Sharing Suilven

Leaving the house at 4.30am, the murky morning mist poked some tiny holes in my enthusiasm and, for a second, made me question the wisdom of driving four and a half hours north. The forecast looked good. Yet the fog became thicker as I passed Pitlochry and even from the roadside near Elphin, Suilven was nowhere to be seen.  A mountain with a distinctive shape, recognisable from all angles, rising from the relative flatness of the Assynt estates all around, it was elusive. Parking up near Glencanisp Lodge, Suilven had decided to show its skirt and the mist was beginning to clear. It was warm as I passed the honesty shop at the lodge and the road turned to track, but progress was still quick and with every turn in the track, the mountain became clearer.

I reached the bothy after an hour and a quarter. Suileag has two rooms, each with a working fireplace and sleeping platforms. My overnight gear dropped and laid out, I was ready to fall into my sleeping bag when I returned that night.

On I went through the treeless Glencanisp forest and after crossing the footbridge over the Abhainn na Clach Airigh, I turned off the track and found myself on the first section of a newly created path leading up towards Loch a’ Choire Dubh. By this stage I could see the full Suilven profile and I have to say I was a bit excited. I’d wanted to climb Suilven for as long as I’d been a walker. A hill walker mind, not a toddler. And here I was. Completely in awe. Why hadn’t I come up before? The final steep scramble to the Bealach Mor was tough. But the rewards were huge as the top of the pass was reached with views south across Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor, Ben More Assynt. And more.

The final push to the top at Caistel Liath was short but glorious. I could see for miles, blue sky and sea surrounding the rough coastline and mountain landscape. A paraglider lugged his 15kg of machine parts just behind me and since he looked shattered from the effort, I headed off towards the other, more pointed end of the ridge. A footstep here, a scramble there. I didn’t make the peak of Meall Meadhonach. I value my various body parts.

One curious point about the day was the wall. A wall that cuts Suilven in half and runs down both sides as far as the terrain will allow. A stunning piece of work. And whether built as a joke between neighbouring estates, or for a labour creation scheme, the splitting in half of the hill adds a sense of symmetry to the view and a neat human-made addition to nature’s Scottish sugarloaf mountain.

Back to the bothy and the company of T and C, a fire in the grate and a bottle of Highland Park. More sharing. Company. Whisky. Heat. Suilven looked glorious in the evening sunshine, the breeze meaning I didn’t need to share the view with the midges. Later at dusk, as the sun went down, the mountain was ablaze, the red a major contrast compared to earlier in the day, the red rainbow a bonus touch.

And click the link below to see more…

The Skye Cuillin

In July 2015 , we went on our second big walk of the year.  It was definitely big, although more of a scramble than a walk.

The Cuillin is the closest we have in Britain to the Alps and it’s a challenge in every way.  To walk in the Cuillin is to walk, scramble, climb, abseil and test your ability to deal with the toughest exposure imaginable.

We spent four days in the Cuillin exploring mountains and corries and it was probably the finest walking/mountain trip I’ve ever been on.  With the considerable assistance of Rich Parker, a mountain guide with Skye Guides, we experienced and achieved so much more than any of us could have imagined.

From Sgurr nan Gillean to the Inaccessible Pinnacle of Sgurr Dearg, we saw so much of what Skye and the Cuillin has to offer.  On the last day we were also first on scene of a fall from the In Pinn which reminded us just how dangerous these mountains can be.

Despite this the trip was truly awe-inspiring.  And this film hopefully gives you some idea just how amazing it was.

A Foggy Day on Goat Fell

May 2015 – After failing in our first attempt to get to Arran this year (gales, storms, power cuts in Ardrossan, ferry being used to take old soldiers to a mid-sea wreck etc.) we tried again.

The weather was better and the mountain was inviting.  And despite threatening to drown us in rain and fog, the views were pretty awesome.

Ledi Me Tell You About The Rob Roy Way

The first of this years big hikes in April 2015, we set out to complete a section of the Rob Roy Way from Aberfoyle to Killin over three days.

And since we were feeling fit, on day two we also took on Ben Ledi, which is a Corbett nestling on the edge of Callander.  We’re tough like that.

Climbing Polly’s Skirt – Stac Pollaidh

I always wanted to walk some of the hills in Assynt and this week I did just that.  I walked Canisp and was nearly snowed and hail stoned back down to the roadside.

A far finer experience was Stac Pollaidh, one of those hills that has icon status.  The hill was inviting and the weather more so.  A glorious afternoon of curious shaped rocks and gobsmacking views of Suilven and further afield.  I left the scrambling until next time.