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Suilven from Canisp
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Suilven / East - West Traverse

Location: Above Lochinver, Sutherland, Northern Highlands

Length: 24km / 15 miles

Ascent: 915m / 3002ft

Time: 10 hours

Difficulty: Suilven is a serious proposition whatever the route you tackle it by. Firstly the formidable nature of the mountain itself must be taken into account: it is a whaleback of sandstone, its flanks sttep cliffs, the only natural breach in these defences being the Bealach Mor running north to south over the ridge.Secondly it is extremely remote, a considerable distance of rough terrain separating it from the road, and the length and remoteness of this walk are important considerations.


Approaching from the distant west, our route in fact traverses the ridge of the mountain from east to west, and from this direction there are two sections of technical difficulty.

The first and most trying of these is the descent from Meall Bheag to the gap below (east of) Meall Mheadhonach: although physically this is not unduly difficult, it is extremely exposed and requires careful route-finding (Scrambling Grade 2).

Secondly, the descent from Meall Mheadhonach involves the negotiation of a 12m rock band (Scrambling Grade 2).

Of course, in winter conditions the traverse of the mountain is a mountaineering expedition (Winter Mountaineering Grade 2).


Summer conditions from June to September; winter conditions from October to May.

  Bealach Mor


Typical of this region is Torridonian sandstone standing on a platfrom of gneiss; this gives good going where exposed.White quartzite boulders scattered over the top of Caisteal Liath may be mistaken for sheep.

Flora and Fauna:

Golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, ring ouzel and the great northern diver may be seen, also red deer, mountain hare and wildcat. Heather, northern rock cress, alpine hair grass and mountain sedge grow in this region.


Although there are easier ways to climb Suilven, this circular outing is one of the finest. It is an outstanding wilderness expedition to a legendary scottish mountain.

  Suilven from the north west

Suilven is one of the most beguiling and intriguing of all British mountains. It is also massively impressive, its bulk dominating the wilds of Sutherland, the great flats of interwoven heather, the myriad lochs and the grey, rumple-skinned gneiss.

From the west, looking from the sea over Lochinver, the head is a massive, vertical-sided rock dome: thisn is the aptly named Caisteal Liath.

From here a 2km spine runs east, first falling to the saddle of Bealach Mor, then rising again to the raised hump, the high conical spire of Meall Mheadhonach. Further still to the east, seperated by a fearsome rift, is the bobtail of Meall Mheadhonach.

Suilven is a famous landmark known to mountaineers and to all who pass this way, from the Celts and the Vikings, to Travelling People making their summer migration to the distant north.

  East to Meall Meadhonach



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