walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

At last, the great Suilven..... and I didn't fall off

At last, the great Suilven..... and I didn't fall off


Postby MusicalHiker » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:51 am

Route description: Suilven

Grahams included on this walk: Suilven

Date walked: 05/08/2012

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 19.5 km

Ascent: 834m

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Wow. I did it!!!!
My dream to climb Suilven has come true!!
Ever since first seeing this iconic mountain as I drove down the West Coast many years ago, I have wanted to climb it.
Living in Orkney is not easy if you love climbing mountains and I had never got the chance until this August, when I was due to play some gigs with my other half around Inverness. I booked us a B&B in Lochinver for two nights before we were due in Inverness, and crossed fingers for good weather.
The morning we set off on the ferry from Stromness was thick with fog and rain, and all round the north coast we couldn't see a thing.
Arkle was the first peak we saw through the fog, and after that it cleared and the rest of the day was dry and grey.
As we neared Lochinver at teatime that night, Suilven was clear of cloud and looked very enticing.
We ate at Lochinver Larder, where the pies had almost doubled in price since the last time we were there, and I went to bed that night in feeling a mixture of apprehension and excitement.
I dreamed of climbing the mountain, and awoke to a grey midgey day with the odd spit of rain on the window.
After an early breakfast we went to the nearby Spar on the lookout for some food to supplement the few things I had brought from home.
Graham re-named it Sparse, after failing to find anything except alcohol and junk food. No bananas or sandwiches or anything nice. I chose a tin of mixed beans and sweetcorn and packed it away with my pie from the Larder and plenty of water and chocolate.
At around half nine Graham drove me to Glencanisp Lodge and left me to it. He spent the day cycling about and reading. (He has bad knees; and can't walk far).
I was initially disheartened. It was looking very murky, with low cloud blanketing all the mountains, and the midgies were out in force.
I jumped on my mountain bike, thinking that I'd spent £170 on this weekend in Lochinver, just to climb this mountain, so I was bloody well going to try, even if I couldn't see a feckin' thing!!
Fioan Driver - Suilven- 004.JPG

I wished I could see the mountain, it seemed to be hiding from me. Gradually, however, the mist began to lift!! I bumped along the track and as I got closer the views became rather stunning.....
Fioan Driver - Suilven- 011.JPG

The mountain bike saved me hours, even though it was pretty rough and I had some entertaining crashes!! It is a very long road and goes up and down like a roller coaster.
The midgies had abated and I was feeling optimistic. I left the bike just before where the path splits in two, turned right and headed toward the bottom of the mountain. It was a really steep walk at first, and very boggy, and then I reached the loch and saw the route up the gully...
Fioan Driver - Suilven- 020.JPG

I walked round the loch, and set off very slowly up the steep gully. It's wet and unstable underfoot and I was very glad I had two poles to help me.
Here's the view ahead, when I was nearly at the top. By this time I had been climbing straight up for over half a hour and was dying to get to the ridge!
Fioan Driver - Suilven- 026.JPG

The last bit was incredibly steep, and as I scrambled up and onto the ridge, the wind hit me, along with a fantastic view of Fionn Loch, Stac Pollaidh and out to the isles!
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 029.JPG

I did sometimes wish I had taken my Nikon SLR with a zoom lens, but in the end I took my compact Canon camera and I'm glad that I did, as it fitted in my pocket.
I turned right and began the walk up to the summit, which was easy, but not for those who don't like heights! I had heard much about this scary bit where there is a narrow path with a drop either side, but I didn't think it was a problem. Here is is, as I approached it.
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 039.JPG

There were some odd deer-shaped rocks up there.....
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 042.JPG

I carried on to the summit and was rewarded with the most amazing panorama, as the mist finally lifted from the peaks and the sun started to peek out. The summit is grassy and flattish! I was quite surprised.
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 046.JPG

I balanced the camera on the rock for a self timed picture.
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 049.JPG

I stopped here for a while to eat my tin of beans and sweetcorn, and to admire the views. I phoned Mum, who has seen a picture of Suilven the day before and was rather worried. I assured her I was fine and hadn't fallen off.
I started back down, thinking that walk back down the gully was sure to be worse than going up! That's the scary bit of path down there too.....
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 064.JPG

For a moment a cloud passed by, and I wondered if the mists were returning and hurried towards the gully, but it soon floated on.....
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 066.JPG

This is one of my favourite photos; Suilven's second summit, with Canisp in the background. mmmmm lovely.
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 069.JPG

Now, everyone goes on about this wall that lies over the top of the mountain. It's a mystery, but I would not like the job of carrying the stone up there first! I can't imagine why anyone did it.
Nicely built though!
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 072.JPG

Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 075.JPG

I reached the gully and headed back down. It was very slippery and pretty precarious - several times I slipped, as a rock I was standing one decided to go walkabouts.
Thank you, poles! I saw a ring ouzel, and passed a couple of other hikers on their way up.
It took less time to go down and I was soon back at the loch at the bottom.
Canisp looked very appealing.... another time.....
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 079.JPG

I looked back at the mountain, a view which had been hidden from me on the approach. It looks so different from here, not at all like the vertical mound seen from Lochinver.
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 090.JPG

I trudged across the bog back to the main path. That bog was my least favourite part and by now I was feeling pretty knackered. I had a rest and found my bike.
As I began the bumpy ride back to the lodge I was very glad I'd brought it. I did have to get off and push over the worst parts but I think it made a huge difference.
The sun came out and I was rewarded with some beautiful scenes!
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 095.JPG

I cycled all the way back to Lochinver. It was all downhill really, so not problem. There was no way of telling Graham when to pick me up as the signal in Lochinver is pretty non existent.
This was my final view as I descended into the village after a really great day on this wonderful mountain. I had a hot shower and ate an awful lot of shortbread before having a lovely sleep.
Copy of Fioan Driver - Suilven- 107.JPG
User avatar
MusicalHiker
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 74
Munros:12   Corbetts:7
Grahams:5   
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:8
Wainwrights:13   Islands:21
Joined: Dec 26, 2011
Location: Inverness, at last!

Re: At last, the great Suilven..... and I didn't fall off

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:30 am

Great to see a mountain dream come true! Suilven is one that I dream about climbing one day, perhaps I'll do it eventually.
User avatar
johnkaysleftleg
Walker
 
Posts: 3023
Munros:25   Corbetts:10
Grahams:10   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:166
Wainwrights:214   Islands:8
Joined: Jan 28, 2009
Location: County Durham

Re: At last, the great Suilven..... and I didn't fall off

Postby welshwalker » Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:41 am

Some great photos there, looked like you had a great day :D
User avatar
welshwalker
 
Posts: 111
Munros:84   Corbetts:5
Grahams:2   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:8   
Joined: Jun 1, 2010
Location: Glasgow

Re: At last, the great Suilven..... and I didn't fall off

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:47 am

Suilven used to be my menace, too... Until I climbed it last year. A mountain to remember and a fantastic day out. :D
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3174
Munros:260   Corbetts:163
Grahams:112   
Sub 2000:40   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: At last, the great Suilven..... and I didn't fall off

Postby MusicalHiker » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:09 pm

BlackPanther wrote:Suilven used to be my menace, too... Until I climbed it last year. A mountain to remember and a fantastic day out. :D

Yes, I read your report a few times! Isn't it fab to have done it at last! :)
User avatar
MusicalHiker
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 74
Munros:12   Corbetts:7
Grahams:5   
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:8
Wainwrights:13   Islands:21
Joined: Dec 26, 2011
Location: Inverness, at last!

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Ezra and Freya, Gilchrist93, KathRoger and 38 guests