Summit camp on Suilven and some more Assynt goodness
by malky_c » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:37 pm
Corbetts included on this walk: Quinag - Sail Gharbh, Quinag - Sail Gorm, Quinag - Spidean Coinich
Grahams included on this walk: Suilven
Date walked: 06/07/2018
Time taken: 13 hours
Distance: 35 km
Ascent: 2170m10 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).
Distance: 22 km + 13km.
Ascent: 1030m + 1150m.
Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes + 6 hours, 30 minutes.
Weather: Warm on Suilven, then windy and intermittently claggy, varied on Quinaig (warm, sunny, overcast, breezy at various times).
I'm getting a bit behind on walk reports due to erm...walking! I'd been talking with Jackie about getting out on the hills somewhere for a couple of months now, and she was up in Assynt for a week. Seemed like something would be possible as I was mostly off work as well. What to do though? Unsurprisingly we both suggested a summit camp on Suilven so that seemed like a good bet - not too much of a worry about whether the weather would be any good just now, as it was pretty much set to be perfect for the next few days. Jackie's report will be better (no phone snaps for a start!), but since that could be a while off, you'll need to make do with mine in the meantime.
We met up at the Glencanisp car park at around 5:30pm, and set off reasonably promptly, battling clegs the whole way. I've never been into Suilven from this direction so it was nice to see what the walk-in looked like. It's a pretty good beginning, with both Suilven and Canisp looming over for much of the walk. The track is pretty good, although there are a few ups and downs.
Canisp and Suilven from near Glencanisp Lodge
After 90 minutes or so, it was time to go upwards properly. Lower down, the path had been upgraded well (in fact we'd passed some of the workers walking out a short while earlier), but they hadn't reached the final steep ascent up the northern flank yet. At least it was dry!
Looking back down the ascent route
After a steep and sweaty ascent, we were on the ridge, with a refreshing breeze hitting us from the other side. Although there is another 130m of ascent from this point, it feels like you are just about there. And it was brightening up from a slightly grey afternoon. Who could ask for more?
Quinaig from Suilven
Jackie on the summit ridge
Looking NW - almost there
Since it looked like there would be a decent sunset, we decided to pitch up on the summit area rather than one of the various tempting flat areas further east. 8:30 pm and it was looking good, if a little breezy at times.
NW across Achmelvich
I hadn't bothered with my stove - just some cold food to eat, so I went for a wander down the nose while Jackie made her dinner. I was curious how far down it was possible to get before it became climbing territory - turns out a good 100m down. Then it was back to the summit and tents to watch the sun set. While it wasn't the most dramatic sunset, the entire situation was pretty damn good .
Cul Mor from Suilven
Beinn Mhor Coigach
Back to Meall Meadhonach
Sun getting a bit lower
NW from Suilven
Quinaig and Point of Stoer
Canisp from the top
Cul Mor, Cul Beag and Beinn Mhor Coigach
...dammit, low cloud on the horizon spoiled the final dip into the sea
NW to Stoer
At around 11:30 pm, it was still pretty light, but a few wisps of cloud suddenly blew over the summit. It was pretty impressive for a few minutes, then the view went. Time for bed, as some wind and rain was forecast overnight.
Cloud suddenly moved in
It certainly was pretty windy - I struggled to sleep much with all the flapping, until it shifted around a bit and began to hit a different aspect of the tent - slightly quieter. Some rain too, with dawn passed in the clag, so I didn't bother getting up properly until after 8 am. Which one of us was going to admit that it was a bit windier than we expected first? We both agreed it had been a bit stronger than expected, probably gusting up to 35 mph a couple of times. When I finally got up, there was cloud scudding across the summit, but views in some directions.
After a claggy dawn, things got pretty good again
It didn't take long to warm up nicely, and surprisingly only 30 minutes later, the first walkers of the day appeared. We somehow ended up whiling away another 4 hours up here, not leaving the summit until after midday. Might as well get your money's worth when it's like this!
Only took about 50 shots like this...
Basically just a massive rucksack with legs
Finally we headed down, passing at least half-a-dozen folk on the way up. The steep descent was a bit of a slither, but didn't last too long, and the path out to the lodge seemed to have changed to include way more uphill on the way out than we remembered . We took a quick look in Suileag bothy on the way past - still haven't stayed here despite my best intentions.
Looking back to Suilven
We were back at the cars for 4pm, and it was warm again. Far too nice to leave Assynt really, so what to do? I didn't really have anywhere particular to be for a couple of days so we decided to camp out at Achmelvich via a visit to the pie shop, then go around Quinaig the next day.
Camping at Achmelvich
We'd found a great pitch away from the main beach and campsite at Achmelvich, and I got a much better sleep than on top of Suilven. Feeling refreshed, it was time to head for Quinaig. We didn't exactly make an early start - it was probably 11 by the time we got moving. Although there was some cloud around, it was set to clear up as the day went on.
Heading up Spidean Coinich
The early part of the route after Spidean Coinich is the most scrambly, but there isn't anything difficult. On my previous visit I had been in and out of the cloud, so it was nice to get uninterrupted views this time. We had rather a long lunch break on point 745.
Back to Conival
Gully on Spidean Coinich
Sail Garbh from Spidean Coinich
Onward to Sail Gorm
On the summit of Spidean Coinich
Then it was on to Sail Gorm. I had been looking at a route up this from the north to avoid the out-and-back, but that was something for a less lazy day. Another hour was whiled away on Sail Gorm, lovely warm patches of weather being interspersed with a surprisingly vicious breeze at times.
Looking back to the Spidean Coinich summit crag
Spidean Coinich and Lochan Bealach Cornaidh
Out to Stoer
Ben Stack and Foinaven
Finally it was time to retrace steps to near point 745 and head up onto Sail Garbh. We were certainly dragging this out!
Kylesku and Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
Spidean Coinich from Sail Garbh
Then down into the corrie containing Lochan Bealach Cornaidh, which has a pretty good path. Can't remember if all of it was there last time.
Lochan Bealach Cornaidh
Spidean Coinich and Lochan Bealach Cornaidh
Finally time to head home, a good day later than planned. Cheers Jackie for an enjoyable couple of days on the hill .
Suilven from the Lairg road
by BlackPanther » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:56 pm
I think that path down to Lochan Bealach Cornaidh was improved hugely by NTS, I remember they were working on it when we visited Quinaig a few years back.
BTW you're not the only one to be badly behind with reports! I have no less than 13 stories to write
by larry groo » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:17 pm
- Posts: 524
- Joined: Apr 19, 2010
- Location: Angus
by Cairngorm creeper » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:28 pm
by rockhopper » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:39 pm
....well actually...... - cheers
by Alteknacker » Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:29 pm
So Assynt has now moved from joint top to absolute top position on the "to do" list. With all the travel distance, I may be looking to combine one or two of the hills, but a summit camp on Suilven looks an unavoidable must (a pic of Suilven got me back into hills in a more focussed way in the late 90s).
by Chris Mac » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:07 pm
I can't wait until I visit Assynt, every report from there makes me want to go sooner!