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My first hill walk : Suilven

My first hill walk : Suilven

Postby Premlal » Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:51 pm

Route description: Suilven

Fionas included on this walk: Suilven

Date walked: 21/08/2012

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 19.5 km

Ascent: 834m

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Over 6months later here is my report of what I consider my first proper hill walk (with all due respect to Ben A'an which was my true first!). For those only interested in the pictures just scroll down a little bit :D

Anyway, my first visit to Scotland (I'm french) was in 2007 with a mate. We basically went around trying to aim at the destinations highlighted in the travel guides (i.e. Edinburgh, Glencoe, Isle of Skye...). Although a bit disorganized this first trip got me interested in Scotland and after that week I couldn't think of anything else but coming back. I therefore started to watch/read quite a lot about it. I went back the following year driving from Norwich to John O' Groats and then coming down the N/NW coast. At the end of this trip I climbed Ben A'an which then got me interested in hillwalking. I then waited a full 4 years before coming back!
By then I had watched Griff Rhys Jones' Mountain program and discovered Suilven. So when I booked my 2 weeks trip for 2012 Suilven was my main target for the 2nd week (the first week being devoted to visiting the Outer Hebrides). I'm by no mean sporty so choosing Suilven as a first was a bit frightening.

First some pictures of the way in:

Sutherland (5).JPG
The other stars of the area hiding Suilven at the moment.

Assynt (5).JPG
Suilven eventually showing

So, onto the interesting stuff, I chose the Canisp lodge route as it looked more friendly than the Inverkirkaig falls one (not sporty remember?). The weather looked very promising but being badly prepared I set off at around 6:45am wearing a pair of jeans with cheap rain pants, 2 t-shirts, a fleece and all weather jacket (+ the camera and some water and snacks)! At least I had the good idea to buy proper walking boots.

Suilven (3).JPG
Off we go.

Very quickly I realised the jacket wouldn't be needed. The first part of walk is long but fairly easy going, just follow the stalkers path. However, it really feels like you're not actually get closer at all.

Suilven (6).JPG
Some nice reflections of Suilven and Canisp under clear blue skies

Suilven (13).JPG

Suilven (16).JPG
That's right here.

After sometime you get to leave the stalker path (unless you want to continue to Elphin but then you're not in the right report!) to get muddy. The good thing is Suilven looks closer now and still pretty steep. The small voice in my head keeps telling me I should turn around as I will never make it!

Suilven (25).JPG
Another right to get some mud under my soles.

So now I'm at the base, Suilven is looking as impressive as ever, my calves and thighs are painful and my non breathable fleece had me transfer nearly all the water of my body to my t-shirt (again not sporty!). So that's off with everything (fleece and t-shirts)! Some part of me still whispering to turn back.

Suilven (30).JPG
Getting closer and tired!

I decided to "Keep calm and carry on" and I was soon gaining height quickly even though I was stopping every few steps to catch my breath.

Suilven (37).JPG
Starting to climb

Suilven (48).JPG
Still climbing

Suilven (44).JPG
Climbing is not over yet!

Finally I reached the top no, the Bealach!

Suilven (50).JPG
A foggy Bealach.

Suilven (51).JPG
Clearly more fit than me...stop taunting!

Suilven (55).JPG
Some more relaxed climbing ahead.

At 10:30am after 3h45 of walk I did reach the top, Hourrah!

Suilven (60).JPG
The neighbours

Suilven (62).JPG
A famous and impressive view to witness

I have to admit I wasn't brave enough to attempt Meall Beag but I was still very very please with my achievement. Another 2h15 of walking brought me back to my car and onto Lochinver where I stopped had lunch and did nothing but admire the scenery for over an hour.

Lochinver (8).JPG

All in all one of the best days of my life. I already planned for Stac Pollaidh and maybe Canisp in May which will get me a different view on Suilven. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.


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Re: My first hill walk : Suilven

Postby lomondwalkers » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:34 pm

Love, love, love it Premlal :clap: What a first hill 8) This is most definitely on my bucket list. Great report and pics :mrgreen: :thumbup:
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Re: My first hill walk : Suilven

Postby Avocetboy » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:56 pm

Thanks premial. You answered my question on the general thread. Shall be following in your footsteps in may
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Re: My first hill walk : Suilven

Postby kevsbald » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:04 pm

Well done and very good for a first hill.
I am leaving this to my last Graham possibly - there is no finer.
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Re: My first hill walk : Suilven

Postby Sarah86 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:25 pm

That looks far more challenging than my first hill :lol: Well done and what an amazing looking walk.
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Re: My first hill walk : Suilven

Postby MusicalHiker » Sun Jun 09, 2013 4:34 pm

It's amazing isn't it! - I first became obsessed with climbing Suilven after seeing it from Stac Pollaidh, which is a very easy climb in comparison! I took a mountain bike along the track to Suilven as far as I could, which knocked a couple of hours off but still a tough day...
Thanks for the report :)
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