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Stac Pollaidh, Ullapool

Stac Pollaidh, Ullapool

Postby walkman » Tue Sep 25, 2007 10:04 pm

Route description: Stac Pollaidh ridge and circuit

Grahams included on this walk: Stac Pollaidh

Date walked: 25/09/2007

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Me and my partner tackled Stac Pollaidh last Wednesday afternoon, with the help of the excellent info on this site.

In a former life, I was a little bit of a walker, but now at 40-something and about 19 stone, my best days are long behind me.

This is by far the most difficult walking challenge we have faced together, although I should stress that at least some of the difficulty was down to age and lack of fitness.

For the record, the circuit took us 4 and a half hours, which included a ten minute stop at the "saddle" for lunch, and numerous stops on the way up (and on the steep down!) to gather our collective breaths.

We also had a 10 minute hiatus weighing up the weather, as it was fairly crappy!

If you are of similar vintage to us and are thinking of doing this walk, then be warned, it is VERY steep in places and is VERY hard work.

However do not be put off, as it is eminently doable if you are reasonably able - and the path is very clear and relatively easy.

We arrived at the car park with low cloud all around and a positive gale blowing in from the Summer Isles. The crags were coming in and out of view and we never did see the tops of Cul Beag, Cul Mor or Suilven.

We struggled (quite literally) up the first 100m or so and our initial thoughts that we might not be able to manage this were strengthened - but we were enjoying being out, and were happy to do what we could do.

The path around the foot of the eastern summit had a number of short steep sections, that took our breath away in no small measure. I should say, though, it was the lungs rather than the legs that suffered.

As we climbed higher, the cloud dropped lower, and soon it began to rain. This was the time when we were most likely to pack the whole job in... there was no point simply walking into the cloud. But, out to sea the cloudbase looked higher and so after 10 minutes standing around (and getting a bit chilly!) we continued - to do at least the loop.

As we reached the brow and received shelter from the mountain itself, we were able to take in some of the surroundings without fear of being blown to Norway.

Although the day was very grey, the views were nevertheless impressive. For experienced walkers this will come as no surprise, but for those like me who have not ventured out like this before, it was very satisfying to look down of the lochs and lochans, and across to the other mountains in the kind of panoramic landscape reminiscent of a Colin Baxter photograph... though not nearly so well lit!!!

This was reward enough for us as it was.. but as we rounded the back of the mountain, the fork in the path meant we had to make a decision.

Ignoring for the moment that I actually missed the left turn up (perhaps dismissed, rather than missed?) we took a look at the proposed route.

My partner was not too keen, but she said I could go if I wanted. I said it was not worth doing if we were not going to do it together (and if we weren't both going, I wouldn't go alone)... and so, together we went up.

I confess, that about 4/5ths of the way up, I turned round and thought... I'm not going to be able to get down - but knowing that I had no choice, decided to concentrate on my feet and "ignore" the worrying terrain.

Shortly afterwards - two and a half hours after setting out - and with something of a sense of achievement, we reached the ridge. Of course, this meant we were no longer sheltered from the gale!

We had a bit of a scaredy-cat look down to the car park, then hunkered down in the lee of some rocks for a small spot of lunch.

It had never been my intention to scamble up the eastern summit, but even if it had, I would not have made the attempt in these weather conditions. It was far too blowy, and still a little damp.

Lunch taken, and northward panorama inwardly digested, we set off down.

I had noted on the way up, that the suggested path down looked a bit dicey... as if there had been a recent rock fall. Even so, I was concentrating on my feet by now (although the path did not feel nearly so vertiginous as I had expected) and missed the turn.

This meant, of course, that we met up with the loop path where we had joined, and then had to climb no small amount to continue on the anticlockwise circuit.

Passing the bottom of the suggested path from the ridge, it didn't look half so bad from that angle... but hey, we were there now.

Another few yards, and we were once again out of shelter and in the teeh of the gale once more... if anything it was even stronger. But, the cloud was lighter, and the rain was no longer in the air.

Having achieved the major goal of the walk, we continued back to the car park with almost a spring in our step... but not forgetting the sting in the tail.

That steep climb at the start had to be descended at the end.

And in terms of difficulty, tiredness being a factor no doubt, that was the trickiest part of the whole walk.

But we managed it... reached that car, and whilst we would break no speed records, felt suitably impressed with ourselves.

Even the sun came out!!!
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 11, 2007

Re: Stac Pollaidh, Ullapool

Postby SimonP » Sat Feb 09, 2008 8:31 am

Thanks for the great description of your walk. Am planning to climb Stac Pollaidh in a couple of months - start of my gap year - aged 54!! Last time I went up was in my father's rucksack when we had a magical holiday for 6 weeks at Mellon Udrigle - mother and father have sadly now died so this will be a bit of a pilgrimage to happy times past.

I am really looking forward to geting up into the highlands again and those majestic views.

Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 9, 2008

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