Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Ben Hiant

With the family visiting, a good forecast for the morning, and a very mixed forecast for the rest of their stay, we decided yesterday to climb Ben Hiant.  At 528m, it's West Ardnamurchan's highest point, but it dominates the local scenery and we knew, from our previous climb some 16 years ago, that the views from the top on a clear day are spectacular.

Having two children with us, we approached by the easiest route, from the northeast.  Usually, one can park at the top of the open land called the Bowl, a mile or so short of Camas nan Geall, near the 171m spot height, but the access works for Ardnamurchan Estate's new wind turbine prevented this, which meant we had to park further down the hill, giving us an extra 50m or so to climb.

It isn't a hard climb, more an unremitting slog up what seems like a 45 degree, grassy slope, until the well-worn footpath is reached.  But, as with all climbs in this beautiful part of the world, the higher one gets the more the views open up and the more there is to stop and enjoy.  This view look across the Ardslignish peninsula and Loch Sunart to the isle of Oronsay and Loch na Droma Buidhe to the long finger of Loch Teacuis pointing in to the Morvern mainland.  Camas nan Geall is in the foreground and Loch Sunart goes away to the right.

The path offers an easy if rather muddy route to the summit.  Once on it, and working our way around to the south slope of the mountain, we looked across the summits of Stellachan Dubha and Sron Mhor and the Sound of Mull to the distant Tobermory Bay.  By that time - late morning - the clouds forecast for the afternoon were already rolling in, bringing with them the first showers.

In increasingly dark and dismal conditions, we worked our way up to the trig point at the summit of Ben Hiant, led by the youngest member of the family....

....by which time it was raining and the clouds were running below us, speeded on by an increasingly sharp northwesterly wind.

Looking out across such a magnificent but veiled view on a dark day is deeply frustrating for anyone who enjoys photography - but we were fortunate as, just as we were about to give up and make our way down, a break in the cloud cover allowed the sun to shine onto Ormsaigmore and Ormsaigbeg.  The high point at right is Beinn na Seilg, with the ridge of Druim na Gearr Leacainn running away to the left and ending in the cliffs of Sron Bheag.  In the distance is the low outline of the Isle of Coll.

We'll just have to climb Ben Hiant again, though we won't leave it another 16 years.

A map of the area is here.

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