Author Topic: Walking in Coigach & Assynt  (Read 1363 times)

WhitstableDave

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Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« on: 17:47:25, 19/09/19 »
Following a fantastic week on the south coast of Harris, we spent the second week of this summer's walking holiday in Scotland in one of the most spectacular areas we've ever seen - Coigach and Assynt in the far north-west, about 20 miles north of Ullapool.

I won't bore you with lengthy walk reports (I'll save those for my Kent walks!), but I would like to give a flavour of this incredible place.

My wife and I agree to compromise on our walking holidays. I like going up hills and mountains, whereas my wife hates steep descents and narrow ridges, so we tend to alternate our walks - hills one day and low-level the next!

This photo taken on a low-level walk in the northern part of Coigach gives some idea of what the region is like. The mountains in the distance (between 5 and 10 miles away) are what make the area unique. The mountains are huge monoliths rising out of a rugged, boggy, lochan-dotted moorland. They're not exceptionally high, varying from about 600-850m, but some are very steep and reaching them often requires a long boggy slog before the ascent even begins.

To the best of my knowledge, the main peaks from left to right are: Suilven (with Canisp behind), Cul Mor (above my wife), Stac Pollaidh and Cul Beag, then to the right of the road, Ben More Coigach and Sgurr an Fhidhleir (the Fiddler). Please correct me if I'm wrong!



During the week we did three hilly walks...

Cul Mor:

The view from near the summit of Cul Mor before we reached the clouds. Suilven can be seen to the right:



With the summit being disappointingly in the clouds, I left my pack with my wife and made my way up over the slabs and back again...



Sgurr an Fhidhleir (the Fiddler):

The Fiddler was a far easier climb and the view from the top was unbelievably amazing. Just as we reached the summit it poured with rain as a thick cloud passed through, but we sat it out and the sun reappeared. There's a 500m drop just in front of my wife so some caution was needed!



I was there too - that's Stac Pollaidh in the distance and Suilven in the far distance:



Cul Beag:

Brilliant as the previous two peaks were, I think Cul Beag was my favourite for two reasons: First, the route was pathless except for a short section along a stalker's path (which was more like a stream anyway!), which meant that some thinking was needed especially since the approach was extremely waterlogged. And secondly, because the panoramic views from the summit were even more spectacular than the others had been.

To the left is Ben More Coigach and The Fiddler is the pointy peak just to its right:



This is the view in the opposite direction with Stac Pollaidh and the Summer Isles beyond:



Despite this being mid-August, we saw very few people. We met a pair of young men below the summit of Cul Mor; there were no other people at all on The Fiddler (although we could just make out a small group traversing the tricky ridge on nearby Ben More Coigach); and we saw a hill-runner briefly on Cul Beag. It really doesn't get any better than this - but if it does, please let me know!  ;)
« Last Edit: 18:00:14, 19/09/19 by WhitstableDave »

beefy

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #1 on: 18:05:26, 19/09/19 »
Nice pics O0
Those mountains in your first pic look great
DRIP COFFINS  :D

richardh1905

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #2 on: 18:58:08, 19/09/19 »
Gods own country - lovely photos Dave. There's nowhere quite it. And yes - what a plummet from the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir!

Speaking for myself only, I would much rather read trip reports from Assynt than Kent!

richardh1905

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #3 on: 19:02:12, 19/09/19 »
Quote
Cul Beag was my favourite

I've climbed several of the hills in Coigach and Assynt, and have even grovelled around in a cave underneath them, but I struggle to pick a favourite. Suilven must win for atmosphere, but Stac Pollaidh is a wonderful scrambly pile of shattered rock, the summit not for the faint hearted. But if I were forced to choose, I would probably pick multi faceted Quinaig.

richardh1905

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #4 on: 19:56:16, 19/09/19 »
PS - I have a hunch that the two mountains on the right of your first photos are the twin peaks of Beinn an Eoin.
The Fiddler and Ben More Coigach will be a bit further to the right, possibly hidden behind one another. I'm guessing that you took the photo from Achnahaird?

April

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #5 on: 20:25:45, 19/09/19 »
Yes, fab photos  O0
"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

WhitstableDave

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #6 on: 21:49:24, 19/09/19 »
PS - I have a hunch that the two mountains on the right of your first photos are the twin peaks of Beinn an Eoin.
The Fiddler and Ben More Coigach will be a bit further to the right, possibly hidden behind one another. I'm guessing that you took the photo from Achnahaird?

Achnahaird - spot on!  O0

And I'll certainly bow to your far better knowledge of the area regarding the mountains on the right.  :)

WhitstableDave

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #7 on: 22:50:18, 19/09/19 »
I've climbed several of the hills in Coigach and Assynt, and have even grovelled around in a cave underneath them, but I struggle to pick a favourite. Suilven must win for atmosphere, but Stac Pollaidh is a wonderful scrambly pile of shattered rock, the summit not for the faint hearted. But if I were forced to choose, I would probably pick multi faceted Quinaig.

Your recommendation for Quinaig has been duly noted Richard - thanks. This was our third successive summer holiday in Scotland and we're taking next year off from ferries and extremely long drives (we'll probably try the Lake District next), so perhaps we'll spend time in Assynt the year after. We'd certainly love to go back.

Am I right to think that Quinaig is an unusual colour? I ask because we were staying in Polbain and the drive to the start of the Cul Mor walk near Knockan Crag took ages via the obvious route. Anyway, I had this idea that we could return by way of Lochinver (which turned out to take twice as long!) and we drove past a mountain that was an unusual colour - very striking.

richardh1905

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #8 on: 08:26:46, 20/09/19 »
The hills in the area are red Torridonian sandstone, sometimes with a cap of white quartzite. And yes, that road south from Lochinver is something else! Good pie shop in Lochinver, by the way - hope that you found it!

Do also consider venturing a little further north, Foinaven and Arkle, or even to Durness and along the north coast a bit to Ben Hope. Fantastic coastal scenery, too.

Have you been to Torridon, by the way? Another 'must'.



WhitstableDave

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #9 on: 09:08:31, 20/09/19 »
The hills in the area are red Torridonian sandstone, sometimes with a cap of white quartzite. And yes, that road south from Lochinver is something else! Good pie shop in Lochinver, by the way - hope that you found it!

Do also consider venturing a little further north, Foinaven and Arkle, or even to Durness and along the north coast a bit to Ben Hope. Fantastic coastal scenery, too.

Have you been to Torridon, by the way? Another 'must'.

No pie, but we did buy petrol - once we'd figured out the self-service system. Pay first at a machine, then fill up! The road was fun, but once was enough...

We love Scotland and are always keen to see more. I must say though that having spent most of our Scottish holidays on the Outer Hebrides and other islands, the roads around Ullapool and heading north looked quite busy - loads of camper vans!

Torridon looks interesting. We haven't been there, but we weren't far away many years ago when we did a camping holiday by motorbike. We went to Skye... and Applecross, which at the time seemed like the remotest place we'd ever been!

I still love that sign!  :)


richardh1905

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #10 on: 09:40:15, 20/09/19 »
You have the 'North Coast 500' to thank for the increase in traffic, especially camper vans and motor homes (although we are seeing them more in Orkney too).


And the Bealach na Ba is something else on a bike - I only got off and pushed a little bit - honest!

andybr

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #11 on: 11:39:25, 20/09/19 »
The NC500 traffic tends to build up during the day and then dies off in the late afternoon when people need to be checked in at their accommodation or finding spaces on camp sites. We regularly stay around Lochinver and it is common to drive down from Durness/Sandwood Bay on an evening without seeing more than half a dozen other cars. On a clear evening it is a stunning drive.

WhitstableDave

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #12 on: 16:31:01, 20/09/19 »
I forgot to mention another thing I liked about Cul Beag... we had to be careful not to step on frogs.  :)



We went over the sub-peak Meall Dearg on the way up, and between it and the main peak is a fairly large lochan (Lochan Uaine), which was teeming with tadpoles. On the way down, we chose to bypass Meall Dearg to the south across extremely wet ground and that's where we saw the frogs.

Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: Walking in Coigach & Assynt
« Reply #13 on: 18:27:21, 20/09/19 »
Applecross and Torridon are wonderful areas to explore