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  Easter in Assynt - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Stayed at Inverness Youth Hostel on Thursday night. A quick note to prospective guests: the hostel isn't particularly easy to find - you feel like you're walking back out of Inverness. Arrived in Ullapool on Friday morning, picked up the bikes from Scotpackers. The bikes were pretty decent for hire bikes and cost us £10/day each (this included a £2/day discount because we were "the first hire of the season"). As we set off towards Stac Pollaidh, the weather was getting better all the time - it took us around 2.5 hours to get there. Stac Pollaidh was totally crawling with people - the carpark was full and there were matching cagoules everywhere. After some good fun scrambling and great views we got back on the bikes and headed off towards Achmelvich. As recommended by the bike hire man in Scotpackers, we stopped at the Lochinver 'pie shop' on route. The pies were great but maybe not what we needed before the final 8km to Achmelvich! Arrived at the hostel just in time for a cracking sunset. The hostel is small but cosy and we received a warm welcome from wardens Caroline and Dave.

On Saturday we were fairly gubbed after the previous day's cycling, plus the weather wasn't so great. We cycled to the hostel at Inchnadamph and had some lunch before cycling 5km to the Bone Caves nearby. The headwind was so strong, it took us 25 minutes to cycle there and 6 minutes on the way back! Also, we couldn't find them at first and had to walk up one of the bleakest valleys in Scotland not once but twice. Inchnadamph lodge is lovely - the communal areas and rooms are both tastefully done plus you get breakfast (cereal and toast), wood burning stoves and the best showers ever. Dorm rooms cost £15/night and twins/doubles are £20pppn.

The following day, we climbed Conival and Ben More Assynt in fairly extreme conditions. The wind was strong (roughly 45mph with gusts to 60mph) and there were whiteout conditions for the final 100m. At times, we were reduced to crawling as we reached the summit of Ben More Assynt. Back at the hostel, a few members of Langside Mountaineeing club mentioned that a dog had falled into Garbh Choire from the summit of Conival the previous day. Unfortunately, the owners couldn't climb down into the corrie because they didn't have crampons/axes and the local mountain rescue team weren't interested. Rather ironically, Conival translated means 'hill of the dog'. :(

On Monday, we struggled to cycle the 27 miles back to Ullapool in the some of the craziest wind, hail and rain i've ever seen. However, we eventually made it and spent the afternoon drying out in the coffee shop above 'North West Outdoors' in Ullapool. The carrot cake is highly recommended...

Approaching Stac Pollaidh from Ullapool

Stac Pollaidh from the road
East peak of Stac Pollaidh
Scrambling

Looking east from Stac Pollaidh
Looking back on route to Achmelvich
Achmelvich Beach
Achmelvich Sunset
Dusk view from Inchnadamph Lodge (room 10)

Almost at the top of Conival
Those f****** Bone Caves

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Photos by I. Martin





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