After two lovely sunny days on Thursday and Friday, Saturday was pretty grim, with rain all across Scotland reportedly. Ally and I followed where the forecast was best and drove up to the far north-west, to Lochinver in Assynt which was no hardship. I’d happily go there any time – Assynt is possibly my favourite area in Scotland.
We stopped at the fine village of Lochinver for a pie from their famous pie shop (and one for lunch the next day), had a look around the interesting Assynt visitor centre then continued north to the beautiful beach at Achmelvich, where the weather had brightened immensely. Here there is a small campsite and possibly the world’s tiniest chippy that can only fit two customers at a time (they were quite large customers though right enough). Oh what a bonnie place Achmelvich is, with a perfect crescent shaped beach, turquoise water and white sands!
And with a view to Suilven too. After scoffing a portion of chips we had fun walking down the beach, clambering over the rocks and coastal hills.
Later on in the evening we sat and watched the sunset from the beach with a bottle of Old Pulteney (which I think would probably be the most local whisky to here?).
It’s not always all about the hills 🙂
It was hard to leave such a spot in the morning but the day had dawned nice and sunny and we didn’t want to waste such an opportunity to get into the hills. We were heading for the only Munros in Assynt – Conival and Ben More Assynt. We drove down to Inchnadamph where we parked at the carpark near the hotel. The last time we were was when we were backpacking through on the way to Cape Wrath and had had a really nice evening at the hotel. It was great to see the views of Quinag again, as well as Suilven, Cul Mor and Cul Beag on the drive over.
We started along the track that crosses by the hostel and followed this for several kms, passing Glenbain and keeping left at the path junction where it signposts right for the Traligill Caves.
This is a good stalkers path that lead up the left side of the River Traligill down Gleann Dubh and was really very bonnie. There were some pretty waterfalls further up – the path got a whole lot boggier too so we did a lot of detouring up on the grass to avoid it.
We had both picked up a bit of a bug and were feeling ropey – sweaty yet clammy and cold. Our progress was very slow as we plodded on up, going at a fair snail’s pace. The path then climbed steadily up to a corrie that loomed over us and then up on to bealach. There were a few rocky, scrambly bits to get over and we stopped for a break in the rocks at the bealach. After some Lochinver pie and a cuppie our flagging energy had returned and we both started to feel better again.
We picked up the pace a bit and started winding our way up through the rocks and boulders. There were paths of sorts, made up of finer rock that helped. What a landscape this is – tremendous views were now starting to open up down to the fine smaller hills of Assynt.
It was marvellous looking down lonely Glen Oykel at the back of Conival where we had walked on the Cape Wrath trail last year. That day we hadn’t seen a thing with the heavy rain. I would love to do it again.
We reached the summit of Conival and savoured the views, for we could see the cloud fast approaching. Thereafter began the rocky, clambering ridge across to Ben More Assynt. The rock type and formations are so unique and interesting here – you can see why it is a geologist’s dream.
A hailstorm started when we were halfway across the ridge. It had turned freezing cold as well. Mid-June – when will summer ever start? Even the previous days of fine weather had been cold.
We were now firmly in the clag and could not see much ahead.
We carried on picking our way over the rocks. There was a final snowfield going across the ridge that I was a little worried about crossing because there were steep drops either side, but the middle was broad enough to tread OK. A final climb brought us to the tiny two summit cairns of Ben More Assynt. The wind was blowing a serious hoolie at this point and we crept along on all fours, touched the cairn and clambered off the ridge to shelter behind some rocks at the back. We sat eating our giant Lochinver pies while a heavy snowstorm fell around us. It was funny – we felt like dafties 🙂
The return was to retrace our steps the way we had come. Of course, as is the way, the cloud cleared a little when we had reached the ridge properly, and then came in again later on.
Everyone we met coming back was puzzling over it being snowy in June. I have to say I have just become used to it! By the time we had passed Conival again (and touched the cairn to include in our second Munro rounds 😉 ) it had started to clear a bit. Still freezing though!
The walk back down was easier as we picked the grass rather than path to come down on and we were soon back at the van. Hopes for a post-walk drink were dashed as the hotel didn’t open until five so that had to wait until Ullapool. A fantastic end to a fantastic weekend!