Ben Loyal – there at last. June 2010.

Date: Monday 14th June 2010
Distance: 14.3km
Ascent: 830m

A week up in Scourie and top of the list to visit was Ben Loyal – a fantastic looking hill. Given the nature of the roads it still took 90mins to get to the parking area at Ribigill NC 584 546.

There’s a great track running past the farm for the first couple of km which then gets a little boggy past Cunside.

Ben Loyal looks good though:

Ben Hope is a bit less dramatic from this side:

From Cunside an eroded track runs up to Bealach Clais nan Ceap. From there you can pick a line up the hill.

We came across some aircraft wreckage above the bealach.

We headed on a steep line up to Sgor Chaonasaid:

The beaches up at Tongue are attractive from the climb:

Views to the E and S including Griam Beag and Mor:

The summit area of Ben Loyal from the dramatic tor of Sgor Chaonasaid:

It just needs to be posed on:

S across open Easter Ross – we could see Morven in the distance:

I’ve heard folks compare Loyal to the ‘Gorms but in truth it looks more like some of the Arran shots I’ve seen. Great tors whatever they’re like:

Heading for An Caisteal:

Crossing to An Caisteal was aware of a ptarimigan hen scuttling around with a low profile – obviously had a nest or chicks but not near enough to try drawing us off:

The summit would be a fine pitch site – great for Midsummer:

We had a seat in some shelter from the biting wind. Had planned on carrying on over some more tops but in the end decided to reverse route – probably not doing justice to the hill.

Worked out interesting though as on the descent a ptarmigan chick managed a 30m flight from under my boot and then the whole family of 5 chicks and mum were milling about.

I clocked where one had ducked on its way down hill and eased slowly up to the spot – took me a few mins to spot it:

We shepherded it back uphill to mum and the other 4 – mum seemed to be constructing a scrape – either to shelter the chicks or for the next clutch.

An Caisteal looks quite spiky from descent:

The reverse route was uneventful – better views back:

Hawthorn still in bloom at Tongue:

The return drive was just 70mins with less traffic in the evening.

Great sunset from Upper Badcall to Quinag:

Should probably have explored a bit more of the hill but even the short exploration was fun.

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