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Suilven August 7th 2014

Suilven August 7th 2014


Postby Nestos » Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:17 pm

Route description: Suilven

Fionas included on this walk: Suilven

Date walked: 07/08/2014

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 19.5 km

Ascent: 820m

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I first saw Suilven in the pages of a Readers Digest guide to touring Britain book back in the mid 1990s and was instantly struck by it. The photo was the view towards Meall Meahonach. When I found out it's location, it felt out or reach all the way up in Sutherland, about 700 miles away from where I live in East Hampshire. Our last holiday in Scotland was in 1996 and Suilven partially faded from memory until I became a regular internet user and started to Google images of it. In the intervening y time we raised a family and after a few years, I began to plan a family holiday to Scotland. Since I have a rather thirsty people carrier, we were only ever likely to have one family holiday in Scotland as the limiting expense was going to be fuel money.

By the time I came around to planning our holiday our eldest daughter Chloë, was in her last year of school and had developed an interest in hill/mountain walking. Among the mountains she had climbed were, Snowdon twice, Scafell Pike, Green Gable, Great Gable, Y Garn, The Pen Y Fan Horseshoe, The Carmarthen Fans, The Carneddau, Tryfan and had walked the West Highland Way with me 2013. As we were only going to do this once as a family, I planned a three week tour of the highlands with six days scheduled at Clachtoll Beach near Lochinver, with the prime objective being, a crack at Suilven.

Our 1st week was spent at Glen Nevis with an obligatory trip up the Ben which, our ten old son did with Chloë & I. After a trip up to John O Groats and an overnight stop at the Dunnet head, we drove across the top of Scotland to Durness before turning south towards Lochinver arriving at Clachtoll on Sunday 3rd in good sunshine. We enjoyed fantastic views across the far North of Scotland on our journey in with tantalising views of Suilven on the approach to Lochinver. The following day brought heavy rain and Suilven remained stubbornly hidden behind heavy clouds. The BBC weather forecast posted up in the Tourist Information centre didn't look very promising which made the prospects of an attempt on Suilven unlikely. However, the forecast on Metcheck looked a lot more promising with a good day in prospect for Thursday the 7th.

On Wednesday we all took a trip to the falls of Kirkaig which gave me a chance to gauge the route in. After looking at the falls, the rest of my wife, son and two daughters started back to the car after being lunched on by midgies while I climbed a small hill to take some pictures.

On my way back to the car I passed a Scottish couple who had made an attempt but had quit having started out a 11AM. They said they had planned to try again but would rough camp. A few doubts began to creep in but, I remembered that Chloë and I had completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks which covered more ground, had more ascent/descent and had a section of considerable boggy ground. With that in mind I was sure that given good conditions we could complete the walk in good time.

I had originally panned to go in from Inverkikaig because, on the OS map it appeared that there was a defined path for more of the walk than from Glencanisp lodge. After chatting to Jim the campsite owner at Clachtoll, on his recommendation I changed plans and opted to approach from Glencanisp Lodge instead.

Thursday morning came and our tent was illuminated by bright sunshine so, we got up instantly, gulped down some breakfast and headed off to the start. We had our first view of the mountain from a viewpoint on the Clachtoll road and although the summit was shrouded with clouds, the prospects otherwise looked promising.

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After picking up a few provisions at the spar in Lochinver, we made our way up the Glencanisp lodge road to the start.

We began walking at around 9AM and made good progress. More importantly, the closer we got the more the cloud lifted. By the time we made it to the turn off after about an hour and a half, the summit was mostly clear. We stopped there off for a bite to eat before tackling the climb up across the boggy ground. The closer we got the main ascent so the weather improved.

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It took about an hour to traverse the bogs and get the bottom of the main climb up to Bealach Mor and by the time we reached Loch a' Choire Dhuibh the summit had cleared nicely.

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From there, it took us about another 45 minutes to ascend up to the Bealach itself with the views improving as we climbed higher.

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Reaching Bealach Mor is in some ways more significant than the summit itself. The view that greets you as you step onto the narrow ridge just takes your breath away. It frustrates me that I don't have some poetic way to describe what I saw. The visual impact created by the way that the landscape opened out before my eyes, was like nothing else I have experience on a mountain anywhere. To anyone daunted by the prospect of the long walk in, crossing the bogs and steep climb, that moment when you step onto the ridge makes it all worth it. It was it this point I was glad that we approached from the North because views from the Bealach looking south were better than those looking north. The cloud had lifted and the lochs and lochans were a fantastic blue colour.

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Last edited by Nestos on Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:21 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Avocetboy » Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:30 pm

It's an amazing mountain nestos. Pleased you finally made it. I managed it back in June, without any views,but still loved the whole experience
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Walk cycle » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:07 pm

Glad you enjoyed Suilven - I climbed the mountain on August 20th. Had a great day even though the weather was poor and there was no view.
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Nestos » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:21 pm

Avocetboy wrote:It's an amazing mountain nestos. Pleased you finally made it. I managed it back in June, without any views,but still loved the whole experience


Walk cycle wrote:Glad you enjoyed Suilven - I climbed the mountain on August 20th. Had a great day even though the weather was poor and there was no view.


Unfortunately this isn't the full report as I accidentally clicked submit instead of preview. Then my computer crashed a couple of times so I'm having a bit of a nightmare getting my report uploaded. Climbing the mountain itself less painful. Stay tuned for the completion.
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Silverhill » Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:01 pm

Looking forward to the sequel! :D
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:24 pm

Great stuff, any report on Suilven always gets my attention, looking forward to the rest of the report was a bit puzzled as to why the report suddenly stopped :lol: :lol: We have all had PC problems :wink:

Hope to conquer Suilven next year & it really is a stunning & unique mountain 8)
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Nestos » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:47 pm

And here is the remainder, sorry it's take a while, things have been busy at home.

After taking in the view for a short while we continued on up to the main summit and all I can say is that, it is beyond doubt, the finest view from any mountain summit that I have witnessed so far. It took us about four and a half hours to make it to the top. I had set us a turn around time of six hours so I was very pleased to be well within my time limit. We paused for about half an hour for lunch and had a chat with a party we had met up with earlier on. There was a party of three men on the summit and a Scots couple that had previously passed us prior to the bogs, passed us on their way back down from the summit as we were going up. It was bit of a change from Ben Nevis a week earlier where it felt like the whole campsite had emptied onto the mountain.

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The two of us

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It was a shame we had to leave the top, I had considered trying to go up to Meall Meadhonach but Chloë was keen to start back so we packed up and headed off taking photo's as we went.

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Chloë at the gap in the wall

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Me at the gap in the wall

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The hike back to the car was uneventful and we made good time getting there at 5PM.

Nearly back at the car
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Chloë recharging her batteries by tucking into a well earned pie from the Lochinver Larder
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On reflection, the day was much easier going than I had expected. I would have liked to have taken my son along as well, he did Ben Nevis with us the week before but, I had my concerns about the remoteness and the bogs as we didn't have any gaiters for him. To anyone considering Suilven, if you have a fine day, go for it, the views are amongst the finest you will see anywhere on our small island.

As things turn out we might be returning to Clachtoll next year in late May. For the last few years I've been putting money aside for our 25th Wedding anniversary. When I discussed with Andrea (my wife) as to how we were going to celebrate, she wasn't very keen on having a big family do and preffered something for just the five of us which, suited me just fine. So, I've provisionally booked one of the caravans at Clachtoll for next spring and if we get a sunny day, the lure of Suilven may just prove overwhelming.
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby larry groo » Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:16 pm

It really is a fantastic place... one of my favourites.

Lovely pics and great write up.

The pies in Lochinver are amongst the best eh!!

:clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Nestos » Tue Dec 09, 2014 1:41 pm

larry groo wrote:It really is a fantastic place... one of my favourites.

Lovely pics and great write up.

The pies in Lochinver are amongst the best eh!!

:clap: :clap: :clap:


Glad you liked the write up and photos.

I've just ordered a batch of pies for Xmas. The pies alone are enough for me to want to go back.
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:06 am

Really enjoyed this report and the pics.

Suilven is on my list of to do's: like The Cobbler, it seems to be one of those mountains that, once seen, keep you restless until you've been there yourself.
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Nestos » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:03 pm

I've just had the letter of confirmatiom for our booking of a caravan at Clachtoll beach in the last week of May as our silver wedding anniversary holiday. Weather permiiting, Chloë and I will climb Suilven again and hopefully get to explore the ridge a bit more. It's a long trip for just one week but, as we all enjoyed staying there last year, it seemed a good choice as somewhere to go and celebrate our silver wedding.
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Feb 06, 2015 11:54 pm

Nestos wrote:I've just had the letter of confirmatiom for our booking of a caravan at Clachtoll beach in the last week of May as our silver wedding anniversary holiday. Weather permiiting, Chloë and I will climb Suilven again and hopefully get to explore the ridge a bit more. It's a long trip for just one week but, as we all enjoyed staying there last year, it seemed a good choice as somewhere to go and celebrate our silver wedding.


If you're in that neck of the woods anyway, and if you haven't already, try one or other of the Torridons. In the grading of wonderful mountains, they're in the same class as Suilven seems (still not been there yet) to be; and for me, second only to the Cuillins.

What a fantastic way to spend your silver wedding! Hope it meets all your expectations :D
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Nestos » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:31 pm

Alteknacker wrote:
Nestos wrote:I've just had the letter of confirmatiom for our booking of a caravan at Clachtoll beach in the last week of May as our silver wedding anniversary holiday. Weather permiiting, Chloë and I will climb Suilven again and hopefully get to explore the ridge a bit more. It's a long trip for just one week but, as we all enjoyed staying there last year, it seemed a good choice as somewhere to go and celebrate our silver wedding.


If you're in that neck of the woods anyway, and if you haven't already, try one or other of the Torridons. In the grading of wonderful mountains, they're in the same class as Suilven seems (still not been there yet) to be; and for me, second only to the Cuillins.

What a fantastic way to spend your silver wedding! Hope it meets all your expectations :D


Liathach is on my to do list but I've no idea when I'll get the chance as it's a big trip from where I live. Next year I'm hitting the West Highland Way again all being well. I might have some time spare in 2017 and I would like to walk in the Knoydart area.
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Re: Suilven August 7th 2014

Postby Blokewithastroke » Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:31 am

Thanks for posting this. It is a wonderful, marvellous mountain. Sadly - and for a fairly obvious reason (i.e. I only have one usable arm) I don't think that I am ever going to climb it (...but who knows?). However, we - my wife, youngest son and I - have climbed the nearby mountain of Canisp. This doesn't bare a patch on the mountain that you climbed but the marvellous thing is that from the top of Canisp you can see the magnificent Suilven in all of its glory!
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