For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Ben Hope


The next day I left my tent pitched at Durness and took the coast road south-east to Loch Eriboll. The road - often single-track with passing places - wound round this magnificent loch to a river bridge. Just beyond the bridge a much narrower road headed south by the side of Loch Hope. At the end of the loch the mountains closed in. I parked my car in a small parking place in the glen of Strath More, put on my boots, adjusted my walking poles and set off up the steep western flank of Ben Hope, the most northerly Munro in Scotland.

On this recent Scottish trip my vague plan had been: to explore Scotland's western and northern coastline - perhaps visiting an island or two - and to climb three of Scotland's Munros, the most southerly, the most northerly and the highest. I'd achieved most of these things. I'd travelled the coast, crossed to the islands of Harris and Lewis, and summited on Ben Nevis, the tallest peak in the British Isles. I hadn't climbed Ben Lomond, the most southerly Munro, because of torrential rain; I didn't fancy such a hard slog in the wet. So I was especially keen to make it to the top of Ben Hope, the highest point in the north. I was in luck, for the weather was fine.

I tracked a burn up the mountainside - past tumbling waterfalls and rocky platforms to ever lovelier heights - and half-way up met a toad which obligingly posed for a quick photo...


I was pleased my fitness levels had increased over the weeks, and I gained the top without too much difficulty - keeping up with a scattering of other hill walkers much younger than myself! From here the views were quite spectacular...

8 comments:

Mister Roy said...

Great to see those views. And the toad was very special. Thanks.

Timecheck said...

Definitely a fine looking toad. It's hard to judge the size. Is he/she one of those 4 inch across the body ones, or a little 2 inch long creature?

am said...

Splendid macro and micro. The anonymous nature of the vast open spaces and a very specific interaction with a toad. Wonderful to know that the toad is part of all that.

The Solitary Walker said...

British toads are the 2 inch variety, Ralph.

Am, that's just what I hoped to convey by sandwiching the toad between the 2 open, mountainous landscapes - I'm glad you picked up on it. It's good to examine the near as well as the far. And good to be aware of the many small creatures existing in this wild and - what may seem at first glance - barren place.

The Solitary Walker said...

To be clear, Timecheck - the toad must have been about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.

Grace said...

Love that toad! It seems there are endless places to explore in Scotland (although I suppose that's the case anywhere if you look).

Linda Cracknell said...

Fabulous! Did you make it to Bettyhill?

The Solitary Walker said...

'Fraid not, Linda, as my 3 weeks were almost up. From Durness I made a quick dash for Thurso and Duncansby Head, camped the night just south of Helmsdale, visited the RSPB Reserve at Forsinard the next morning, then went home.