Exploring Ben More Coigach, Scotland

By Al Barnard

The beauty of living in the Scottish Highlands is the sheer variety of inspiring locations that are easily accessible. In the morning you can be on a white coral beach, the afternoon a castellated mountain ridge or an ancient Caledonian forest…the list goes on and on.

The School/Uni’ Summer Holidays can be an ideal opportunity to introduce your kids to some of your favourite haunts or go and explore some new venues. Anything from a few hours to a few days in between that work thing is time well spent.

Ben More Coigach, 743m

Guarding the entrance to Loch Broom near the West Coast ferry port of Ullapool is the beautiful mountain; Ben More Coigach.

Although not high enough to achieve Corbett status, this fine sandstone peak can be climbed from a number of directions. My favourite approach is from the west, via the attractive and in places narrow ridge; Garbh Choireachan. Never outrageous or requiring climbing kit, this ridge just keeps giving and giving. The rock is grippy and solid and the situations are airy, yet secure.

My daughter had recently returned home from Dundee University for the summer and was happy to be back amongst the hills. The road that winds its way North of Ullapool, then past Achilitibuie and then finally to the layby at Culnacraig is a delight and a constant source of “Oooohs and Ahhhhs!” (Be sure to take in the views of the impressive mountain Stac Pollaidh and the beautiful Summer Isles).

The Summer Isles

The weather gods were playing games with us, keeping us on our toes by cranking up the heat at first before smothering the ridge with a thick cloud. Pretty soon, a mid-morning fresh North Westerly punched gaping holes in the heavy grey veil at irregular intervals along the ridge. This metrological performance left us wide eyed, happy faced and rosy cheeked as we were treated to tantalising glimpses of a sun bejewelled sea from our rocky perch. Food for the soul and nutrition for the spirit!

Wide eyed and happy faced

The grippy and solid Garbh Choireachan

We stopped often and savoured the many special moments, the views, the chat, the booming salty wind and the feel of rough sandstone under our finger tips. Before long we were on the summit; Speicein Coinnich in a wet mist despite the wind’s best efforts. Out with the map and compass and with water gurgling happily in the burns running off the mountain, we were soon down below the cloud base and heading back westwards to our car. A lovely wee hill day that is just enough, and yet not too much.

The ridge walls that plunge to the sun bejewelled sea

Be sure to:

-Take an Ordnance Survey Map, 1;50,000, Sheet 15.

-Wear appropriate clothing and carry all necessary equipment. Despite its relatively small height there’s still remoteness and wildness about the hill.

-Take photographs.

-Stop often and enjoy the unique views. The walls of the western ridge appear to plunge straight to the sea.

-Drop by at the excellent Fish and Chip shop in Ullapool on the way home for a carbohydrate refuel!



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