Autumn Afternoon – Ben Hope

I took a quick trip out to Ben Hope, the most northerly Munro, the other afternoon and was lucky to catch some lovely autumn light and a dusting of snow on the tops.

Photo of an early afternoon view south down Loch Hope from Hope to Ben Hope and the Strath More hills of Sutherland
An early afternoon view south down Loch Hope from Hope to Ben Hope and the Strath More hills of Sutherland

The tiny single track road that leads 22 miles south from Hope to Altnaharra winds along the eastern shore of Loch Hope (left in the photo above) and beyond, past the foot of Ben Hope, Alltnacaillich and the excellent broch of Dun Dornaigil and then climbs over the remote Sutherland interior. It is thoroughly recommmended as a remote drive, cycle, or for the start of several walks.

Setting off up the hill at 2pm I got a couple of strange looks from two groups descending but they were down before the best of the afternoon light.

Photo of rays of sun light streaming down on to the hills west of Strath More seen from near the summit of Ben Hope. Arkle and Foinaven are in the right (northern) half of the photo
Rays of sun light stream down on to the hills west of Strath More seen from near the summit of Ben Hope. Arkle and Foinaven are in the right (northern) half of the photo

The tourist route up the southern flank of Ben Hope is a bit of a boggy trudge in the lower half, but the path dries out and views open up higher on the hill. The hill is topped by a decent sized plateau area and a prominent trig point with great views in all directions. There are several more entertaining routes on Ben Hope and it’s an underrated hill, all too often ticked and visited briefly just for its most northerly Munro status.

Photo of the Ben Hope summit plateau with the trig point prominent and afternoon sunlight highlighting the clouds to the north
The Ben Hope summit plateau with the trig point prominent and afternoon sunlight highlighting the clouds to the north

The view south west from the edge of the summit plateau….

Photo of sun and spindrift near the sumit of Ben Hope. The distant hill in the afternoon light is Quinag with Meall Garbh and Sabhal Beag in front
Sun and spindrift near the summit of Ben Hope. The distant hill in the bright sun light is Quinag with Meall Garbh and Sabhal Beag in front

When the winds come down from a northerly direction hail and snow showers soon follow on Scotland’s north coast and nearby hills.

Photo of a hail shower moving south east over Loch Hope towards Ben Hope as late aftermoon gloom gathers
A hail shower moves south east over Loch Hope towards Ben Hope as late afternoon gloom gathers

With squally hail showers approaching from the north west, and the sun only going in one direction, I beat a not too hasty retreat down the gentle southern slopes as the light faded away. The head torch was only needed for the last few minutes of descent.

Maps & guide books for this area from Amazon.co.uk

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