Two hills above Golspie

Loch Fleet from Ben Bhraggie

Beinn Lunndaidh is the big brother to the more well known Ben Bhraggie which overlooks the highland village of Golspie, half way up the A9 north between Inverness and Thurso.

I happened to have a few hours to spare in Golspie with my son and he suggested we visit this hill. I think he wanted to log the trig point for some project or other he’s involved with. I don’t imagine Beinn Lunndaidh is visited very often at all as there is no path to the top and and no easy route up.

We set off from the Highland Council offices at Drummuie (the former Sutherhland Techie college) and headed uphill beneath the slopes of Ben Bhraggie. Any view of Ben Bhraggie is dominated by the statue of the Duke of Sutherland (more later).

Ben Bhraggie

The hillsides were cloaked in the purple heather in bloom

Heathers

The brighter purple on the left is Bell Heather (Erica Cinerea) and the paler, smaller flower on the right is Ling (Calluna vulgaris).

The path shown on the OS map along Strath Lunnaidh is not really a path at all, but simply the line of a water supply route running from Loch Lunnaidh.

Loch Lunndaidh

Loch Lunnaidh with Aberscross Hill behind

Loch Lunndaidh

It was very boggy, but a good habitat for the two bog-living insectivorous plants, Butterwort and Sundew.

The leaves of Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) are covered in hairs, which secrete a sticky liquid. This glue traps any small insects landing on the leaves. Over time the leaf closes in on its catch and releases enzymes which digests the fleshy parts of the insect. This effective trapping technique gives the plant most of its nutrients, a necessary adaptation to the nutrient poor conditions in the peat bogs.

Sundew
Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)

Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) has bright yellowish-green leaves that are covered in glands that secrete a sticky fluid which attracts insects. Flying insects land on the leaf of the butterwort and become stuck on the fluid. The name of the butterwort stems from the use of the leaves to curdle milk, in order to produce butter.

Butterwort
Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris)

I like the very simple ‘harbour’ constructed to keep the rowing boat handy.

Loch Lunndaidh

It seems to be a replacement for the collapsed boat shed.

Loch Lunndaidh

Another plant growing in abundance on the boggy lower slopes was Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale)

Peat bog flora

The leaves has a sweet rather resinous scent and this has been used for centuries as a natural insect repellent. I crushed the leaves between my fingers and rubbed some on my arms, but it did not help to keep away the dozens of flies that were following me, nor later any of the midges that we encountered on the summit.

Beinn Lunndaidh

In fact the midges were so bad on the summit that we didn’t linger. We grabbed a bite to eat and headed off south-west towards Ben Bhraggie.
Ben Bhraggie

The 100 foot statue is of the first Duke of Sutherland, notorious for his role in the Highland Clearances. He forcibly evicted his tenants to make way for sheep in the early nineteenth century. The statue was erected after his death in 1833, but there currently are campaigns for the monument to be removed.

Ben Bhraggie has three mountain bike routes; the toughest of which is the longest singletrack descent in the UK at around 7000m. The Duke’s Hazard is the Red (‘Difficult) Route.

Mountain bike route

The descent down from the ‘Wee Mannie’ is fairly steep dropping through more heather moorland, then the conifer plantation forest directly to the village.
Ben Bhraggie

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