6th to 8th of May, 2011 – Inverpolly, Running from the Rain

For the past three years (2008, 2009, 2010) myself and a friend, Andrew, have headed out to Ardnamurchan for some climbing and just to enjoy the place. The first year we were amazed by the weather which was coming towards the end of a dry spell but with the second year having similar weather we were beginning to think the place was a contender for Scotland’s driest, sunniest place. Last year we really did wonder how we had had three years of perfect weather in a row and could our luck continue? Well, this year it ran out, forecasts showed too consistent a picture of a full weekend of wind, rain and possibly thunder storms to be ignored so we began to think about an alternative location which would avoid this massive area of bad weather and with that, we drove a bit further (though a similar length of time) to Inverpolly.

We drove through damp, gray weather on our way north which reassured us the decision was right and arriving at Ullapool where we could not (who wouldn’t?) resist stopping for a pint out on the harbour side under blue skies and a warming sun. A scenic drive up to Lochinver brought us to our starting point at Canisp Lodge and we walked in to Suileag Bothy where plans for an evening stroll up either of the hills Canisp or Suilven were quickly abandoned in favour of a more relaxed night enjoying the bothy’s bench, admiring views, chat and whisky as the day turned to night.

After a comfy night in the bothy with the roof rattling away in gusts of wind, we rose earlier than we thought, with the sunlight having blazed in the window already for what seemed like hours, breakfasted and began our walking for the day. The main aim for the day was an ascent of Suilven which lies slightly south east, part accessed by a 4WD track then across boggy (unusually dry) ground and a final steep pull up the side of Suilven itself to reach the summit ridge.

Success! After one previous attempt that I had abandoned close to summit, I was very happy to make it the final few feet this time and enjoy the views albeit partly charred (recent fires had scorched a large area) ones before us. A stone seat out the wind was made use of and we had a snack and laze about before finally leaving Suilven.

Back on the 4WD track we continued east towards Canisp and stopped for lunch before the ascent started, enjoying a nice spot where the track crosses a river with good views back up at Suilven.

Our walk up Canisp was a bit of an effort but worth it in the end, more good views in all directions including north west over to Quinag which at that point was looking less likely to be an option for the following day.

Back at the bothy that night we enjoyed a well-earned dinner, more chat and whisky but with gathering gloom and a forecast from another resident we convinced ourselves to have an easier day and abandon thoughts of Quinag. Instead, the following day consisted of the walk back out to the car, which was tiring enough, and a relaxed saunter down the road with stops in Inverness and Aviemore.

All in a dry and largely sunny weekend and a nice unexpected return to somewhere amazing.

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