Date: Thursday 14th May 2009
Company: Just Me
Distance: c. 26km
Time: 8Hrs 25Mins (inc. walk back from Lochinver to Inverkirkaig)
I have always considered Suilven to be a special hill and have looked forward to ascending it for a good number of years. The decision to ascend it today was a real last-minute one made at 19:00 last night. I couldn’t make up my mind however whether to tackle this hill from Lochinver or from Inverkirkaig. I therefore decided to undertake a circuit to include both routes.
I set off from home this morning at 04:30 arriving at Inverkirkaig just before 08:00. There is a large tarmac car park at Inverkirkaig with plenty spaces.
The track from Inverkirkaig follows the River Kirkaig for several kilometres. This is also the track for the Kirkaig Falls.
Memorial plaque at start of walk:
The walk alongside the River Kirkaig is very pleasant. The air seemed to be full of bird-song this morning, including the sound of a Cuckoo.
Alongside the River Kirkaig:
The short detour and descent to see the Falls of Kirkaig is well worth the effort.
Falls of Kirkaig:
After passing the Falls of Kirkaig you get a first view of Suilven. I was surprised at how far away it still looked.
First full view of Suilven (zoomed):
Stac Pollaidh (zoomed):
There is a small short-cut that is worth taking before reaching Fionn Loch. On reaching Fionn Loch you need to head NW to the end of the loch to get to the other side of it.
Fionn Loch and Cul Mor:
Suilven across Fionn Loch:
End of Fionn Loch:
From the end of Fionn Loch to the start of the ascent to Bealach Mor the going is quite wet in places.
Impregnable Caisteal Liath:
Looking towards Bealach Mor:
The ascent to Bealach Mor follows a steep eroded path. As you approach the upper crags the path changes direction to avoid the crags. I found the ascent easier than expected.
Lochans and Stac Pollaidh from lower slopes of Suilven:
Looking back at ascent path:
On reaching Bealach Mor the wind was really forceful. All thoughts of heading up Meall Mheadhonach were unfortunately abandoned.
At Bealach Mor:
Was really impressed with the dry stane dyke that runs across the hill.
Dry stane dyke:
Gap through dyke:
The ascent from Bealach Mor to the summit, under normal circumstances would be quite straight-forward – exposed in places with a few short sections of easy Grade 1 scrambling. However, today I was literally being blown off my feet. To get to the summit, I had to get down on all fours in a couple of places.
Looking towards summit of Suilven (Caisteal Liath):
Meall Mheadhonach is far more shapely than Caisteal Liath. From the ridge there are fine views of a number of Assynt and Coigach hills.
Canisp and Meall Mheadhonach:
Meall Mheadhonach from just below summit:
Was pleased to reach the summit but was also happy to get back down out of the wind.
Northern view from Bealach Mor (Quinag in distance):
Glas Bheinn (zoomed):
On getting back to Bealach Mor, I descended North down another steep, eroded path.
View North (Can you spot Suileag bothy?)
Looking back at descent from Bealach Mor:
On reaching Loch na Barrack I stopped briefly for lunch.
Loch na Barrack:
From Loch na Barrack, I continued to follow the path to reach what looks like a new bridge over the Abhainn na Crach Airigh. After crossing the bridge I followed the path back out towards Lochinver, but took a detour to visit Suileag bothy.
Had a look through the Bothy Book but couldn’t find an entry by Griff Rhys Jones.
Suilven from Suileag:
I found the walk out from Suileag to Lochinver to be a bit of a slog.
Loch Druim Suardalain:
Suilven (zoomed) from near Glencanisp Lodge:
On reaching Lochinver, I was hoping to hitch back to Inverkirkaig. However, there were very few cars passing and the ones that did pass, didn’t stop. This added a further 2.5 miles to the walk.
Suilven in ‘Sugar Loaf’ profile:
Deer at roadside:
Have to say I found this to be one of the most enjoyable days I have ever had on the hills. Suilven is indeed a fantastic mountain and the scenery is outstanding.
On the way back to Ullapool I stopped a few times to take photos of some of the other superb hills in this area.