Stac Polly - The start of a NW Coast Adventure!
by dooterbang » Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:35 am
Route description: Stac Pollaidh ridge and circuit
Grahams included on this walk: Stac Pollaidh
Date walked: 30/03/2018
Time taken: 84 hours
Distance: 40 km
Ascent: 2000m13 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 new caddy maxi life would be my digs for this trip, which I hoped would afford me more flexibility on where I went. My plan was to head up Friday evening and visit a couple of beaches then find a spot for the night and walk Canisp the Saturday. Stac Polly, my fave wee mountain, would be my target Easter Sunday. Monday was flexible
Assynt is a unique wild landscape strewn with lochans & distinctive isolated mountains. It is otherworldly, it is awe inspiring, and there is no other place I’d rather be Set off early Friday for yet another adventure, and boy did it turn out to be magnificent
Day 1 - 30th March 2018
Once by Ullapool the rugged ridge of Ben More Coigach comes into view.
A calmness had now engulfed me, I feel really at home up here in Assynt...a far cry from my city boy roots
Heading for Achnahaird Beach, my first destination of the trip, means passing the magnificent Stac Polly!
I continued on this road until a junction, taking a right turn (Achiltibue left) which led me to Achnahaird Beach. This is a wonderful viewpoint for the iconic tops of Assynt.
Decided to take a wander down to the beach.
Cracking beach, which I actually returned to for an impromptu swim 2 days later
With light fading I drove to Reiff with the intention of finding a spot to park up for the evening.
Views to Summer Isles
Beach at Reiff
I didn't really find anywhere suitable so I drove back along the road just past the junction and found a perfect shaded spot looking West down Achnahaird Beach
My spot for the night - pretty decent
I had some noodles and waited patiently hoping for a sunset, enjoying the solitude and remoteness
After a while I got ready for my first night in the Caddy, pleased about my good start to the trip! It was very cold during the night but I managed some sleep and woke pretty fresh. Went to boil some water in the morning and found my stove had packed up!! So it was a cold wash and a breakfast drink.
Day 2 - 31st March 2018
My target for today was Canisp, a mountain that I'd yet to conquer on my numerous trips to Assynt. I drove 45 minutes to the start and set off around 9.30am.
The start to Canisp
The first couple of Kilometres are very boggy before a rocky terrain is felt underfoot. Seeing my target in the distance I basically just picked an almost straight line and went for it.
Reached the snowline at about 650m, however didn't feel the need to put on my crampons.
Last push to the summit
When reaching the summit I met a group of young Students from Aberdeen Mountaineering Club, they would include Suilven on their walk. We chatted a while and took some photos.
The students quickly left and headed for Suilven, leaving me to soak up the stunning views. It was pretty warm so I sat for 30 minutes...getting lazy in my old age
I said goodbye to Canisp and set off back to my car, reaching it by 2pm. Got changed and took the road along by Loch Assynt. My next walk would be Little Assynt, another new one for me
Little Assynt turned out to be a wonderful walk through woodland, barren moorland, and sprinkled with little lochans. In all was about 6k on very good paths. The views to the surrounding mountains absolutely stunning, these included Suilven, Quinag, & Canisp.
It was now about 5pm and time to hit Lochinver for one of those infamous tasty pies No trip up here would be suffice without one! I opted for the meal with mash, gravy, & peas...Mmmmmmm Sat by the sea, sun on my face...bliss
Still had a couple of hours of daylight left so a quick visit to Achmelvich Beach before heading down the Inverkirkaig Road to park up near Stac Polly.
Great views across to Canisp & Suilven from the road to the beach
Darkness was arriving fast so I got in the car and drove to see how close I could get parked to Stac Polly, my Easter Sunday destination.
The road via Inverkirkaig down to Stac Polly is superb, I managed to catch a nice sunset on route...
Now driving in the dark I managed to get parked up in a nice spot on the road to Stac Polly, about 2k from the SP car park. The moon was shining, lighting up the peak/ridge of SP.
The moon is out...
It was now after 10pm and I turned in for the night, I'd be walking the wonderful Stac Polly in the morning...and possibly with a stranger! They do say a stranger is just a friend you don't know yet
Day 3 - 1st April 2018
A couple of days before heading North I'd given some advice to a walker on one of the walking forums, she was visiting Assynt for the second time and keen for some suggestions as hadn't walked the first time. I'd provided some "local" knowledge
Fiona was from the Borders and had plenty of experience walking & climbing mountains around the world. We had agreed to meet at SP car Park 9am, I would walk with her and hopefully get to the Western Summit.
Driving the short distance to the car park I seen someone packing up their tent, turns out it was Fiona who was just 100m from where I'd parked up. We met just before 9am but hung around a bit due unexpected snowfall!
Fiona taking it easy!
Snow covered SP
With the snow not looking likely to stop we decided to head on up, soon reaching the first summit. Fiona quipped she was surprised to meet someone who talked more then her Well I do get rather excited when up Assynt
Reaching the first summit
With snow and clag abundant we still decided to try for the Western Summit. Due to the fresh snow making things rather precarious we stopped short just before the bad step and headed down one of the gully's. So no Western summit this time, but still great fun exploring all the little routes
We had a leisurely walk back to the car, by this time Fiona wouldn't shut up We decided we would continue the trip together the following day. I would then be heading home, Fiona staying up for a few more days.
It was still early so we took the short drive to Achnahaird Beach, a quick detour before heading to Lochinver. Walking down by the beach Fiona decided she fancied a swim and subsequently got the swimsuit on and in she went! City boy here was thinking 3deg was a tad cold however manned up and followed her in
It was super cold but not too bad really. There were a couple of seals that joined us, inquisitive look on their faces...probably thought we were a pair of dafties
Sea & Seals
Being in the sea was really refreshing, and I'm glad I was kind of forced in as it was wonderful...thanks Fiona
Now fully immersed in the role of "tour guide" we went to Lochinver and got some pie action, before a quick trip to Achmelvich. We'd decided to visit Handa Island the following day so would take the coastal road as far as we could before getting dark, eventually finding a nice spot at a loch by Drumbeg.
And in the morning...
Day 4 - 2nd April 2018
Getting out of our cars early we had breakfast by the loch and then set forth for the wildlife reserve of Handa Island, about 45 minutes drive from Drumbeg.
We were the only passengers on the little boat crossing at 10pm, was nice to have this to ourselves
And then landing on a sandy beach, with 3 island volunteers waiting for our arrival.
On the island the volunteers provided some information of the many birds that frequent the steep cliff faces. And with this off we went!
Brilliant views from the off
Its a very long steep drop into the sea, so care is needed...especially in the wind
Time for some serious posing...
And some seriously stupid posing
On the final leg we encountered more beaches...
By now more people had landed on the island. We would now wait for the boat to take us back to the mainland.
Here it comes...
And soon we were back on the mainland! Handa Island is a magical place, one to spend hours and hours on! It was the highlight of the trip for me. Fiona was also impressed
And back on the mainland...
Back in our cars and we headed back down the road to Lochinver, stopping several times to milk the views.
More sublime views: Quinag...
Back at Lochinver we parked up for the evening and took in the sunset. I would head back to Glasgow in the morning whilst Fiona would continue her break, taking in Cul Beag, Little Assynt, Gruinard Bay, Redpoint, Gairloch, Loch Maree...I wasn't jealous at all
This was yet another wonderful trip up the NW Coast of Scotland that included a wide variety of destinations. It wasn't busy at all which made it wonderful. It was nice having some company, Fiona turned out to be a top girl with a huge sense of fun and adventure
And finally: Sleeping in my Caddy Maxi was a absolutely fantastic! It brings a sense of freedom to roam as one pleases. Can't wait for more of the same...
by Mal Grey » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:28 am
We were in the same part of the world that week, and enjoyed the same snowfall that morning, but whilst you were in the Lochinver/Inverpolly area, we were up on Loch Glencoul, and moved to Lurgainn just after you headed south.
Stac Pollaidh is amazing, we were sat gazing at it for three days from our "secret bay" camp (canoes were involved!), and saw it in every mood.
by malky_c » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:38 am
I remember camping at Achnahaird beach when there was still a proper campsite there...a great midsummer trip barbequing under the minibus then sitting inside it eating burgers because it Wouldn't. Stop. Raining .
Good to see you getting in on the van action - can't remember if I knew about that already.
by spiderwebb » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:58 pm
by EmmaKTunskeen » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:22 pm
by Collaciotach » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:54 pm
by weaselmaster » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:40 pm
I'll be interested to learn how Caddy Life works out too...
by rockhopper » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:53 pm
by BlackPanther » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:05 am
I still haven't found anyone who talks more than me (I don't count my sister, she's as bad as me, I guess the tendency runs in the family). Kevin is more than happy to let me do the talking, when he just adds his "yeah" and "right" from time to time
We climbed our last Assynt Graham last week, Beinn an Eoin. What a hill. Full traverse over all ridges recommended (if you haven't done it yet, you'll love it). It's not very popular, surprisingly, and you're not likely to see anybody else, but it offers tremendous views and some interesting pinnacles to admire. I'm a bit behind with my reports but should post it in the next few days.
by Alteknacker » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:00 pm
But swimming in early sprint...??? Truly mad!