Walking in Assynt
Assynt is home to some spectacular mountains that were created, or at least changed, during the last ice age when glaciers carved and gouged the landscape to reveal some of the oldest rocks on the planet.
Most rise up from an undulating landscape of Lewisian Gneiss as isolated peaks of reddish-brown Torridonian sandstone, often topped with a layer of pale quartzite.
Despite the age of the constituent rock formations (hundreds of millions of years) the current mountain architecture is the result of erosion by the action of glacial ice during relatively recent ice ages. The whole of Assynt and Coigach (just to the south) is officially designated a National Scenic Area.
Suilven (pronounced Sool-ven) is one of the most distinctive hills in Assynt. Towering above the coastal village of Lochinver, and with unparalleled views out over the Inverpolly Nature Reserve, Suilven is the one everyone comes to climb.
Canisp is Suilven’s nearby neighbour and is usually much quieter. The walk up Canisp starts from the side of the road about 3 miles south from the Lodge, and follows a fairly direct path up the east side of the mountain. Hikers will find themselves walking on great slabs of exposed quartzite.
The name - pronounced ‘coo-nyang’ - comes from the Gaelic for milk pail, which the mountain resembles from one angle. With wonderful views of ‘cnoc and lochan’ landscape and seaward views over Stoer Point and beyond to the Outer Hebrides, Quinaig is a local favourite.
Cul Mor is right on the edge of the parish and used to be known locally as Marilyn. Located in the Inverpolly Nature Reserve, this hill is Torridonian Sandstone overlaid with Cambrian Quartz. Being in the Nature Reserve there is a chance, if you are lucky, to see a Ptarmigan.
Referred to as Scotland’s miniature mountain, 'Stac Polly' is the quickest and easiest ascent in the area. With incredible views over the Inverpolly Nature Reserve, Loch Lurgainn and the iconic Suilven, Stac Polly has become very popular with climbers of all abilities.
Just across the road from Quinag is Glas Bheinn, where it is a rare day to meet another climber. Access is from the Quinag car park, where a short path leads to a steep ascent up onto a rocky ridge. From there it folds out into a flat plain big enough to host a full-sized football pitch.
Just across the glen from Cul Mor are the three peaks of Cul Beag. The path in is mostly identifiable, albeit a bit bogg, and a steep ascent makes Cul Beag a tough little walk. Yet, the summit views, looking out over stunning waters and vastly different terrains, makes the walk completely worth it.
Hidden behind Conival sits Ben More, the highest Munro in Assynt at 998m (the name quite literally translates to “big mountain of Assynt”). Within striking distance of Inchnadamph, both Conival and Ben More follow the River Traligill past the Traligill Caves, which really is a must-see!
Ideal base to explore
5 - Hostel Dorms with shared bathrooms and Main Lodge Kitchen, Lounge and Drying Room (32 guests)
6 - Private Bedrooms each with private bathroom and own kitchen: across 3 Steading Suites, 2 Shepherds Huts and 1 Walled Cottage (17 guests)
7 - Private Bedrooms with shared bathrooms and Main Lodge Kitchen, Lounge and Drying Room (17 guests)