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Amazing Assynt

Amazing Assynt


Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:41 am

Route description: Quinag: three Corbetts

Corbetts included on this walk: Quinag - Sail Gharbh

Grahams included on this walk: Stac Pollaidh

Date walked: 25/04/2013

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 2000m

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A great week in Ullapool, albeit with iffy-squiffy weather, ended with two of my favourite walks. However I have to kick off with a beer photo. Worse still, it's not even showing the correct hill that we were climbing.

ImageIMG_0021 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Sometimes, the light and colour of the hills on days of changing weather can equal, or even better, days of cloudless sunlight. Especially when you are among the otherworldly rocks of Assynt.

The night before, a band I had never heard of played Ullapool. A magical night.

ImageIMG_0073 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Mairearad (coincidentally, from nearby Achiltibuie) is the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion.

ImageIMG_0080 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

OK let's get onto the actual walks. The next day dawned fitful and showery: we decided on Stac Pollaidh - again (we'd climbed it two days before). Might seem an odd decision, but in fact it was the perfect choice. It was snowing as we set off from the car park by Loch Lurgain, visibility became zero as we ascended, and by the time we reached the crest of the ridge, it was pretty much a blizzard.

ImageIMG_0502 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

But light seemed be coming through the thick curtain of sleet... shreds of clouds tore and whizzed away from us...

ImageIMG_0503 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

...and we were in clear weather, looking out over the dappled landscape of Assynt.

ImageIMG_0510 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Looking back into Coigach: cloud lingering and lurking around Sgurr an Fhidleir.

ImageIMG_0511 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

More views over Assynt

ImageIMG_0513 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

And Coigach

ImageIMG_0511 (2) by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Later, our drive back via Lochinver gave us a view of a rainbow over Suilven

ImageIMG_0404 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

And, once back on the main road at Elphin, looking back we saw the sunset over Suilven too.

ImageIMG_0408 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The next day started bright, with great views of the Coigach hills as we drove north on the A835 - this is Stac Pollaidh, Cul Beag and Cul Mor from a roadside lochan.

ImageIMG_0201 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The car park gave us a view into Quinag's snow-dusted eastern corrie.

ImageIMG_0550 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The path leads across the moor and into the mouth of the corrie, with views of Spidean Coinich and its summit Bucket Buttress.

ImageIMG_0301 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The first-class path (courtesy I think of the John Muir Trust) led us through the corrie, above Lochan Bealach Cornaidh and then curved back on itself to ascend Sail Gharbh.

Spidean Coinich and its Point 714m looked like giant cakes frosted with icing.

ImageIMG_0560 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The bealach between Sail Gharbh and the Sail Ghorm ridge was a wild and windy spot -

ImageIMG_0562 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

- but it gave us a great view of Suilven under brooding skies

ImageIMG_0567 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Although sunshine would have been nice, these lowering skies seemed perfect for the ambience of these strange-shaped far northern hills with their super-ancient rocks. The transition from rounded sandstone stones to jagged Cambrian quartzite boulders just before the summit of Sail Gharbh is very abrupt.

The ridge gave us views out over Loch Chairn Bhain, the islands and coast towards Badcall and Scourie and beyond to the Minch (not in this shot - but at one point we did briefly spot the hills of Harris on the horizon).

ImageIMG_0311 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The trig and summit shelter, adorned with ice crystals, were a good spot for a snack...

ImageIMG_0312 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

...and a snifter.

ImageIMG_0313 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Time to go: the wind was rising.

ImageIMG_0310 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The gloomy but haunting views continued as we made our way back down the hill: Loch Assynt ahead, and in the distance Enard Bay and the flat peninsula of Rubha Mor.

ImageIMG_0314 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

And Spidean and Point 714m with all their sandstone strata picked out by the snow.

ImageIMG_0315 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

I was so struck by the effect of the snow on these layers of rock that later I did a painting of this scene, but I did it from memory and I put too much snow in!

ImageIMG_6850 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

A celebratory trip to the pub at Kylesku was obligatory after such a great walk. We were able to sit in the bar and spot seals playing in the loch.

ImageIMG_0316 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

A brilliant end to a great week in the northern wilds. The bad news is that I have just realised that, embarrassingly, FOUR of these photos feature alcohol. Never mind, I have posted some booze-free photos of Quinag and Stac Pollaidh on www.drinkhighlands.co.uk
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HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 430
Munros:78   Corbetts:8
Grahams:2   Donalds:1
Hewitts:147
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Amazing Assynt

Postby dogplodder » Wed Dec 09, 2015 12:56 pm

As you say, Assynt is amazing. Looks cold but with all that alcohol in your blood you wouldn't be feeling it! :wink:
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dogplodder
 
Posts: 3243
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Re: Amazing Assynt

Postby Mal Grey » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:27 pm

Great stuff. Love those hills, I still think the Assynt & Inverpolly area is genuinely one of the most beautiful places anywhere in the world, not just in the UK or in Europe.


Still need to do a walk report on my Easter Suilven trip...must get it sorted!
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Mal Grey
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Posts: 2482
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Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Amazing Assynt

Postby GraemeMac » Wed Dec 09, 2015 8:28 pm

Great stuff, really enjoyed that. When I was up in Assynt a few winters ago I had such similar conditions with a light dusting of snow and cloud adding to the atmosphere of the place. As you mentioned, it just gave a feel of a 'super ancient' landscape. Agree with Mal Grey, I think its ones of the best areas in the world. I love going to the alps with big pointy mountains everywhere but nowhere has the character of the Highlands. I think I'm a little biased mind :D
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GraemeMac
 
Posts: 78
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Re: Amazing Assynt

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Dec 10, 2015 8:53 am

Thanks! yes definitely one of my favourite areas. Will try to get round to posting up the other Stac Pollaidh walk we did, great weather for that one and some fantastic views - but for me the atmosphere of half-sunshine, half-shadow days on the strange landscape is unbeatable.
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HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 430
Munros:78   Corbetts:8
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Re: Amazing Assynt

Postby Silverhill » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:57 pm

You timed that perfectly, for the cloud to shift when you got to the summit of Stac Pollaidh!
Amazing pictures of both days! 8)
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Re: Amazing Assynt

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:15 am

Silverhill wrote:You timed that perfectly, for the cloud to shift when you got to the summit of Stac Pollaidh!
Amazing pictures of both days! 8)


thanks - we were SO lucky with that cloud.

But sometimes luck happens on the hills - surprisingly often, I've found!
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HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 430
Munros:78   Corbetts:8
Grahams:2   Donalds:1
Hewitts:147
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

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