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South Durness, Carbreck, Cranstackie, Ben Spionnaidh, Scotland.
[14.5 km]  Wed 27 June 2018

Lat/Long: 58.483296, -04.874645
OS Grid ref: NC 32504 58595
I'd spent a comfortable night in a lay-by in an old quarry off the road 5 miles south of Durness. Being so far north the sunset last night wasn't until 10:30p.m. and it was still daylight at 11p.m. Today's walk is from the Walk Highlands website and includes to summits of Cranstackie and then Ben Speonnaidh & I could see both mountains in front of me as I left the car. The notes say there is a parking space near the track junction but yesterday I noted a sign saying strictly no admittance. My parking spot is only about a kilometer away so it wasn't a problem & I was on my way shortly after 6a.m. and even at this early hour there was a cyclist coming up the road from Durness.

Cranstackie cairn
I reached the house at Carbreck then turned right to descend the gravel track heading towards Rhigolter buildings. The track crossed the river Dionard at a bridge which look like a replacement for an earlier suspension bridge. I passed the barn and occupied house and reached a gate where the guide notes said the track ended. However the notes must be quite old because a track continues heading up towards the high Corry between the two summits. It is a rough vehicle track which would be OK for quad bikes. The track snakes up the hill side as far as a gate where it finished. At this point I headed diagonally up through wet grass towards the start of the corrie. The notes recommend crossing the wet base and up a steep climb at its head. However, it was easy to cross the burn below a series of small waterfalls and head towards the west slope of Cranstackie. Most of the climb was up a steep grassy bank which looks better than the head of the corrie. I set off upwards and found it surprisingly straightforward.  As I approached the summit the climb was through shattered boulders which were a bit of a problem at times but later I found out they were no worse than other parts of the route later. The weather was fine with hazy sky and hazy distant views. It felt cool at 15 degC when I left but as I got higher it felt rather warm. I reached the summit cairn with some exceptional views and a good signal on my phone. One main advantage of coming this way is that I won't have to reverse the climb up from the corrie as I would have if I followed the original notes. The summit was 800 m and after a few minutes enjoying the view I headed north to start the descent through another area of shattered boulders. However as this is the official route to the top there were some small cairn markers to guide me through.
I soon reached a grassy ridge which gave me a much easier descent. As I descended I heard a distant shouting voice which turned out to be a shepherd with two dogs that I'd seen earlier & lower down. I reached the saddle on the way and crossed it to set off up the grassy southern slopes of my next summit. It was a steady and easy climb but gave me restricted views only to the west and east. As I approached the summit of Ben Spionnaidh I came to a large plateau with what looks like a stone cairn at the far end. It was about 500m to get there and I found it to be a stone shelter completely surrounding a trig post at 773m.
Ben Spionnaidh trig post
I had good views out to sea to the north but they were rather hazy. Returning across the plateau & crossing the shattered boulders again I started my descent to the west. It was a spectacular view looking down the ridge as it was rocky at first then excellent grass under foot and a small pass before a small minor summit. It is a spur off the main mountains and I passed a small tarn before starting my climb over the top. As I descended I saw the shepherd approaching from the south and presumably the head of the corrie I'd decided to by-pass. I went over the minor summit and started my descent.
On the descent looking towards Ben Stack
 I could hear the shepherd shouting at his dogs see the sheep he was herding. I also heard whistling from another part of the mountains and noticed a second shepherd and then shortly after a third. It was interesting that all three were on foot as they are normally on quad bikes. However the slope is far too steep for any mechanical assistance. They were herding the sheep generally to the north side of the slope so I kept to the south and out of their way. I reached the house and barns and started my walk back along the access track. Shortly after the bridge I noticed a minor path turning off to the left. I followed it hoping it would cut out a section of road walking. This it did but after a while the path vanished and I was crossing rough grass and heather but it was OK due to the dry weather. I reached the road and then a short way back to the car.