thursday morning (22nd August 2019), after spending a night at Ledgowan bunkhouse. We were buoyant after climbing Slioch the previous day in good weather. After a breakfast of cereal, it was a two and a half hour journey up to the start of the Ben Klibreck walk and we had two Munros on the agenda. Ben Klibreck in the morning and Ben Hope in the afternoon.

Inevitably, the roads got narrower the further north we drove, but there was barely any traffic heading from the area we were visiting, so it was a surprise when we needed to yield at a passing place. Initially, we struggled to find the parking spot for the start the Ben Klibreck walk. Our Cicerone guidebook had printed incorrect coordinates of the lay by on the A836 for the walk start point and we were too far north.

One of the motivating factors for producing this website was to push out useful and accurate information to fellow Munro baggers. Consequently, if you notice an error on this page, please let me know by email so I can correct it.

The Ascent

Ben Klibreck, seen from the starting point of the walk
Ben Klibreck, seen from the starting point of the walk

We were grateful to be able to stretch our legs as we set off through tall grass to cross River Vagastie over stepping stones. But due to a lot of recent rain, the river was in spate. Knowing I’d have to get my boots wet right at the start of the walk, I returned to the car to change into my non-GORE-TEX trail running shoes. These are able to dry out much quicker than boots after a dunk! I find GORE-TEX boots or shoes simply hold in the water when they get submerged and this slows me down terribly. James actually managed to get across by taking long brave leaps across the wet stones but I tried, failed and ended up marching straight through in my trainers. The river was up to my knees but it wasn’t too cold which was a blessing!

We started the pathless trudge past the southern shore of Loch na Glas-choille over to the northern shore of a bigger body of water, Loch nan Uan. This loch had a lone, white upturned rowing boat on its shore. ‘How had the owner got it there?’ I wondered. From the edge of the loch, we mapped out a general route by eye which went up the pathless hillside to gain the ridge of A’Chioch at its lowest point. A mixture of wet rock, grass and heather, the ground was steep and slippery.

Heavy showers hit on and off throughout the morning. The wind picked up as we gained the ridge and veered north along it. The ground undulated before we started the final ascent, following a faint path from here.

The Summit

Ben Klibreck’s Munro summit is actually Meall nan Con. The true summit is a large rock 5 metres east of the trig point. So in this case, I did what I always do, jump on all of the large rocks in the vicinity to be sure I’ve hit the true summit!

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest smile in the summit shelter of Ben Klibreck

I remember, it was extremely gusty on the top itself, but there was a shelter cairn and a broken trig pillar. Laid on its side in three parts, the trig pillar looked how we felt after 191 Munros in close succession…..broken! That said, we’d made good time despite the conditions.

We didn’t see anyone else on the summit, in fact we didn’t see anyone else on any part of the route all morning!

I found the views from Ben Klibreck to be slightly underwhelming, there are few other hills nearby and nothing close to matching the dramatic, awe-inspiring peaks of the north west that we’d been treated to earlier in the challenge. The weather gods had treated us to perfect conditions on Liathach in the Torridon area only two mountains ago. That said, if you always compared everything to Liathach you’d live in perpetual disappointment!

The Descent

We returned to the car by the way of our ascent. James commented that the Sutherland area didn’t feel as remote as he thought it might. It was his first visit to the far north of Scotland. In contrast, I had explored as far north as Sandwood Bay before on a solo wild camping trip in 2018. We both agreed that it didn’t feel like we’d ventured too far from the A836.

I was frustrated during the descent. I’d jarred my shoulder when I slipped on wet grass and then the insole of my shoe kept creasing up which made walking uncomfortable. After adjusting it on a number of occasions, I finally lost my rag with it and removed it entirely.

Adventurer Nic contemplating sliding down the mountain on her rear after another slip on wet grass

Following a slip on the wet grass, I continued down the steep grassy hillside on my rear for a short distance, which was by far the most enjoyable part of the descent! It put a smile back on my face as we reached the loch and retraced our steps towards the river. On this occasion, we both kept our feet dry on the river crossing, which was slightly further south this time, before returning to the car.

Wrapping Up

The day wasn’t over yet! We changed out of our wet clothes and shoes and headed further north to bag Ben Hope – read the walk report here.

We nicknamed Ben Klibreck ‘Ben Kill Bill’ – in homage to the Tarantino blockbuster. Find out why we nicknamed all 282 Munros here.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Ben Hope

James holds onto his hat, descending Ben Hope in very windy conditions
Adventurer Nic standing next to the trig point at the summit of Ben Hope, a Munro in the north of Scotland
Adventurer Nic standing next to the trig point at the summit of Ben Hope, a Munro in the north of Scotland

Ben Hope Route Introduction

Ben Hope is Scotland’s most northerly Munro. This route card explains the quickest and easiest way of getting to the summit for a peak bagger.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on 22nd August 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. It was Munro number 192 of 282 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag this Munro too.

Ben Hope Route Stats

Mountain: Ben Hope (927m)

Total Distance: 7km / 4.3miles

Total Ascent: 880m / 2,887ft

Approx Walk Time: 3.5 hours

Grid Reference Start: NC 462476

Adventurer Nic films the strength of the wind as it flies over the ridge of Ben Hope

Ben Hope Route Report

The Lead Up

It was the morning of Thursday 22nd August 2019. We awoke in Ledgowan bunkhouse in Achnasheen. The previous day we had climbed Slioch in good weather. We made an early start on a steady two and a half hour drive to the two most northerly Munros – Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck.

After bagging Ben Klibreck in the morning, we drove to the start of the Ben Hope walk along single track roads with rough surfaces that had very little traffic on them. We passed Dùn Dornaigil broch on the way to the Ben Hope route. A friend at Mammut Mountain School once told us about the role the Scottish brochs played Iron Age history. Shortly after this we reached a a small car park running along the edge of the road parallel to Strathmore River – the start point of our walk.

We were tired after taking a battering of wind and rain on Ben Klibreck and we knew the forecast was for much of the same on Ben Hope. Friends had told us how great the views were so this was disappointing. One friend said “Oooft! Ben Hope, one of my best days on a mountain” – @jamieneillscotland. Before we’d even started on the path I’d already made the decision that we’d have to return here in better weather.

The Ascent

After eating lunch in the shelter of the car (a masterpiece of tortilla wraps with Nutella and crunchy coconut clusters smashed in to add texture) we started the walk by a large sign by the car parking area, on an established well trodden path. To our surprise, on this mid-week poor weather day, we passed an abundance of people coming down (including a family with two young children). Every person we passed commented that the wind was getting stronger and looked at us worryingly. After 191 Munros, I had lost a lot of weight and perhaps looked like a gust of wind might carry me off the summit of Ben Hope!

There was a clear path and plenty of cairns to follow in the event of visibility being poor. As we headed north on the trail we experienced light rain showers on and off but surprisingly there was good visibility until the last 50m. Persistent thick cloud shrouded the top of the mountain. The wind, which had been strong but manageable up until the summit ridge, all of a sudden sounded like a jet engine. It thunderously roared up from the crags in an easterly direction over the ridge. The forecast sites had predicted gusts of up to 70mph. Consequently, we debated long and hard about whether or not we would risk it, but we knew Ben Hope had a wide grassy ascent to the summit and there were no precipitous drops to our right.

The Summit

Passing an initial false summit, we made it to the summit trig pillar. We paused briefly for the all important summit photo before seeking the comfort and safety of lower ground. Until we can return, I have a beautiful portrait in my head of what the views to Kyle of Tongue, Ben Loyal, Loch Hope and the Orkney Islands would look like. A blue cloudless sky coupled with an expanse of lochs, unspoilt land in the shadow of inviting hills.

The Descent

James holds onto his hat, descending Ben Hope in very windy conditions
James holds onto his hat, descending Ben Hope in very windy conditions

On the descent, the wind whooshed over the ridge with increasing ferocity and we were buffeted heavily. But we stuck to the grassy areas on the left which would be safer to fall on if we needed to. This proved a sensible decision as I was thrown to the ground on more than one occasion! During one fall my walking pole got caught under my glove, catapulting it ten metres into the air! Somehow, James was able to dash back at retrieve it before we continued retracing our steps down the mountain.

We made it down safely but not without struggle – it was like being in a washing machine. The wind was so loud, it was as if there was a high speed motorway just below the crags! A constant roar. The clouds were flying over the ridge with such speed the wind swirling them in multiple directions. We were thrown one way one minute and another way the next!

Wrapping Up

One phrase sums up how we felt as we made it back to the car. Completely and utterly worn out! Being buffeted by high winds is like being hit by a rugby tackle. Above all, it takes so much energy out of you, having to brace constantly. Simply staying upright and holding your ground is exhausting. We nicknamed this particular Munro ‘Ben Despair’ for that reason – the opposite of Hope! Find out why we nicknamed all 282 Munros here.

We cooked up and ate Summit To Eat expedition meals in the car park to replenish our lost calories. Remarkably, the Ben Hope Route was only a 7km walk but it was up there as one of the toughest we’ve done (although don’t be perturbed, it would be wonderful on a calm day!)

Adventurer Nic during her first visit to Loch Assynt in 2018. She looks over her Terra Nova Southern Cross 2 tent towards Castle Ardvreck
Adventurer Nic during her first visit to Loch Assynt in 2018, glancing over her tent to Ardvreck Castle.

As the day drew to a close, we drove to Inchnadamph, in readiness to climb Conival and Ben More (Assynt) the next day and checked into a double room at Inchnadamph Lodge. This was a real treat after a tough day on the hill. Paintings of Loch Assynt adorned the walls and I reminisced about my first ever solo wild camp being on those shores by Ardvreck Castle. I promised James I’d take him there. After a well deserved, hot, powerful shower we had a good giggle at Master of None on Netflix before retiring to bed.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Munro Pronunciation

Full length shot of Adventurer Nic looking across to the pinnacles of An Teallach in North West Scotland
Full length shot of Adventurer Nic looking across to the pinnacles of An Teallach in North West Scotland
Adventurer Nic looking across to the pinnacles of An Teallach in North West Scotland

Munro Pronunciation Troubles

Munro pronunciation troubles were rife during my Munro round in 2019. As an English woman with a fairly strong Yorkshire accent, wrapping my tongue around the pronunciation of Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, Meall Ghaordaidh, Maoile Lunndaidh, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and countless others was so much harder than the actual hiking!

Screenshot of Komoot mapping app featuring 'hard to pronounce' Munro 'Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain'
Screenshot of Komoot mapping app featuring ‘hard to pronounce’ Munro ‘Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain’

The First Nickname

It was on Munro number 4 that my partner James and I started nicknaming the Munros. Our first Munro, Ben More on the Isle of Mull, was easy to pronounce. But we soon started to run into problems with our pronunciation. The Munro that started it off was Beinn a’Chochuill and James started calling it Ben Choc Ice all of a sudden. We laughed at first but in all seriousness, our lack of knowledge of how to pronounce it’s name in Scottish Gaelic was hampering and we were very embarrassed. With the walk complete, we looked up the actual pronunciation of the mountain in Scottish Gaelic and uncovered it sounds more like ‘Bayn a Hockhyll’ – and literally translates to the ‘hill of the shell’. We never would have guessed that from the spelling!

A Full Set

As we were educating ourselves on the proper pronunciation of the Munros, with a little help from some Gaelic speaking friends, we still found ourselves nicknaming the Munros for a bit of fun. For the reason that it would pass the time on each ascent and added some entertainment into long (and often wet) days of hill walking.

Favourites

Some of my favourite nicknames from our Munro round were –

  • Beinn Heasgarnich – Ben Hates Garlic
  • Carn An Fhidhleir – Kiddy Fiddler
  • Glas Tulaichean – Glass of Tuna Brains
  • Carn A’ Choire Bhaidheach – Can’t Acquire Body Heat
  • Beinn Mhanach – Ben Maniac
  • Meall Nan Tarmachan – My Nan’s Tamagotchi
  • Schiehallion – She’s An Alien
  • Ben Macdui – Ben Might Do A Wee
  • A’Chralaig – Achey Leg

You can find the full list of nicknames in the pinned highlights on my Instagram feed here. Most noteworthy, they’re split into 7 parts and are named Munros Pt1 – 7.

Munro Bagging

Head over to my Munro Routes page if you’re interested in more information about Munro Bagging. There, you can view the list of Munro mountains. Furthermore, you can ask me a specific question on Munro Bagging by email.

Let me know your favourite Munro nickname in the comments below.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

How Many Munros Are There In Scotland?

Adventurer Nic hiking in the Mamores mountain range in the Scottish Highlands
Adventurer Nic hiking in the Mamores mountain range in the Scottish Highlands
Adventurer Nic hiking in the Mamores mountain range in the Scottish Highlands

I have walked and scrambled my way to the top of every 3,000ft Munro mountain in Scotland and, unsurprisingly, when people hear this, the first follow up question I get asked is – “How many Munros are there in Scotland?”

The Magic Number – How Many Munros In Scotland?

There are 282 Munros in Scotland as at 11 Februrary 2020. It’s important to note the date because the number does change as mountains are re-measured and their heights more accurately recorded. This has happened a number of times in recent years. In fact, Beinn a’Chlaidheimh lost its Munro status as recently as 2011. The mountain is one of the Fisherfield 6, which is a popular circular route in one of the most remote wildernesses of the Scottish Highlands. Similarly, Sgurr Nan Ceannaichean lost Munro status in 2009. It lies just south west of the Munro Moruisg. Ironically, it was only upgraded to Munro status less than 30 years earlier!

Why are they called Munros?

Sir Hugh Munro published the first list of 3,000ft peaks for the Scottish Mountaineering Club in the late 1800s. He was a Scottish Mountaineer and the Munros carry his surname. In fact, to this day, the Scottish Mountaineering Club still maintains the current list of Munros.

Scotland Peak Bagging – Munros, Munro Tops, Murdos, Corbetts, Grahams…

The Munros are probably the most recognisable mountain classification in Scotland but there are many more! If you are list-obsessed, goal-obsessed, challenge-obsessed and mountain-obsessed (like me) you will never run out of mountain classifications to ‘tick off’.

Take The Next Step

Make a start on your peak bagging journey and become a Munroist like me by heading over to my Munro Routes page. There, you can view the list of Munro mountains and start planning your Munro round. In addition, you can ask me a specific question on Munro Bagging by email.

Have you already started your Munro Bagging journey? If you have, let me know how many you’ve climbed in the comments below.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.