Great hills of Assynt and Coigach? What’s yours ?

There are some great peaks in this wild area. Often you will meet few folk. I have been so lucky to walk and climb in this area.

I remember my first trip up to the North west I was astounded by the mountains as we arrived in Ullapool. I was a Munro bagger and saw little else but Munro’s in these early days. To see the classic shapes of the mountains all different. The light is superb ever changing no matter what time of year. Yet if you get a day in winter it’s exceptional on these hills.

Stac Pollaidh Steep mountain by the pool 612 metres – many do not climb the true summit but just to be on the ridge with its sandstone pinnacles and views of the sea and Myriad of Lochans. Add to that the views on a great day this hill may be small in stature but big in my heart. I have had great days here scrambling and rock climbing it’s a also a grand wander round the mountain on a good path. The true summit includes a rock move that stops a few but so worthwhile and to spend a night on the summit and watch the sun set and rise is in my mind is wonderful. The Far East top is a interesting scramble!

Stac Polly fun.

Suilven The Pillar mountain 731 metres I have been lucky to see this classic mountain from the sea it’s so impressive as you sail along the coast if you ever get the chance . Most see it from the road it’s an iconic mountain again small in stature. I had a many a great days rock climbing many years ago that will stay with me forever. Despite the long walk in it’s a great mountain again a magnificent view point. Suilven may be only 731 metres high, but its remarkable outline make it one of Scotland’s best known and most easily identified mountains. Its position in the heart of Assynt’s cnoc-and-loch landscape and superb views make it one of the finest peaks in Britain. From Walk Highlands. It’s other summit involves a scramble not that many climb to it as the main summit is an easy walk. It is full of sandstone shapes many are named. In winter is a trip to enjoy and I stayed there one New Years night after a long night shift at work. Then we drove on deserted roads to them bothy Suilaig it was the coldest night ever.

Suileag bothy

This was made up by a superb winter day on this marvellous peak. The climb to the ridge is steep but that day so enjoyable wearing crampons and the views were magnificent. There were a group staying at Canisp Lodge and it was amazing to meet them on the ridge on New Years Day. They were shocked to meet us on the summit. A few bold folk May canoe in. The mountain has a famine wall crossing the ridge which is a sad story of hunger and destitution.

Winter on Suilven.

Route description : Climb the slabs in the centre of the nose, follow a grassy right trending groove to a cave belay. step right under the roof to a slab with crampon scratches (difficult with tall sack) trend up and left to a large block belay. climb the ramp above to a ledge. head up on the right of the ledge and trend left onto the arete move up below the rusty peg, and climb above. follow the corner above to easier ground. Best description the Gary Latter guide.

Ben More Coigach 743 metres ( Big mountain of the Coigach district) and Sgurr an Fhildleir 705 metres ( peak of the fiddler) You see this mountain from Ullapool to many it looks like an upturned boat. It has 7 summits including two Grahams. I have done this mountain many times but never completed the climb the Fiddlers Nose. On an early attempt in the early 80’s we retreated near the top in a thunderstorm. Direct Route on the Nose 226m, 9 pitches. HVS

In winter it’s a prize line amongst winter climbers. I found climbing the mountain from the sea the easiest but going in on the muddy path from the main road you see the Nose of the Fiddler in all its glory. There is even a sandy beach near the Loch to admire the view. There is potential for other winter climbs there much to be done in the big Corrie.

The Fhilder in winter

Quinag is an 808 m high mountain range in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands, with an undulating series of peaks along its Y-shaped crest. The name Quinag is an anglicisation of the Gaelic name Cuinneag, a milk pail, reflecting its distinctive shape. It has 3 Corbett’s and is a wonderful day a must if in the area. Three Corbett’s on one hill that’s worth a day out.

Quinag – in the words of Hamish Brown “an eye catching mountain” it certainly is.

The views again are outstanding with Loch Assynt and the sea taking your breath away. The highest peak Sail Garbh gives views of the great cliffs. My friend the team Leader of The Assynt Mountain Rescue Phil Jones has a wee cairn on this hill that few visit. Phil was killed in an avalanche on Seanna Bhraigh whilst training with the team in Feb 1991. I knew Phil well he gave me so many secrets of this great area.


There are so many great hills Cul Mor, Cul Beag,Canisp. Add to that Ben More Assynt and Conival plus so many more. The Anson Crash is a wonderful place to visit few do.

Avro Anson  N9857  from 19 OTU RAF Kinloss Map reference NC 295224

The RAF Mountain Rescue Service was formed during the war to rescue downed aircrew in the mountains. As the Kinloss Team trains throughout Scotland at times we come across old crash sites from this period. Regularly the team was train near Ullapool and visited the crash site the story of this aircraft and its crew it is a reminder to those who gave so much. The crash site is a moving place at over 2000 feet high on Imir Fada near Ben More Assynt it is in a remote area about 4 miles from the nearest road.

The old Memorial now gone.

The man who sums up this area to me is Norman MacCaig. His words mean so much to me and so many lovers of Assynt

A Man In Assynt (extract)

Norman MacCaig

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
a litany.

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 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.

I can’t pretend
it gets sick for me in my absence,
though I get
sick for it. Yet I love it
with special gratitude,since
it sends me no letters, is never
jealous and, expecting nothing
from me, gets nothing but
cigarette packets and footprints.

Who owns this landscape? –
The millionaire who bought it or
the poacher staggering downhill in the early morning
with a deer on his back?

Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?

False questions, for
this landscape is
and intractable in any terms
that are human.
It is docile only to the weather
and its indefatigable lieutenants –
wind, water and frost.
The wind whets the high ridges
and stunts silver birches and alders.
Rain falling down meets
springs gushing up –
they gather and carry down to the Minch
tons of sour soil, making bald
the bony scalp of Cul Mor. And frost
thrusts his hand in cracks and, clenching his fist,
bursts open the sandstone plates,
the armour of Suilven;
he bleeds stories down chutes and screes,
smelling of gun powder.

Norman MacCaig

from The Poems of Norman MacCaig(Polygon, 2005)

Reproduced by permission of

There are so many other great hills in this area many of them Grahams and Donalds all worth a visit. As is the climbing and scrambles we are spoiled for choice here. What’s your favourite hill, climb or scramble ? Now there’s a tale to tell on some of the scrambles?

This guide will open your eyes.

So if you have never visited this area or rushed past ticking peaks like a good dram savour the area spend time visit some of the lesser hills. If your into exploration there is still so many adventures to be had. Enjoy, have fun and sit and enjoy these wonderful wild places.

Comments welcome.

Into the wilds on way back from the Assynt Anson memorial.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Books, Bothies, Corbetts and other hills, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Poems, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Great hills of Assynt and Coigach? What’s yours ?

  1. Al Barnard says:

    Ben more coigach…..beautiful hill, thanks for the introduction, stunning veiws. Beautiful situation.

    Liked by 1 person

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