All the way back in September John and I had a wonderful walk up Stac Pollaidh. It was a special trip – we think it was the first time we have been up a hill together, alone, since before the children came along. Given that we met over a shared love of hills and mountains (while walking in Peru) it was so good to head off together for some time in the hills.
My dad very kindly came up and looked after the children for 24 hours and we set off late afternoon to Ullapool on the West coast. We took part in the traditional Ullapool evening entertainments – eating seafood and listening to live music at the Ceilidh Place. Last time I stayed overnight in Ullapool I was a student on a hillwalking trip with friends, which seems like a very long time ago now……..and I do remember the weather was somewhat different, we had incredible warm dry days for walking and long, light evenings for sitting on the seafront drinking beer.
The following morning we woke up to a howling gale which scuppered any thoughts we’d had of a good big hillwalk. Stac Pollaidh seemed like a good alternative, it is a proper little mountain in it’s own right but is really is quite wee by Scottish standards. It is made quick and easy with the Achiltibuie road passing directly beneath, there’s no need to walk in for miles skirting other hills, or to head up and over numerous false summits. This accessibility does have downsides though as it is a very heavily visited hill and has suffered consequently from erosion but the expertly-constructed and fairly new path, put in by Scottish Natural Heritage I think, is doing a great job of keeping walkers from causing further damage and is helping the damaged slopes to repair.
You’ll see from the photos that Stac Pollaidh has a jagged rocky crest made of Torridonian sandstone*. There’s a great scramble along this ridge which includes the actual summit……..but conditions were so windy we had to settle for just skirting the summit. Although it was cloudy and overcast, and raining quite heavily most of the way down, we had superb views – the striking mountain in the photo below a rather manic looking Susie-dog is Suilven (another small-ish but special mountain).
We took the longer scenic route home via Gairloch, which was new to John, with some stops to admire the scenery along the way. The big sandy bay is Gruinard Bay (and the infamous Gruinard Island…….site of anthrax biological warfare testing during WWII). The rocky coastline is Loch Ewe. We had a potter and fabulous coffee and cakes in the Mountain Company and Bookstore in Gairloch (cakes, coffee and books in a beautiful location – very hard to beat!) before heading home to a happy household where there had been lots fresh air and Grandy treats, thank you Grandy!
- There’s a distant shot of Stac Pollaidh in the photos from our trip to Ullapool in summer 2014