Suilven – a Mini Adventure North

It’s been a bit manic what with one thing and another, so my trip to Scotland with buddies (both old and new) crept up on me somewhat. Luckily I had packed most of my kit at the end of August (long story involving moving house & putting stuff into storage – I’ve also pack for my trip to Tenerife in November – I know….how organised am I 😀 )

We flew from Bristol to Inverness & then hired a car to get us to Lochinver

(Weird minibus driver took us to pick up the car – took us a while to understand his ‘humour’ but he was ok 😉 )

The drive was stunning pretty much as soon as we were away from Inverness, as we drove towards the Assynt Mountains

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It was very exciting – we found a castle, albit ruined

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Ardvrek Castle stronghold for Clan MacLeod with a ghost and everything 😉

There was a definite chill in the air as we got out of the car to stretch our legs. It was such a beautiful setting on the banks of Loch Assynt with the mountains in the background. So quiet & the air was so fresh.

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We arrived in Lochinver shortly afterwards & found the bunkhouse An-Cala-Café & Bunkhouse. Have to say I was very pleasantly surprised – what a great place. We found our room & I went to look at the kitchen. As I walked into the communal area, there were 3 chaps watching TV. As I looked around the kitchen I heard one of them say “it must be Friday – the women are in” #bizarre

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We decided to eat at the café as it was open until 7, so after a quick trip for supplies we ordered our supper. I had mince & tatties – it was huge and incredibly tasty. For less than £50 for the 4 of us, we left stuffed.

It was so funny because we remembered White Star Running were opening entries to all their races – Lucy & Nancy both had the Giants Head Marathon in their sights… the trouble was it was in everyone else’s sights as well – very funny watching them trying to sign up – the website kept on crashing 😀

(they got in… ermm…so did I a bit later – seems like my first marathon is going to be around Cerne Abbas :-/ )

 

We went for a wander into downtown Lochinver (apparently it’s the second largest fishing port in Scotland) to say it was quiet is an understatement – we headed to the bar at the hotel. We didn’t quite make the whole room go quiet, but it was close J I felt very uncomfortable – definitely outside my comfort zone – I don’t do drinking particularly well so opted for a lemonade (I know, I’m living the dream 🙂 )

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Whiskey was tried (not by me – it smelt like TCP)

We headed back & I was asleep in no time – we had an early start the next day to ensure

  1. We could park the car
  2. We would have enough light
  3. The weather forecast was definitely better in the morning

Breakfast duly eaten – doors banged – residents pissed off, we headed out & were (almost) walking by 8am.

The light was sublime & Suilven beckoned us seductively in the morning light – and so our trek began….

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good morning Suilven

 

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“the dream team”

 

The walk to the base is easy going & beautiful (a bit like me – haha 😛 ) and I was fine as long as I didn’t actually look at the Munro itself (get me – never even heard of a Munro before this trip) – if I did look up, it made me feel just a little bit sick.

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the beginning of the walk

 

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‘kinell’

 

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to the Bothy

 

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Lucy was a fantastic group lead & I know I felt very safe with her. We had a tracker on Lucy’s rucksack which enabled people back home to track our progress, but it also had an emergency button if needed. Not that we were going to, but definitely good to have peace of mind!

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at the bottom of the “really steep bit”

 

The actual steep ascent is only (pah) about 400m – but, boy it is steep. This is up there with scary things I’ve done. You can possibly just make out the path? No… neither could I :-/

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the “really steep bit”

 

So I was fine as long as I kept my eye focus completely within the width of my body, if I widened it at all I felt quite weird and wobbly. Lucy was like a bloody mountain goat & whizzed off, whist the rest of us plodded on behind. Aly did absolutely brilliantly bearing in mind she’d fallen on her coccyx a few days before and was in quite a lot of pain (I’m sure)

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The initial climb isn’t too bad to be fair, but I’d say the last 100m or so is almost like scree. I was panicking a bit on this bit & started to worry about coming down again. So once I’d got the plateau bit I was happy to stop.

The view – oh my goodness – what a view – over to the western isles – we could see Lewes & Skye. It was stunning. I was so happy to have got to this bit in one piece. I didn’t continue up to the summit … my bad I guess.

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Nancy & I sat, looked at the view, drank soup & chatted to 3 blokes (the only other people we saw on the hill) who pointed out the various landmarks we could see. A little bit of me wishes I’d pushed myself a bit harder to go to the top, but most of me is more than happy with that decision – anyway I have to have something to aim for when I go back with Dave 😀

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Aly & Lucy did go to the top.

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cheesy grins

 

We were so lucky with the weather – it actually could not have been more perfect.

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the tracker profile

 

Coming down was hard & I had to give myself a serious talking to. Nancy did so well coming down. Her knees were sore & I know she really doesn’t like scree.

The walk back was still beautiful, but it was a bit like when you come home from holiday – you’ve had a great time – achieved what you wanted to achieve & now you want to be back having your tea, with your feet up.

We upped the pace a bit to make sure we caught the café … we treated ourselves to some wine – ok 3 bottles of wine (as you’re asking)

It was good to get back to the bunkhouse. We ate & then headed out for a drink. The bar was rocking (not) with 4 blokes & the barmaid*. (*ask if you want to know more 😉 haha )

More whiskey was drunk – I tried a sip to see if I’d grown up enough to like it –nah…. Still not there!

We had a fantastic trip – we heard deer, but saw very little wildlife, which was very surprising. Thank you Lucy, Nancy & Aly (it was a pleasure to meet you) for a great mini adventure 🙂

Driving back to Inverness a beautiful stag crossed the road.

Quite a lot of travelling just to walk up a big hill, but I felt like I’d been away for a lot longer than 3 days. If your constitution will allow & you’re near the West Coast of Scotland – I’d say do it. This was only my second trip to Scotland & it has whetted my appetite for more – maybe with the bike and the husband 😀

Pictures by Cathy Warne & Lucy Wyman

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4 thoughts on “Suilven – a Mini Adventure North

  1. Those are really amazing shots you took. I’m looking to at those trails and was wondering if you can mtb them. That would be great.

  2. Pingback: My DNF (not what I do) | My Middle-aged Meanderings

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