• Lilly

Suilven - Solo Hiking and Camping on the King of Assynt

Updated: May 13, 2020

I have been aware of Suilven for some time, but I didn’t lay eyes on it until this year. I was headed over to Ullapool from Inverness with my friend Andy, and suddenly…there it was. The King of Assynt. I was in awe, and said excitedly, “Thats Suilven!!” As we got closer, and our perspective of the mountain shifted, we commented, “How on earth can you climb that thing!?” But I knew you could, and I knew I wanted to - one day. As Suilven faded into the rearview mirror, so did my thoughts of hiking it…for the time being. They were revived once again when I watched Edie, the film about an elderly woman who seizes the day to realise her lifelong dream of climbing Suilven. Once again, the thoughts of hiking it faded back into my mind…for the time being.

Fast forward to a conversation with my dear friend Bob, who was keen for a trip in his camper van and asked if there was anywhere I wanted to go. He had a spare tent that I could use, which I had already used when I overnighted on Bennachie (which you can read about here!) We had discussed getting me up north so I could hike the Sutherland munros (Ben hope and Ben Kilbreck), so we set about planning on that when suddenly it hit me - SUILVEN!! Bob keyed right in on my excitement of the prospect of conquering Suilven, and so, we made it happen!

Bob and I camped at Achmelvich. He was snug in his camper van and I tested out the tent again. I took a wander around Achmelvich’s turquoise inlets and the white sand beach. The terrain is rocky, rugged, and inhospitable, yet simultaneously welcoming and cheery as tiny wildflowers peak up through the rocks. I made a plan of when he should expect to see me back at the lodge the next morning. I had zero cell reception out there, and while I knew it was quite possible I would regain it on the mountain, I of course wasn't going to depend on that.

When I go on new hikes I screenshot the Walk Highlands route descriptions by stage. These screenshots make up part of my toolkit for a hike, as they contain tips that have come in handy when a trail isn’t as obvious as I would like. Other items in my toolkit include a paper OS map, compass, and digital OS map subscription. You may think the digital is not needed since I have the paper, but I like having both as the digital allows you to see in real time where you are on the map physically. This can come in handy if there is something in particular you are looking for that is tricky to find, overgrown etc - you can know if you are right on top of it quickly. I’ve had my share of purists comment disapprovingly about using a digital map, but my philosophy is that its good to have a diversity of tools in your toolkit, to use in whichever way you like.