In 1988-89 I
worked as a "voluntary worker" for the
British Geological Survey in various parts of
Scotland. Spring 1989 saw us up in the Assynt
district in some decidedly wintry weather, as
here where we're putting out a soil-surveying
grid with some difficulty!
The view out west from our work area was
dominated by two mountains - Suilven and Cul Mor,
here about to get swamped by a snow-bearing Cb!
and here with crepuscular sunrays overhead...
also visible, more side-on, from the place we
rented at Knockan. This pic was taken in May well
after 11pm on a long exposure....
Autumn I returned to have a go at climbing some
of the peaks, but the trip was fairly thwarted by
intensely showery weather....
....I did get
up Cul Mor only to be rewarded on top by a
hailstorm with the stones stinging exposed flesh,
driven on on a gale-force wind....
April saw an unseasonable heatwave - what a
contrast from the previous year's images....
...so I was climbing in perfect conditions. Here
on Stac Pollaidh, Suilven's Torridonian sandstone
ramparts seemingly stride across the bare-rock,
hummocky landscape of the ancient Lewisian
basement. Canisp, in a similar geological
setting, sits behind in the distance. This feels
such an ancient land - a place to sit and dream
on such days. And as for Suilven, well it was
time to have a go at it...
The mountain is not accessible by road, which is
no bad thing. A walk-in of several miles to the
base of the crags is made from the fishing port
of Lochinver. On this day the temperature was
climbing steadily with heat-hazes shimmering off
warm slabs of Lewisian gneiss. The ascent route
is a gully which runs up to the ridge about
halfway along: from there an airy path goes
either way to the summits.....
a "spacewalking" job this! This is the
middle section looking to the Eastern summit...
this is the Eastern summit, showing the rocky
obstacles that have to be turned when climbing it
- not at all techical but the exposure is
is the main or Western summit looking along the
ridge, with a flat lawn on the top and
precipitous drops falling away on all sides. And
the rapidly spreading fog wasn't the only cause
south towards Stac Pollaidh the distant sky was
darkening slightly and general murk was becoming
more noticeable. The forecast had been for
thundery showers moving up from the south later,
so having paid my respects to the Western summit
I got off the mountain quickly and headed back to
Lochinver at a fast pace. The first big raindrops
hit the car just after I had arrived and distant
thunder could be heard - good timing!
This is one of the best hill-days I have had in
the UK - highly recommended, but do pick a clear
day to get the best reward for the effort
required to get there!!
TO WEATHER-BLOG MENU
New! Fine Art Prints &
digital images for sale-
Welsh Weather & Dyfi Valley landscapes
Slide-Library - Click HERE