Assynt - A Love from Outer Space!!
by dooterbang » Sat Aug 01, 2015 1:25 am
Route description: Ben More Coigach
Grahams included on this walk: Ben Mor Coigach, Sgurr an Fhidhleir
Date walked: 25/07/2015
Time taken: 6 hours
Distance: 12 km
Ascent: 850m39 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).
My initial plan was to head for the three Moidart Corbetts with the intention of a summit camp on Rois-Bheinn. On route I’d promised myself a short, but scenic, cycle around Loch Leven. However, the changeable weather had me furiously checking three websites for better options. The only area showing a possibility for both a sunset and sunrise was Achiltibuie in Assynt, a not so short six hour drive from Glasgow! Reading trip reports by Foggieclimber, Soulminer and Malky C, Friday midnight, convinced me that I must drive 405km and traverse Ben More Coigach…cheers guys !
I hardly slept due to my excitement, think I managed 3 hours in all! I left Glasgow at 6.30am bound for my favourite area in Scotland – Amazing Assynt!! (I'd discovered Assynt in 2010 and have spent at least one full week here each year, I absolutely love this area). A few hours later I was driving by Garve, I knew I was real close, and the excitement was building. When reaching Ardmair I was in another world! I was now immersed in the surroundings, my eyes darting over the landscape, filling my psyche with an abundance of dramatic imagery…and then I spotted a man on a bicycle!
Merv Dudgeon from Dalkieth was the energetic fella on that bike, 10 miles into a 30 mile trip from Ullapool to Lochinver via Inverkirkaig. The terrain is undulating with some serious hills, I should know as back in 2010 I hired a bike (first cycle in 20 years!) and did this route. We chatted, enthusiastically exchanging cycling stories. Merv had been cycling the area for 62 years, Merv was an astonishing 80 years old!!! What an inspirational figure, I was in awe! His smile was infectious, it left me beaming! Great meeting you Merv, I hope to meet you next year…I’ll have my bike with me this time
Merv – Fitter than Yer Fiddle!
Merv must have sprinkled me with some good fortune for the next 20hrs were simply astonishing, easily the best time I’ve ever spent on the mountains. I drove by the wonderfully quirky Stac Polly, through Achiltibuie, eventually reaching my start point at Culnacraig around 1pm. I sat here for about an hour taking in the views across the Summer Isles.
I was about to set off walking when a nifty looking 4x4 camper hybrid pulled into the parking area. Got chatting to the couple and sneaked a look inside it, very smart indeed…was very jealous! Nick and Karen, whom resided in Lairg after moving from the Borders 5 years ago, would be ever present during this walk. Nick was kind enough to provide some great information for my choice of route, really nice friendly folk
Follow the road till it ends, sneak by the house on the left, head east, then NE, Cross the Allt nan Coisiche, then strike Eeast. The massive slabbed wall of BMC stands tall, robust, and slightly intimidating…but it also looked like a hell of a lot of fun
The climb up the face is steep but you can carefully plot a route up to the ridge proper. The views across the sea and to the Summer Isles were really opening up now.
On reaching the ridge the East opened up, I could see Ardmair Point, Ullapool, and Loch Broom…!
The climb up had caused no concerns, it was actually very enjoyable.
Standing on the very airy, and dramatic, Garbh Choireachan Ridge sent pulsations of adrenalin swirling through my veins. Apprehension, excitement, and fear enveloped my senses. It was the unknown that lay ahead, bringing with it a sense of adventure!
I slowly picked my way across the ridge. I’d initially taken the bypass to the left but felt this was more dangerous due to the steep angle. I took my time, I was loving this…and the views, oooft!!
Looking back to the ridge.
And in a flash I stood on the summit of BMC. Myself, Nick, Karen, and 2 blokes (one from Ayr, the other Dublin) chatted here and milked the views…!
Sgurr an Fhidhleir, Stac Pollaidh, Beinn an Eoin, Suilven, Cul Mor and Cul Beag from Ben More Coigach
Beinn nan Caorach far right – my eventual camp spot.
I was last to leave the summit, but being a relatively short walk to SaF we all again met at its summit.
The two lads debating a descent via BaC ridge, I hope I persuaded them enough to take it on
Nick and Karen precariously perched, well in my vertiginous laden mind, on a little ledge with sheer drops on three sides – eek!! What a view though!!
Again we all exchanged converse whilst admiring our surroundings. Turns out Nick does a bit of Landscape Photography, and with one of those old heavy cameras.
The cloud had shrouded the mountains, the wind dropped, the midge came and had a peek. Nick and Karen left, I wished them well and quipped that I was hoping for a Cloud Inversion and Brocken Spectre in the morning…and a beautiful sunset/sunrise! I hung about here for 20 minutes, the wind became fresh again, the midge vanished and the mountains once again showcased themselves!
Utterly mind-blowing views, I couldn’t take the grin off my face
I could’ve sat here all day/night but there was a camp spot to be found! I continued NW and reached the summit plateau of BaC. The views here equally impressive, and on the plus side I found the perfect camp spot.
I ate some pasta, I drank a bottle of Innes & Gunn ale, I sat mesmerised at the views laid out in front of me in all directions. I was the only person in the world sitting on this spot and taking in these views, I felt very lucky indeed!!
The light was now fading…
But then the sun broke free of the clouds in the West! Beams of light lit up the mountains, stones and rock turned shades of red, the light was ricocheting off everything in its path. I felt like an astronaut of some secret cosmic lunar mission who'd just landed on mars…I was gobsmacked momentarily! Eventually I got my act together, I popped my eyes back into their sockets, my tongue back into my mouth, and like a mountain goat I was nimbly manoeuvring to all corners of the plateau clicking on my camera. The shots I managed to capture will fill the void my words can’t explain…!
Looking West to Stornaway
And after 15 minutes of the most amazing free light show the darkness arrived!
I sat here for a while, reflecting on what I'd just witnessed, whilst watching the Lighthouses on Stornaway communicate with Stoer Lighthouse up the NW coast. Around midnight I crawled into my tent, the wind had picked up and it was cold. I only slept two hours and ended up at 4am to see if I could nab a sunrise too, I can be very optimistic at times
To my utter astonishment I woke to find myself staring at a cloud inversion, I couldn’t believe my luck! There was an orange tinge in the distance which only meant one thing…I now waited patiently for the sun to rise through the cloud!
Stac polly, Suilven & Quinag zoomed and glowing!
The sun bursting through at 5am…
Clouds on fire…
For most of the time my eyes were glued to the rising sun, but I’d decided to turn around. I quickly realised I was now staring down a Brocken Spectre, I was half expecting to see the lottery numbers embedded in its colourful ring, a unicorn even
After what seemed like an eternity the sky became lighter…
In my rampant excitement I’d dropped my camera and the lens wouldn’t close, arrrgh! I didn’t let this perturb me though. I stood near the cairn on BnC and watched piles and piles of cloud being shoved Westwards below me, every mountain was now enveloped. It was the most incredible jaw dropping sight, Merv’s magic dust was working wonders
I stood and viewed this spectacle for some time before retreating along the BnC ridge. The camera somehow focused again and I managed to capture a shot of the cloud inversion swamping BnC.
Got back to the car at 8.30am, still beaming at my luck and what I'd witnessed...
A change of clothes and some food and I was soon driving through the moorland, a last look at Amazing Assynt!
Just before Stac Polly I bumped into Nick and Karen. We again conversed about our adventures, turns out they also took in the sunset. They witnessed dolphins swimming near the Summer Isles, fluorescently lit in shades of neon pink! Nick’s site http://www.nickmclaren.uk/
The six hour drive back to Glasgow was hard going, I had to stop near Aviemore for some fresh air and rejuvenate myself!! It worked and I was home around 4pm – shattered but delighted with my efforts and experience.
Assynt - A Love from Outer Space (perched in the NW Coast of Scotland) !!
Fullsize photos can be viewed here - best viewed in Fullscreen!!
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 75f04f53fb
by spiderwebb » Sat Aug 01, 2015 7:25 am
This is my favourite area too, luckily not a 6 hour drive I'm not sure what it is, there are so many areas that folks claim as the best, Cuillins, Torridon etc and yes these are beautiful each with something unique, but for me Assynt has it all. I think its a combination of several things, the remoteness, the isolation of each mountain standing more or less on its own, and the geology, not that I'm any expert in that, but the age of these rocks hard to comprehend, the glaciation etc...all combines to make it the most dramatic scenery you could find anywhere. You get a true sense that we are simply passing through and that we matter not in our relatively short lives.
And no Munros, well hardly but who needs those with hills like these. If you haven't already been, take a wander up Quinag next time your up (give me a shout too ) an easy approach from the road belies what you see on the far side, jaw dropping scenery, the likes of which rival An Teallach.
I'll be frequenting these come winter and I cant wait.
Thank you for posting such brilliant photos, glad you had a great trip, worth the miles
by BoyVertiginous » Sat Aug 01, 2015 8:31 am
by gammy leg walker » Sat Aug 01, 2015 9:52 am
by IanEzzi » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:20 am
Unbelievable pictures, feel like I should dedicate the remainder of my hiking days to summit camps on the west coast just in the hope of experiencing something like it.
by Collaciotach » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:48 am
I'm jealous, my few high camps this "summer" have been wet and grey and I'm still waiting for that good weather to tackle my last 15 ! .
Now away and stick your numbers on the lotto
by Alteknacker » Sat Aug 01, 2015 4:01 pm
Sadly 11 hours drive each way for me
by simon-b » Sat Aug 01, 2015 4:42 pm
by litljortindan » Sat Aug 01, 2015 5:28 pm
by katyhills » Sun Aug 02, 2015 10:59 am
You could wait a lifetime for the chance of photos like that. No wonder you were thrilled. Congratulations on your report. Simply superb.
by RiverSong » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:49 pm
Enjoyed your story and the beautiful photographs, thanks very much for sharing them, well done once more
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- Joined: Aug 31, 2013
by allymacp » Sun Aug 02, 2015 8:57 pm