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Astounding Assynt - A Whirlwind Wander up the NW!

Astounding Assynt - A Whirlwind Wander up the NW!


Postby dooterbang » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:52 pm

Route description: Stac Pollaidh ridge and circuit

Grahams included on this walk: Stac Pollaidh, Suilven

Date walked: 25/02/2018

Time taken: 14 hours

Distance: 30 km

Ascent: 1800m

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So it was A/L time again, and another Highalnd venture was hastily planned which would land me in Assynt :D Firstly though I would make my way to Glencoe Saturday morning to walk Bidean Nam Bian with the Glasgow Walking Club. Link to Report - https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=78682

I had booked a room in Contin for 3 days, so after the walk I headed North :D . I was staying in the Highland Hideaway, the home of a very freindly chilled out South African family who made me feel like a long lost relative :D A great base for Torridon & Assynt. Great shower & Wi Fi. https://www.booking.com/hotel/gb/highland-hideaway.en-gb.html

A good nights sleep was had, so early Sunday morning I was geared up and on my way to Assynt :D I would be revisiting some mounatins & beaches very familair to me, Achmelvich Beach, Stac Polly, & Gruinard Bay. Whist also taking in the amazing views whilst driving to these destinations.

Sunday 25th Feb 2018
Achmelvich Beach
08.30am

Not for the first time I had this wonderful beach all to myself, I spent around an hour here enjoying the tranquility and views to the sea. If I wasn't pushed for time I could've spent the whole day here, a magical place 8)
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My next stop would be one of my favourite mountains in Scotland, the small in stature Stac Polly. Whilst this mountain lacks the height of others it makes up for it with a huge fun factor due to the amount of hours you can spend scrambling amongst its many rocky towers. I would drive the scenic road through Inverkirkaig to reach Stac Polly.

Views from the Inverkirkaig Road
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I reached the Car Park for Stac Polly around 11.30am and was soon on my way, the excitement building within me. It was a crisp cold sunny day, with good visibilty. And boom, 35 minutes later I was standing on the Eastern Summit. On route the other Assynt mountains had revealed themselves.

Suilven
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Cul Mor
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Suilven & Cul Mor
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Quinag, Suilven, & Canisp
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Quinag, Suilven, Canisp, & Cul Mor
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Whilst on the Eastern Summit I got chatting to 3 Slovakians (Peter - Designer, Denise - Doctor, & Marcho - Engineer). They enquired about summitting the Western top, and if it was easy. I informed them it was down to ability & experience. Whilst they spoke in their native tongue I volunteered to guide them to it, which they accepted.

The 3 Slovaks turned out to be great fun, all had a biting sense of humour! We constantly exchanged humorous quips, basically ripping the p**s out of each other. I took them up and along some nice scrambling routes before reaching the technical scramble to the Western Summit. Only Peter managed it with me.

Start of route to Western Top
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The Slovaks
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And me :)
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Rocky Scrambling routes
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Testing balance & Phallic Statue :lol:
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Denise & Marcho from Western Summit
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Western Summit View
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After milking the views Peter and I made our way back to Denise & Marcho. I guided them down a steep gully for an extra bit of fun, this would make their walk a circular route.

Steep Gully
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At the bottom of the gully we said our goodbyes, the Sloavks were stopping for a bite to eat and I had another destination miles away to reach. The 3 Slovaks were next heading to Durness to visit the Smoo Caves, I wished them a happy trip 8)

Final view of Stac Polly before setting off for Gruinard Bay
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The drive to Gruinard Bay was over 50 miles away, I decided to stop In Ullapool and buy some food. I would head to the harbour and take in the stunning views down Loch Broom.

Road into Ullapool
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My view whilst having lunch :D
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I eventually left and made my way down the NW Coast to the Wonderful Gruinard Bay.

View down Gruinard River to the Fisherfields
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I drove to the high Western point at Creag Mhor to firstly take in the views.
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Whilst standing here a man turned up and we got chatting. He lived in Ullapool but his job working in Marine Biology had afforded him living in the Philipines for 20 years and Bute for 3 years. Was a great chat, always nice meeting fellow walkers in the Highlands. We said our goodbyes and I drove down to the East point to walk along the beach.

I found a spot and waited for the sunset. I had this place all to myself now, just as I had Achmelvich in the moring 8)

My view
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Sunset
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As the darkness came I walked to my car for the 1 hour drive to Contin. As entering Garve, and 4 miles to Contin, the road was closed. Turns out there had been a fatal accident, a young boy of 20 years old. Didn't know this till next morning. All cars were informed the road was closed for 7 more hours and that a detour would take 4 hours :shock:

A road worker informed us that he'd been sending people through the woodland on a driveable forrest track, a 6 mile route passing the Rogie Falls and exiting at Contin. I asked was this track in good condition, I was informed yes. I spoke with a few other drivers, mostly walkers, and we decided to go for it :shock: :shock: :crazy:

The next two hours resembled a scene from a hollywood horror film!! The track was akin to something that head been heavily bombed, huge uneven holes everywhere. And then everyone had stopped! A huge cavernous ditch lay ahead filled with water with mud at its exit. After an age we all decided to go for it, thankfiully getting through.

The track. No way to reverse or pass anyone
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As we moved slowly, bumping along the track again we all stopped. 3 French dudes in a T5 had stopped at a rocky river crossing to assess it before trying to drive through it. Unfortuntaely they managed to lock themselves out of the van!! Other car drivers somehow manged to prize the window down using ice axes :shock:

The T5
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On our way again and another risky crossing, thankfully without more incident. Finally we all manged to get back on the main road, giving our car suspensions a rest. I got back to Contin around 21.00hrs. I had a chat with the South African family before having something to eat and a shower, the shower was fantastic :) Next day I would walk Suilven 8)

Monday 26th Feb 2018
Suilven
09.15hrs Start

Again the drive up the NW was superb, I was the only car on the road and it was a pleasure to drive.

Ardvreck Castle
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Parked up just before Canisp Lodge, space for about 6 cars, and was walking for 09.15hrs. I was super excited to being doing Suilven again, was 3 years since walking this iconic mountain. As yesterday I wore trail runners, I had microspikes in the bag as I anticipated plenty of ice.

It was slightly dull but forecast for sunshine later in the day.

Views whilst walking along the track for 7k before reaching the turn to the base of Suilven.
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Nearing the base
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View to Canisp
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The steep path up to the bealach was very icy in parts so the microspikes priovided some sure footing and confidence.

Halfway up I seen these guys :)
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On reaching the bealach the wind was fericious, felt like 40 - 50mph! I made my way to the West top, carefully :shock:

I soon reached the summit and the views to the sea opened up :)
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I took shelter behind a large slab of stone and had a bite to eat, enjoying the views in front of me. 20 minutes later I started to make my way down the ridge.

Suilven Ridge in all its fine glory 8)
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Quickly back down tho the main track I had 7k back to my car. I was buzzing and set a fast pace, enjoying the views and endorphin release :D With the sun now out I knew looking back at Suilven would provide better photos.

Looking back to Suilven
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I had managed to get back to my car for 15.15hrs so I decided to take in Clachtoll Beach and drive the scenic NW Coast route passing Drumbeg.

Incredible views back to Suilven & Canisp from road to Clachtoll.
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I arrived at Clachtoll Beach, once again the only person present :) . A nice beach but nowhere as special as the two I visited yesterday.

Clachtoll Beach
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Fishermans Hut
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After spending some time here I got in my car and drove the coastal route, an amzing route that I've cycled a few times.

The NW Coast route
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Views to Quinag
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After an hour, stopping many times, I eventually met the main road. I stopped at Ardmair Point in the hope of catching a sunset.

Ben More Coigach from Ardmair Point
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Unfortunately due to some cloud the sunset never happened, however the view was still superb. As darkness once again fell I set off for the drive back to Contin.

I enjoyed some food and a chat with the South African family before showering and retiring to my room for the last night. In the morning I would drive back to Glasgow, not to miss the forecasted snow storms but to attend the Royal Concert Hall to see Nils Frahm. Unfortunately that gig was cancelled - boo hoo!

Once again Assynt was absolutely amazing, I could never get bored of wandering around this area 8) If you haven't been then get up there soon. I'm hoping to get back up in March for some more adventures :D 8)
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dooterbang
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Re: Astounding Assynt - A Whirlwind Wander up the NW!

Postby Riverman » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:46 am

Stunning! I've never been that far north but your report provides plenty of inspiration. Suilven sure is an icon!
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Re: Astounding Assynt - A Whirlwind Wander up the NW!

Postby Blokewithastroke » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:30 pm

As ever, truly stunning! And the incredible weather must have helped to make the journey and your stay fantastic! (Most of) my family and I first visited Assynt in July/August 2013. I thought that the whole area was magnificent then... and I have still not changed my mind. I cannot think of better place to go - especially with weather like that!
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Re: Astounding Assynt - A Whirlwind Wander up the NW!

Postby malky_c » Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:34 pm

Don't you be starting with the sunny NW highlands photos as well :lol: :mrgreen: .

Looked like a fantastic few days, well away from the chaos of the rest of the country 8)
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Re: Astounding Assynt - A Whirlwind Wander up the NW!

Postby Mal Grey » Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:38 pm

Wonderful part of the world, thanks for sharing your road trip and hills! Rather a lot of driving, but its not much of a chore on those roads!
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Re: Astounding Assynt - A Whirlwind Wander up the NW!

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:26 am

Ohh Suilven. Thanks for reminding me about the gem of the far north! I had nightmares about Suilven till I climbed it and now I dream about returning to the summit :lol:

Fantastic weather we had up north the previous week. You picked the right time to savour the beauty of Assynt! Sadly it has all gone downhill since, last weekend was dull and windy, we froze our limbs off in Torridon yesterday :?
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Re: Astounding Assynt - A Whirlwind Wander up the NW!

Postby Rapscallion » Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:27 am

Thank you for sharing your adventures in Assynt along with wonderful photos. I'm planning to explore this strange and fascinating region in early June so it was just the inspiration I needed!
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Re: Astounding Assynt - A Whirlwind Wander up the NW!

Postby Hirokazu » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:10 am

Great pictures, thank you!
Do I get it right, it took you only 6hrs (9:15-15:15) to walk from Canisp Lodge up to Suilvan and back? How??
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