Great Worm Crag, Hesk Fell and The Pike

Green Crag in the Lake District National Park

Route Introduction

Great Worm Crag, Hesk Fell and The Pike are three hills included in Alfred Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland book. They are situated in the south west of the Lake District National Park. This route card suggests a great route for someone peak bagging the Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Monday 21st September 2020. These were Outlier numbers 87, 88 and 89 of 116 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these outlying fells too.

Great Worm Crag, Hesk Fell and The Pike Route Stats

Fells: Great Worm Crag (427m), The Pike (370m) and Hesk Fell (477m)

Total Distance: 16.7km / 10.4miles

Total Ascent: 660m / 2,150ft

Approx Walk Time: 6.5 hours

Grid Reference Start: SD 171977

Great Worm Crag, Hesk Fell and The Pike Route Report

The Lead Up

It had been almost a month since my last walk on my project ticking off the Outlying Fells of Lakeland. Potter Fell was my last route and I was ready to tick some more off the list.

Ian Baines

In the week prior to the walk, my good friend Ian Baines contacted me to say that he and his wife Helen and son Samuel were going to be up in the Lake District and would love to join one of my Outlying Fell walks. I jumped at the chance! It would be a special walk because Ian was the person who had kindly let me borrow his Outlying Fells of Lakeland book as a planning resource for my peak bagging and to share the summits of a handful of the fells with him would be an honour.

We discussed the ideal distance, around 15km, and I looked at the fells I had left and we agreed that a round of Great Worm Crag, The Pike and Hesk Fell would be ideal. We set the date and met at the Devoke Water Car Park on the road between Ulpha and Eskdale Green on a bright Monday morning.

The Ascent

As we greeted each other at the cars, Ian asked if we could extend the route to incorporate Green Crag. Helen hadn’t yet hiked Green Crag, which is a 488.7m Wainwright just to the north of Great Worm Crag. Of course I said yes! It was a while since I’d hiked it myself and I’d never approached it from this angle before. It would only add three kilometres to the overall route so it seemed like a great idea.

Junction close to the start of the Great Worm Crag, The Pike and Hesk Fell walk
Junction close to the start of the Great Worm Crag, The Pike and Hesk Fell walk

We started walking to the north east along a track and took the right hand fork when it split. The track led to a farm at Birkerthwaite. We skirted around over a stile to head east into a field which soon led to pathless rough ground.

Helen stepping over the stile by the farm
Helen stepping over the stile by the farm

We made our way around the scattered crags, heading through the gap between Great Crag and Little Crag before gaining high ground between the Rowantree Beck and Highford Beck.

Skirting around Great Crag
Skirting around Great Crag

As always with these types of DIY routes, sheep trods appear and disappear along the way, luring you into thinking you’re on a trail, but they never last. Sheep and humans clearly have different intentions in the fells! We had wonderful views to Green Crag in the hazy sunshine of this late September day. As the gradient flattened out we hooked left to face the fell, heading for a gap in the crags on the south eastern side of Green Crag.

Ian and Samuel ascending Green Crag
Ian and Samuel ascending Green Crag

We navigated the final couple of craggy sections from east to west onto the summit. It was surprisingly hot for a late September day and we were all in our t-shirts on the top.

The Summit – Green Crag

Views from the summit of Green Crag
Views from the summit of Green Crag

After some refreshments we retraced our steps through the topmost crags and then headed for the col between Green Crag and White How over spongy ground.

Ian and Helen on their way to White How
Ian and Helen on their way to White How

Conversation turned to linguistics, which happened to be the subject I’d studied at University and a career specialism for Helen. We also discussed the book ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ as Samuel had a collection of the books in all the languages of the world.

Views from White How
Views from White How

We soon reached the summit of White How which was marked by a small cairn. Then we descended to the col between White How and Great Worm Crag. We approached our first Outlying Fell of the day from east to west.

En route to Great Worm Crag
En route to Great Worm Crag

We initially passed the true summit of Great Worm Crag, instead heading for the large cairn at the end of it’s plateaued top.

Ian walking back from the large cairn to the true summit
Ian walking back from the large cairn to the true summit

The Summit – Great Worm Crag

But it was the smaller cairn that marked the true summit. So we back tracked to it to take some photos before continuing our walk.

View to Green Crag and Harter Fell from Great Worm Crag
View to Green Crag and Harter Fell from Great Worm Crag

I particularly enjoyed the view back to Green Crag and Harter Fell, but the view to the Devoke Water fells was equally impressive.

We surveyed the route ahead and picked out Hesk Fell and The Pike to the south. I love discussing route options with friends. It’s always interesting to hear different considerations and we agreed to head to The Pike next.

View to The Pike and Hesk Fell
View to The Pike and Hesk Fell

Leaving the summit we walked down to the road over pathless ground, crossing the top of Freeze Beck and following the boundary down to the road.

Ian marching out the 1km road section
Ian marching out the 1km road section

After just over a kilometre on the road and after crossing Crosbythwaite Bridge, we turned right at a fingerpost signed to Holehouse Bridge. Here we passed a pair of donkeys that were almost hidden in the long grasses.

Donkeys on the ascent of The Pike
Donkeys on the ascent of The Pike

We headed uphill along the right of way beside a fence, passing through a gate half way up the fell.

Then we met a pair of gates. We could only assume the sheep channelled Houdini a lot in this area and required extra measures to keep them contained!

Samuel and Helen passing through the double gates
Samuel and Helen passing through the double gates

As we reached 300m we met a wall and followed it south all the way to the summit of The Pike.

Ian, Samuel and Helen ascending The Pike, with Hesk Fell behind them
Ian, Samuel and Helen ascending The Pike, with Hesk Fell behind them

The Summit – The Pike

I absolutely loved the view down to the Duddon Valley from The Pike. We paused for more refreshments looking down over Rainsbarrow Wood to the Duddon River.

View into the Duddon Valley
View into the Duddon Valley

It was joy to appreciate the fells on the other side of the river that I’d hiked back in June – Stickle Pike and Caw stood out in particular.

View towards Caw
View towards Caw

Hiking the outlying fells of lakeland has truly given me a greater understanding of the Lake District National Park landscape. I find it a lot easier to pick out summits these days and Ian is a great help when it comes to understanding a skyline as he’s been hill walking and peak bagging for so many years.

A selfie on The Pike
A selfie on The Pike

We left the summit of The Pike and followed the boundary all the way to a wall junction at around 350m on the approach of Hesk Fell.

Curious Herdwick sheep between The Pike and Hesk Fell
Curious Herdwick sheep between The Pike and Hesk Fell

We crossed using the stone stile in the wall. This was under the close supervision of a bunch of socially distanced Herdwick sheep!

From here we made a beeline for the summit of Hesk Fell to the north west.

The Summit – Hesk Fell

The view back towards The Pike
The view back towards The Pike

Our final fell of the day was here and we admired the views from the rather flat summit.

The Baines Family on the summit of Hesk Fell
The Baines Family on the summit of Hesk Fell

I realised how thankful I was to have met such lovely people through Instagram and peak bagging as we started to reflect on how much we’d all enjoyed the day.

The Descent

The Baines Family descending Hesk Fell
The Baines Family descending Hesk Fell

We descended over pathless ground to the north almost to the wall corner before following the boundary down to the Woodend Lane.

Reaching the lane at the bottom of Hesk Fell
Reaching the lane at the bottom of Hesk Fell

This led us to the main road, which in turn led us back to the car park.

Wrapping Up

Back at the cars, we had a good look at Ian’s awesome Munro diary which he’d had printed with accompanying photographs before going our separate ways.

My next Outlying Fells wouldn’t be ticked off until December due to my Walk Home 2020 adventure and the subsequent COVID-19 lockdown. But it would be the Top O’Selside Fells and Carron Crag that would be next up on the peak bagging agenda.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist, Wainwright ‘Compleator’ and is hiking her local Outlying Fells of Lakeland in the wake of the corona virus pandemic. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Blawith Knott

View from Wool Knott over Beacon Tarn

…Burney, Beacon Fell and more!

Blawith Knott Route Introduction

Blawith Knott is one of Alfred Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland. This hike links Blawith Knott to 5 other outlying fells in the south of the Lake District National Park over a distance of 20km including Burney, Tottlebank Height, Wool Knott, Yew Bank and Beacon Fell. This route card is a fantastic option for someone peak bagging the Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Monday 24th August 2020. These were Outlier numbers 77 to 82 of 116 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these outlying fells too.

Blawith Knott, Burney, Beacon Fell and More Route Stats

Fells: Burney (298m), Blawith Knott (248m), Tottlebank Height (236m), Wool Knott (223m), Yew Bank (207m) and Beacon Fell (255m).

Total Distance: 20km / 12.4miles

Total Ascent: 770m / 2,525ft

Approx Walk Time: 7 hours

Grid Reference Start: SD 262849

Blawith Knott Route Report

The Lead Up

Previous to this walk, I’d hiked Orrest Head, School Knott and Brant Fell which involved a broken leg and an encounter with Langdale/Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team. I was hopeful that this day of walking would be much less eventful!

The Ascent

I parked in the big layby on the A5092 on a sunny morning in the southern Lake District. I had just dropped my partner James off in Keswick to start his walk of the 214 Wainwright fells in a single round and I was feeling emotional! A hike alone in the outlying fells to clear my head was just what I needed.

I walked west along road for a short distance before turning right to follow a sign which read ‘Woodland 3 Miles’. I walked over the cattle grid and continued along the tarmac single track road.

Over the cattle grid at the start of the walk
Over the cattle grid at the start of the walk

After 400m I turned right to head steeply up a grassy path.

The grassy path up Burney
The grassy path up Burney

To the left in the distance I could see over towards Duddon Sands.

View towards Duddon Sands from the ascent of Burney
View towards Duddon Sands from the ascent of Burney

The navigation to the first summit was easy as the grassy path led right to the top of my first fell of the day – Burney.

There is a trig point on the summit of Burney but the grassy lump 10 metres away is actually the highest point of the fell. So I deviated there for a photo.

The trig point for Burney
The trig point for Burney

The Summit – Burney

The views were absolutely outstanding at this early stage and I knew I was in for treat for the rest of the walk.

View from Burney with Black Combe on the left
View from Burney with Black Combe on the left

I could pick out Black Combe, Buckbarrow, Whit Fell, Stickle Pike, Caw and Walna Scar up and onto the Coniston Fells along the skyline and it was stunning!

View from Burney to the Coniston Fells and beyond
View from Burney to the Coniston Fells and beyond

I suppressed a pang of sadness that I was experiencing such beauty alone.

Blawith Knott and the route ahead from Burney
Blawith Knott and the route ahead from Burney

Blawith Knott was visible up ahead and I followed the grassy path from the summit of Burney which headed off to the north-east.

As the ground became a little slushy underfoot, I took a small detour to visit Burney’s sibling – Little Burney. I went over the summit of Little Burney and headed north-west over pathless but easy grassy ground until I picked up an established path. If you’re not keen on visiting Little Burney, you can stay on the path the whole time and cut out this pathless section.

The path became a little steep and loose as it descended towards a crossroad in the path.

Path crossroad between Little Burney and Blawith Knott
Path crossroad between Little Burney and Blawith Knott

I continued straight on and the path led over a stream, weaved through bracken and then navigated across boggy terrain to gain higher ground onto a tarmac road.

Here I turned left and walked along the road, ignoring the first right-hand fork. Instead I turned right at the main junction, following a cycle fingerpost.  

Junction in the road en route to Blawith Knott
Junction in the road en route to Blawith Knott

From this junction I continued along the tarmac road uphill before the road started to descend giving me a clear view of my route of ascent up the south-west ridge of Blawith Knott.

View to Blawith Knott from the road section
View to Blawith Knott from the road section

The turn off for the grassy path up Blawith Knott came after around 1km of walking on the road and was just after a stream crossing.

I followed the path directly to summit of Blawith Knott.

The Summit – Blawith Knott

The summit cairn of Blawith Knott
The summit cairn of Blawith Knott

Blawith Knott was marked by a cairn.

I saw one other hillwalker approaching the summit just as I was leaving.

I left the summit to the east with Tottlebank Height in my sights. Again, I followed a grassy path, this time down through some bracken.

Small tarn between Blawith Knott and Tottlebank Height
Small tarn between Blawith Knott and Tottlebank Height

There wasn’t much of a drop between these two fells. I passed a small tarn to the left.

Then I continued on before taking a right-hand fork in the path up to the summit of Tottlebank Height.

The right fork up to Tottlebank Height
The right fork up to Tottlebank Height

The Summit – Tottlebank Height

It didn’t seem like five minutes since I was atop Blawith Knott but here I was on Tottlebank Height!

View from the summit cairn of Tottlebank Height
View from the summit cairn of Tottlebank Height

I paused for a short while on the summit to enjoy the view before heading down to the north/north-west.

Adventurer Nic on Tottlebank Height
Adventurer Nic on Tottlebank Height

In hindsight it probably would have been easier to retrace my steps to the path junction and turn right as it was a little bit of a tricky initial descent over grassy tufts and bracken with a few hidden boulders to navigate over before I reached the bottom path.

View from the bottom path towards Wool Knott
View from the bottom path towards Wool Knott

I passed a small group of people with binoculars before crossing a stream. At the next path crossroads I continued straight on towards Wool Knott.

Path crossroads between Tottlebank Height and Wool Knott
Path crossroads between Tottlebank Height and Wool Knott

I crossed another couple of streams as I followed the trail uphill. The path snaked through the bracken towards Wool Knott. I peeled off the path to the right as it bent left at the top of the pass in order to reach the summit of my fourth outlying fell of the day – Wool Knott.

The Summit – Wool Knott

The views from Wool Knott summit are simply beautiful. Not only was it my favourite fell view of the day, it is certainly in my top five of outlying fells so far.

View from Wool Knott towards Beacon Tarn
View from Wool Knott towards Beacon Tarn

Wool Knott overlooks Beacon Tarn which was shimmering in the sunlight. It was also a great vantage point to see the remaining two fells I was going to hike that day – Yew Bank and Beacon Fell.

I paused and had lunch on the summit of Wool Knott so that I could enjoy the view for a little longer.

As I left the summit of Wool Knott I initially retraced my steps, but then I headed north west to a grassy trod which led down to the main path.

Views en route from Wool Knott to Yew Bank
Views en route from Wool Knott to Yew Bank

I turned left on the main path which was wide and grassy and followed it until it crossed Mere Syke. From there I forked right to follow a smaller trail through bracken, traversing the northern flanks of Woodland Fell.

Taking the right fork in the path
Taking the right fork in the path

I forked right twice more, heading downhill passing a large tree on the left. This led through more bracken and to Green Moor Beck, which I crossed at a ford.  

Green Moor Beck
Green Moor Beck

After crossing the stream I walked north, keeping the wall on my left.

Following the wall
Following the wall

The path continued to lead north loosely following the wall.

There were a variety of options here but all trails meet together further up. I chose to cross Hodge Wife Gill near the wall.

Hodge Wife Gill
Hodge Wife Gill

The grass was often wet underfoot so I chose the driest of the interconnecting grassy pathways to follow uphill through the bracken. As long as you’re going north-east on one of the grassy paths uphill, you can’t really go wrong.

The Summit – Yew Bank

My trail led me to the col between Yew Ban and Rattan Haw, so I turned left at the top to bag Yew Bank.

Views from the large summit cairn of Yew Bank
Views from the large summit cairn of Yew Bank

The summit of Yew Bank was marked with a big cairn. I was surrounded by lovely purple heather which was still in bloom on this late August day.

From the summit I followed a faint path to the east over Rattan Haw. I passed a wind shelter and soon the path disappeared and the heather and bracken thickened.

The wind shelter
The wind shelter

I headed ‘off piste’ to the right heading towards what looked like a path that ran parallel that was slightly lower down. This path soon too disappeared so I picked the path of least resistance through the tufty grass and heather towards Beacon Fell in the west.

Pathless walking through heather and tufty grass towards Beacon Fell
Pathless walking through heather and tufty grass towards Beacon Fell

These fells were definitely the most problematic to link up as it involved around a kilometre of tough pathless walking, but that’s part of the excitement of executing four of Wainwright’s routes in one day. You’re probably doing a route that few people have done, so it makes it extra special.

When I made it to the main path I turned left and I only had one more ascent to go. I walked north on the path immediately below Beacon Fell and turned right to follow a steep path up the side of the fell to the north-east.

Coniston Fells from the ascent of Beacon Fell
Coniston Fells from the ascent of Beacon Fell

Half way up the ascent the path disappeared but it was easy to make a beeline to the summit on a compass bearing, easily avoiding the crags and steep ground.

I tried not to get too distracted by the brilliant views of the Coniston fells (and I failed).

The Summit – Beacon Fell

I arrived at the summit of Beacon Fell to a father and son flying a drone together.

Beacon Fell is marked by a large cairn and from here I could see the Top O’ Selside fells on the other side of Coniston Water.

Views from Beacon Fell to Top O'Selside fells
Views from Beacon Fell to Top O’Selside fells

I could also see as far as Helvellyn to the north.

View from Beacon Fell towards Helvellyn over Coniston Water
View from Beacon Fell towards Helvellyn over Coniston Water

The Descent

I left the summit of Beacon Fell following an established trail to the south-west.

The start of the descent from Beacon Fell
The start of the descent from Beacon Fell

The tarn came into view and was just as sparkling and magical as it had looked from the other side on Wool Knott. By the time I reached the edge of the tarn I realised I was now on the Cumbria Way.

The beautiful Beacon Tarn from Beacon Fell
The beautiful Beacon Tarn from Beacon Fell

I walked south along the Cumbria Way which soon ran alongside a dry stone wall on my right beside some woodland which offered some much appreciated shade.

The path then weaved through bracken, through a gate, crossed over Greenholme Beck and led uphill into woodland.

Through the gate into the woodland
Through the gate into the woodland

The path then did a u-turn to the right to run alongside a wall. This led through another gate and along a path with walls on either side of the trail. This opened out into a field where I kept the wall on my right. I passed through another gate at the end. After this gate I turned left. When the path forked beside a large boulder in an opening I kept right. Keeping right kept me on the Cumbria Way where the grassy path rose.

Heading uphill on the Cumbria Way
Heading uphill on the Cumbria Way

I glanced behind me on this section to see the most beautiful view of the fells to the north.

I passed to the left of Tottlebank Height. And at the end of the footpath I turned left onto a farm track which soon merged into a tarmac road. I walked down the road until I saw a fingerpost for a public bridleway.

Public Bridleway sign
Public Bridleway sign

I took this right fork and walked down the grassy track. When the track split I took the right-hand fork which led over a stile.

Ladder stile over the wall
Ladder stile over the wall

I continued across the field following the trail, which ultimately bent east to run alongside a dry stone wall.

The Home Straight

I passed through a series of gates keeping the Kiln Bank farm buildings on my left. At this point I left the Cumbria Way by continuing south. I passed through a metal gate and peeled off the track following the right of way down to the stream. Crossing the stream using the small stone bridge, I continued heading south.

Stone bridge over the stream
Stone bridge over the stream

I then crossed over the wall using the stile. Then, I headed across the field to the stile in the next wall. After this, I continued on passing through a gate in the bottom right of the field. From here I turned right to walk along the track at Raisthwaite.

I passed through the farm yard and through a gate to a tree-lined path. I crossed the stream and went through another gate. Hiking across the field, I went through the gate in the top right of the field and walked straight on following the grassy trail.

I crossed a road and continued straight on, and then crossed a track to continue uphill. I passed a big boulder with a tree growing out of it which boggled my mind.

Tree growing out of a boulder
Tree growing out of a boulder

The final challenge was to make it over the boggy ground to the col to the east of Burney. My legs were tired at this point and I was craving a cold drink! There were no real paths to follow here due to the terrain. This meant it was hard going, but I kept sneaking peeks behind me at the stunning views. Once at the col the path reappeared and I walked downhill to the right of a wall.

Walking alongside a dry stone wall towards the end of the walk
Walking alongside a dry stone wall towards the end of the walk

I dropped down onto the road and retraced my steps over the cattle grid back to the car.

Wrapping Up

Potter Fell would be my next Outlying Fells of Lakeland walk.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist, Wainwright ‘Compleator’ and is hiking her local Outlying Fells of Lakeland in the wake of the corona virus pandemic. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

East Drumochter Munros

Adventurer Nic hiking towards A' Bhuidheanach Bheag - Munro mountain in the Scottish Highlands East of the Drumochter Pass

Route Introduction

The two East Drumochter Munros covered by this route are A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag and Carn na Caim. These two mountains neighbour each other and sit just east of the Drumochter Pass. This route card explains the quickest and easiest way of getting to both summits for a peak bagger.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Friday 24th May 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. These were Munro numbers 51 and 52 of 282 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these Munros too.

East Drumochter Munros Route Stats

Mountains: A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag (936m) and Carn na Caim (941m)

Total Distance: 19.2km / 11.9miles

Total Ascent: 700m / 2,297ft

Approx Walk Time: 6 hours

Grid Reference Start: NN 639819

East Drumochter Munros Route Report

The Lead Up

James and I had climbed 50 Munros as part of our peak bagging challenge. However, we’d taken a break after hiking our 50th Munro – Ben Ime – in order to undertake a couple of work commitments back in England. One of the commitments was to speak at the Keswick Mountain Festival, an event I love to go to every year. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends.

On the morning of 24th May 2019, we left James’s home in Cumbria and travelled north. We planned to climb our first two Munros within the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park. We parked up in a layby on the A9 (Pass of Drumochter).

It was time to recommence our peak bagging mission. Starting with the East Drumochter Munros – A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag and Carn na Caim.

The Ascent

Crossing the road, we headed up onto a wide track which initially headed east before turning to head south.

We were grateful that the car was parked at 400m to begin with. These kind of treats don’t come very often in the Munros. Many Munro walks start at sea level, or if my smart watch is to be believed, below sea level in some cases!

About half an hour into the ascent I realised I’d left the caps on the ends of my new walking poles. I’d been a convert to walking poles for about a year, feeling that they took a great deal of pressure off my knees. Unforunately, as I’d used the poles for half an hour the plastic tips were well and truly stuck. James actually had to bite them off, whilst all I could think of was the sheep poo that I’d most likely already walked through.

The track led us to a point in the track where we had to choose left or right. It really made no difference which Munro we headed for first so we just took the right fork to bag them alphabetically (as there was no other compelling reason)!

Adventurer Nic hiking towards A' Bhuidheanach Bheag - the first of our east Drumochter Munros
Adventurer Nic hiking towards A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag – Munro mountain in the Scottish Highlands East of the Drumochter Pass

The scenery was fairly underwhelming by Munro standards. The ground was firm underfoot and the rolling hills reminded me of the English Howgills more than they did the jagged peaks I associated with Scotland – like An Teallach.

Adventurer Nic hiking towards A' Bhuidheanach Bheag - Munro mountain in the Scottish Highlands East of the Drumochter Pass
Adventurer Nic hiking towards A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag – Munro mountain in the Scottish Highlands East of the Drumochter Pass

The Summits of the East Drumochter Munros

A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag

We skirted around the summit of A’ Bhuidheanach and down to a peaty col before hiking up to the summit of our first Munro of the day – A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag.

At the summit of A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag we met a father and daughter who were taking a great deal of selfies with their dog. Meeting someone at the summit meant we got a nice photo of us both for a change.

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of A' Bhuidheanach Bheag, the first of the East Drumochter Munros
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag Summit

We were really impressed with the weather at this point, it was far better than the forecast led us to believe. So much so that we started to wish we’d taken advantage and tackled something a bit more challenging. After trying multiple weather forecasting apps throughout the challenge, we generally trusted the Met Office mountain forecasts the most.

Adventurer Nic hiking towards Carn na Caim - Munro mountain in the Scottish Highlands East of the Drumochter Pass

Peak bagging is full of ‘what ifs’. What if we’d done Aonach Eagach instead? What if we’d started an epic multi day in Knoydart?

But I didn’t dwell. There are only so many sunny days in a year and to be honest I was happy just to be back in the hills on a nice day. The East Drumochter Munros might be a little bit unremarkable but it beat sitting behind a desk.

We retraced our steps back to the split in the track where a right hand turn led us towards the summit of Carn na Caim.

Carn na Caim

We followed the track northeast. Half way up Carn na Caim we passed a large group who were descending. I smiled fondly as they were doing what I’ve done a hundred times before. Walking in a big group but split into smaller groups of 3’s and 2’s, walking side by side, deep in quality conversation, smiling and looking content in each others company. It made me miss my hill walking friends.

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Carn na Caim, the second of the East Drumochter Munros
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Carn na Caim

James and I reached the cairn on the flat summit and posed for a cheesy selfie. I laugh looking back at photos like this. I can see I’m fresh faced and James had a haircut during the break. We look well rested, rosy cheeked and chilled. I had no idea that I’d involuntarily lose a stone in weight and age 5 years over the next 5 months!

The Descent

We looked across to the northeast to Meall Chuaich, another Munro that we’d yet to climb on this side of the pass. But it was too far away to link to this route so would have to wait for another day. Instead we turned back and followed the route of ascent.

We chatted lots on the descent. James explained (in as much detail as I could handle) about his University dissertation on the American Civil War.

We retraced our steps on the track to the main road and remarked that these two Munros would sadly be rather forgettable in comparison to other outings, but it was a pleasant day regardless.

Wrapping Up

The hill walking wasn’t over for us. We packed an overnight ruckack and headed to Blair Atholl in readiness for our next peak bagging outing and my first stay in a Scottish bothy.

We nicknamed the East Drumochter Munros:

  • A Balenciaga Bag – A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag
  • Carn Na Carn Na Carn Na Carn Na Carn Na Caimeleon – Carn na Caim

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.

Seana Bhraigh

Schoolhouse Bothy Exterior

Route Introduction

Seana Bhraigh is a remote Munro in the north of Scotland. This route card explains the quickest and easiest way of getting to the summit for a peak bagger.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on 4th October 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. It was Munro number 265 of 282 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag this Munro too.

Seana Bhraigh Route Stats

Mountain: Seana Bhraigh (926m)

Total Distance: 22km / 13.5miles

Total Ascent: 740m / 2,428ft

Approx Walk Time: 7 hours

Grid Reference Start: NH 327953

Seana Bhraigh Route Report

The Lead Up

Book collection in the Schoolhouse Bothy including the Complete Works of Shakespeare
Book collection in the Schoolhouse Bothy including the Complete Works of Shakespeare

Three days earlier we’d bumped into a chap named Phil on our descent of Beinn Dearg. He happened to be the MBA Custodian for Shenavall bothy near the Fisherfield Munros and he recommended we stay at The Schoolhouse Bothy before our ascent of Seana Bhraigh. This was a chance encounter and boy did his advice pay off!

One room of the bothy was occupied when we arrived, by a couple with two dogs. So we slept in the old classroom, which had a chalk board, a couple of old school desks and even a complete works of Shakespeare!

Of all the bothies we stayed in during our challenge this one was probably the most quirky. It used to be an actual working schoolhouse up to 1930, with only one classroom and then a school teacher who lived on site. The children walked for miles from within the Easter Ross glen and reportedly wore stilts to cross the river! Kids really don’t know how good they’ve got it these days!

When I awoke from a very deep sleep on the morning of 4th October 2019. We snoozed the alarm a couple of times before getting up and vacating the bothy. Due to the wonderful night’s sleep we were very tempted to stay again after our ascent of Seana Bhraigh, but we packed up in case we changed our minds.

We followed the gravel estate track which led to the Corriemulzie walkers car park, where we would start the walk.

The Ascent

James Forrest - on the track from Corriemulzie to Seana Bhraigh, demonstrating where rainbows end
James Forrest – on the track from Corriemulzie demonstrating where rainbows end

From the car park we took a track through the Corriemulzie cottages, through a gate and pretty much followed a river all the way into the valley for 8km. The view of the mountain with its dramatic pinnacles on the left and the calmer hill walkers route on the right was stunning. A rainbow appeared in front of the track as sunshine and showers developed into the theme of the morning.

We got to the first river crossing and crossed successfully on boulders. When we had to cross the Corriemulzie river for a second time it was more difficult. We decided to take our boots and gaiters off and cross barefoot. The pebbles were sharper and mossier than previous river crossings and the water was cold but our feet soon warmed up again once we got our socks and boots back on and started walking.

We followed faint paths onto the open hillside, along the side of a burn in a ravine and then up onto the ridge. It was good underfoot, with lots of ledge-like steps of grass and rock. It felt like we were ascending quite quickly despite our cumulative challenge tiredness.

The weather was worsening though. The wind picked up on the hillside and it was very blustery. We paused momentarily behind a rock to eat a snack but we struggled to find somewhere better sheltered. We carried on up the ridge to a small lochan at 743m before heading up the final ascent. It must have been gusting up to 50mph at times.

The Summit of Seana Bhraigh

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest hunkering down in the summit wind shelter of Seana Bhraigh Munro mountain

We made it to the summit and sat in the relative comfort of the wind shelter as we checked the weather forecast for the upcoming days.

The Munros to the north and west of Loch Monar were next on the agenda. 

It would take us two days and with a mixed forecast, we asked our good friend Sally if we could stay at her house in Drumnadrochit afterwards.

If Sally said yes, then we could take another couple of days of battering by the weather if it meant there was a warm, welcoming cottage, a cuddle from a good friend and her dog at the end of it.

Sally said yes almost immediately, so that was it, our plans were set in place. She’s such a legend.

It was also on the summit of Seana Bhraigh that I agreed with Lara (the Chair of Edinburgh Young Walkers) that I would speak about my challenge at their upcoming AGM on 7th November. As the challenge was coming to a close, opportunities like this were starting to present themselves and I was getting excited about sharing my story.

The Descent

On the descent we started to feel a less trepidation about the coming days. We retraced our steps back to the river, crossed it again and walked the long long path back to the car.

We adopted a good pace which meant we could get to the bothy early to secure sleeping platforms and enjoy a restful evening. It was a relief that the valley blocked much of the wind.

Two stags passed on the track in front of us and headed down to the river. They galloped straight through it and went up the hillside on the other side, all within seconds. They move at remarkable pace. Just as we went through the gate to the lodge, a stalkers land rover was coming down the track behind us. Phew! We felt the stag (and us) had a lucky escape.

Wrapping Up

We arrived at the bothy to find it empty, so we chose the room to the left of the main door this time, in case a bigger party arrived to use the classroom. We checked ourselves for ticks, had the usual baby wipe shower, made a delicious brew and ate some snacks.

Sometimes during the challenge it really did feel like we were winning and this was one of those moments. I actually did half a crossword that someone had left in a magazine, before writing in my diary and tidying my kit. A very productive hill bagging day!

We nicknamed this particular Munro ‘Sean’s Bra’ – 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 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.