Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
28th & 29th October 2014
Canisp by way of Cam Loch and Loch na Gainimh.
I had this walk planned for some time with the idea of making it a fairly leisurely two day affair camping overnight on the shore of Loch na Gainimh under the steep ramparts of Suilven before making a traverse of Canisp on my return. As it turned out a late departure and changing of the clocks severely limited the daylight hours available on the first day. A sign post by a gate in the corner of a small layby indicated the path through to Lochinver. My map, being a bit out of date, showed the start of the path near the bridge over the Ledmore River when it’s actually 300m further east. A heavy shower mixed with hail fortunately passed over before I set off.
Cam Loch & distant Suilven
The ground was pretty sodden after all the recent rain and I soon realized progress would be slow if I was to avoid the many puddles and patches of bog. The path climbed a little way up the hillside for a short while to avoid the rocky outcrops along the shore of Cam Loch but soon descended back to the water’s edge. Cul Mor dominated the view across the loch to the west while the slim outline of Suilven added intrigue ahead to the north.
Cul Mor & Suilven
I soon began to wonder if I would find any ground dry enough to pitch the tent and certainly had reservations about finding any before my intended camp site. Although I’d not come very far I found a very appealing spot on the shore of Cam Loch next to Allt a’ Chroisg. I had wanted to progress further but considered this opportunity just too good to pass up. The accumulation of some rather ominous looking clouds made the decision that little bit easier and I had the tent up in good time to take shelter from the rain.
Cul Mor, Suilven & Cam Loch
With tent door open I was quite content enjoying a brew whilst taking in the view. Occasional gusty wind and heavy rain rattled the tent during the night but the new day dawned with some promise.
Cul Mor from camp
The nearby burn was still flowing strong but was not the ranging torrent it had been the previous evening. The path slowly left the loch side and began to climb along the rocky spine of Druim nan Cnaimhseag which was dotted with the occasional cairn marking the way toward Loch a’ Chroisg.
As the path turned away from the loch I surveyed the long south east ridge of Canisp as it dropped toward Creag a’ Chroisg for a suitable point to drop off and regain the path. The way became more defined for a while until some conglomerate slabs were encountered above the shore of Lochan Fada but again some cairns help identify the way.
After crossing the outlet of Lochan Fada the path then runs along the narrow defile cut out by Allt a’ Ghlinne Dhorcha.
The serrated ridgeline of Suilven now reappeared rising spectacularly above the far side of Loch na Gainimh.
Suilven & Loch na Gainimh
The shore near the head of the loch did indeed show promise of a possible campsite but it was a little hard to be sure from my viewpoint on the path. My decision to camp back at Cam Loch had proved to be a good one as I had not found any other possible pitches during my mornings walk. Toward the tail end of the Loch I stopped for a sandwich before picking up the stalkers path that heads for Canisp’s north-west ridge. Just before making the turn a light splashing sound had me turning suddenly to be greeted by a sheep dog shortly followed by his owner. The runner said hello but did not pause and continued on his way, he was the only person that I saw for the duration of the walk. The path turned out to be more of a track and continued right on the ridge before ending near a small lochan.
The final 300m meters or so was up a well-defined but rather steep ridge, grassy to start but over rock towards the summit, indeed the top and much of the south-east ridge is very rocky.
Canisp North-West Ridge
The biting cold wind seemed to disappear as I reached the rather impressive summit windbreak cairn. I enjoyed a brew and my final sandwich as the mist embedded and flowed across the rounded summit area.
Suilven from Canisp
The gloom descended again and felt like it was going to stay a while and as I was also conscious that time was rolling on I decided to get going on my return journey. I headed down in a south-easterly direction turning the hollow depression in the ridge on its southern side. It was a weaving descent, trying to pick out the occasional strip of vegetation to get some relief from the boulder strewn slopes.
Cul Mor & Suilven
My intention was to drop back onto my outward path by working my way under the nose of Creag a’ Chroisg and in hindsight this would have probably been the better option. As it was I stuck to the ridge before following a subsidiary burn feeding Allt Chroisg and Cam Loch, it was boggy pretty well all the way down. I now followed the path back to the start under fading light but enjoying the still evening and splendid views over the loch to the Inverpolly hills.
Cul Beag & Cul Mor
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