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Sunday, 20 February 2011

5th & 6th Feb 2011 - Sutherland Tour & Ben Wyvis Ski

Its been too long since the last post on here but trips out have been limited to Ben Hope and Cairngorm until recently and I haven't had too much thats new to add, or time to do it.

I managed to get out over the 5-6th Feb though, taking a tour along the north coast in search of interesting views and some exercise with a vague plan to nip up Ben Stack near Scourie in time for sunset and then see if anything looked skiable the following day.

Interactive map showing the locations of all photos featured. The numbered markers indicate numbers of closely spaced photos which become individual markers on zooming in.

The saturday was showery and bright inbetween and gave some good views across the northern hills.

Ben Loyal and Moine House on the Moine (A' Mhoine) peninsula between Tongue and Hope during a shower.

There is interesting information about the Moine House at: and more local information on the site.

Ben Hope from a short way west of Moine House at the eastern boundary of the North West Highlands Geopark.

The stunning beach at Ceannabeinne near Durness. An amazingly beautiful place.

The Kyle of Durness with the sun beginning to sink lower towards the south west.

Trees surrounding Gualin House silhouetted on the skyline.

Gualin House is an estate hunting lodge situated at the high point of the road between Durness and Rhiconich with stunning views of Beinn Spionnaidh, Cranstackie, Strath Dionard and Foinaven's northern ramparts.

I arrived at the bottom of Ben Stack around 1530, a bit later than planned, but everything looked good for a quick ascent.

The final rays of sun on Meall Horn with Meallan Liath Coire Mhic Dhughaill on the right.

These hills are fine corbetts in wild country south of Foinaven. The photo above was taken from the mid slopes of Ben Stack.

The summit cone of Ben Stack with a dusting of snow.

This gave a pleasant plod but unfortunately the sun had gone behind cloud sitting on the horizon and more cloud descended whilst I was on the top, so there were no spectacular sunset views. By the time I'd summited and regained this location it was 1720 and getting fairly dark. The lower boggy slopes were negotiated in the gathering darkness but managed without torch light for a wee challenge.

Sunday dawned cloudy, damp and cool.

I had wondered if the upper slopes of Quinag might be skiable, having assumed that the weather wouldn't be suitable for a foray onto Conival and Ben More Assynt to ski, but as far as I could make out there just wasn't enough snow to make it worth a look, and besides, it was pretty much buried in cloud. As it was I had some decisions to make so I took a drive south in search of more snow and clearer weather. Strangely, An Teallach seemed to be the clearest munro about as I headed towards Ullapool, but I decided against it in favour of a look at ski possibilities on Am Faochagach. The west side of this hill had been blown clear of snow and the eastern approach was too long for the day. Ben Wyvis however, looked almost clear of cloud and I suspected its eastern corries would have good snow cover.

After all the driving I had a lateish start. The weather hinted at improving until lunchtime when I went into cloud at about 800m in Coire na Feithe Riabhaich on the east side of An Cabar. From there it was compass bearings to the wind swept summit and not a great day for photography!

Interactive map of the route on Ben Wyvis

Near white out on the summit of Ben Wyvis.

By the time I reached the summit the weather had worsened to near white out and on starting the descent back into the corrie I couldn't work out which way was down at one point. Fortunately I was 99.9% certain of my location and that the ground around was easy angled. In better visibility the skiing would have been good but instead it was more a battle to anticipate the next bump between the lower peat hags.

See more photos at

Prints of selected Scotland-Landscapes photos are available to buy online at Photobox.

Jason Bonniface, 20/02/2011

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