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Suilven the Magnificent!

Suilven the Magnificent!

Postby dalesactive » Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:54 pm

Route description: Suilven

Fionas included on this walk: Suilven

Date walked: 27/08/2017

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 19.5 km

Ascent: 1050m

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Suilven should need no introduction other than a list of superlative adjectives such as, magnificent, spectacular, awe inspiring, gob smacking, beautiful, mysterious and stunning etc.

If you are in Assynt, then you can hardly ignore it's presence as it imposes itself upon the landscape with all its glorious pomp and majesty. Looking like some abandoned afterthought this magnificent and dominant mountain whilst not a Munro, certainly deserves to be considered for honorary membership!


Suilven as seen from a NW approach

Having walked Ben More Assynt and Conival the day before and with two large heel blisters to prove it, I was determined to add the scalp of Suilven before driving home later in the day. Formed of Torridonian sandstone and some 500 million years old, this is certainly one that you do not want to miss!

Seven miles from Inchnadamph Lodge, an early start helps to ensure a place on the limited parking available on the road/track from Lochinver towards Glencanisp Lodge (now in the hands of the comunity owned Assynt Foundation).

A short walk from here takes you through the landscaped estate of the foundation which can boast amongst many other things, one of the few honesty shops still to be found in the UK!

Honesty Shopa.jpg

Honesty Shop at the Assynt Foundation


A glimpse of the beguiling Suliven as it draws you in!

This North Easterly approach to Suilven enables you to take advantage of a recent joint project between the John Muir Trust and Assynt Foundation to upgrade the footpath. The stoic efforts of numerous volunteers now helps to ensure that as you meander your way through the normally sodden peat moor to the base of the climb you can almost keep your feet dry!


Here, a steep and sustained climb follows the obvious Bealach Mor gully which leads directly up onto the ridge. Care needs to be taken nearer the top as the footpath can be a bit crumbly in places. Once on the ridge though, take a well earned rest and enjoy the magnificent views!


From here, you can bear east along the ridge towards the obvious peak of Meall Mheadhonach. However, this ridge is quite exposed and I understand, a bit hairy at times. With low cloud and slippy conditions I opted for the ‘safer’ route to the West and onto the higher Suilven peak and the aptly named Caisteal Liath (Grey Castle in Scottish Gaelic) which stands at 731m.

Even this route requires care at times especially when the clag is down! Some of the narrower parts are still a bit vertiginous and certainly not for the feint hearted. However, as with many other fine ridges, some people positively embrace these challenges with a certain relish and gusto whilst others like me, treat them with nervous trepidation and just inch towards the summit!!


The path narrows towards the top

After a number of smaller rises, you eventually climb the last summit to reach a comparatively broad plateau where the final cairn awaits.


The Final Summit Cairn

On a fine day I can imagine that the views of the Western Isles from here are quite spectacular. As it happened, I was able to see very little apart from this wonderful pair of ptarmigan who seemed quite oblivious to my presence.


Ptarmigan on the summit plateau

The distinct lack of views did not detract however, from the immense pleasure and sense of achievement that you must surely feel after having climbed this magnificent mountain.

To return, simply retrace your footsteps, tentatively in my case but still better and faster than envisaged! There are alternative ways off if you wish to extend the walk but unfortunately I now had the delight of an 8 hour drive to look forward to. Such is life!

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