Heading for Assynt with the Moray Mountaineering Club.

The wonderful Assynt is where I am going today on the North West Of Scotland not far from Ullapool it to me is one of the most magic places ever.  The drive is incredible and after yesterdays fog bound visit to Aberdeen I long to see the hills again and get out on these wild mountains. On the way I have to meet two characters from the radio “Out of Doors Show on the way” it will be good to meet them again. These pair are the Morecambe and Wise of the great outdoors Ewan McIllwraith and Mark Stephen so what a way to start the weekend so its an early start for me.

Magestic Assynt Mountains and the sea a great combination to me.

Majestic Assynt Mountains, lochs and the sea a great combination to me.

How do you explain these incredible mountains and the wildness of their surrounds is a thing I love. The midges are now gone as with most of the tourist so it will be a peaceful place to be and one I long for.  These mountains are old pals, each with a unique  tale to tell. The geology is  complex, incredible  and fascinating. The Moine Thrust a magor complex runs all the way through the North West Highlands.  The geology of this area is so special that in 2004 an area comprising of much of Sutherland and and part of Wester Ross was recognised as an European Geopark. The first area in Scotland to be awarded this status.

Suiliven - a contender for Scotland finest peak a classic for its views and situation?

Suiliven – a contender for Scotland finest peak a classic for its views and situation?


Sulliven Assynt

This is my special place,my retreat from a mad world.

From the bothy,Suilven stands Castle like

Summit guarded by loch and bog.


The mighty West buttress,Steep, sandstone, scary.

Moving fast, not savouring,

The peace and beauty, I came for.


I race to the top,summit reached,

Time to think,why all the haste!

Will we ever learn?

To enjoy the beauty and not the race?


That was many years ago

Now I enjoy the slow walk in

Along road, path and moor

Lochans and muddy peat.


Eyes open that once were shut

To beast, bird and flower,

How much I have missed?


Time to enjoy the view, that few see.

Sit and listen, too the words of the hills.


Then the steep grind. which clears the mind?

Stopping, breathing hard,the views

The seat near the top. with Canisp watching.


The ridge is reached. nearly there

Summit breached, flat ground at last.

Views unsurpassed.


Stac Polly, Coigach,The Summer Isles

Beauty and peace


I now appreciate. these great mountains

Even the pain of the descent

On aching knees and joints.


Pain clears the mind

As I wander slowly back

Soaking in the views and memories

Wishing I was young again.


Passing by ruins and sheilings

Where man once lived

Who owns this land?

Not the few, nor the rich?

It is all of us, we will fight for it.


Let’s look after this place

For the those who come

To enjoy the beauty of Assynt,

A special place.


Heavy Whalley Jan 2011

It is also Remembrance Sunday this weekend and that means a lot to me, I get asked will I be at the parades that are in every town and city? I visit so many crash sites on the mountains that few visit during the year and that is where I have my quite time, I will stop for a few a time and think of those who gave so much for us.

The Assynt Anson Crash site near Ben More Assynt.

The Assynt Anson Crash site near Ben More Assynt.

Today’s Tip. Worth carrying some spare gear between your pals in case you have a problem. A “bothy Bag” is well worth the investment try hanging about for a short time in a bad day not much fun and could save your life?

Bothy Bag a great investment.

Bothy Bag a great investment. Waiting for the cavalry coming in on a winter call -out.

A Bothy Shelter/ Bothy Bag is the Number 1 Survival Tool: = Andy Kirkpatrick 

If you think a bivy bag alone will save your skin I’m afraid you may be sorely disappointed. Of course by getting into your bivy bag you will reduce the effect of wind, and create a slight rise in your micro climate, but sitting alone in a bivy bag with nothing else is a pretty grim affair. A bothy bag is cheaper, lighter and provides far more protection, both physically and psychologically and should be in the rucksack of every climber or walker in the UK (or stowed in a bum bag for rucksack-less multi pitch climbers). By grouping together you can share body heat, food, water and more importantly moral. Also a bothy bag is a very mobile shelter, and you may find that when the shit hits the fan, stopping for half an hour in the bag will allow you to sort yourself out enough to carry on (eat some food, double check the map, ring for a forecast). Splitting a team into their bivy bags almost guarantees to magnify the problem. Personally I use a 4 man Terranova bothy bag, which I further compress into an XS Exped dry bag (marked bothy bag).



About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Books, Enviroment, Friends, Mountaineering, Poems, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Heading for Assynt with the Moray Mountaineering Club.

  1. Fantastic photo of Sulliven Heavy .ļ

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark says:

    I’ll second all of that. I’ve had a Bothy Bag for a few years and it’s amazing the temperature difference a couple of blokes in there make after a very few minutes. Excellent bit of kit.


  3. Harry Hood says:

    Definitely worth carrying a bothy bag if you are in a group.

    Do you mind if I share your photo of Suilven on FB? It is beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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