Yesterday I out with the Moray Mountaineering Club Bus Meet to Assynt. It was an early start but well worth the long trip starting in the dark past Ullapool dropping various parties on the way. Various hills were on the Agenda, Canisp, Breabeg, Conival, Glas Bhein and Quinag .I was with the last group on that great mountain Quinag, It has five summits, three of which are distinctive enough to be classed Corbetts – Spidean Coinich, Sail Gharbh and Sail Ghorm.
It was also where the bus waits till 1730 then heads back to pick up the others. It can be a cold wait in bad weather after a day on the hill and there are no cafes/pubs open on route until Ullapool. This is where another party was walking back to Ullapool and the pub via a Marlyn. I am to old to wait by the road for a bus so tend to stay with bus and then if I cut my day short at least I have shelter and at my age you need a bit of luxury. To many days sitting waiting cold and wet.
I love this area and not having to drive is wonderful and there were only two other cars in the car park. One with a young family all getting ready for a day out. It was windy as forecast but we were soon sorted as our Bus driver was set for a long wait till 1730! The sun was up but the two Munros of Ben More Assynt and Conival were cloud covered most of the day. The path on to the first hill used to be very wet but the John Muir Trust have sorted it out and there is now a grand path that follows the quartzite slabs that let you climb up onto the ridge in an natural staircase of slabs.
This is such a great way up and the views are incredible especially today the lochs and wild hills all familiar make this to me one of the most wonderful areas in the Scotland and we plodded on each in our own world. I cannot get enough of the views and there is no rush stop look and drink it in.
Its great walking and despite the wind we were going well and enjoying the day. This is specail country and Maggie who had fallen in love with it as she had not been up this far North! Awesome Assynt was living up to its name!
After the top the journey to our next hill is a lovely ridge but care has to be taken in the descent and wind but it was enjoyable. It cannot have been that windy as Jake’s hat was not blown off! We could see all our favourites hills clear heading West and with the lochs this place is indeed unique.
There is some wild climbing near the summit on the cliffs it is a lovely place to be and I always love to stop here and was lucky to climb on this hill a few times in the past. This crag is called Bucket Buttress and is in the superb guide by the SMC Northern Highlands North Spidean Coinich altitude 700 metres North East Facing grid ref NC206277 pAGE 221. Plenty of other routes there not long but what a situation ” a beautiful backdrop and friendly atmosphere make it a worthy training area for the longer and harder routes on Beinn Eighe”
This was sent to me after the photo above was published.
“I’m glad you didn’t mention my faux pas on Tenement Ridge on Quinag and that massive fridge/freezer size block I knocked off nearly killing you. Does this mean I’m forgiven?” From one of my team ————— Turner.
We had some wild days on the rock when I was with the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams, this place and mountain was some place to climb with its huge cliffs and gullies, often neglected nowadays and the mew exploration is great to see, what a day you ca have here in winter.
Watch out for the adventures of Dave Galloway now he is back on the Meets. This descent in winter can be interesting and I had a great day last winter on my own descending here. It was so impressive in mid winter and you rarely meet any others! These are great hills with the winter days.
We were soon down near the beleach and out of the wind we split into two parties, one going off to climb the Outlier Corbett Sail Garbh and the 4 oldies off to Sail Gorm via the rising traverse from the beleach.
It was out of the wind till we hit the ridge and watched the other 3 head out as we had an enjoyable walk using the lee of the ridge to stay out of the wind.
The summit cloud cleared and we got views and those poor club members on Conival were still in cloud and with the wind it would not be easy on the higher peaks . These two Conival and Ben More Assynt are Munros and we were only on Corbetts a bit smaller but what great mountains. We got some grand views though and some food but it was not a place to linger. We met another big group on the ridge maybe geologists as this area is and incredible place for them. We were reminded of the Moine thrust, and other Geology wonders by Dave Galloway.This is a geologists Mecca and the founding fathers of Geologybspent lots of time on these sandstone cliffs.
It was then an easy drop back down by the 4 of us back along the ridge and down to the loch and an easy path back to the bus, it is so well maintained and great on the knees. Thanks to the John Muir Trust.
We were out of the wind and watched the family descend and they were soon down on the path. We heard no stags until we reached the bus they were roaring on the other side of our mountain.
The other three managed all the Corbetts a great effort and were back at the bus just as a shower came in. Joe who had run over Breabeg and Glas Bheinn a great effort met the others as they arrived off the hill and we were soon off to pick the others up.
Everyone was fine and all had wind blasted faces, we had a great day, we bleathered about all kinds of things. “Skins” for the hill any ideas what they are seemingly they sort out tired legs Geology, poetry’ hats on the hill and the long lost days of Dave Gallway, More on hats by Jake and Ray Newel, ailing bodies and the next weekend meet at Inchnadampth Assynt again yes! Poor Maggie and Stuart having to listen to all that.
I had diet busting sausage and chips in Ullapool with Stuart and a catch up with the others in the Ferry Arms a pint of shandy and then following the Moon home.
A great day out and well worth the effort, thanks to the Bus monitor for taking us out and even more important bringing us all home safely.
Norman MacKaig a great poet!
“Glaciers, grinding West, gouged out
these valleys, rasping the brown sandstone,
and left, on the hard rock below — the
ruffled foreland —
this frieze of mountains, filed
on the blue air — Stac Polly,
Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven,
Canisp — a frieze and
Who owns this landscape?
has owning anything to do with love?
For it and I have a love-affair, so nearly human
we even have quarrels. —
When I intrude too confidently
it rebuffs me with a wind like a hand
or puts in my way
a quaking bog or a loch
where no loch should be. Or I turn stonily
away, refusing to notice
the rouged rocks, the mascara
under a dripping ledge, even
the tossed, the stony limbs waiting”
What words, what a man.
|Geology Assynt – Unlike possibly anywhere else on mainland Britain, the link between the underlying rocks and the landscape is clearly defined in Assynt. Due to the absence of urban development and the sparse covering of vegetation much of the skeleton of the land is exposed for all to witness.
In the limestone valleys around Inchnadamph & Elphin are found the most extensive cave network in Scotland.
Rock formations here date back over 3000 million years (and include some of the most ancient rocks in Europe) but the landscape we see today is much younger – having been sculptured by the ice during the last ice ages .
The oldest formation, Lewisian Gneiss, creates a landscape of low hills and scattered lochans. Rising from this gneiss landscape are huge ‘islands’ of Torridonian sandstone (occasionally capped by quartzite) that resisted the erosive powers of the last Ice Age. These stubborn survivors form the iconic mountains that make the landscape here so distinctive.
This is nowhere more clearly seen than along the approach from the South – the sandstone monoliths of Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor, Cul Beg, Canisp and Suilven standing proud above the surrounding landscape of Lewisian Gneiss.
Along the eastern edge of Assynt a series of geological thrust planes can be identified – including the famous Moine Thrust. Originally identified by pioneering geologists Ben Peach & John Horne over 100 years ago, there was great controversy over their conclusions. However, their interpretation was accepted and led to many of the current theories of structural geology, and they are commemorated with a cairn in Inchnadamph, at the west end of Loch Assynt.
Little wonder that this part of Sutherland together with the Coigach area of Wester Ross have been designated the North West Highlands Geopark. There are several display boards along the roadside as you travel through the area explaining the geological significance of the landscape. There is also a fascinating display centre atKnockan Crag a short distance South of Elphin.
Another intriguing site of geological interest is that of the suggested Meteorite strike close to Clachtoll Beach.The rocks exposed close by are evidence of what is considered Europe’s largest known meteorite strike.
For Dave MMC.