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

September 20, 2021

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

For those who’ve learn our content material on Scotland, and the North Coast 500 road trip particularly, you’ve in all probability seen photographs of a lovely 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.

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


It’s nevertheless undoubtedly 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 check your leg muscle tissues!

Nonetheless, earlier than I get into our private expertise climbing Suilven with Hamlet Mountaineering, I wished to share some basic recommendations on climbing Suilven. You’ll be able to, in fact, hike Suilven by yourself or you are able to do it with a information.


The way to Hike Suilven

Suilven is situated within the northwestern Highlands of Scotland close to the city of Lochinver. It’s situated throughout 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 peak. This implies Suilven doesn’t qualify as a Munro if you’re a Munro-bagger as Munros are labeled as mountains over 3,000 ft in peak.

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


The place is the start line for the Suilven hike?

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

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

There are different choices for climbing Suilven, together with tackling it from the south aspect beginning at Inverkirkaig. You may also 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’ll be able to 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’re 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 exterior Lochinver it’s a 12.5 mile or 20 km spherical journey. For those who hike from Lochinver itself, add one other mile / 1.6 km to that stroll.

For those who 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 gorgeous Kirkaig Falls after which persevering with alongside a loch. This route can typically be boggy and tends to be the much less standard possibility.

Lastly, when 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 have to hike Suilven?

The most well-liked possibility for climbing Suilven is as a day journey. That is normally finished from close to Lochinver (12.5 miles / 20 km spherical journey hike), and is a protracted day hike that takes most hikers between 7 to 10 hours. You’ll need 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 is just not so standard and it may be boggy, it will probably take longer.


Greatest place to remain earlier than or after Suilven hike?

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

For those who’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, nevertheless that is being refurbished and isn’t because of reopen till Easter 2022 in accordance with the official website. So that you’ll need to discover another choice in Lochinver (examine listings here).

Notice that for night meals at eating places in Lochinver, it’s typically greatest to guide reservations upfront.

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

Suilven from Glencanisp Lodge


When is the most effective time of 12 months to hike Suilven?

We’d solely suggest doing this within the milder months except you’re a significantly skilled hiker or rent a information, as in winter the mountain can be icy. Your greatest wager is more likely to be from April to October.


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

That is undoubtedly a protracted day hike with some steep sections in a distant a part of the world. You’ll undoubtedly need 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 need to just remember to let somebody know the place you’re going and whenever you anticipate to return, and don’t anticipate 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 by to a survival tent ought to now we have run into difficulties, which was undoubtedly good for peace of thoughts.


Does Suilven require any climbing experience?

The principle route from both aspect doesn’t require and climbing experience. Nonetheless, it may be a steep path in locations. In winter it is rather more likely to be icy, so when you plan on climbing Suilven in winter you’ll undoubtedly have to carry applicable tools.


Do I want a information to hike Suilven?

No, you’ll be able to hike Suilven by yourself, or you are able to do it with a information. Though given this can be a lengthy full day hike in a distant space, we do suggest going with a climbing buddy if potential.

Native guides will 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 strategy 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 strategy from this aspect.


What ought to I pack for climbing Suilven?

The principle issues you will need to carry will embrace:


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

You’ll be able to see a extra full climbing information for the climbing route from Lochinver on the Stroll Highlands web site here. It’s additionally included in a number of Scottish climbing guides together with this guidebook to Scotland’s best hill walks.



Our Expertise Climbing Suilven

My brother-in-law was visiting from the USA, and considered one of his want listing gadgets 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 fascinated by becoming a member of us.

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

I selected to contact an organization referred to 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 stunning a part of the world. On earlier excursions of Scotland we’ve finished 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 useful a two day / one night time journey which included canoeing throughout numerous 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 once we booked) with Hamlet Mountaineering. That included all our meals, tenting tools, canoes, and so forth. All we needed to carry was a sleeping bag and clothes. A full listing of advised clothes was offered effectively upfront of our journey.

The night time earlier than the climbing journey the three of us taking the journey all met and stayed in Ullapool on the Harbour House hotel.

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 night time. Right here I launched Tim to my brother-in-law and good friend, and we bought 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 would have liked for our mini expedition. That included our clothes and sleeping baggage in fact, but in addition all of the meals, drinks, tents, sleeping mats, and so forth.

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 time 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 beautiful spot earmarked for our campsite on the shores of Fionn Loch, and we set about placing our camp collectively. We every bought 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 every part arrange, we had a spot of lunch, which was undoubtedly 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 will probably carry quite a bit, and Tim definitely didn’t skimp on lunch, with every part from domestically sourced cheeses to great 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 wanting 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), nevertheless it did definitely contain a really steep climb. Total, it took us round 4 hours in whole with a number of stops for photographs.

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

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering
Photograph credit score Tim Hamlet

Suilven Hike Canoe Trip Hamlet Mountaineering

Photograph credit score Tim HamletThe climate was not precisely splendid, with a good quantity of rain to maintain us cool as we climbed. Nonetheless, 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 virtually 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 tremendous freshly cooked chilli.

The next morning dawned vivid, and the solar even popped out for an hour or so to supply some great 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 succeed in Edinburgh by a sure time, we packed up camp and canoed again up the loch, principally within the sunshine, to finish our journey.

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

Total we had a really improbable time with Tim, who went above and past to make sure everybody had an excellent expertise. We additionally bought to climb a mountain I’ve been eager to summit for a very long time, and had a number of enjoyable doing it!

For those who’re on the lookout for a tremendous out of doors expertise within the Scottish wilderness, maybe as a part of your North Coast 500 journey, then we undoubtedly suggest trying out 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 will help you additional plan your journey to Scotland, now we have numerous different posts which we predict you’ll discover useful or inspirational.

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

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

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