Walking in Scotland's Far North

62 mountain walks

By Andy Walmsley

The 62 mountain walks in this guidebook cover Scotland's north-west peninsula, north of Ullapool. Mainly day walks, taking in peaks such as Suilven, Quinag, Morven and Scaraben, with three longer mountain traverses (Assynt Horseshoe, a Raey traverse and a long ascent of Cranstackie).



Year-round walking, as the area is warmed by the Gulf Stream, and snow rarely lingers for long. Driest months are May, June, September and October. Warnest in July and August, but full of midges!


Ullapool, Lochinver, Kylesku, Scourie, Kinlochbervie. Otherwise various small scattered villages offering accommodation and basic amenities.


Routes are not graded, but are all within the reach of a reasonably fit walker.
Must See

Must See

It’s all beautiful! Provided the weather allows you to see it. Tiny welcoming villages. Remote mountain scenery, rugged coastline and perfect sandy beaches.
Carn Conmheall from Culnacraig (Photo by Andy Walmsley)
1 Jul 2003
11 Jan 2019
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.0cm
  • Overview

    The old counties of Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland, and Caithness, forming Scotland's north west peninsula, contain some of the country's most spectacular scenery, and boast many of the most shapely and challenging hills in the British Isles. Stack Polly, Suilven, and Ben Loyal have been favourite postcard peaks for generations, and many visitors come to the far north just to enjoy the unique scenery with its knobbly gneiss moors, jutting peaks, rugged coastline and unspoilt villages.

    For these visitors, the far north provides almost endless possibilities. Attractions include boat trips to interesting offshore islands with impressive sea cliffs and colonies of sea birds, fascinating antiquities tracing Scotland's history from stone-age man to the shameful clearances, and a number of low-level scenic attractions such as Britain's highest waterfall and some of the best beaches in the UK.

    For the more adventurous visitor, the hills offer a wealth of challenging and enjoyable outings, from simple half-day walks to demanding multi-day expeditions, and all in the most wild and lonely terrain that Scotland has to offer.

    This guide, selectively covering the whole northern peninsula from Ullapool northwards, will be a valuable aid for any visitor to the area, giving information on camping and accommodation, road access, local bases, topography and climate, as well as 62 walking routes varying in length from 3km to 56km.

  • Contents

    Plants, Birds and Animals
    Getting There
    Roads within the Area
    Using the Guide
    Essential Equipment
    Mountain Bikes
    Gaelic and Norse Place-names
    Assynt and Coigach
    Ben Mor Coigach, 743m (2438ft)
    Route 1 Ascent of Ben Mor Coigach from Acheninver youth hostel
    Route 2 Ascent of Ben Mor Coigach from the Achiltibuie road
    Cul Beag, 769m (2523ft)
    Route 3 Ascent of Cul Beag from Drumrunie
    Route 4 Ascent of Cul Beag from Linneraineach
    Route 5 Cul Beag to Stac Pollaidh link route
    Stac Pollaidh (Stack Polly), 613m (2011ft)
    Route 6 Ascent to Stac Pollaidh's main col from Loch Lurgainn
    Route 7 Traverse of Stac Pollaidh's summit ridge
    Cul Mor, 849m (2785ft)
    Route 8 Ascent of Cul Mor from Knockanrock
    Route 9 Ascent of Cul Mor from the A835 via An Laogh
    Route 10 Ascent of Cul Mor from Linneraineach via south-west face
    Route 11 Cul Mor to Cul Beag link route
    Suilven, 731m (2398ft)
    Route 12 Suilven approach from Elphin
    Route 13 Suilven approach from Lochinver
    Route 14 Suilven ascent from the north-east
    Route 15 Suilven ascent from Inverkirkaig
    Route 16 Suilven approach from Little Assynt
    Route 17 Traverse of the Suilven summit ridge
    Canisp, 846m (2776ft)
    Route 18 Canisp ascent from Little Assynt
    Route 19 Canisp ascent from Loch Awe
    Route 20 Canisp to Suilven link route
    Breabag, 800m (2625ft)
    Route 21 Breabag ascent from Benmore Lodge
    Route 22 Breabag ascent from Allt nan Uamh
    Route 23 Breabag to Conival link route
    Ben More Assynt, 998m (3274ft), and Conival, 984m (3228ft)
    Route 24 Ben More Assynt and Conival ascent from Inchnadamph
    Route 25 The Oykell Horseshoe from Kinlochailsh
    Glas Bheinn, 776m (2546ft), and Beinn Uidhe, 740m (2428ft)
    Route 26 Glas Bheinn and Beinn Uidhe ascent from Loch na Gainmhich
    Route 27 Beinn Uidhe to Conival/Ben More Assynt link route
    Quinag, 808m (2651ft)
    Route 28 Ascent of Quinag from the east
    Route 29 Ascents of Quinag from the north
    Route 30 Ascent of Quinag from Tumore
    Route 31 Quinag to Glas Bheinn link route
    Bein Leoid, 792m (2598ft), and Meallan A Chuail, 750m (2461ft)
    Route 32 Ascent of Meallan a Chuail and Beinn Leoid from Kinloch, Loch More
    Route 33 Ascent of Beinn Leoid from Kylestrome via Glen Dubh
    Route 34 Ascent of Beinn Leoid and Meallan a Chuail from Loch na Gainmhich via Eas a Chuall Aluinn
    Route 35 Beinn Leoid to Beinn Uidhe link route
    The Far northwest and Reay Forest
    Ben Stack, 721m (2365ft)
    Route 36 Ascent of Ben Stack from near Lochstack Lodge
    Ben Hee, 873m (2864ft)
    Route 37 Ascent of Ben Hee from West Merkland
    Meallan Liath Coire Mhic Dhughaill, 801m (2628ft)
    Route 38 Ascent of Meallan Liath from Achfary via Lone
    Route 39 Ascent Meallan Liath from Aultanrynie
    Route 40 Meallan Liath to Sabhal Beag link route
    Meall Horn (Meall a Chuirn) and The Sabhals
    Route 41 Ascent of Meall Horn and The Sabhals from Achfary via Lone
    Route 42 Direct ascent of Meall Horn from Lone
    Route 43 Meall Horn/Creagan Meall Horn col to Arkle link route
    Route 44 Meall Horn/Creagan Meall Horn col to Foinaven link route
    Arkle (Arcuil), 787m (2582ft)
    Route 45 Ascent of Arkle from Achfary
    Routes 46 and 47 Link routes from Arkle to Foinaven and Meall Horn
    Foinaven (Fionne Bheinn), 914m (2999ft)
    Route 48 Ascent of Foinaven from the north-west
    Cranstackie, 800m (2625ft), and Beinn Spionnaidh, 713m (2536ft)
    Route 49 Beinn Spionnaidh and Cranstackie from Carbreck
    Ben Hope, 927m (3040ft)
    Route 50 Ascent of Ben Hope from Strath More
    The East
    Ben Loyal, 764m (2506ft)
    Route 51 Ascent of Ben Loyal from Ribigill
    Beinn Stumanadh, 527m (1729ft), and its Outliers
    Route 52 Ascent of Beinn Stumanadh from Loch Loyal
    Ben Klibreck, 961m (3153ft)
    Route 53 Ascent of Ben Klibreck from Vagastie
    Route 54 Ascent of Ben Klibreck from Altnaharra
    Route 55 The full traverse of Kilbreck ridge from Crask Inn
    Morven, 706m (2316ft), and Scaraben, 626m (2053ft)
    Route 56 Ascent of Morven from Braemore
    Longer Mountain Traverses
    Route 57 The Assynt Horseshoe
    Route 58 A Reay traverse
    Route 59 A long ascent of Cranstackie
    Interesting Low-Level Walks
    Route 60 Eas a Chual Aluinn
    Route 61 The Culnacraig coastal path
    Route 62 To Sandwood Bay and Cape Wrath

    Appendix A Sources of information
    Appendix B The peaks (by height)
    Appendix C The peaks (alphabetically)
    Appendix D List of walking routes

  • Maps

    OS Landranger series

    Sheets: 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19

  • Updates
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    August 2012

    Route 28 (Page 80)

    A new path, built by the John Muir Trust, now aids the eastern approach to Spidean Coinich. Follow the path heading towards Lochan Bealach a Chornaidh to pick up the new path, which climbs south-west onto Spidean’s south-east ridge.

    Route 57 (Page 131)

    On the descent of Spidean Coinich via the south-east ridge, look out for the new path, built by the John Muir Trust on the lower slopes, which heads north-east to join the path coming from the Bealach a Chornaidh, giving a more comfortable descent and avoiding an area of eroding peat.

    For more information, see www.jmt.org/news.asp?s=2&cat=Land&nid=JMT-N10677.

  • Reviews
    'This compact 160 page guide covers the area to the north of a line from Ullapool to Bonar Bridge, but excludes the lowlands north of Dunbeath and east of Thurso. The 62 walks described cover various approaches to the five Munros as well as most other hills, supported by sketch maps, distance and height gain.  It provides information on most villages and their facilities as well as accommodation, campsites and parking, all linked to walks nearby. The reader is left in no doubt that even the shorter routes can be challenging. Longer traverses include the Assynt Horseshoe from Quinag to Canisp by way of Conival and Ben More Assynt, while the low-level walk to Sandwood Bay is lovingly portrayed. The sparkling text and excellent colour photographs provide a sound basis for planning several walking holidays in Caithness and Sutherland – just remember to take waterproof boots and midge repellent.'

    (Hazel White, Cairngorm Club Journal 2004)

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Andy 1

Andy Walmsley

Andy Walmsley was born in Preston, Lancashire, and has always been involved in outdoor activities. Despite a serious accident in 1981, he remains an active mountain-goer. Andy has spent much time exploring the Spanish Sierra Nevada mountains for his original Cicerone guide in 1993.

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