The best destinations are often the ones that hide in the shadows of noisy neighbours…
Ben Griam Mor and Ben Griam Beg
An alternative to: Bens Loyal & Hope
Drive east from the old gold-rush village of Helmsdale in Sutherland where, in the early 19th century, nuggets of gold were found in the Kildonan Burn. Head past the tiny railway village of Kinbrace to where the emptiness and openness of the Flow Country of East Sutherland is accentuated by a vast cloud-tumbled sky. There is probably nowhere else in Scotland that offers such a sense of spaciousness. In the south-west, the hills of the Ben Armine Forest rise from the flatness. Ben Loyal is a distant jumble in the clouds but closer at hand two small hills climb like pyramids from a watery desert. Ben Griam Mor and Ben Griam Beg are neither Corbetts nor Munros and don’t even reach the 600mark but because of their sudden upthrust from such horizontal moorland they appear like conical giants. Earlier inhabitants must have been impressed too – Ben Griam Beg has the remains of a Pictish hill fort on its summit, the highest of its kind in Scotland.
Climb them from the Garvault Hotel, once noted in the Guinness Book of Records as being Britain’s most remote lodgings, where a fisherman’s path leaves the road and traverses the western slopes of Ben Griam Mor towards Loch Coire nam Mang from where both hills can be climbed.
Tourist information: Helmsdale, 1431 821 640
Maps: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 17 (Helmsdale & Strath of Kildonan); Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 444 (Helmsdale & Strath