Ben Hee from Meallan a' Chuail

Ben Hee from Loch Merkland

Hillwalking route up Ben Hee from West Merkland

Ben Hee is a big lump of a domed hill overlooking Loch Merkland, from where the most direct route begins. Away from the estate tracks that access the area, terrain is pathless with much boulderfield needing negotiated.

Route outline


Ben Hee

Ascent 850m (2780ft)
Distance 14km (9m)
Time 4:55hr
Start/finish West Merkland
Grid Ref : NC384329
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The route most hillwalkers take begins from West Merkland following an estate track, then an old stalkers path to within striking distance of Ben Hee's summit. Instead of a return descent, heading down Ben Hee's northern spurs reveals its more interesting and hidden aspects with rocky slabs and buttresses rising above Loch an t-Seilg.

Alternatively, a short and direct there-and-back route from the mast above Loch Merkland requires hiking a distance of just 8km.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to West Merkland

Estate track above West Merkland

Estate track above West Merkland

North of Lairg the A838 follows the eastern shore of Loch Shin through a vast land of moor and forestry. At the northern end of Loch Shin the road wynds further and around Loch Merkland before aiming for more dramatic countryside.

The starting point for this route is on the A838 near the northern end of Loch Merkland, where by the house and outbuildings at West Merkland a gate marks the start of the route up an estate.

Parking nearby is limited to verges adjacent to passing places. There is a decent sized parking area around 1km west of West Merkland by the end of the loch.

2. Ben Hee

The Allt Coir' a' Chruiteir and Ben Hee

The Allt Coir' a' Chruiteir and Ben Hee

By the house at West Merkland, a gate on the east side of the Allt nan Albannach denotes the start of an estate track heading into the wilderness beyond Ben Hee and eventually to Strath More. Head through the gate and begin up the track.

After hiking for just under 2km, look for a small cairn just before the track crosses the Allt Coir' a' Chruiteir. This cairn marks the beginning of an otherwise obscure old stalkers path heading eastwards, uphill and following course of the Allt Coire a' Chruiteir. The path is rough, vague and frequently very soggy but can be traced to around the 600m contour, passing some delightful waterfalls on the way.

With Ben Hee's summit dome now above and in front, the path disappears into marshy ground - some direction help from a few small cairns ahead.

Past the cairns, simply aim for Ben Hee's summit, passing some solifluction lobes then hiking over some boulderfield when nearing the top.

A trig point within a protecting circular stone dyke marks the summit , though there is a small cairn just to the north of this. Excellent views from the crest over the vast landscape, with the outlook onto Ben Hope being particularly fine.

3. Return

Ben Hope from Ben Hee's summit trig

Ben Hope from Ben Hee's summit trig

The easiest option for return is to about turn and re-trace your route.

A longer and more challenging alternative is to head northwards and down to the lochans of Bealach nam Meirleach, which also gives the option of hiking up the two Graham hills of Beinn Direach and Carn an Tionail.

To take this longer option, from Ben Hee's summit, begin to head north-west following summit crest, at same time attempting to keep east of boulderfield and on easier grassy terrain. When beginning to lose height, start to turn towards a more northerly direction. There is no path to follow and terrain becomes pretty rough while bounding down grass, rocks and some steep hillside.

Lower down aim through heather and marsh for the natural land-causeway between Loch an Aslaird and Loch an t-Seilg. To cross onto the causeway there is a burn between these lochs needing negotiated, which will be difficult (or even impossible) to cross in spate.

After crossing the causeway, pick up an estate track , and follow it south-west to the highest point on Bealach nam Meirleach. A gentle downhill is all that's left for a return to the roadside at West Merkland.

4. Ben Hee alternative, direct from mast

Approaching Ben Hee from Meallan Liath Mor

Approaching Ben Hee from Meallan Liath Mor

The first time I headed up Ben Hee, I took a direct route from Loch Merkland. This is outlined here and is the dashed line on map (total ascent 800m over a distance of 8km).

Above Loch Merkland, about half way along the loch, there is a mast around 50m above the road. Park below this mast on the roadside.

Begin uphill on a rough track to reach the mast . Beyond the mast there are no paths, just grass and a fairly steep incline. Above the mast, after ascending a further 100m or so, the slope gradient easies.

Aim generally northwards as the incline steepens again while the slopes of Meallan Liath Mor are climbed. As the ground levels, Meallan Liath Mor's summit is reached and Ben Hee's summit dome comes into view.

After passing a cairn, there are some ATV tracks and a small shelter to be found while aiming for the bealach between Meallan Liath Mor and Ben Hee.

From the bealach, all that remains is to find a grassy route through the boulderfields on the climb ahead ahead, though higher up, the boulderfield is unavoidable. On Ben Hee's summit , fine views can be had from the trig point that shelters behind a stone circular dyke.

Return by the same route.

Route profile »

Maps and GPX downloads »

Other maps :
Explorer 440
GPX file(s) :
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Always carry a decent compass.

Information on maps and GPX files is on this page.

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