Cycle Touring Scotland

Day 10 – Friday 21st June
Midnight Canisp

All night the pitter-patter of the rain on the roof mixed with the stiff sleeping boards threatened to keep me awake through the night. Even with a roll mat underneath I had to resort to solely sleeping on my back to get any sleep. Nonetheless, it was a relief waking up in inside, as opposed to what would’ve been a drenched midge-infested tent that morning. It was a dreary morning with Suilven and Canisp hidden beneath low clouds, making my plans for hiking up one of them rather obsolete with no visibility above around 100m, so I set about finding some firewood to help dry out my damp shoes. There was a slight problem with this task; Assynt is an area completely devoid of forests and trees with the typical flora being bogs and marshes. There wasn’t even any peat.

On the advice of the Belgians I headed towards Canisp in search of a broken old bridge with some possible rotting wood, but found it was mostly still nailed into the ground and thought best to not vandalise it…but there were a few splinters around. On my way back I met four middle-aged female hikers who all seemed slightly wary of my appearance. To be fair I did have plastic supermarket bags for socks (to avoid putting dry socks in wet shoes) whilst hauling back my mismatch collection of wood. I came back with some bracken, one small soggy log and one huge sodden master log, and with the aid of some fire starters and leftover kindling managed to get a small fire going. However the master log was just too sodden to get going properly and after about an hour of willing it on it flickered into nothingness, shoes still damp.

The day was now turning into the first genuine rest day of the trip. Although it may sound rustic and wild, spending an afternoon by yourself in a shelter in the middle of nowhere makes for one very lonely afternoon, especially knowing you have a gruelling journey back to civilisation the next day. I started eating all my supplies, feeling all the worse for it sitting down doing nothing.

As evening drew in the pitter patter on the roof suddenly stopped and I looked out of the window to a sight for sore eyes; the many peaks of Suilven visible for the first time from Suileag Bothy.

With no idea what the weather would be the following day I hastily packed for a sunset hike, complete with obligatory head torch. As Suilven is the more visibly impressive of the two mountains I set off on the path for Canisp for views over Suilven. Unfortunately, I had seriously overlooked the fact that there was no genuine path up either mountain beyond the tracks I had followed up to the Bothy. These tracks do spear off towards either mountain but only go about half of the way up Canisp, and due to the rain of the last few days the bogs beyond the path end were very boggy and I was getting very soggy.

Before the path ends up Canisp (in the distance)
Suilven mirror from the path
Suilven from half way up Canisp
Canisp peak

Near the summit of Canisp I had the completely unexpected sight of a large herd of red deer, who in the dim light had a bit of reindeer about them due to their sizeable antlers. They seemed even more surprised to see me and belted off around the peak but I attempted to get a few photos…

Blurry distant red deer near the top of Canisp
Turning around to descend back down towards Suilven into the dark

Even with the head torch it was near impossible to pick a dry path back down and my supermarket bag sock protectors failed in their task of keeping my sole remaining pair of dry socks dry. I finally arrived back at the Bothy way after midnight, exhausted, but pleasantly surprised that my perennial bad knees felt absolutely fine following the descent. What had looked like being the first rest day of the trip had ended up being the latest finish yet.

Incorrect hiking route:

komoot refused to acknowledge there is any route up Canisp from the west beyond the path end, so insists you go the long way round. The actual route connected points 1 > B and back

Actual distance: ~8-10 miles up to 2500ft

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