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Durness Weekend 6-8 May 2023

Nine participants (Anna, Ruth, Eileen, Steve, Robert, Phil, Alan, Graham and Iain) made the long journey to the top left of Scotland over Coronation (long) weekend. We stayed at the Lazy Crofter Bunkhouse - which is small, but beautifully-formed and has a lovely outside deck with views over the North Atlantic and Cape Wrath. We were lucky-enough to co-incide with a south-easterly airstream, which brought us warm sunshine and light winds: perfect for shorts!

Saturday: the "A Team” (Anna, Alan and Eileen) tackled Meall Horn (777m), which included ptarmigan, curlew and red deer. While the “B Team” (Ruth, Steve, Graham, Robert, Phil and Iain) climbed Foinaven (911m), traversing the ridge downwind, from south to north. This required two cars at An Earachd and another at Allt na Fasraichean. The hike took ~8hours, 1,200m ascent and 22km, including lapwings, crested Indian runner-ducks (on a croft), ring-ouzels, red deer and two golden eagles. Views of Arkle, Loch Laxford and Ben Hope were spectacular.

Sunday: Ruth wanted to complete a couple of Grahams south of Arkle. Steve, Philip and Robert joined her. As we drove past Arkle we found the hills to the South were covered in cloud. With much moaning and groaning from Steve and Robert about the weather, the group headed off to conquer Carn an Tionail (759m) and Beinn Direach (688m). After finding the bridge across a river there was a long 5km steadily climbing ridge to ascend to the first summit. This was easily achieved and Ruth was forgiven as the cloud cleared and the views to Arkle, Foinaven and Ben Hope opened up. It was then an easy descent to a rocky Bealach before a climb to BeinnDireach. We followed an ATV track back to the estate road in the valley, which took us back to the car. A very pleasant 5 hour walk. Anna, Alan, Eileen and Iain intended to catch the short ferry to Cape Wrath, but it decided not to run that day because “the season hasn’t started yet”. So Anna and Alan hiked back to the hostel via the Balnakiel Coastal Path. Eileen and Iain elected to be tourists, taking-in Smoo Cave, Loch Eribol, the Kyle of Tongue and the thriving metropolis of Bettyhill.

Monday, eager-beavers Ruth, Steve, Robert and Phil climbed Ben Loyal before normal weather resumed in the afternoon. Graham went birding, while Eileen, Alan and Iain took a leisurely bimble back to Banchory that included coffee at Kylesku and a comprehensive lunch in Ullapool.

Iain Wright


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