Day 1 of GWC S3 Projects 2008. We hit the road at 9 am and started the long drive to Achininver, a total of 8 boys, 8 girls, 4 staff, 10 days and nothing but the outdoors ahead.
After what seemed like an eternity, we passed through Ullapool and headed north towards Sutherland. It was the furthest North (in Scotland) I had been so I was psyched as the landscape ahead of us opened up to reveal the jagged peaks rising majestically from the wilderness. It was mid-afternoon when we turned off the A835 at Drumrunie and headed west towards Achiltibuie. Stac Pollaidh came into view in the glorious sunshine as we passed along the shore of Loch Lurgainn, deep in the shadows of Cul Beag. The car-park was rammed due to the gorgeous weather, but we managed to squeeze our mini bus and transit into a space at the back. We helped the kids gear up and, after a bit of a faff, we paused to gaze up at the heavily weathered Torridonian sandstone crest of Stac Pollaidh.
Stac Pollaidh from the roadside car-park.
We headed straight for it; a short climb before the new path swung to the right in an anticlockwise direction. At the first pause, a look to the east gave a magestic view of Cul Beag in all it’s glory.
Cul Beag from the east
Continuing up and around the east side of Stac Pollaidh, the magnificent view north over the Inverpolly Forest appeared over the horizon. It was at this moment, I was treated to my first sighting of Suilven. I recognised it instantly from all the pictures I’d seen in my favourite books, but it was better than I could have imagined.
Suilven and Canisp
Our aim was to circle Stac Pollaidh and take in the views. We had a large group of mixed abilities and unknown quantities so we wanted to avoid any ‘bad steps’ on the ridge, and we were short of time. We strode on around the west side of the ridge and the next vista greeted us… the Summer Isles.
Summer Isles from Stac Pollaidh
In front of us, the Summer Isles and to our left, the weathered sandstone pinnacles of Stac Pollaidh. I’m not sure the kids knew where to look, and neither did I.
The pinnacles of Stac Pollaidh The pinnacles of Stac Pollaidh
As we headed back down towards the car park, obviously I couldn’t resist a pose on top of a boulder :-S
Back at the mini bus we looked around at the beaming faces of the kids; they knew that had been something special. You don’t get views like that everyday… not a bad hill for a Graham
I hope there’s room for us…
Time to head to Achininver and get the group settled in. A short drive through Achiltibuie and we had reached the sign at the end of the road: “YOUTH HOSTEL ½ MILE”. Time to put the kids to good use, all hands on deck to cart all the gear down the track to the hostel. It’s worth the walk down the rough path though, what a setting… with the views out to the Summer Isles.
Achininver - what a setting…