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Climbing Suilven in Scotland: A Information + Expertise with Hamlet Mountaineering

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I wished to place collectively a quick information to climbing Suilven in Scotland as it is a very talked-about hill stroll within the northern Scottish Highlands. The hike could be accomplished by yourself or with an skilled native information, and I only in the near past got here again from doing this hike.

In the event you’ve learn our content material on Scotland, and the North Coast 500 highway journey specifically, you’ve most likely seen images of a phenomenal twin peaked mountain.

That mountain is Suilven, and it’s discovered simply south of Lochinver within the UNESCO listed North West Highlands Geopark. In part of the world which is famed for its gorgeous landscapes and beautiful mountains, Suilven nonetheless manages to face out as an iconic mountain, largely due to the way in which it appears to be like.

The steep sides and twin peaks give it an imposing look, and till you get shut up, it appears to be like to be nearly unassailable for anybody with out climbing gear.


It’s nonetheless positively a mountain that may be climbed by any hiker with average health and a sturdy pair of climbing boots. That stated, the ultimate ascent to the highest is certainly a steep climb that can take a look at your leg muscle groups!

Nevertheless, earlier than I get into our private expertise climbing Suilven with Hamlet Mountaineering, I wished to share some basic tips about climbing Suilven. You possibly can, after all, hike Suilven by yourself or you are able to do it with a information.


The right way to Hike Suilven

Suilven is situated within the northwestern Highlands of Scotland close to the city of Lochinver. It’s situated inside the Assynt space of Sutherland and is a part of the big North West Highlands GeoPark.

Suilven is 731 metres or 2,389 ft in top. This implies Suilven doesn’t qualify as a Munro in case you are a Munro-bagger as Munros are labeled as mountains over 3,000 ft in top.

Nevertheless, regardless of its lack of Munro standing, it’s thought-about as among the best day hikes in Scotland by many hikers and is a very talked-about climbing vacation spot.


The place is the place to begin for the Suilven hike?

The commonest place to begin the place most hikers begin is simply outdoors Lochinver. There’s a small walkers automobile park on Canisp Highway (right here on Google maps) which is on the highway out to Glencanisp Lodge.

If this automobile park is full (it’s fairly small and infrequently full until you arrive early), you’ll should stroll the half mile further from Lochinver itself the place there’s extra parking obtainable.

There are different choices for climbing Suilven, together with tackling it from the south aspect beginning at Inverkirkaig. You too can do the longer “Suilven circuit” the place you begin in Lochinver or Inverkirkaig, ascend the north aspect, descend the south aspect and return by way of Lochinver or Inverkirkaig.

Alternatively, you possibly can kayak or canoe to close the bottom, beginning close to the village of Elphin and crossing Loch Veyatie. From the shores of Fionn Loch you might be then effectively positioned to deal with the south aspect of the mountain. This was the choice we took for climbing Suilven.


How far is the Suilven hike?

From the carpark simply outdoors Lochinver it’s a 12.5 mile or 20 km spherical journey. In the event you hike from Lochinver itself, add one other mile / 1.6 km to that stroll.

In the event you select to do the Inverkirkaig model of the hike, that is round a 13 mile or 21 km spherical journey. This has you following the trail to the beautiful Kirkaig Falls after which persevering with alongside a loch. This route can generally be boggy and tends to be the much less fashionable possibility.

Lastly, in case you do the total loop, together with Lochinver and Inverkirkaig, you’re taking a look at round a 16 mile or 26km hike.


How lengthy do I must hike Suilven?

The most well-liked possibility for climbing Suilven is as a day journey. That is often accomplished from close to Lochinver (12.5 miles / 20 km spherical journey hike), and is an extended day hike that takes most hikers between 7 to 10 hours. You’ll wish to begin early in day to make sure have sufficient time and ideally end in daylight.

The route from Inverkirkaig is roughly the identical distance, however as the trail shouldn’t be so fashionable and it may be boggy, it might probably take longer.


Greatest place to remain earlier than or after Suilven hike?

Earlier than and after climbing Suilven, we’d advocate staying in or close to the city of Lochinver.

In the event you’re on the lookout for in a single day lodging in your hike, Glencanisp Lodge was historically a preferred hiker pleasant possibility discovered on the path out, nonetheless that is being refurbished and isn’t resulting from reopen till Easter 2022 based on the official web site. So that you’ll wish to discover another choice in Lochinver (verify listings right here).

Word that for night meals at eating places in Lochinver, it’s typically greatest to e book reservations prematurely.

In case you are doing the south aspect hike and canoe with Hamlet Mountaineering (as we did), you may wish to additionally contemplate staying in or Ullapool as an alternative ( see lodging choices right here). We stayed within the effectively rated Harbour Home in Ullapool earlier than our journey.

Suilven from Glencanisp Lodge


When is the perfect time of 12 months to hike Suilven?

We’d solely advocate doing this within the milder months until you’re a notably skilled hiker or rent a information, as in winter the mountain will probably be icy. Your greatest guess is more likely to be from April to October.


How match or skilled do I must be to hike Suilven?

That is positively an extended day hike with some steep sections in a distant a part of the world. You’ll positively wish to be reasonably match. The trail is effectively marked and simple to observe, however the climate circumstances can change dramatically, so it would be best to be totally ready for all circumstances.

You’ll additionally wish to just remember to let somebody know the place you’re going and while you count on to return, and don’t count on to get telephone sign for a lot of the hike as there aren’t many cell cell towers on this a part of the world.

After we hiked with Tim he had a full setup, from an emergency locator beacon via to a survival tent ought to we’ve run into difficulties, which was positively good for peace of thoughts.


Does Suilven require any climbing experience?

The principle route from both aspect doesn’t require and climbing experience. Nevertheless, it may be a steep path in locations. In winter it is extremely more likely to be icy, so in case you plan on climbing Suilven in winter you’ll positively must convey acceptable tools.


Do I want a information to hike Suilven?

No, you possibly can hike Suilven by yourself, or you are able to do it with a information. Though given it is a lengthy full day hike in a distant space, we do advocate going with a climbing buddy if doable.

Native guides may also be employed to help you with planning, guiding, and for his or her native experience. We went with a information from Hamlet Mountaineering because it allowed us to have the ability to canoe, camp in a single day, and have the ability to method from the south aspect with out bringing a lot of our personal tools. This additionally allowed us to do the hike effectively away from the crowds as comparatively few hikers method from this aspect.


What ought to I pack for climbing Suilven?

The principle issues you’re going to wish to convey will embrace:


The place can I discover guidebooks and assets for climbing Suilven?

You possibly can see a extra full climbing information for the climbing route from Lochinver on the Stroll Highlands website right here. It’s additionally included in a number of Scottish climbing guides together with this guidebook to Scotland’s greatest hill walks.



Our Expertise Climbing Suilven

My brother-in-law was visiting from the USA, and one in every of his want listing objects for our journey across the UK was a climbing and tenting journey someplace scenic. Naturally, the primary place that sprang to thoughts was the northwest coast of Scotland. A good friend of mine who lived in Scotland additionally was enthusiastic about becoming a member of us.

As we have been doing this as a part of an extended journey, we determined that hiring an area skilled to deal with all of the logistics of the journey was going to be lots simpler than doing it ourselves.

I selected to contact an organization known as Hamlet Mountaineering. That is run by a good friend of mine, Tim Hamlet. Tim provides a variety of customized climbing, climbing, canoeing, and kayaking journeys throughout this lovely a part of the world. On earlier excursions of Scotland we’ve accomplished some shorter day journeys with him, together with sea kayaking and loch canoeing.

I dropped Tim an e-mail and requested if he may put collectively an in a single day journey which concerned some climbing, a picturesque mountain and maybe some canoeing. He really helpful a two day / one evening journey which included canoeing throughout a variety of lochs, tenting in a single day within the wilderness, and summiting Suilven. That sounded excellent to us, and we booked.

Per particular person, we every paid £275 for our journey (2020 costs which is after we booked) with Hamlet Mountaineering. That included all our meals, tenting tools, canoes, and so on. All we needed to convey was a sleeping bag and clothes. A full listing of prompt clothes was offered effectively prematurely of our journey.

The evening earlier than the climbing journey the three of us taking the journey all met and stayed in Ullapool on the Harbour Home resort.

The journey itself began with a 9am assembly in Elphin, only a 20 minute drive from the city of Ullapool the place we had spent the evening. Right here I launched Tim to my brother-in-law and good friend, and we received to packing our gear into dry baggage and barrels for the primary a part of the journey, a canoe throughout the loch.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

As there have been 4 of us, we break up into two canoes, which we loaded up with all of the gear we wanted for our mini expedition. That included our clothes and sleeping baggage after all, but additionally all of the meals, drinks, tents, sleeping mats, and so on.

While we didn’t have maybe the sunniest of days, the rain and wind held off, and we had a nice two hours of paddling from one finish of Loch Veyatie to the opposite. Regardless of visiting within the peak summer season months, we solely noticed one different canoe on the Loch. It actually felt like we had this a part of Scotland to ourselves.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

On the finish of the Loch, it narrowed to a shallow river, and right here we needed to hop out of the canoes and float them down stream for a stretch, earlier than reaching Fionn Loch.

Tim had a stunning spot earmarked for our campsite on the shores of Fionn Loch, and we set about placing our camp collectively. We every received a tent of our personal, after which there was a big communal kitchen tent to share. This in a short time got here in helpful because the Scottish climate determined it was time for a sprinkle of rain.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

As soon as we had the whole lot arrange, we had a spot of lunch, which was positively an enchancment over the dried packaged meals I bear in mind from tenting journeys in my youth. The benefit of a canoe is that it might probably carry lots, and Tim actually didn’t skimp on lunch, with the whole lot from domestically sourced cheeses to fantastic meats which we put into tortilla wraps. This was all washed down with a pleasant cup of tea.

After lunch, we selected to courageous the considerably inclement climate and deal with the Suilven hike. On Tim’s journeys there’s the choice to do the Suilven hike the next morning if the climate is trying higher, however as we needed to be in Edinburgh the next night for a particular time, we determined to do Suilven within the afternoon.

From our camp, it was a brief canoe to the opposite aspect of the Loch, after which we set off up the aspect of the mountain. Now, this wasn’t a very lengthy hike (round 7km / 4 miles spherical journey), but it surely did actually contain a really steep climb. General, it took us round 4 hours in complete with numerous stops for images.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering
Picture credit score Tim Hamlet

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Picture credit score Tim HamletThe climate was not precisely very best, with a good quantity of rain to maintain us cool as we climbed. Nevertheless, there have been breaks within the cloud cowl, which cleared sufficient to supply us gorgeous views of the encompassing panorama. Then it was time for the descent, which was nearly as laborious because the ascent given the steep nature of the path.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Nonetheless, we made it safely again down the hill, the place the rain stopped. Again at camp, we loved a slice of cake and a number of the single malt whisky we’d introduced alongside, earlier than settling into a night of chat and a mighty wonderful freshly cooked chilli.

The next morning dawned vibrant, and the solar even popped out for an hour or so to supply some fantastic images alternatives. One among our occasion even took a refreshing swim within the loch earlier than breakfast, which consisted of all of the freshly made pancakes we may eat, topped with recent fruit and butter.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Breakfast over, and needing to achieve Edinburgh by a sure time, we packed up camp and canoed again up the loch, largely within the sunshine, to finish our journey.

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering
Picture credit score Tim Hamlet
Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering
Picture credit score Tim Hamlet

General we had a very improbable time with Tim, who went above and past to make sure everybody had a terrific expertise. We additionally received to climb a mountain I’ve been eager to summit for a very long time, and had numerous enjoyable doing it!

In the event you’re on the lookout for an incredible outside expertise within the Scottish wilderness, maybe as a part of your North Coast 500 journey, then we positively advocate testing Hamlet Mountaineering and seeing if Tim will help you with a visit.


Additional Studying

That’s it for fast overview of climbing Suilven and our journey report. That can assist you additional plan your journey to Scotland, we’ve a variety of different posts which we expect you will see that useful or inspirational.

We hope you loved this publish on experiencing Suilven. As all the time, if in case you have any questions or feedback on this publish, tell us within the feedback under and we’ll get again to you as quickly as doable!

A guide to hiking Suilven in Scotland, including my personal experience hiking Suilven with Hamlet Mountaineering.


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