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Suilven


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Even if you are not particularly interested in geology, you can hardly miss the striking appearance of many of the hills in this far-off, north western province. Take a base level of a hard rock (in this case the wonderful and ancient Lewissian gneiss), slap on some softer rock (the reddish Torridonian sandstone), then sit back for about 2.5 billion years. So you will see the pillar-like red rocks of Suilven apparently shooting up from a more level layer of grey rock, softer surrounding rocks having been ground down by wind, rain and frosts over the millennia.

For this area, we can hardly do better than to quote W.H. Murray - "The view from Suilven's three tops has an all-absorbing feature - the numberless tarns that light the moor, a light than changes hourly with the skies, from black or white to royal blue." (Scotland's Mountains, SMC, 1987).

The land over which approaches have to made in order to climb Suilven does not readily produce fertile soil; there are many acres of bog and countless small bodies of water. Fortunately, good tracks lead most of the way and although the walk is a long one it is for the most part easy to follow.

Start from Lochinver on the coast and take the road to Glencanisp Lodge. A good path continues up Glen Canisp, crosses a bridge, then at a cairn (167 198) we leave the path for a fainter one heading over rough, boggy ground towards the mass of the mountain. Walking between two lochans the climb leads steeply to the Bealach Mor. From the bealach easy scrambling leads WNW to the rounded summit of Caisteal Liath (the grey castle).

Return to the bealach, from where the middle peak of Meall Mheadhonach may be gained by exposed but easy scrambling. The south east peak, the pointy one of Meall Bheag, requires more respect however and requires climbing experience. Return to Lochinver by the approach route.

 

Maps: OS Sheet 15 'Loch Assynt, Lochinver & Kylesku'
Distance: 22 km
Ascent: 730 m
Time: 6 hours
Food & Drink: Lochinver, where there is also a Tourist Information Centre.

 

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