A homepage for my favourite hill.
Well, why not, eh? I don’t think anyone else has a website which devotes much space to this fascinating mountain, so here goes. The intention is to develop it as I go along; it certainly isn’t the last word on the subject! Comments and additional information would be very welcome, and if you send me stuff I can add it in (with acknowledgement, of course).
The photo above is taken from down in Glas Choire, looking up to the cliffs of An t-Sron and the wee burn cascading down from Coire nan Con. The heart of the mountain, and far removed from the normal route up the hill.
The Ordinary Route
The Ordinary Route, 8.5 miles, which accounts for over 90% of all ascents, starts from a purpose-built car park off the A835 near Garbat, and ascends An Cabar first. I don’t need to say much about this route really, as it is well-described elsewhere. Except to insert a note of caution when approaching the summit of Glas Leathad Mor from An Cabar in poor visibility and snow; at a slight change in direction it is surprisingly easy to find oneself walking out onto the cornice above Coire na Feola – which is what Martin and Joy Moran did in 1985 (see History ).
If the Ordinary Route is too easy, you can either lengthen it (see below) or you can do it more quickly. Members of Highland Hill Runners make a habit of doing it more quickly, and here are the fastest times which I have unearthed so far:
So Dave Cummins holds the record for fastest ascent and overall time, but Ross Bannerman has the record for the fastest descent of the hill! I have however heard rumours of faster times than these in the more distant past – Graeme Bartlett is reputed to have run this route in under 1:15, and Iain MacDonald in under 1:25. Maybe someone will let me know the details!
(There is no organised hill race on Ben Wyvis, because of its sensitive environmental status.)
If you know of similar or faster times, or times for female runners, please let me know and I will add them onto the above list.
The Ordinary Route, returning via Tom a’Choinnich
Once on the summit, why not carry on to visit Tom a’Choinnich? From there you can descend broad slopes west to reach Allt a’Gharbh Bhaid. Once down by the burn, there is a faint path on the north bank which is followed to a forestry track and thence back on to the Ordinary Route path. This route is only 1.5 miles longer, but has the great advantage that it allows you to visit the real heart of the Ben Wyvis massif – An t-Sron. An t-Sron is a narrow ridge which juts out above Glas Choire, ending in a sheer drop. Its location is at NH 469 694, and it can be reached easily by turning east just above and before Bealach Tom a’Choinnich and traversing out east for about 500m until the ground drops away in front of you. A stupendous viewpoint separating Glas Choire and Coire nan Con, where you really feel that you are surrounded by the mountain itself. Very few people who climb this hill even realise An t-Sron is there – this whole side of the mountain is invisible from the Ordinary Route.
The Victorian Tourist Route
This route traditionally started from Achterneed/Heights of Inchvannie, near Strathpeffer. Very few people now use it, and the route through forestry up onto the open hillside is not very obvious.
Coire Mor Horseshoe, from Knockmartin
Arguably the finest way to climb Ben Wyvis, this route starts from Knockmartin near Redburn in Glen Glass, at NH 569 670. Follow forestry tracks which lead onto the moorland and then follow the south bank of Allt nan Caorach, which in turn leads you to the foot of the mountain proper. Climb up the ridge on the south side of Coire na Feola, and visit the rock hut at NH 473 664, before continuing on to the summit of Glas Leathad Mor. Then go north (via An t-Sron of course) on to Tom a’Choinnich, before turning north-east then east along a delightful ridge to reach the seldom-visited Glas Leathad Beag. The views are excellent from here. Descend over Meall na Drochaide to reach lower ground, and ford Allt nan Caorach to rejoin the ascent route. If the river is high, take the track back towards Eileanach Lodge instead. This route is in the region of 19 miles in length, but you really get to grips with the hill.
The Northern Circuit, from Loch Glass
For those who have a mountain bike and like solitude, this is a great alternative. Use the bike to get along the private road beside Loch Glass to Wyvis Lodge. From here there are various possible ascent routes on to the tops – the side of Ben Wyvis which is least visited.