The highest massif in Assynt, and among the most northerly of Munros, these rugged hills offer enjoyable ridge walking in a remote setting, with the spacious feel so typical of the far north. Tucked away in the interior, they may be less attention-grabbing than the individual island-like peaks to the west, but turn out to be every bit as impressive up close. From the lush green limestone country at Inchnadamph (with an optional cave detour), to the shattered and spectacularly folded quartzite of the Moine Thrust, geology fans will have a field day here.
The route described is the standard linear there-and-back common to all the Munro guides; it's a great walk, so no apologies for lack of originality! A more challenging circuit is possible, including Ben More Assynt's scrambly (but not difficult) south ridge; you might also tag on the harder SE Ridge of Conival. For a really big day make a full circuit of the head of Glen Oykel, including Breabag.
metres / Distance
NC2510621621 From the car park walk north briefly on the A894, crossing the River Traligill. Straight away, turn right onto a vehicle track. Pass Inchnadamph Lodge and a couple of cottages, and continue east to cross a bridge over the Allt Poll an Droighinn. Continuing towards Gleann Dubh, pass a holiday cottage at Glenbain, and then a small stone byre, to reach a path junction by a stand of pines. Here a signpost marks the right hand turnoff for the Traligill caves (popular with cavers), but for the hills go straight on.
NC2704121063 Quite boggy in places, the path continues upstream into Gleann Dubh, staying on the north side of the River Traligill, with a view of Conival ahead. Beyond a little gorge-like feature, the glen opens onto boggy slopes. Stay just left of the main burn, now called the Allt a' Choinne' Mhill, to climb the steep, eroded trail into a shallow corrie below Conival's rocky north spur. Crossing the burn, head east to a small col just south of a craggy knoll.
NC2997720962 Climb Conival's north ridge on quite steep and rubbly ground, to reach gentler angles on a minor top at 940m. Follow the nice ridge south and then southeast to the summit of Conival, where there's a stone walled wind break.
NC3033619936 Descend the east ridge on quartzite scree, with dramatic views down the southern corrie to Dubh Loch Mor and the cliffs of Breabag. Cross a col and continue up the rocky crest to a minor top at 974m. Just beyond another little col is the twin summit of Ben More Assynt; the southern knoll is apparently the high point, but it's worth climbing both. Up here in the far north the country is open and the big mountains stand alone; from Ben Klibreck to Ben Hope and Foinaven, you can see them all from here.
NC3182720161 If you're not making a more challenging round of it, the only way home is the way you came. Heading back in this direction, you do get the views of Assynt's more celebrated smaller hills arrayed out to the west. If there's time it's worth a quick detour to the caves on your way down the glen.
Start/Finish: Car park near the Inchnadamph Hotel, NC250216
Nearest town: Ullapool
Terrain: A vehicle track to start, and then a well-trodden hill path. It's boggy and eroded on the ascent from the glen, then lots of rubbly ground up high. The summit ridges are rough, but there's no real scrambling on the route as described.
Seasonal variations: Some steep ground on the ascent onto Conival, which may be icy in winter. The connecting ridge between the two Munros can hold a big cornice.
or for a slightly less big day, follow the stalkers path up Glen Oykel to Dubh Loch Mor (so missing out the Breabag side) before taking the magnificent SE ridge of Conival. Still a big day (20 miles ish) but a bike will help as far as the north edge of the woods past Ben More Lodge.
For those averse to a there and back itinerary consider the following; head N from Conival on your return from BMA, via a fine escarpment, pay your respects at ‘Aeroplane Flats’ c. NC 293 231 and pick up the stalkers track at Loch Nan Cuaran outfall which leads to Inchnandamph.