Quinag (Spidean Coinich) A week in Assynt in early September

Corbetts: Quinag - Spidean Coinich

Date walked: 08/09/2013

What a week of contrasts and what a beautiful part of Scotland / the UK.

This is the first time we had ventured north of Ullapool. I had done plenty of reading and planning using the WH website and we were not disappointed.

We stayed at Inverkirkaig which placed us in a good position to take advantage of any good weather days.
So when we woke up on Sunday and the sun was shining, decision made. We were heading for Quinag. I had read the trip reports on WH and the route seemed to be within our capabilities so we parked up at the car park that sneaks up on you as you get to the top of the hill and were away by 09.30. Not yet decided whether we would attempt one, two or all three of the Quinag tops. We would see how the day and the legs progressed.

It was a gorgeous early autumn day. We set off up the very nice (John Muir Trust) path through limestone pavements and peat. We were easily caught and passed by a couple of groups - one of older walkers and the other of young fit ones. We plodded on up the hill then settled on a spot with a view for breakfast / coffee before carrying on up and up and up.

Not a bad place for breakfast

Route for the day

Eventually reached the top of the first hill (loose rocks and boulders near the top) to drop down a little then up rather more steeply. This part of the climb was sandy with loose rocks and stones and would be slippy in the wet but we trudged up to reach the summit cairn of Spidean Coinich and views for miles around. All of the classic Assynt hills in view with distant views to the Torridan hills and over to Skye and the Outer Hebrides.




We could see the way ahead and what looked like a fairly narrow ridge to continue the walk.


Down we climbed – the ridge was narrow but easy, followed by a bit of a scramble but nothing too taxing. At the bottom of the scramble was the perfect lunch spot beside a lochan and protected from the wind but breezy enough for no midges (The mighty MIDGE was to be a recurring theme for the week)

Another food stop with a view

After a decent lunch stop it was up again and over the innocent looking slope in front of us. From the top there was a great view to Lochinver and the coast. I think the views from here are even better than the views from the previous summit.

Back towards Lochinver - Suilven looming in the distance


The downside was the very steep and rocky scramble required to reach the bealach and the turnaround point. It would be easy to veer off too far to the left in poor visibility and find yourself on very steep and unstable slopes above Loch Assynt. We managed fine but were very pleased to reach the bealach where we took the decision to return to the car rather than continue to the other tops today.

The return route passes through some wet ground but is always easy to follow. It was a relief to meet the John Muir Trust path again and our speed increased with the good surface.

View back up to the ridge where we had been

Same view minutes later. Weather changing pretty fast.

We were back at the car for 15.00 and took some time to visit the ruined Ardvreck castle and provide a midge supper before heading back to Inverkirkaig.

Ruined Ardvreck castle plus Quinag in the background

What a fantastic start to our week. :D :D :D

The weather turned after the Monday restricting the high level walks we could attempt but we did manage to circumnavigate Stac Pollaidh on the Monday, have a lingering lunch on the top and explored the various summits. (not the very craggy one!) It was much busier than Quinag as might be expected.

An attempt on Conival / Ben More Assynt on the Friday was abandoned when heavy rain (not forecast) and zero visibility arrived as we were about to strike out up the quartzite slopes on the final climb to Conival’s summit.
We will (have to) return to this beautiful part of Scotland now we know what’s waiting for us to discover and we have unfinished business with Conival and BMA.

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Comments: 9

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Location: Isle of Skye - finally made it!
Activity: Mountain Walker
Mountain: Beinn Eighe
Place: Isle of Skye
Gear: north face shell top
Ideal day out: Decent length walk, easy scrambling, great summit views, lochs and snow on the tops.

Munros: 9
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 2

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Trips: 2
Munros: 1
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Trips: 5
Distance: 34 km
Ascent: 1763m
Munros: 1
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 1


Trips: 1
Distance: 12 km
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