We ran the first of our popular Suilven expedition of the year earlier this month. It is a three day trip, from Saturday to Monday, combining kayaking and walking.
On the first day, we loaded our kit and kayaks onto the Torridon Activities’ Landrover and drove to the little village of Elphin just north of Ullapool, where our trip begins. Here we packed all the kit into the kayaks and headed off west down Loch Veyatie against a stiff head wind.
The view across the loch was amazing with towering mountains either side and Suilven in the distance. Our base camp for the expedition was on the far end of the loch. We arrived at 4pm but with a threat of snow looming we hurried to get the tents up.
Sunday morning we awoke to a crisply frozen campsite. We got breakfast going and after a few mugs of hot chocolate and plates of beans and sausages, everybody was ready for the off.
This was our Suilven day and what a day for it: the snow had dusted the whole mountain and as we left, the clouds cleared offering fine views of the area.
Camping so close to Suilven gave us a unique advantage over the usual day trip. The regular walk-in alone takes an average of four hours whereas we were at the base of the mountain in forty minutes. In facr it took us just two hours in total to go from base camp to saddle, making it by far the best way to do this hill.
Funny thing though, just when you think you have the whole area to yourself you bump into another hill walker coming up the other side of Suilven. This was amazing, considering the location, walk-in and everything else.
We then headed east for the summit. This great part of the hill was covered in an amazing thin layer of snow which we crossed to the famous wall on top of Suilven.
As we headed to the summit the whole of the west coast of Scotland seemed to be laid out before us with uninterrupted views out towards the Wester Isles, Torridon and Cape Wrath. The plentiful snow led naturally to one outcome, a snowball fight, possibly the highest snowball fight taking place that day in the UK.
We tracked our way back down the path to the saddle and started heading to the other end of Suilven.
We moved cautiously across the ridge until we came to final section over-looking the far end summit. As this involves serious scrambling and a fair bit of exposure, all with snow underfoot, we decided to leave it to another day.
However our lunch spot was amazing. With the sun beaming down on us, we laid back and took a lazy lunch break, enjoying the views.
Our walk back was uneventful. The great benefit of our campsite being so close was brought home to us when we bumped into another group just as we were going down the hill. They had been walking since 9.30am and had only now got to Suilven at 2pm.
Once back at base camp we enjoyed the stunning sunset along with a very competitive game of stone skimming. The overall champion will remain a secret.
Monday was our last day. The weather report had promised a good morning but quickly deteriorating later, so we opted for an early start. The day turned out to be amazing, the loch was like a mirror as we paddled down, providing stunning reflections of the mountains. It made for an amazing end to our trip.