Meall nan Con (961m)
- Pronunciation: Ben Klee-breck
- Translation: Hill of the Cliff Slope
- Total distance: 14.9km
- Total time: 4hrs 28mins
- Total ascent: 1016m
- Weather: Morning began miserable with heavy showers. Delayed starting until it stopped raining at around 10.00am. Weather improved throughout the walk with the day ending bright and sunny. Bitterly cold wind on the summit.
- Start / end location: By Vagastie Bridge on A836 running through Strath Vagastie. [OS Map Sheet 16 – Grid Ref: NC 533 272]
- Map: A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.
Our overnight camp was just a few miles south of Altnaharra and exactly due west of Ben Klibreck – our Munro challenge for today. Unfortunately, when we awoke this morning it was shrouded in very thick grey cloud and so we decided to wait for a couple of hours to see if the weather improved a little before attempting the climb.
The usual route up Ben Klibreck starts from the roadside just west of Loch na Glas-choire, a small lochan that is hidden from view behind a gentle hillside rise. The only problem with this approach is that you have to cross the River Vagastie, which when is spate, as it was today, means wet feet!
So we decided that we’d head a bit further south along Strath Vagastie to where the road actually bridges across the river to attempt our ascent from there. This meant a slightly longer walk – still reasonably short compared to many of our ascents recently – but had the advantages of missing out the river crossing as well as avoiding a very steep direct ascent of the western slopes to reach the col below A’ Chioch.
Our route followed very faint ATV (all terrain vehicle) indentations in the heather moorland eastwards towards the west spur leading down from Cnoc Sgriodain (544m). This faint path was very boggy as we crossed some reasonably flat ground before reaching the main ascent of the spur – an easy 200m of ascent. When we reached the top of Cnoc Sgriodain we then descended slightly to the NE before crossing another damp area of level ground, complete with peat hags, to reach the base of a moderately angled slope leading to the summit of Carn an Fheidh (806m).
At around 700m in height we took a path that contoured round the west side of the summit and then eventually intersected the hill’s gently sloping north ridge. The location where we joined the ridge was just to the south of the col below A’ Chioch – and marked as point 688 (m) on the OS map. This col is where the usual ascent route of Ben Klibreck joins the ridge after a steep climb up the western flank from Loch nan Uan. We continued across the col and began the gentle ascent of A’ Chioch to 747m. By this point the wind had turned quite strong and very cold: hat and gloves were needed.
From the top of A’ Chioch we then turned east and made the steep ascent over rough boulders to the summit of Meall nan Con, the highest point on Ben Klibreck at 961m or 3,153ft. After a quick bite to eat we retreated from the summit by retracing our route back to the roadside in Strath Vagastie.