Saturday, 12 September 2020



I was guiding a group of 5 family members on that iconic and instantly recognisable mountain, Suilven. The weekend weather forecast was not looking very promising a few days prior to the booked day out on Saturday. I was guiding for Steven Fallon.

On Friday I travelled up to Lochinver which is the start point for the hill. I've done a fair amount of camping this summer for work purposes. Today there was a strong wind and therefore not a single midge in sight or bite. Bliss. I chose a nice spot down by the lochside close to our start of the route.

At dusk and early morning the air was filled with the wonderful sound of a Black Throated Diver. A very beautiful and unique song. At 6am on Saturday morning a very black cloud, very strong gust of wind and heavy rain shower heralded a lightning strike which seemed to make a direct hit on Suilvens summit!

Not a good omen for our walk today! The sun came out and the clouds became more friendly by the time I met my group. The family had arrived from Hampshire yesterday evening on a short visit to the Highlands specifically to walk Suilven. Inspired by 'that' film, Edie. 

All the group were excited by the prospect and thrilled to see the mountain looking stunning in the September light. Despite Suilvens modest height of just 722m, it's a decent length day of 8 hours return. The long approach walk through Glencanisp is beautiful and the good track makes fast walking.

The section of path that links the Glen to the start of the steep climb to the ridge has been extensively repaired over the last few years. Indeed it was very boggy on my previous visit back in 2016. Completely transformed now by great work from the John Muir Trust.  The 2 year project was finished in 2018. This section is now a wonderful easy path that is well constructed and much, much more enjoyable. 

It's still a steep climb up to the ridgeline, however well made the path is now. My fit group were going well but the winds were always going to be the deciding factor today. Forecast of 40mph gusting 50+ mph were probably just about spot on. There is always the option of course to retreat. But they dug in and persevered.

Along the way we saw several parties on their way back down from the top. They seemed to be all ok in gaining the summit. The summit ridge narrows in parts so we were cautious in our approach. The views were stunning in the bright, sunny spells. 

I bumped into my friend Murray who also was guiding his own group up. It was a sociable time. Everyone enjoying the wonderful hill. 

A brilliant day to be out and we were so fortunate to get great weather despite a grim forecast prior to this day. We just got back to the carpark when the heavens opened and it hammered down with rain. Satisfying.
Today I was guiding for Steven Fallon.

No comments: