Living on the Edge….. Assynt High Camp
Another Edge – The Aonach Eagach - this was my last foray into the mountains and the weeks were mounting since this visit. A couple of weeks usually pass before I need to exercise my inner chimp and get a dose of medication from the great outdoors but June and July were always going to be a busy time what with weddings, work and family trips away. A further few events reduced the likelihood of a mountain trip but when a work trip up North on a Friday afternoon was required, the mountain mojo started to bite away at my mind and soon a short, sharp mountain getaway was being put into action….
Early Friday evening - and I parked up at the rather busy (deservedly so) Knockan Crag visitor attraction. As families we readying them self for a walk through history and some geology teachings, I was eyeing up my (light as ever;)) house and belongings that I was about to carry up a mountain. “Am I insane!”. This is always the question I ask when I do summit camps. The weight of the camping equipment is bad enough but it’s the camera equipment that is the real leg buster (I blame the batteries!). However as soon as the tent is up the whole ordeal slips away and the real enjoyment begins…
The stalkers path is excellent up until it petered out when the climbing begins, the path becomes more boggy and the ground more rough until Meallan Diomhain is reached. Here I sat for my first real rest (I had been crawling along at a snail’s pace, the views were good and the pack heavy!) and what a view!
Dominating the view ahead of me was my destination – Cul Mor and its sister summit Creag nan Calman, intersected by a green bealach and coire which was to be my descent route around 12 hours later. To the south was the magnificent Cul Beag and to the North the shark fin of Suilven was peeping out and Canisp just clear of cloud. The North ridge of Cul Beag was the route up and I was soon padding my way along. The views were getting better and better. No sooner than I reached the skyline and the ground fell away revealing the wonders of Assynt, more H2O than terra firma, it sparkled as the sun rays caught and flashed across the lochs and lochans. It was here that I also got a glimpse of my camp for the night- the ridge of Sron Gharbh, it looked spectacular. As is often the case (thinking of Creise, Beinn Deag etc etc) , if it were not for its neighbours then Cul Mor would be talked and praised (and probably visited) more than it is – perhaps a good thing?
Anyway after a final steep and boulder hopping ascent I soon found myself at the summit cairn – and in the cloud. I had a brief 5 minutes when Suilven was in full view but the weather Gods decided that the summits were to be in the clag tonight;( All was not lost however as my camp site on “The Edge” was 100m lower down along the ridge. As I picked my way along Sron Gharb (the highlight of the mountain IMHO) the cloud started to dissipate and I found myself touching the clouds base. My camp spot was just cloud free and no more. It was rather windy with a stiff SW breeze so I pitched to the NE side and in relative shelter.
The wind was to be my friend though as it picked up and for spells I had a clear views with the surrounding summits revealing themselves at times.
Sitting on the end of Sron Gharbh, I felt like I was on the Bowsprit with Assynt before us. Loch Sionasgaig was shining and Stac Pollaidh was protruding from its southern shore like a Scottish Mohawk, this WAS “ The Edge of Scotland”. The hours passed, the mind was restored to a restful state and the chimp well exercised;)
A clag filled landscape greeted me on my wakeup call of 0430. Any thoughts of a sunrise experience were dashed but that didn’t matter as I had filled the cup the night before. Tent away and an atmospheric hike through the mist with the deer saw me back at the car before 7am. It’s a long drive home but by 1030 I was sipping coffee and enjoying brunch with the family…… Another short, sharp and rewarding adventure…. Assynt – it’ll not be long before my return…….
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...